I've recently just finished building a small website and created friendly URLs using IIS7.5' rewrite module.

The site has now been passed to the client's SEO guy and he says the friendly URL format I've used is extremely "catastrophically" bad for Google.

Currently, the URLs look like this:


SEO guy says that Google sees this as being a page deep inside the folder structure and thus gives it a low ranking.

Now, I should be able to remove the category details from the URL and get it down to

  • www.example.com/products/123/page_name
  • or www.example.com/products/page_name/123

and I can re-arrange the order of the URL parameters if that helps, but SEO guy says this is still very bad and he wants it reduced to only 2 elements.

So, my question is, how much does the length or number of parameters in a URL affect a page's ranking? should I restructure the site in an effort to reduce the number of parameters? Or is SEO guy overstating the problem?

  • 2
    Note that these are path segments, not parameters.
    – unor
    Apr 5, 2014 at 12:54

3 Answers 3


It is not the perceived depth of directory that google factors into rankings, urls with so called deep directories can be indexed and ranked just as shorter ones can. http://www.searchenginejournal.com/url-structure-seo/11801/

Though Google does recommend you keep urls as simple as possible. https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/76329?hl=en


Is the SEO specialist right? Yes and no (or more appropriately, debateable).

That said, the closer you are to the root domain (in your example example.com) the better.

The lower down in the path you are, the less prominence Google will give to your page.

So in your example:


Is definitely the preferred way to do it, giving the user and Google enough information about the path, but keeping it short and simple as possible.

Source: Our internal Google Analytics and Search Expert

  • 1
    To expand, just use this trick: The easier it is for YOU to remember, the better the url. The easier YOU can explain the url to someone, the better it is.
    – Martijn
    Apr 4, 2014 at 10:01
  • 2
    "the closer you are to the root domain ... the better" - In terms of URL path structure or number of clicks the user has to make?
    – MrWhite
    Apr 4, 2014 at 11:52
  • This is partial right, as @w3d states the "The lower down in the path you are, the less prominence Google will give to your page" actually doesn't refer to the length, it refers to the number of levels down/ clicks the user has to make to get to these pages from the index page. Apr 4, 2014 at 14:32
  • 1
    My bad, I should have expanded on shortness of URL vs number of clicks from root to destination page. I think Martin's trick is a handy one to hold on to, as a general rule, for the URL itself. Apr 4, 2014 at 14:52
  • my original question wasn't referring to number of clicks at all... all pages are available from the homepage... the question is whether google perceives the backslash structure of a friendly url as being the same as a traditional folder structure...
    – Dog
    Apr 6, 2014 at 7:45

This topic can be quiet debatable as stated. However, there are 2 general rules.

  • make the url simple understandable and relevant i.e site.com/shop/pens is much better then site.com/this/shop/sells/pens?id=123123123
  • make the step to get to the desired location as short as possible

If you follow these two rules then regardless of if your url is "optimised" or not then it will not matter if your index page has a link to site.com/this/shop/sells/pens?id=123123123 the the link will have quiet a high relevance to your site (providing it sells stationary or your content is on a relevant subject.

If it takes your user 6 clicks to get to site.com/this/shop/sells/pens?id=123123123 then your user will probably get bored and look elsewhere. Hence why google will rank this lower then your first or second pages.

People may argue that site.com/shop/pens is far better then the prior example however if your site has already been designed and your pages have been ranked for a while do you want to risk loosing all of that pagerank and the age of the page simply to just make it "optimised". Maybe take an alternative route, make the clickable or viewable on your 1st page or your second page. If you start to use rewrite rules that give a 301 header then 2 things will happen. your traffic from a search engine will redirect the traffic to the new pages, then your old page will be de-indexed from google. It may then take another 2 or 3 weeks for google to re-index your new pages (providing you update the links on your site and don't just rely on the re-writes). You could then potentially loose 70% of traffic for the next couple of weeks.

I personally prefer to try and make 90% of your content clickable within the first 3 levels of your website. i.e the customer can access a certain page from no more then 3 clicks from one of the links on yours site.

Again this is a matter of opinion but what has worked for me doesn't mean that it will work for you.

  • all of the links are available on the home page with 1 click... note that the original URL is a root level page with a number of url parameters... IIS friendly URLs uses backslash to separate the parameters... so this really gets to the crux of the matter... my URL is not really inside sub-folders, it looks like that because of the friendly ur...
    – Dog
    Apr 6, 2014 at 7:42

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