Google Webmaster tool is one of the best and free SEO optimization tool that you can use for your blog. If you ever wanted to make your blog search engine friendly, Webmaster tool is the best way to start. You can do various things like submit sitemap to Google, find 404 pages, check site performance and none the less many users have already shared how Webmaster tool saved their website. Today, we will be learning about URL parameter handling in Webmaster tool.
What us URL Parameters?
There are many ways URL parameters can be explained but I will take the WordPress route and here is my quick example. Usually your post permalink is like this:
but when you get traffic from referral sites like Feedburner, Facebook, Twitter you will notice your permalink have some extra lines.
Ex: domain.com/permalink?utm_source=facebook and so on. This actually is helped in analytics and keep an eye on from where your site is getting traffic.
For an E-commerce site, they offer various sorting options like Sort=relevancy , sort=ascending, pagination and so on, which is also consider as URL Parameters. Usually, it all depends upon your site configuration and architecture that what links will be displayed. This is good for usability and for user experience, but from search engine point of view, such content doesn’t add value and there is no need for such links to be indexed. Infact your clean permalink should be the only link which should be indexed in search.
There are .htaccess code which automatically redirects such links to single permalink but at times Google indexed such links along with URL parameters, which not only calls for low quality content but also created duplicate content issue.
Handling URL parameters using Webmaster tool:
Parameter handling is a useful option under Google webmaster tool to help indexing and deindexing pages which are added due to parameters like nombile, utm_source, replytocom, preview and so on. Some of them also created duplicate content issue for example replytocom issue in WordPress. In one of the method of fixing replytocom issue, I mentioned about parameter handling.
Recently Google has updated the parameter handling feature in Webmaster tool and added more setting option and given more control to users. Earlier parameter handling used to be an option under settings but now you can access it under configuration > URL parameters. Here are couple of screenshot of updated Parameter handling options:
When you click on edit, you can see more options and it’s easier to understand how changing settings will affect your search engine visibility. For example, I’m doing changes for replytocom and see how easy it is here:
Sample of recently crawled article will help you to understand which links this parameter is letting index and you can change settings and see which link will not be indexed after making changes. This is very useful for e-commerce websites to noindex different parameter to ensure safeguard from duplication issue.
Along with it, letting so many Parameters link indexed and crawlable by Google will lower down the crawl rate of your site and it will also cost more bandwidth from your hosting. My recommendation would be, go ahead and check what Parameters Google have found from your site under Configuration > URL parameters and configure them to noindex which doesn’t add any value in search. Also, keep checking this setting page once in every month when ever you are doing SEO audit of your site and if Google found some new parameter links, configure them to noindex as shown in above image.
- Related reading: How to increase crawl rate of your site
I believe, this updated URL parameter handling tool will help webmasters to take care of some serious issues like replytocom easily.
Here is a detailed video from Google team to understand what is URL parameters and how it works and affect your crawling and indexing of your site.
If you are new to Google webmaster and never used it for advance use, I suggest you to read :
Do check this new updated URL parameter option under Google webmaster tool which you can access from Site configuration > URL parameters. Do share your view and let us know if you made any changes after checking this URL parameter tool?