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Say I'm building a e-commerce website. I have a lot of products in different categories. For example one of them is:

Flat to Round Power Plug Convertor

So I have two ways to link to this product, directly to it:

http://www.somedomain.com/p/flat-to-round-power-plug-convertor-1005874

or add the categories recursively before it:

http://www.somedomain.com/electrical-tools/plugs-sockets/flat-to-round-power-plug-convertor-1005874

According to google's SEO guild it seems it's recommending to put content in their own folders so that both users and robots can understand them easier. Besides if user simply remove the last part of URL flat-to-round-power-plug-convertor-1005874, they can easily get to the category.

The simply question is, when the product is in a 3rd or 4th level directory, the URL gets pretty long. I don't know if this long URL harms SEO or not. Or should I use the first form?

EDIT: The thing that confuses me is the URL should be "descriptive", and it should be "short". Consider the following example:

http://www.somedomain.com/apparel/women-shoes/lovely-pink-shoes http://www.somedomain.com/apparel/children-shoes/lovely-pink-shoes

It would definitely help people find what they want. And when you got tens of thousands of products, this situation would happen a lot. Besides, Google definitely encourages to categorize content in their own folders as referenced above. The problem is, the more descriptive the URL is, the longer it is. How should I make choice between "descriptive" and "short"?

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  • The webshop i've build has recursive urls, with the exception of single products. This because those are important, and have enough content top be viewed as 'direct page'
    – Martijn
    Jul 7 '14 at 10:21
  • @Martijn Thanks for the answer. So basically you agree with the recursive URLs. what if the URL becomes very long, does it hurt SEO or not?
    – yaoxing
    Jul 7 '14 at 10:30
  • To prevent super long url's, I stick to /direct-product-url, not with categories. To test if a url is good, try to explain it out loud to someone. The easier the better
    – Martijn
    Jul 7 '14 at 10:59
  • @Martijn I see your point. But the URL is already pretty long with or without categories before it. People would get confused anyway. Maybe I could make it a bit more useful if I add categories before it? I add an example in my question.
    – yaoxing
    Jul 8 '14 at 2:06
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Long URLs look spammy. If you watch this video from Matt Cutts, you'll see that he talks about how users may be less likely to click on URLs that are too long. In regards to SEO, he says that he doesn't think that there is "much difference" between the two (take from that what you will). From his perspective, it is all about the user experience.

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    Alas, @Martijn and Wayne are both right. It is psychological that shorter but descriptive URL/URI combinations see more CTR. Too long and the user will think it is too complicated, too short and the user will loog for a page that seems to match their search better. It is a delicate balancing act.
    – closetnoc
    Jul 7 '14 at 14:52
  • @closetnoc I add an example to my question. You are right, "descriptive" and "short", they are kind of conflicting with each other. That's what confuses me.
    – yaoxing
    Jul 8 '14 at 2:10
  • @Wayne Many products have very long name already. I'm just thinking maybe make it longer and clearer might be a better idea, for both users and crawlers.
    – yaoxing
    Jul 8 '14 at 2:19
  • @yaoxing It is a bit of a quandary but I think your examples are fine. They do not appear too long to me and should perform rather well! You can even go a bit longer for the more difficult items. You want a URL/URI that people can link to that is not a book. ;-) So far, I think you are doing okay.
    – closetnoc
    Jul 8 '14 at 2:19
  • @closetnoc So it seems our definition for "long" is a little bit different. I get it, as long as I don't get a URL/URI as long as Google Map does, it is OK ;)
    – yaoxing
    Jul 8 '14 at 3:29
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I would go with this url:

http://www.somedomain.com/electrical-tools/plugs-sockets/flat-to-round-power-plug-convertor-1005874

If you just used structured data (breadcrumbs), then you won't have to worry about the URL looking too long in the SERPs, and your click through rate should not be negatively affected.

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  • Yes I do have breadcrumbs. Actually the URL itself is "breadcrumb" alike. You can omit the ending part and it would still work. Lead you to the categories though.
    – yaoxing
    Jul 8 '14 at 2:12

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