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Trailing slash – what is that?

5 minutes of reading
Trailing slash – what is that?
Category SEO

Have you ever wondered why some websites have a trailing slash at the end of their URL? You may have noticed that some websites will redirect you to the same page whether or not the URL has a trailing slash, while others will display an error message if you leave it out.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss what trailing slashes are and why they matter when it comes to website design. How to best use them to create a more user-friendly experience for your website visitors. So, let’s dive in!


Introduction to trailing slash

The trailing slash, also known as a slash, backslash, or whack, is a punctuation mark that is placed at the end of a URL or file path. Its purpose is to indicate that the following character is part of the same resource.

A slash at the end of the URL might indicate to the user that the server is looking for a default file automatically. If the server has a problem finding that default file, a 403 or 404 error will occur. However, if the slash is missing, the URL leads to the file.

Reminder. The meaning of URL address

Uniform Resource Locator is a specific addressing format on the Internet. Most often the URL is called www. Addresses allow users to see, read and download data posted at specific addresses. Addresses allow customers to locate specific information. URLs are part of the entire site hierarchy that links visitors to their placements.

Trailing slash is a vital element of URL addresses and is found at the very end of the address. Traditionally, a URL ending with a slash denoted a directory, and the URL without a slash denoted a file. Over the years, the distinction between these variants has faded and the Google engine disregards it entirely when listing pages, but the classification can still be considered legally binding.

The benefits

Using a trailing slash in your URLs can be incredibly beneficial.

  • By adding a trailing slash at the end of URLs, you’re telling search engines and browsers that a specific page or directory exists. Without a trailing slash, you risk search engines and browsers interpreting your URL as a directory, which could result in broken links or 404 errors.
  • By using a trailing slash, you are helping search engines better index and organize your content, which can boost your SEO ranking. Furthermore, it can also improve your user experience by ensuring that visitors land on the correct page.
  • Additionally, using a trailing slash helps avoid potential security issues and potential hacking threats.

Connection between slash and SEO optimization

For starters, you need to know that Google’s Search Engine Guidelines indicate that the presence of a trailing slash makes no difference. As a result, it seems to not matter if you include a trailing slash in your URL. It’s not a web ranking problem, it’s just how websites work. So how can trailing slash help you master your site?

Duplicate pages

If there are two pages on the website with the same content, but they differ only by the presence of a slash, we will encounter the phenomenon of internal duplication. In such situations, Google has a problem with interpreting the original source, and the search engines themselves are in chaos.

The best solution to trailing slash is to prevent the site from having a twin to compete with. Just use the appropriate redirection. If you decide to use a slash, you should check if the address that does not have it is directed to the appropriate page via a 301 redirect.

301 redirect

It’s a type of server response code that indicates a page has been moved permanently to a new location. A 301 redirect automatically forwards the user’s request to the new page, ensuring that users are able to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily. One of the most important parts of a 301 redirect is the trailing slash (/) at the end of the URL. The trailing slash tells browsers that the page has been permanently moved and directs them to the new page.

How to add and remove a trailing slash?

The basic way to add a trailing slash to website addresses is to edit .htaccess. Just enter the appropriate directive:

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f

RewriteRule ^(.*[^/])$ /$1/ [L,R=301]

In a similar way, it can also be removed, also using the .htaccess file. To do this, add the directive:

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d

RewriteRule ^(.*)/$ /$1 [L,R=301]

However, if we do not have access to the website files or we use some CMS or subscription e-commerce platform (SaaS), we will also be able to change it from the administration and configuration panel.

To use or not to use?

You may choose to use the trailing slash at the end of your resource’s URL if you wish. The trailing slash has no specific meaning. There is a great deal of significance in keeping the URLs consistent. If you alternate between slash and unslash versions, you may create a mistake that causes duplication and content cannibalization.

In conclusion

Trailing slashes are often an overlooked but important part of URLs. When used properly, they can improve the performance of your website, ensure your links remain consistent, and help ensure that your content is accessible to all users. On the other hand, incorrect or incorrect usage of trailing slashes can lead to broken links, 404 errors, and more. By understanding the importance of slashes in URLs, you can ensure that your website remains consistent, accessible, and high-performing.

Aleksandra Pietrzak
Curator at the National Museum in Poznań, graduate of Art History at the Jagiellonian University and Contemporary Art at the Pedagogical University of Krakow, curator of exhibitions and author of scientific and popular texts. A lover of contemporary art, literature and travel.
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