Google Advises Against Double Slashes in URLs to Prevent Search Engine Crawling Issues

by | Dec 22, 2023

During a recent discussion in Google’s SEO office hours, Gary Illyes, a webmaster trends analyst at Google, brought attention to the issue of double slashes in URLs and its impact on website visibility and search engine optimization (SEO).

Illyes explained that search engines, including Google, can become confused when encountering URLs with double slashes. This confusion can have a significant effect on how search engines crawl and index web pages, potentially leading to lower visibility in search results.

The concern over double slashes in URLs originates from Google’s previous recommendation to avoid their use. From a usability standpoint, double slashes can be misleading and make it harder for users to understand and navigate a website. However, the implications go beyond usability and extend to SEO.

Illyes referred to RFC 3986 Section 3, which states that the forward slash (/) is a separator and can appear multiple times in the URL path. While technically pages can load with double slashes, they can cause issues for some search engines, resulting in potential crawl errors.

When asked about the impact of using double slashes in URLs on SEO, Illyes emphasized that search engines, including Google, may encounter difficulties in properly crawling and indexing URLs with double slashes. It is important to note that this issue is not exclusive to Google, as other search engines may face similar challenges.

To address this concern, webmasters and SEO professionals are advised to follow best practices and refrain from using double slashes in URLs. By adhering to these guidelines, websites can ensure that search engines can effectively crawl and index their pages, ultimately improving their visibility in search results.

While it may seem like a small matter at first glance, the discussion surrounding double slashes in URLs highlights the intricate details that can significantly impact a website’s SEO performance. As webmasters strive to optimize their websites and improve their rankings, paying attention to these nuances can make a big difference.

The discussion regarding the use of double slashes in URLs took place during Google’s SEO office hours, specifically at the 5:46 mark in the video. This shows Google’s dedication to addressing webmasters’ concerns and providing valuable insights into SEO practices.

In conclusion, Google and other search engines advise against the use of double slashes in URLs due to the potential confusion they can cause for crawlers. While some search engines may be capable of handling URLs with double slashes, there is a risk of crawl errors and decreased visibility in search results. Webmasters and SEO professionals should follow best practices and avoid using double slashes to ensure optimal crawling and indexing of their websites. By paying attention to these details, websites can improve their chances of ranking higher in search engine results and attracting more organic traffic.