How URL Length Affects Search Engine Placement!

by Matt Foster
There is some difference of opinion on the subject of whether or not the URL of a web site affects its search rankings. Let us first note the golden rule of search engine optimization. Though shalt not build a web site for search engines, but rather for human visitors. 

There is evidence which indicates URL selection affects search rankings. The two main factors seem to be:

1. Extremely long URL's seem to be considered hard to type by a human, therefore an attempt at spam; and

2. Given the fact that a long URL is considered an attempt at spam, it would then seem to be true that search engine rankings can be improved by the use of key phrases in a URL.

An example of the first point above would be a URL that looks something like this: No legitimate company would actually want this domain, nor would any human care to type it. It is an obvious attempt to spam the search engines. So, we remember the Golden Rule of Search Engine Optimization. Some studies have shown that extremely long domain names appear less frequently in the top twenty results than do shorter ones.

That being said, empirical evidence does support search engine indexing of URL keywords. Both Google and Yahoo!, for example, display in bold the portion of a URL that matches a search string, which seems to me indicative of indexing. However, I have been unable to ascertain, either personally or through extensive research, any truly significant occurrence of URL's in the top twenty results which contain the search string. 

The lesson learned here is this: name your web site what would be a logical name - for instance, after your business name. Make it friendly to a human. If a search query happens to be part of that business name, then fine. Don't, however, engage in keyword stuffing in the selection of the URL.

About the Author: Matt Foster is the president of ArteWorks Business Class and an expert on search engine optimization. He has been active in the industry since 1995. For further information, please visit or


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