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Slashes: The Great Website Debate

Posted by Avasoft Team | Posted in Site Traffic, Website Technical Issues | Posted on 19-12-2011

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Webmasters who are familiar with the traditional method for using slashes in URLs know that if there’s a slash on the end of it, usually it was a directory, while a URL without a slash on the end was typically a file.

For example: http://avasoft.net/aboutus/

Vs. http://avasoft.net/aboutus

However, this is no longer necessarily the case.  There’s no reason to keep doing it this way because Google treats them both exactly the same.

Don’t Confuse Your Users!

The biggest problem some webmasters face is when they make the two example links about lead to completely different information.  Visitors to your website don’t want to have to figure out what’s going on because most of them never knew such a distinction ever existed.

In order to avoid confusion, it’s best to make both URLs lead to the same content.  One of the URLs should be the actual page, and the other one should redirect to the main version of the page.  This cuts down on duplicate content within your site.  The less duplicate content you have on your site, the easier it is for the web crawlers to crawl it.

If your site already contains both the slash and the non-slash version of the URL and both have the same content, it’s not a huge problem though.  Google’s indexing process will figure it out.

Setting Up Your Website to Serve Just One Version

If you do decide that you want to change your website for more efficient crawling, then it’s pretty simple to do.  First, understand that it’s only necessary for a change if you have the slashed and the un-slashed version of each URL on your site and both are returning a 200 code, which basically means that they both deliver content successfully.

Here’s how to get rid of the duplicate content:

  1. Decide whether the preferred version of the URLs is slashed or un-slashed on the end.  If you’re using a directory structure, the traditional way would be to use the slash on the end, but you don’t have to.
  2. Make sure that your internal links all direct to the preferred version you chose.  Double check the sitemap to make sure it uses the preferred version only.
  3. Implement a 301 redirect from the other version of the URL over to the preferred version.  If for some reason you can’t use a 301, consider instead using rel-“canonical”, which works just like a 301 in terms of Google’s indexing.
  4. Use Fetch as Googlebot in Webmaster Tools to test the 301 configuration and make sure both versions of the URL are behaving the way you want them to.  The preferred version should send back a 200 code, while the duplicate should send back a 301 code to redirect to the preferred version.
  5. Use Webmaster Tools to check for crawl errors.

Avasoft is your best source for business website designGive us a call for all of your webmaster questions and to get help organizing your site for best optimization.

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