Keep a simple URL structure

A site's URL structure should be as simple as possible. Consider organizing your content so that URLs are constructed logically and in a manner that is most intelligible to humans.

When possible, use readable words rather than long ID numbers in your URLs.

Recommended: Simple, descriptive words in the URL:

Recommended: Localized words in the URL, if applicable.

Recommended: Use UTF-8 encoding as necessary. For example, the following example uses UTF-8 encoding for Arabic characters in the URL:

The following example uses UTF-8 encoding for Chinese characters in the URL:

The following example uses UTF-8 encoding for the umlaut in the URL:

The following example uses UTF-8 encoding for emojis in the URL:

Not recommended: Using non-ASCII characters in the URL:نعناع杂货/薄荷üse🦙✨

Not recommended: Unreadable, long ID numbers in the URL:

If your site is multi-regional, consider using a URL structure that makes it easy to geotarget your site. For more examples of how you can structure your URLs, refer to using locale-specific URLs.

Recommended: Country-specific domain:

Recommended: Country-specific subdirectory with gTLD:

Consider using hyphens to separate words in your URLs, as it helps users and search engines identify concepts in the URL more easily. We recommend that you use hyphens (-) instead of underscores (_) in your URLs.

Recommended: Hyphens (-):

Not recommended: Underscores (_):

Not recommended: Words in the URL joined together:

Overly complex URLs, especially those containing multiple parameters, can cause problems for crawlers by creating unnecessarily high numbers of URLs that point to identical or similar content on your site. As a result, Googlebot may consume much more bandwidth than necessary, or may be unable to completely index all the content on your site.

Common causes of this problem

Unnecessarily high numbers of URLs can be caused by a number of issues. These include:

  • Additive filtering of a set of items. Many sites provide different views of the same set of items or search results, often allowing the user to filter this set using defined criteria (for example: show me hotels on the beach). When filters can be combined in an additive manner (for example: hotels on the beach and with a fitness center), the number of URLs (views of data) in the sites explodes. Creating a large number of slightly different lists of hotels is redundant, because Googlebot needs to see only a small number of lists from which it can reach the page for each hotel. For example:
    • Hotel properties at "value rates":
    • Hotel properties at "value rates" on the beach:
    • Hotel properties at "value rates" on the beach and with a fitness center:
  • Dynamic generation of documents. This can result in small changes because of counters, timestamps, or advertisements.
  • Problematic parameters in the URL. Session IDs, for example, can create massive amounts of duplication and a greater number of URLs.
  • Sorting parameters. Some large shopping sites provide multiple ways to sort the same items, resulting in a much greater number of URLs. For example:
  • Irrelevant parameters in the URL, such as referral parameters. For example:
  • Calendar issues. A dynamically generated calendar might generate links to future and previous dates with no restrictions on start or end dates. For example:
  • Broken relative links. Broken relative links can often cause infinite spaces. Frequently, this problem arises because of repeated path elements. For example:

Resolve this problem

To avoid potential problems with URL structure, we recommend the following:

  • Consider using a robots.txt file to block Googlebot's access to problematic URLs. Typically, consider blocking dynamic URLs, such as URLs that generate search results, or URLs that can create infinite spaces, such as calendars. Using regular expressions in your robots.txt file can allow you to easily block large numbers of URLs.
  • Wherever possible, avoid the use of session IDs in URLs. Consider using cookies instead.
  • Whenever possible, shorten URLs by trimming unnecessary parameters.
  • If your site has an infinite calendar, add a nofollow attribute to links to dynamically created future calendar pages.
  • Check your site for broken relative links.