Parameters are the part of the URLs that follows a question mark. Parameters are also referred to as query strings or URL variables, URL parameters include a key and a value pair, which are separated by an equal sign. You can add multiple URL parameters to one webpage by using an ampersand sign. There is a number of use cases for parameters such as tracking, reordering, filtering, identifying, paginating, searching, and translating.
URL parameters can be an SEO nightmare since combinations of these parameters can create thousands upon thousands of URL variations out of the same piece of the content. However, URL parameters certainly play a very crucial role in a website user experience, so it is important to understand how to use them in a SE-friendly way.
Which SEO problems do URL parameters can cause?
URL parameters cause a large variety of issues such as –
- Create duplicate content for a website
- Waste the crawl budget
- Split the web page ranking signals
- Make the URLs less clickable
- Create duplicate content for a website
URL parameters occasionally make no real change to the content of a page, which means that a web page URL with monitoring tags or a session ID can actually be identical to the original. There can be multiple URLs with very similar content and search engines. Such as Google treats each parameter-based URL as a new page. So when they see multiple similar URLs, they treat them as multiple variations of the same web page. Duplicate content is a huge no-no in SEO services. And these similar URLs can downgrade Google’s view of your overall website quality.
Parameters waste the crawl budget
Crawling redundant parameter pages wastes the crawl budget, reduces your website’s ability to index search engine optimization relevant pages, and increases the server load. Overly complex URLs with multiple parameters can cause issues for the crawlers by creating high numbers of URLs that point to the same or similar content on your website. Google then causes a problem by fully indexing all the content on the website or often consumes more bandwidth than necessary to complete the task.
Parameters split the web page ranking signals
If you have multiple versions of the same page content, links, and social shares come in on different versions and dilute your ranking signals then this can confuse the crawlers, which then become unsure about which pages to the index for the search query. This means that multiple versions of the same web page will likely rank lower in the search results, rather than the one version moving to the top of the results.
URL parameters make the URLs less clickable
Parameter URLs are often unsightly or difficult to read, making them seem less trustworthy and unfortunately less likely to be clicked. The aesthetic nature of the URL itself impacts the web page’s performance. The Click-through rate definitely influences the rankings and these URLs are often less clickable on social media or in emails when the full URL is displayed. Every tweet, like, share, email, link, and mentions matters to your website and URL readability can definitely contribute to your brand engagement.
Now that you know a bit more about some of the problems that the URL parameters can cause, it is crucial that you fully understand the extent of your parameter problem.
How you can assess the extent of your URL parameters problem?
It is very important to know every parameter used on your website. But chances are there that your developers don’t keep an up-to-date list of all the parameters. So how do you find all the parameter that needs the handling? Or how the search engines crawl and index such pages? In order to get an answer to all these questions, you need to follow these five steps.
Run a crawler –
With a crawler device tool such as Screaming Frog, you can search for “?” in the URL.
Look in Google Search Console URL parameters tool –
Google typically auto adds any of the query strings it finds, so you can often find your parameters-based URLs here.
Review your log files –
Look and see if the Google bot is crawling parameter-based URLs or not.
Search with the site-
URL i.e. advanced operators –It is very important to know how Google is indexing the parameters you found by putting the key in a site: example.com in URL: key combination question.
Look in Google Analytics all pages report –
Search for the question mark to see how each of the parameters you found is used by the users. Make sure that the URL query parameters have not been excluded in the view setting.
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