There is an old post on Sebastian’s Pamphlets that has been picked up by Ann Smarty on Search Engine Journal. The question of using exact URLs is worth following up since failing to do so could be costing you valuable link juice.
It’s not used all that often these days but there are web sites around who use a trailing slash in their URL, for example, domain.co.uk/index.html/page1/ – Whilst using this example I will throw in the www.domain.co.uk/index.html/page1/ – When building links from other web sites, which version of your URL do you use? If your site’s preferences are set up to use the www – do you always include it? We can often get lazy about these things. In a similar manner, do you include the slash at the end of the URL, or do you get lazy and drop that as well?
The next question you may ask is whether or not it really matters. Whichever version a user uses, they still find your pages. And they do. However, what you are not seeing is what is going on behind the scenes. When an URL is typed into a browser bar the browser effectively goes looking for that web page. Once it finds the page, the browser and the site do a quick little dance to be sure everything is right.
If you have dropped the www or the trailing slash, the web site is likely to tell the browser – “you have found the right place, just say please” – in other words, use the correct URL. And that is what the browser does. If you watch the navigation bar where you have entered the URL, the browser will suddenly change the URL to the correct format, then go and request the page again. This is effectively double handling of a page request. If you have a thousand visitors each day who are double handling the page request, that is two thousand page requests – quite a drain on resources over time.
More importantly, when the search engine gets that ‘please say please’ from your site after following a link, there is a strong chance the link’s ‘vote or link juice’ won’t flow through to your page. Why? The link is going to a page that technically doesn’t exist so no link juice.
The moral of this story is very simple. When undertaking a link building program – use the URL exactly as it appears in your browser (be lazy and copy and paste it). This will ensure that every link you receive carries link juice, no matter how small. Links are hard to come by – don’t waste them with lazy URLs.