URL parameters can be problematic for SEO as combinations of parameters can create
thousands of URL variations out of one piece of content. However, URL parameters play a crucial role in the website’s user experience. Therefore, it is important to know how to use them in an SEO-friendly manner. First, let’s know what parameters are.
Parameters follow the question mark in the part of a URL. It also has other names: query strings, URL parameters, and URL variables. It includes a key and a value pair, separated by an equal sign. Multiple URL parameters can be added to a single webpage using the ampersand.
SEO problems caused by URL parameters
URL parameters cause several issues, including:
Waste crawl budget
Create duplicate content
Make URLs less clickable
Split page ranking signals
Assess the level of the URL Parameter Problem
It’s necessary to find out which parameters are used on your website. Few steps will help in understanding which parameters need handling, what is the scope of the problem, how search engines crawl, and to know the value it brings to users.
Run a crawler to find any instance of a question mark in the URL.
Take the help of Google Search Console URL Parameters Tool to find if Google has auto-added any query strings.
Review the logged files and see if Google bot is crawling parameter-based URLs.
Search using the site: URL: advanced operations to find how Google is indexing the parameters.
Check Google Analytics All Pages report to search for question marks and how they are used by users. Also, ensure that URL query parameters are not excluded in the view setting.
All this information can help one decide how to handle the website’s parameters in a better way and address any SEO related problems.
Few solutions to handle URL parameters for SEO:
Rel=” canonical” link attribute can be used to find out if a page has the same content on another page, encourage search engines to merge ranking signals to the URL specified as authorized. Although this technique is not the best option when the parameter page content is not similar, it does have some benefits. That includes the ability to safeguard against the duplicate content and the consolidation of ranking signals to the canonical URL.
Meta robots Noindex tag
This allows us to set a no index directive for any parameter page that adds little or no SEO value. Meta robots Noindex tag lets you stop search engines from indexing the page. It also has other advantages like the ability to safeguard against duplicate content, easy technical implementation, and removal of existing parameter-based URLs from the index.
Robots.txt file is a great solution to block crawler access to all parameter-based URLs. It has a very easy technical implementation. This avoids duplicate content issues, allows crawl budget to be used more efficiently, and is suitable for all parameter types.
So now that you have gone through the possible solutions use the one that works best for you. Unfortunately, you can’t use all of them at one time as these SEO solutions can conflict with each other and cause unnecessary complexity.