How does Google differentiate between a long and short URL in eCommerce categories?

Google essentially uses its multitude of tools to input websites into a hierarchy. Often websites implementing a short URL into their eCommerce categories are ranking nearer to the top. Leaving websites with longer or less comprehendible URLs at the bottom. Google wants to ensure that customers can easily access the products and services they want, when they want, working to eliminate any riff raff in between.

For Google to keep a high value product they must continually improve the user experience in their SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages). Google is constantly adjusting their search results and observing data based on changes in user behaviour. They want you to find what you’re looking for as fast as possible.

short URL SEO ecommerce

Because of this, companies must keep their website concise and accessible for consumers. Particularly in eCommerce businesses, due to the increasing demand for distinct categorisation of content and user features to enable effortless navigation for customers. If people feel lost, they bounce!

Keeping categories concise is important and having a URL that reflects this will not only assist consumers, but will also increase the likelihood that Google will find you. Long URLs are difficult for users to remember, and as a result, can have a negative effect on your website’s SEO.

What should you include in an eCommerce URL?

Implementing a consistent theme within your website’s URLs (ideally including your company website in addition to a category, sub-category and distinguished product), will be a way to manage the length of your URLs whilst keeping a clear and concise experience for your users.

An example of this is shown within Shopify’s client website for the New York Times Shop. Upon selecting “Books > Cookbooks > Essential Cookbook” you reach the URL: www.store.nytimes.com/collections/times-cookbooks/products/new-york-times-cookbook.

Another of Shopify’s clients, Nescafé, simplify this presenting only a category followed by a sub-category. For instance: www.shop.nescafe.ca/pages/gold or www.shop.nescafe.ca/products/gold-dark-roast-1.

In a research project conducted by Quicksprout, they analysed the URL length of the top 100 results of 1,000 keywords.

seo company e-Commerce e-commerce URL

The data found that URLs containing 35 to 41 characters tend to dominate the search listings. While this has not proven long URLs to be hopeless, it definitely shows that short URLs for eCommerce rank highly on Google.

Although we are aiming to keep URLs to a limited figure (with anything below 80 characters considered ‘acceptable’), we must ensure that URLs remain comprehensible to the human eye.

e-Commerce seo tips url

Going back to the Shopify example for Nescafé, their URL:

…is significantly less complicated to apprehend than:

e-Commerce URL ranking

There is trust in what we read. The likelihood of a user creating a Google search with the phrase “dark roast instant coffee” and selecting the second link is extremely slim. Whereas, the first link contains keywords that let the consumer know exactly what that page is about before they even click on it.

Usability of a short eCommerce URL

Another benefit of a short URL in eCommerce is the increased usability and link-ability that they bring. Users on social media platforms are far less likely to share long URLs, partly due to character restriction but partly due to the unaesthetic appearance they breed. Additionally, long URLs are a challenge to distribute. Printed on paper they are difficult to transmit into browser, and on blogs appear inelegant when broken onto multiple lines. Inevitably, this can affect levels of organic traffic, effectively restricting users from sharing and engaging with your brand.

And this is where URL shortening services (URL shorteners) come in to play. Converting long URLs into short using a third-party website may have proven to increase share-ability in the past. But, with new research unveiling URL shorteners to be a disguise for spam-sites, malware and even proposed serious consequences for the security and privacy of people who use them, consumers are becoming less and less likely to click on these links.

URL shorteners in practice

An investigative paper conducted by Cornell Tech researcher Vitaly Shmatikov and independent researcher Martin Georgiev revealed that URL shorteners (such as bit.ly, goo.gl and many more) create links so short that they become vulnerable to scanning. This effectively makes any short link to a cloud-service online document or map: public.

The researchers concluded:

In the case of cloud-storage services such as Microsoft OneDrive, this not only leads to leakage of sensitive documents, but also enables anyone to inject arbitrary malicious content into unlocked accounts. This was then automatically copied into all of the account owner’s devices. In the case of mapping services, short URLs reveal addresses and—via easy cross-correlation with public directories—identities of users who shared directions to medical facilities (including abortion, mental-health, and addiction-treatment clinics), prisons and juvenile detention centres, places of worship, and other sensitive locations; enable inference of social ties between people; and leak other sensitive private information.

In response to the reported findings Google lengthened URLs which eliminated the risk of automated scanning. While, Microsoft ceased the ability for OneDrive users to share files using shortened URLs. Although this may protect users in the future, all previously generated short-links and exposed data remain live and vulnerable. Inevitably, leaving a serious impact on the privacy and security of all who have used this so-called ‘nifty’ tool.


One thought on "Why is a Short URL a Necessity For eCommerce Website-Categories?"

  1. galvansharon91.tumblr.com says:

    Have you ever considered writing an ebook or guest authoring on other sites?
    I have a blog based on the same information you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my audience would enjoy your work.
    If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to send me an email.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *