What You Need To Know

Google search ranking factors can gain and lose prominence over time.

One factor that carried a lot of weight with Google years ago may not be much the same as it is today.

The URL of a website is an example of such a ranking factor.

Given that the impact of a website’s URL on search rankings has changed over time, you may hear conflicting information about how important it is today.

Let’s look at the claims regarding URLs as a ranking factor, and then we’ll look at what the evidence says.

Assertion: URLs are a ranking factor

The URL of a website is said to be a factor in Google’s search rankings which can be optimized in the same way that one would Customize a Title Tag,

More specifically, claims suggest that strategic use of keywords in URLs can help websites rank for queries containing those words.

For example, to rank for a query like [air fryer recipes] Is it helpful to have a URL that contains air-fryer-recipes somewhere in the URL (eg, example.com/air-fryer-recipes)?

Some people believe that a website with keywords in its URL has a ranking advantage compared to sites with more generic URLs.

Is there any truth in this claim?

Here’s what Google says.

Evidence: URLs as a Ranking Factor

Evidence directly from Google indicates that URLs don’t play as much of a role in search rankings as the claims suggest.

Given the amount of time that Google has accepted URLs as a ranking factor, the impact seems to have waned over time.

In 2016, John Mueller of Google Confirmed Keywords in URLs are a ranking factor.

However, he described the signal as “too small”.

“I believe it’s a very small ranking factor, so it’s not something I really try to force. And it’s not something where I’d say it’s your part of restructuring your site. Also worth the effort so you can include the keywords in the URL.

muller addressed The topic again in 2017, “Keywords in URLs are overrated for Google SEO.”

Instead, Mueller recommends choosing URLs for users, not search engines.

She Similar advice repeats In 2018, saying that site owners should not worry about using keywords in URLs.

To be clear: this does not mean that URLs are not a factor in ranking. This means that there are many more important factors to consider when optimizing the URL above.

This is made clear in other statements by Mueller, like this one From 2021 where they say the words in the URL are “very, very mild ranking factors”.

“We use words in URLs as a very light factor. And from what I remember, it’s primarily something we’ll take into account when we don’t have access to the content yet.

So if this is the first time we see this URL and we don’t know how to categorize its content, we can use the words in the URL to help us rank better.

But as soon as we’ve crawled and indexed the content there, then we have a lot more information. And then it’s something where essentially if the url is in german or japanese or english, it’s pretty much the same thing.

As Muller says, once content is indexedThe URL becomes less important.

URLs as a Ranking Factor: Our Judgment

URLs as a Google Ranking Factor: What You Need to Know

Google has confirmed that URLs are a minimum search ranking factor.

When Google crawls a new site for the first time, it will use keywords in the URL to figure out what the site is about.

This may play a minor role in the initial ranking of the site.

Some SEO professionals also think it can be used to help group pages (that is, pages under a folder are being grouped together like they would be with breadcrumbs).

Once the site’s content is fully crawled and indexed, the SEO impact of the URL is minimized.

Featured image: Robin Byong/Search Engine Journal

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