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URL Parameters

URL parameters are additional query strings that follow the main URL for a page, typically contained after a question mark. Multiple query string parameters can be used within a single URL, which can impact a website’s SEO and organic search performance in several ways, including causing duplicate content and crawling issues.  
This collection of SEO Office Hours notes addresses common problems seen with URL parameter handling, with recommendations on how to fix these issues with best practices suggested by Google Search Central.

Parameters Are Hint to Google Not to Crawl as Frequently

Parameters in Search Console aren’t a directive, more of a hint to Google not to crawl these as frequently. Blocking URLs in Robots.txt is strong directive to say Google should not be looking at these pages e.g. if Google’s crawls are crashing your site.

22 Sep 2017

Avoid Internal Tracking Parameters or Make Google Aware in GSC

Internal links with parameters does affect crawling and indexing, as Googlebot could potentially be crawling a lot of URLs that lead to the same content and aren’t as useful for search. The parameter handling tool is GSC can be used in these cases to let Google know these parameters can be ignored or you can avoid using internal tracking parameters.

8 Sep 2017

Google Spot Checks Parameters Applied in GSC

Google tries to apply parameters set in the URL Parameters section of Search Console, like "Doesn’t affect page content". Google also spot checks these URLs, stripping away the parameter and crawling the simplified URL to check that this setting is correct.

5 Sep 2017

Add Self-Referential Canonical Tags

Add self-referential rel canonicals to pages as it gives Google a clear indication of what page is to be indexed. Even if there is just one page, there may be different variations such as parameters – a rel canonical will clean these up.

7 Jul 2017

URL Parameters Make it Easier for Search Engines to Crawl your Site

URL Parameters make it easier for Google to understand the URL structure, and identify which URLs to ignore. Having parameters in the url path can make it harder for Google to understand.

30 May 2017

Session IDs should be a Separate Parameter

If you add session IDs as a separate parameter instead of a semi-colon, then they can be managed more easily with the Search Console Parameter handling tool

7 Apr 2017

URL Parameters Help Crawling and Indexing

URL parameters in URLs make it easier for Google to understand URLs for crawling and indexing. If you put everything into the path of the URL it can be harder for Google to crawl them properly.

7 Apr 2017

Use Incognito for Unpersonalised Results

You can use an Incognito window and GL parameter to view unpersonalised search results.

10 Feb 2017

Parameter Handling Improves Crawl Efficiency

Parameter handling prevents URLs being crawled so is better than canonical tags for crawl efficiency.

10 Feb 2017

The ‘Parameter Doesn’t Change Content’ Setting is Similar to Canonical

The ‘Parameter Doesn’t Change Content’ setting is similar to canonical as it will aggregate signals to the cleaned URL.

27 Jan 2017

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