Recently I have developed a new blog of ARMACAD. When everything was ready - clean design, content calendar, graphic images, we have started to publish the first articles, and several questions were raised - What is the optimal length for URLs? How to create URL slugs? Do we need to include numbers in slugs? And many more.
So I have started to research the best practices.
There are many factors that Google's algorithm uses to rank websites - mobile-friendliness, speed, content, etc. The recently updated list from backlinko.com showcases the top 200 factors that have proven impact on SEO. In this blog post, I will write only about URL-related factors and what I have found analyzing every URL of Google Blog.
Here are the URL related factors from the list:
- 54. URL Length
- 55. URL Path
- 58. Keyword in URL
- 59. URL String
Here are the assumptions for each factor:
URL Length: Excessively long URLs may hurt a page's search engine visibility. Several industry studies have found that short URLs tend to have a slight edge in Google's search results.
URL Path: A page closer to the homepage may get a slight authority boost vs. pages buried deep down in a site's architecture.
Keyword in URL: Another relevancy signal. A Google rep recently called this a "very small ranking factor". But a ranking factor nonetheless.
URL String: The URL string categories are read by Google and may provide a thematic signal to what the page is about.
As I will not analyze page content, only URLs, let's drop 58 and 59 factors and focus on 54 and 55 - URL length and URL path.
There is a long debate on whether or not to use SEO stop words (or Google stop words) in URL slugs, and I'm also going to check URLs for stop words.
So the final list of metrics and what I am going to analyze looks like this:
- Average length of a URLs
- Average length of a URL slugs
- Average words count in URL slugs
- List of stop words used in URL slugs
To easily calculate those metrics and get answers to my questions, I have written a small PHP script to parse sitemap file located at https://blog.google/en-us/sitemap.xml.
And here is the results:
URL length - number of characters
Slug length - number of characters
Slug length - word count
We will analyze more popular blogs and websites to understand current trends and how certain things are handled at good companies. Let's sum up and remember these numbers are just an example.
Most of the slugs consist of 5-7 words.
Most of the slugs consist of 21-30 characters.
Always learn and discover best practices, do experiments and build your websites for your users, not for search engines ;)