Webpage URL length


Many blogging software sites automatically create long URLs based on the titles of articles. Some of these URLs can be very long. So is there an absolute or recommended maximum?

For Fun

www.thelongestlistofthelongeststuffatthelongestdomainnameatlonglast.com/ wearejustdoingthistobestupidnowsincethiscangoonforeverandeverandever butitstilllookskindaneatinthebrowsereventhoughitsabigwasteoftimeandenergy andhasnorealpointbutwehadtodoitanyways.html

The above was claimed to be the longest URL; this is of an actual page created via a CMS – longer URLs are possible with sub folders and virtual infinite lengths using query parameters.

Is there a maximum URL length?

Practically URLs longer than 2,000 characters will fail on many browsers and systems so this should be seen as the maximum.

The web standards (HTTP rom version 1.1) require no limit to this length, but what happens in practice is another matter.

But other factors are important; for example if the pages are indexed in a sitemap, then the most popular user of sitemaps (Google) will only read URLs up to 2048 characters in length. For many years Google would only crawl and index page URLs under this length.

A lower limit occurs when urls are linked to in mail. For example using a mailto in IE requires the URL length to be under 512 characters in length.

It therefore appears that URLs should be under 512 characters in length to avoid issues with emailing (and promoting) your webpage.

Although it could be argued the above can be overcome by using URL shorteners such as Bit.Ly but not everyone is aware of or uses these.

Impact on SEO of Website Length

This is the more practical issue. Our tests show that shorter URLs are better.

To be more precise our research was focused on the use (or over use) of hyphens within URLs. The rankings observed would be consistent with a ‘penalty’ causing a lower ranking for more than two hyphens in any part of the URL.

The question is whether this difference in observed ranking is due to automated rules used by the Google search robots or whether it is a secondary impact from the measures click through rates on these listings. Real human viewers will associated very long URLs with many hyphens with low quality blogs and avoid clicking onto them in the search results.

Either way it appears having large numbers of hyphens within a URL is bad practise for search marketing.

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