Allowing Longer URLs for Permalinks

15th Jan 2006 stk

Additional Information: Longer permalink URLs - do they help or hurt your page rankings?

There seem to be three components to this question, which are discussed below:

  1. Importance of relevant keywords in the URL?

    Keywords in the URL are considered by the search engines. However, the weight their given isn't very high. According to the article "Search Engine Ranking Factors", there are approximately 40 other factors that are given greater weight and approximately another 29 given equal weighting.

    If you're wanting to increase your permalink URL length only for SEO, make sure that you've handled those other 69 factors, too.

  2. Do long URLs help (or hurt) page ranking?

    According to this post on the SEO Blog:

    Long URLs with keywords has been long used as a tactic for search engine optimization. Many webmasters, SEOs, site owners think long URLs with keywords help a lot in search engine ranking. The fact: it is not true. Search engines do index URLs, but keywords in URLs have very less value in search engine rankings.

    So it doesn't appear that long URLs are penalized, per se. However, longer URLs are often broken in two, when included in emails or bulletin board postings (not to mention how ugly they can be). A broken URL is a dead link and you may lose visitors as a result.

  3. How do Search Engines cope/parse the underscores in a b2evolution URL?

    We have a bit of data here, as shown by a URL test.

    The test was started on August 11th and is not finished, though the preliminary results are interesting. It would appear that underscores are not the way to delimit keywords in URLs. Using a "+" (plus) character lead to higher rankings for nonsensical keywords in a URL, followed by a "-" (dash). Neither the underscored URL nor run-on keywords URL are significantly ranked in a web search using the three major search engines.

    Click on a major search engine, below, to see the current page ranking for this test (which are ranked high, which lower and which -if any- not at all).

    Yahoo    |    MSN    |    Google

    It is interesting to note the placement of the dashed-delimited URL, because such URLs are often considered "spammy" (just look at how many are included in the b2evolution anti-spam blacklist).

Bottom Line: Write relevant, easy-to-understand content, well-formed pages coded to standards (validated) and let the page rankings fall where they may.

Our philosophy can be summed up by the following quote in the article "Ethical Search Engine Optimization":

If you need a longer URL permalink to hold your relevant title, then by all means, bump up the length. (We choose to craft shorter URLs).

[We put] our effort not into looking relevant, but instead into being relevant.
  1. Question & No-hack Options
  2. Dawn (v0.9.1.0) or Earlier
  3. Phoenix (v1.6 Alpha) or Newer
  4. Longer URLs & Page Ranking

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