SEO Mythbusting - URL Ranking Signal & URL Structure

SEO Mythbusting - URL Ranking Signal & URL Structure

July 31, 2023
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SEO Mythbusting - URL Ranking Signal & URL Structure

Though plenty of marketers spend a lot of time and energy creating a flat link/URL architecture to boost their search engine optimization results, it turns out all that effort imay be next to useless in the end.

But don’t just take my word for it.

John Mueller, Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, is one that broke the news!

“… There’s no benefit to having an artificially flat URL or link structure compared to one that emphasises directory depth”, said Mueller during a Google sponsored SEO hangout that was recorded in late March of 2021.

This isn’t to suggest that you should ignore your URL structure, by the way. That would be a bad decision, too.

It’s just that you don’t have to fall all over yourself striving for a perfectly flat URL architecture in hopes of that work boosting your search engine rankings.

Better Understanding the Impact URL Structure Has on SEO

To be crystal clear, though there isn’t any measurable benefit to having an artificially flat URL architecture on your platform, it is possible to enjoy some search engine optimization benefits when paying at least a little attention to your URLs.

Mueller (the same digital conference) make sure to clear the air following the comments highlighted above. He made sure to let developers, search engine optimizers, and content creators understand that overall site hierarchy is important to Google – but more in a “how close to the homepage is a link” kind of way than anything else.

The bottom line: The fewer hops a visitor has to take to get jump to a specific piece of content on your site, the more valuable and important it is regarded by Google spiders.

A lot of search engine optimization “experts” took this to mean that you could somehow fool Google into thinking that ALL of your content was valuable by creating a flat URL architecture.

But that’s not really the way things shake out.

It doesn’t matter how many slashes your links have in them (one or one million). It’s all about how many clicks it takes to find your information from the homepage, and that’s not something that can be artificially fabricated.

Building Smarter URL Structures

At the same time, there are some things you can do with your URLs to produce better search engine optimization results and improve your visitor experience at the same time.

For starters, you’ll want to consider creating a logical and consistent URL architecture that works across the board.

If you’re going to use page ID on some links and URLs, it’s a good idea to use that approach universally.

If you’re going to use more traditional naming structures for your URLs (all of your blog posts featuring a date under a subsection “blog” directory, for example), you’ll want to keep that consistent, too.

You’ll also want to give at least some consideration to the kind of keywords that find their way into your URLs.

John Mueller did mention that keywords in URLs play a small role in influencing how pages are ranked, so that’s probably not something you want to let fly under the radar.

At the end of the day, create a URL architecture that is:

  • Easy to understand by search robots and human visitors
  • Logically and consistently applied to all of your links and
  • Taking advantage of keywords when possible (without keyword stuffing)

… And you’ll be good to go!


Source (1, 2, 3, 4)

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Dean Long | Expert in Growth MarketingHongxin(Dean) Long

Dean Long is a Sydney-based performance marketing and communication professional with expertise in paid search, paid social, affiliate, and digital advertising. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Information Systems and Management and is also a distinguished MBA graduate from Western Sydney University.

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