Clean URLs (or search engine friendly URLs) are just that – clean, easy to read, simple.
You do not need clean URLs in site architecture for Google to spider a site successfully (confirmed by Google in 2008), although I do use clean URLs as a default these days, and have done so for years.
It’s often more usable.
Is there a massive difference in Google when you use clean URLs?
No, in my experience it’s very much a second or third order affect, perhaps even less, if used on its own. However – there it is demonstrable benefit to having keywords in URLs.
The thinking is that you might get a boost in Google SERPs if your URLs are clean – because you are using keywords in the actual page name instead of a parameter or session ID number (which Google often struggles with).
I think Google might reward the page some sort of relevance because of the actual file / page name. I optimise as if they do.
It is virtually impossible to isolate any ranking factor with a degree of certainty.
Where any benefit is slightly detectable is when people (say in forums) link to your site with the URL as the link.
Then it is fair to say you do get a boost because keywords are in the actual anchor text link to your site, and I believe this is the case, but again, that depends on the quality of the page linking to your site. That is, if Google trusts it and it passes Pagerank (!) and anchor text benefit.
And of course, you’ll need citable content on that site of yours.
Sometimes I will remove the stop-words from a URL and leave the important keywords as the page title because a lot of forums garble a URL to shorten it. Most forums will be nofollowed in 2016, to be fair, but some old habits die-hard.
Sometimes I prefer to see the exact phrase I am targeting as the name of the URL I am asking Google to rank.
I configure URLs the following way;
- www.hobo-web.co.uk/?p=292 — is automatically changed by the CMS using URL rewrite to
- www.hobo-web.co.uk/websites-clean-search-engine-friendly-URLs/ — which I then break down to something like
It should be remembered it is thought although Googlebot can crawl sites with dynamic URLs; it is assumed by many webmasters there is a greater risk that it will give up if the URLs are deemed not important and contain multiple variables and session IDs (theory).
As standard, I use clean URLs where possible on new sites these days, and try to keep the URLs as simple as possible and do not obsess about it.
That’s my aim at all times when I optimise a website to work better in Google – simplicity.
Google does look at keywords in the URL even in a granular level.