Does the number of subdirectories in a URL affect its ranking?

Does the number of subdirectories in a URL affect its ranking?

Today’s question comes from
Monique in the Netherlands. Monique wants to know, how much
of a difference does the number of levels in the URL make. Does dub dub dub domain dot com
slash key word give much higher rankings on key word than dub
dub dub domain dot com slash blabla slash blabla
slash keyword. It’s a very good question. The answer is there’s virtually
no difference whatsoever. Think about things in
terms of page rank. Usually the root page of
your site is what has the most page rank. That’s where everybody’s
linking to. That’s the thing that they all
care about and usually link to. So if you take a page on your
site and you link to your root page directly, that page will
get a little bit of page rank as well. Whether that page is at a high
level or a low level in the directory doesn’t change how
much page rank it gets. Now I can’t speak for
Microsoft or Yahoo. I don’t know how
they treat things. I’ve heard rumors that they
look at the number of levels. And certainly, for useability,
if you can make things relatively close to the root
page, that can be nice. But certainly within Google I
wouldn’t worry very much at all about whether things were at
one level deeper or at the root level or something like that. I think it can be very helpful
for users if you have a subdirectory, where you might
have slash search or you might have slash reviews or you
might have slash products. And you can have things
within that subdirectory. That can be a great thing for
usability, and I definitely recommend having your
site categorized in some sort of way like that. But as far as something that
just says, aha, there’s one or two extra directories,
therefore your rankings get lowered, I wouldn’t worry
about that at all. It’s really not a major
factor in Google search engine Rankings.

Daniel Ostrander

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22 thoughts on “Does the number of subdirectories in a URL affect its ranking?

  1. Nikolay Nikolov says:

    "Not a major factor" you say. So it is a factor?

  2. David Ogletree says:

    Matt i think your answer was too simple and too literal. you need to read between the lines. People dont know all the jargon that we use and often times dont know how to ask what they mean.

  3. alternatereality85 says:

    Brilliant to have that confirmed, thanks!

  4. Milan Pintar says:

    I have gone over this topic with my developers lately and have asked them do SEO with less levels and put in – … I don't know if I should have done or most importantly if it's easier for people to read? we can also put in long tail keywords in the url.
    Should I use _ or / ?? does it make a difference?

  5. alternatereality85 says:

    @SEOAly My guess is that the "Not a major factor…" comment is Matt saying 'look its basically ok as long is its within reason.' If someone buries files, hmmm let's just say as a nice round number, 10+ directory levels deep, and those directories are all extensively keyword rich, then its probably going to trip something or raise an electronic eyebrow so to speak. on one of my sites, its logical for the architecture to go 5 levels deep, but I personally wouldn't want to go much further.

  6. Milan Pintar says:


    Should I use _ or / ??

    or it doesn't matter, it's all about keywords … if I have longer directories I guess that's just longer tail keywords. Or does google treat only look at the last directory for key work and use the other directories for some organizational assessment?

  7. Milan Pintar says:

    Matt did answer the question really well !!! thanks!

  8. StuartLittleJr says:

    Dude, cut that hair, you look better without it – just like me 😉

  9. Alex Fon Hoover says:

    @HolidayNova You should use "-" to separate words in the url.

  10. alternatereality85 says:

    @SEOAly Ah righty, I hear you, and agree it would be nice to have precise answers to questions like this. However, I don't imagine the ambiguity from Matt or any other Google search engineers will change at any time in the near future if at all though. I guess they can't give too much away in terms of their algorithm as far as search competitors go, and because they are leaving themselves wide open to black hat abuse, which I imagine might be a key reason for the ambiguity.

  11. alternatereality85 says:

    @alternatereality85 or when I say precise *answers* to questions like this – what I really should say is precise *questions* for Matt to answer hehe. For me personally, I think these short videos from Matt are a really great idea and long may they continue, very helpful and good pointers in the right direction at the very least for many folk in what is a fast evolving, ever changing industry thats hard to keep up with every aspect even if you spend almost every waking hour trying to.

  12. KingDavidTV says:

    @dz1ncha Spot on! Matt Cutts talks about this in another recent video. Use "-" as a separator. Never underscore "_" which Google bot interprets it as nothing and joins your keywords together which may create a different meaning to your page's content. Eg I aim for thsi result: "keyword1 keyword 2" using "-" in urls instead of "keyword1keyword2" as a result of using "_".

  13. Keesjan Deelstra says:

    The question is why you have the keyword so deep in your site architecture. In most cases this means the page is also deep in your menu structure and thats why -without external links- the PageRank and ranking can still be lower. So the lowering effect is indirect due to site navigation structures.

  14. YT stuff says:

    If Google webmaster tools are releasing these snippets of information, why doesn't google just relax and release EVERY key feature of their algorithum? At the end of the day I'm sure your making updates and changes on a regular basis so it's not like anyone will steal your No.1 possistion. If you released a full list of updates each year too, this would be great and give us SEO's a real qualification in a sense.

    P.S spammers wouldn't spend much time on it cos it would still take WORK.

  15. Siva Ganesh says:

    MC did not understand well.. he is not about PR.
    Actually if you have major keyword in the URL , it is good. But not too longtail URL.
    Hope it helps.

  16. modmix says:

    Great, thanks for the information.

  17. Ronnie Bincer says:

    @Indurios Because like it or not, how you build your site matters a lot, maybe just as much as the all hailed "content, content, content" expression because if your site is not found (using Google's algos) then your content is not seen by enough for it to matter. (read: Big Billboard in my BackYard).

  18. Frank Stallone says:

    By Google

  19. WatchHub says:

    Thank You Matt ..always straight forward advice

  20. Felipe Uribe says:

    Hello thank you very much for answering this question, I understand the video, seo department today my company tells me as a developer this changed in 2013, say it is a record error.

  21. Jia Yuan Goh says:

    Is this relevant today, 5.5 years later?

  22. santosh kumar sammy says:

    Really so helpful thank you for amazing video

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