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Do search engines pay any attention to the depth of a website, or are they more concerned about how site pages are internally linked as well as the ease of its navigation?

Let's say a website, has the following path:

  • Sport > Football > Football Teams > Team Name > Player Name Profile

Such a long path, would typically generate the following URL:

www.example.com/sport/football/football-teams/team-name/player-name-profile/

Personally, I would say, this is a fairly deep path; although very logical. As far as I am aware, search engines prefer URLs to be kept as short as possible. Even if this is not the case, I guess it would be good practice, even if to help users remember the URL, for future reference.

Firstly, would such a long path/URL, potentially have a negative impact on SEO efforts?

Secondly, would it be ok to structure URLs, so they only contain the domain name and the last URL directory? So the above URL would be shortened to:

www.example.com/player-name-profile/

In shortening the URL, using the above approach, would this 'counter' any negative SEO impacts or would it have zero effect? Also, would it take away any context of the page, since the former directories have been removed from the URL?

Thirdly, should the primary focus be placed on site navigation, regardless of site depth? In other words, utilise the site wide navigation, as well as page specific navigation (sidebars etc), in order to help a visitor get to any page, in the shortest amount of clicks possible; of course, with user experience in mind. i.e ... Don't just put every link on one page. Unless, it is a sitemap of course ;-)

marked as duplicate by Stephen Ostermiller seo Jun 6 '18 at 11:27

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  • As far as I am aware, search engines prefer URLs to be kept as short as possible. This is not a factor. Not even considered. Just do not get carried away. This stems from a time where URLs where very long with lots of parameters. Your examples look fine. What is important is if someone was to read the URL, would they know what content exists? If so, then the search engine might be able to figure it out too. That is what is important. Does the URL clearly identify the content? Too short and it becomes ambiguous. Do not be ambiguous. – closetnoc Jun 6 '18 at 1:26
  • @closetnoc ... Just do not get carried away ... If search engines do not consider a URLs length, why the concern? Is it more of a case of the indirect negative impacts, due to users not wanting to remember long URLs, for example? Returning to the original question, are you suggesting that search engines do not factor a site's depth at all. Just focus on Navigation, as that would be the primary area of concern? – Craig Jun 6 '18 at 2:47
  • 1/2 @closetnoc ... Do not be ambiguous ... Using my example of 'player-name-profile', would this be an example of where it could be important to have the 'team-name' directory included within the URL. If you did not, and the player played for both Club and National team, search engines may not know which player profile variant a user is looking for? I was under the impression that actual content played such a great part in the Algorithms, that the URL structures' effect would be negligible. After all, the URL can be anything. – Craig Jun 6 '18 at 2:58
  • 2/2 @closetnoc ... Surely it would make greater sense for search engines to establish a page's context by its internal linking structure rather than the URL structure. Is this not the case? – Craig Jun 6 '18 at 3:04
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    Way back in the day, directory depth was a consideration, but that proved to be essentially a useless metric as times changed. You are right that /player-name-profile/ does not say enough, however, /football/team-name/player-name-profile/ does. URLs are still a clue as to the content topic. It is a small factor, but still worth paying attention to. Remember that the URL is a part of a link along with the text. Both work in tandem. Cheers!! – closetnoc Jun 6 '18 at 3:24

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