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Do you use any other indicator to tell SEs to treat multiple pages as a single page?
example.com/top/mid/bottom/entity1example.com/directory redirects (not rewrites) to example.com/directory/ because that is mod_dir doing one of its two jobs. It is called the directory-slash redirect.
does not re-write to anything else.
So both ".../index" and ".../" will show the page.Yes, but they shouldn't. Why waste your server resources, and the search engines' crawl budget, by providing duplicate URLs for every single page? What happens in some future year when you decide that php or asp or jsp would work better for your index pages? Under normal circumstances, each page (= a particular content) should be accessible by one and only one URL--and in the case of directory-index pages, that one URL should be the form with final slash.
What happens in some future year when you decide that php or asp or jsp would work better for your index pages?
Everything I described so far occurred well in the past, any impact in terms of random selection of pages to include, or wasted crawl budget etc... is all done, history, I am now living with the current state.