In an Office Hours hangout, Google’s Gary Illyes addressed the impact of a double forward slash in a URL on a website’s SEO. Instances of a double forward slash often stem from coding issues within the CMS or the .htaccess file, creating duplicate webpages with only URL variations.
Addressing this problem proves challenging, as simply creating a .htaccess rule to rewrite the URL and remove the extra forward slash doesn’t effectively resolve the issue. To remedy the double slash in the URL problem, it is essential to identify and rectify the root cause within the web server that is generating these duplicate forward slashes in the URLs.
The question that was asked:
“What is the SEO impact of using double slashes in a URL, such as in https://www.example.us//us/shop?”
Gary Illyes answered:
From a puritan perspective, that’s not an issue. According to RFC 3986, section 3, the forward slash is allowed to occur as many times as you like in the URL route as it serves as a separator.
It’s probably not the best idea in terms of usability, and certain crawlers might become confused.
Usability And Crawler Confusion
The significance of website usability lies in its potential to influence user satisfaction and minimize frustration. A negative user experience can have a lasting adverse effect on a website’s popularity. Consequently, this could indirectly affect visibility as recommendations dwindle, site visits decline, and other websites hesitate to link due to poor usability.
Crawler confusion directly impacts SEO, making it crucial to adhere to best practices that enhance a site’s crawlability and comprehension. Any factors leading to confusion for crawlers should be promptly addressed to maintain optimal search engine optimization.
While Google may eventually decipher the issue, relying on Google to navigate a site is not an advisable best practice. It’s recommended to engage an htaccess expert to examine the rules and determine if they contribute to the problem.
Alternatively, a developer can inspect the code for potential issues leading to the generation of double forward slashes. Utilizing tools like Screaming Frog for crawling can assist in identifying the origin of the double forward slashes, offering valuable insights into the underlying technical issue.