According to Google's John Mueller, an artificially flat URL structure has no advantage over a directory-deep structure.
The number of slashes in a URL is by no means an indicator of how important a page is or how likely it is that Google will display the page in search results.
This topic will be covered during the Google Search Central SEO hangout recorded on March 26th.
A website owner asks a question about URL structure and asks Miller for his thoughts on short URLs versus URLs that indicate directory depth.
Here is his answer.
John Mueller of Google on URLs with directory depth
When it comes to directory depth in URLs, the website owner believes that showing users where they are on a website is not a bad thing.
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Mueller agrees with this assumption and says: "Yes absolutely."
A site's url structure can be used as the site owner prefers, says Mueller:
“So if you can essentially use whatever url structure you have on your website, whatever you want. Google doesn't count the number of slashes in your URLs and says, "Oh, this is like five levels down so we won't show it as visible when we search."
It is not necessary to have an artificially flat URL structure. This refers to a structure where it looks like every page is a click away from the homepage when in reality it can be several levels deep.
The fewer clicks it takes to get to a page from the home page, the more Google signals how important the page is. However, there is no way to fabricate this signal with a flat URL structure.
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"You don't have to have an artificially flat directory structure. From that point of view, I think it's perfectly fine if you have a directory structure that users can see and where they can sometimes even type in the URL or copy parts of a URL and There is no need to hide this type of URL structure from users by rewriting the URL or anything like that. "
Google treats URLs as identifiers of content, not as a means of understanding the structure of the website. This is what Google's web crawlers are designed for.
It is entirely up to the individual website owner whether they prefer a flat URL structure or one with depth. It won't help or harm a site if it goes either way.
“For the most part, we treat URLs as identifiers of content. We're not trying to understand the site structure based on the URL. So our recommendation is to set up your URL the way you want. It's definitely not the case that you have to artificially make it look different. "
Hear the full question and answer in the video below: