26

I want to know, is there a huge difference in terms of SEO between these URLs:

example.com/ontario/toronto/listings

or

example.com/listings.php?p=ontario&c=toronto

Will one URL rank higher than the other? Is there a huge difference here?

17

Search engines can read query strings just fine so both are acceptable to use.

The first example you use does offer more benefits for SEO since it clearly creates a hierarchy with broader categories to the left and more specific categories to the right. It's also good for usability since it is easier for humans to read and remember.

But overall this won't have a large impact in your rankings.

  • 5
    Plus you could get what looks like duplicate content if the parameters are swapped. – DisgruntledGoat Jun 16 '11 at 9:37
  • @disgruntledGoat very good point! – John Conde Jun 16 '11 at 13:12
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    @DisgruntledGoat I don't think Google is that stupid with GET parameters. – Calmarius Dec 31 '15 at 12:45
  • It isn't about "stupidity." Different parameter orders are different URLs. Google isn't going to swap them on its own, but it will crawl different versions if it finds links to them. If you have URLs with multiple parameters that you want in search engines you need to make sure that you are very consistent about the order when linking from your own site. It would also be a good idea to implement canonical tags or redirects so that search engines know which version is the preferred order. Then search engines don't have to try to guess about how to deal with the duplicate content. – Stephen Ostermiller Nov 9 '20 at 11:24
12

@John Conde is right. The first URL has a hierarchy, which Google prefers.

Have a look at this Google Search Engine Optimization Start Guide (PDF link) Pages 8-11 specifically

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