No particular impact in terms of ranking, but potential effects on the experience provided to users: if we are considering options to manage URLs and set an effective structure for the addresses of our content in SEO perspective, There is an aspect to which we must devote a (albeit minimal) attention, namely the length of the Urls. John Mueller speaks about the topic, clarifying how Google interprets URLs and what is expected for a good user experience, offering us interesting material to reflect on and some very precise indications to avoid mistakes.

The ideal length for URLs according to Google

The revelation that comes from Google’s Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst during a hangout on Youtube is very clear, and then reiterated further in an appointment with #AskGooglebot: according to John Mueller, the ideal Url should never exceed a thousand characters, although “I guess you have to work hard to create such long addresses,” he laughs.

Never exceed 1000 characters in URLs

The piece of advice from Google is simple: although web browsers can manage lengths of up to two thousand characters, the URLs of a site should be short and never exceed the threshold of 1000 characters. It is clear that a more concise address is generally preferable, even for questions of sharability and readability by human users, but for search engines there are no problems until you get to the four figures.

Google does not have a preferred solution for the URL structure

This good practice applies to all types of URLs, explains Mueller: “some sites use parameters, others use folders with filenames, each handles Urls slightly differently”but in principle there is no ideal or preferred solution from the search engine, the Googler reveals us.

More precisely, Google uses “URLs as identifiers and no matter how long they are” nor the number of slashes present in the address: the advice is to keep them shorter than 1,000 characters, “but it is only to make monitoring easier”.

Thus, the length of a URL does not affect the ranking and may only affect the appearance of the search snippets.

Pay attention to canonicalization

There is only one part of Google’s systems where the length of the URL plays a role: canonicalization, which is what happens when the search engine finds more than one copy of a page on the same website and has to choose a URL to use for indexing. As Mueller explains in a subsequent appointment with #AskGooglebot, if Google finds “a shorter and cleaner URL, our systems tend to select that one” compared to a longer and more complex address.

This is not an aspect that affects the ranking of the page, but “it is purely a question of which URL is shown in the Search”, he clarifies again.

For the SEO we need readable and crawlable URLs

Ultimately, what is needed for both the SEO and usability of the site is that Google can “take that URL you have, scan it, collect the present on that address and index it”.

The length of the Urls does not make a difference to the SEO, therefore, and the way in which “determine which URL to use depends on you”, your personal evaluations, the type of site and so on: for Google it only serves that the character string is readable, understandable by Googlebot and that references to an indexable resource.

All other issues are entrusted to the site owner, the webmaster and possibly the SEO consultants who work on it!