Can long URLs hurt you?

At SEO Liverpool we’ve been having a discussion about long URLs, in the past they have been spammy. I’m sure I’ve read a thread that actually commented on some URLs being a bit too long for comfort (SEO SEM agencies take note!)

Look at my example URL:

www.thisoldsite.co.uk/some-item-like-this-and-another-keyword-like-this-and-sometimes-even-more.42html

I’m all for having descriptive URLs, but …. but on occasion this seems to be taking it a bit too far and most of the time you’ll have trouble identifying anything that matches in the content of the page. Too far? Does that mean a search engine will penalise really long URLs? Or in this case, it does it just looks spammy to a manual review?

Sometimes if you dig deeper, you’ll noticed that you can find the same page as long as you include 42 at the end of the URL. Now, this is a common CMS issue with many sites. We’d deal with this with a 301 redirect from the broken URL to the true URL.

In this illustration, the CMS identifies the page by having the ID (i.e. 42) in the URL and then returns the dynamic content. The CMS should contain a real URL and then 301 redirect any other URLs that have id 42 in them to the real URL.

So, when building a CMS or SEO training staff, you might want to do a couple things in terms of URLs:

(1) Restrict the length of the URL to something normal

(2) 301 Redirect any duplicate URLs to the real URL

Thoughts?

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