We have written in the past about URL structures and how dynamic URLs could create duplicate content confusion in the search engines. Today’s issue looks at the URL structure itself and the use of slashes.
Does an URL with several slashes, for example, yoursite.co.uk/a/b/c/article1/ rank lower than an URL like yoursite.co/article1/? It is a reasonable question and there are several ways of looking at the issue.
In simple terms, both URLs should rank equally, all other things being equal. It is those other things that are important. Search bots are only interested in one thing – can they find a page easily?
Whether your content is found five slashes deep or straight at the root is not the issue. Are their links pointing directly at the longer URL, particularly external links? Is that page listed in the search map. Are there on-site links to that page (internal links)?
If those links are in place then both pages should get indexed. However, you can have a page in the root directory that a search engine may not find – if your internal linking is too deep.
If A is your front page, B a category page, C a sub-category page, and D the page in question – will the search bot follow A to B, B to C and C to D to find that content on that page? Generally, yes. How about E, F and G? There is a point where the search engines will stop spidering a site. What point? Who knows? Again, links directly to that page will be of enormous help.
In this situation, it is not just the search bot you should be worrying about, but what about your visitors? Will they follow all those links to get to the page they are looking for?
Provide a link structure that is user friendly and visitors will find your pages. If your visitors can easily find your pages, so too will the search engines. It is not so much the length of the URL as what the URL tells the search engine, and what backup support there is for the page in the form of links. This is why search engine optimization is done every day.