Most popular CMSs allow you to edit the URL of your page. They’ll also automatically generate one for you too – but these tend to be a bit long.
So should you change it, or does length of your URL not really matter?
What Is the Maximum Length of a URL?
Technically speaking, your URL should never be longer than 2,048 characters. Any long than this and Internet Explorer won’t be able to load your page.
But How Long is Considered Too Long?
As a rule of thumb, I’d aim for URLs below 100 characters. Of course, this is going to vary depending on the type of page.
If you have an e-commerce website, for example, or a forum, then you are likely to encounter longer URLs and sometimes there isn’t much you can do about this. If you have thousands of products, variations and categories than naturally you are going to have multiple subfolders.
A shorter URL benefits users as the URL is clean, clear and more attractive when seen or copied in full.
How are your URLs going to be used?
What’s important to remember is the likelihood of your URLs being used in this way. Your key, top-level pages should aim to have short URLs, as these are the pages that people are more likely to use and remember.
A product page of a huge e-commerce website, on the other hand, is going to struggle to produce short URLs. If they have relatively short URLs for category pages and the main landing pages then it’s unlikely to cause much of a problem. There are lots of ways you can improve your URLs to make them better from an SEO perspective as well as a user perspective, it’s not all about length.
Does URL Length Affect SEO?
A shorter URL with less folders can tend to be better for search engines. If your key content is hidden too deep behind numerous folders, it can be a barrier to search engine crawlers.
If you can keep your structure relatively flat, it keeps your key content as visible as possible to search engines.
Again, you need to consider what is realistic for your website. Do not add any extra, unnecessary stages, subfolders or length to your URLs but do not feel that you must keep every page on one layer to help with ‘SEO’. You don’t want to negatively affect the clarity of your URLs by making them so short that they no longer hold meaning.
Is There Anything Else I Can Do To Improve My URLs?
Overly long URLs can have negative effects on SEO and user experience, but there are plenty of other best practice tips to make sure your URLs are as good as they can be:
- Use readable, clear language that reflects the content on the page
- Consolidate your www. and non-www. version
- Manage your trailing slashes
- Avoid special characters
- Manage issues with case sensitivity
- Use hyphens to separate words instead of underscores
- Avoid over-optimisation (or keyword stuffing) – write for your readers not search engine bots
If you need more help or advice on how to keep your website SEO-friendly, please get in touch!