Google: URL Words a Seriously Lightweight Ranking Factor

16 Jun, 2021 Google: URL Words a Seriously Lightweight Ranking Factor

Google’s John Mueller has been doing his thing again, sharing a few words of wisdom regarding the strategic use of keywords in a sites URL.

For some time, debate has raged as to the extent of the choice of words in a URL; URL content has always been acknowledged by SEOs and digital marketers as a ranking factor, but exactly how much weight it carries has been less clear.

That is, until now – and the answer may come as a surprise.

Straight From the Horses Mouth

Mueller was responding to a question in a video recently published on YouTube, in which he more or less reiterated what he had confirmed about a year earlier.

Here is what he said when he was asked whether it is likely to affect a sites SERP performance if the URLs had different languages:

“We use the words in a URL as a very lightweight factor,” he said.

“And from what I recall this is primarily something that we would take into account when we have no access to the content. If this is the first time we see this URL, we do not know how to classify its content; we must use the words in the URL as something to help us rank better.”

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Elaborating further, Mueller made it clear that once the content of a page has been taken into account, the contribution of the words in the URL to its subsequent SEO notoriety is reduced even further.

No New Insights

His comments generated debate, but he did not bring any tangible information to light. Around a year ago, Mueller stated clearly that “the SEO effect of keywords in the URL is minimal once the content is indexed.”

His comments came on Twitter in response to a question from a website owner, confirming that just as soon as the page itself has been read and indexed, it is largely inconsequential which words are featured in the URL.

“We use simplified URL length as a factor when picking a canonical URL. It does not mean the content will rank better; but if both pages have the same content on the site, then we would pick the shorter URL. Like with language, I would not worry about this for ranking,”

So while it may be true to say that URL words are still technically a ranking factor, they may not warrant the same prioritization as other aspects of your SEO strategy.