Many webmasters want to know whether to include a trailing slash (/) at the end of URLs. This has potential implications for SEO because search engines like Google don’t always see different URL structures as equivalent. Here’s what Google representative John Mu has said about trailing slashes:

The short answer is that the trailing slash does not matter for your root domain or subdomain. Google sees the two as equivalent. But trailing slashes do matter for everything else because Google sees the two versions (one with a trailing slash and one without) as being different URLs. The trailing slash matters for most URLs Conventionally, a trailing slash (/) at the end of a URL meant that the URL was a folder or directory. At the same time, a URL without a trailing slash at the end used to mean that the URL was a file. However, this isn’t how many websites are structured today. Many sites with folders serve the same content whether the URL ends in a trailing slash or not. In this way, the two URLs below provide the exact same content

For example, this is usually the case with WordPress sites. They deliver the same content with and without the trailing slash. In some cases, the non-trailing slash and trailing slash version don’t redirect to the correct version. This can cause issues with crawling and duplicate content. In this case, Google recommends that you redirect from one to the other and use that version everywhere.

If you decide to include the trailing slash (like I do), then you should set up a 301 redirect from the non-trailing slash version to the trailing slash version. File names should not end in a trailing slash A trailing slash should not be added for URLs that end in a file name, such as .html, .php, .aspx, .txt, .pdf or .jpg. If you force a trailing slash on a file name, then that will cause the browser to think it is a folder and will result in a 404 error message. The trailing slash on the root domain does not matter It does not matter if your root or hostname has a trailing slash or not. Your web browser and Google see the see these two URLs as equivalent: However, different browsers may sometimes show the URL as either having a trailing slash or not when you look at the address bar. In some cases, the URL displays without a trailing slash in the address bar. But when you copy and paste it, then it shows with the trailing slash. This is normal. The browser is just hiding the trailing slash from the address bar to make it look better. Be consistent and redirect from one to the other It can cause problems with duplicate content and crawl efficiency if your pages are accessible with and without a trailing slash. That’s because Google sees the two different URLs as unique and may index both of them in search. For this reason, you should redirect from one to the other using a 301 redirect. In addition, you should always use your preferred version when doing internal linking, in your sitemap, in your rel canonical tags, etc. Here’s another tweet from Google’s John Mu on this: In other words, Google does not care which version you choose (trailing slash or not). But they want you to choose one version and use it consistently. If you are in doubt whether to use a trailing slash or not, then having the trailing slash is slightly better because it is more common. Trailing slashes in WordPress URLs WordPress uses a directory structure, so it makes more sense to include trailing slashes at the end of page URLs. In fact, this is the default behavior in WordPress. If you want to change it from one to the other, then you can do that easily in the WordPress permalinks settings. Go to your WordPress Dashboard -> Settings -> Permalinks. If you choose a “Custom Structure” for your permalinks, then you can either include or remove the trailing slash at the end.

Your options are: /%postname%/ -- Has a trailing slash at the end /%postname% -- No trailing slash If you change it, then WordPress will automatically enforce your chosen version. It will 301 redirect to it, change internal links and rel canonical tags, update the sitemap, etc. If you do this and the redirect doesn’t work, then you should contact your web hosting company for help. It is not recommended to mess with server configuration files like .htaccess unless you really know what you are doing. Which is better to use? It depends If you have a website that is already established, then you should probably use whatever your site is using today. In other words, if your site’s URLs do or don’t use a trailing slash, then stick to that approach. There is certainly no SEO benefit to switching. On the other hand, if you are starting a new site today, then it is probably better to include a trailing slash simply because this is more common and more likely to be expected by users. Whichever one you choose, it makes sense to be ultra-consistent and have 301 redirects from one to the other. If you have problems with the redirects or don’t know how to add them, then I recommend you contact your web hosting company’s technical support and ask them to set it up for you. On my WordPress sites, I use trailing slashes at the end of URLs. I also 301 redirect to the trailing slash version and use that everywhere — in sitemaps, links and rel canonical tags. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter which one you choose, but it is important to be consistent.

0 views0 comments

Updated: Jan 14

Remember: it’s not about SEO.

It’s about users.

Make the message clear and each page layout simple.

Find out how important an H1 tag is for SEO today. Here's what headers on pages mean and how they are viewed by search engines.

Simply stated, H1 header tags are important.

But it isn’t just making sure we use H1s on webpages or even how we use them.

It’s actually understanding what an H1 is (in modern definition) and how it fits into a page’s organisation.

More importantly, it’s knowing how an H1 – and other header tags (H2, H3, H4, etc.) – fit into the overall user experience of that page and the website as a whole.

Technically, that main header tag doesn’t even have to be an H1.

But, whether it is an H1 or another header tag, that main header is incredibly significant.

Let me explain.

H1s Aren’t What They Used to Be

H1s used to be systematic and standardised; but no longer, as search is smarter than ever before and getting smarter every day.

The idea of using an H1 as a main category – a headline, if you will – has not changed.

But the role of that header is built more around the overall user experience of the page – and how it helps to improve that experience – than the keyword variations included in it and the order in which an H1 shows up in the header hierarchy.

So, that main headline doesn’t have to be an H1, but the fundamentals behind it acting as an H1 remain.

The main header of a website, which could easily be an H1, should be an overarching, short summary of the content on the page.

And the rest of the page’s content should comfortably exist below it on the page, likely in the form of subheaders.

To further understand the importance of an H1 – and how to craft perfect ones for your content – it helps to understand where H1s came from and how they evolved.

Because now, their purpose is important, but their formality is unrestricted with rules or prerequisites.

What H1s Used to Be

There used to be some pretty straightforward requirements for H1s in regard to SEO.

  • Include the most important keyword(s).

  • Don’t use more (or less) than one H1 per page.

  • Make sure the H1 is the first and largest text on a page.

But Google has made it clear these are no longer the rules of the land.

Websites have evolved, as has the way they are presented, the way they are crawled (by search engines), and the way they are consumed (by humans).

What H1s Are Now

Having multiple H1s isn’t an issue.

It’s actually a fairly common trend on the web, especially with HTML5, according to Google’s John Mueller in the video linked above.

And how many H1s there are or where they line up on the page shouldn’t be overthought if the heading structure of a certain page is the best, most organized way to present the content on that page.

“Your site is going to rank perfectly with no H1 tags or with five H1 tags,” Mueller said in late 2019.

We should always favor the user experience over keyword density or even the hierarchy of headers.

(Since some CMSs use styling that may make other headers more prominent than the H1 for whatever design reason.)

And, since having multiple H1s doesn’t negatively affect a page’s organic visibility, nor does an H1’s lack of high-value keywords (if it makes the most sense and still summarizes the content on the page), crafting headers on a page should be done without too much focus on those elements being an H1 over an H2 or vice versa.

It’s just about making sure the content is organized in a practical and sensible manner.

Mueller cited three ways Google’s system works to understand page headers and how they support a page.

They include a page with:

  • One H1 heading.

  • Multiple H1 headings.

  • Styled pieces of text (without semantic HTML).

This obviously illustrates a lot of freedom when it comes to page style and organization, as well as header tags in general.

And plenty of sites are being rewarded that use all three of the above-mentioned layouts.

Header tags, including H1s, are also useful for accessi