Ask yourself this: Would it make sense for Google/Yahoo!/Bing to rank one higher than the other?
Or, alternatively, As a search user, would I want Google/Yahoo!/Bing to rank one higher than the other?
If the answer is "no", then the search engines probably came to the same conclusions as well.
This doesn't preclude some algorithmic quirks due to implementation causing one to have a slight advantage over the other in a particular search engine, but there's still no sense in website owners obsessing over microoptimizations like these, since:
- search algorithms are constantly changing, evolving and being improved upon; any such unintentional biases aren't liable to persist
- quirks in one engine could very well be balanced out by the opposite behavior in another (or in the same engine 2 months from now)
- it diverts energy from much more valuable/influential ranking factors
It's much better to invest in value-add improvements that have much more significant and longterm SEO benefits.
/products/product/<product-slug> is pretty useless.
The same applies to redirects. Google won't penalize you for redirects so long as you're using them correctly. If
/products/ 301 redirects to
/product/, then there will be no penalty. It's the proper way to maintain canonicity when you want users to be able to access a document from multiple URLs.
Redirecting the parent directory but not the URLs under it won't have any impact on SEO, only usability. Users may type
/products/<product-slug> expecting to go to
/product/<product-slug> and instead get a 404. Though, as usual, poor usability can end up indirectly affect SEO since this could cause you to lose some backlinks (as well as sales).