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How to use URL Parameters in Google Webmaster Tool

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How to use URL Parameters in Google Webmaster Tool

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:

domain.com/permalink

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:

parameterhandling thumb

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:

actionreplytocom thumb

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.

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?

{ 16 comments… add one }

  • Gaurav H

    well explained article,

    replytocom is one of the big issues faced by many website owners and webmasters because it’s create duplicate content issues. it’s really a big headache for E-Commerce websites. I’ll also check my webmaster tool data for more details. thanks harsh for explaining this useful information with us.

    Gaurav

    Reply
  • jay jay

    Hey,

    i check the HTML Improvement in WebMaster Tool
    so There is 650 Duplicate Tags .i am giving example how is look like
    /manyway.html
    manyway.html/?m=0

    createpaper.html
    createpaper.html/?m=0

    googlebot automatically create ?m=0 end of url post.

    I am using rel= canonical in my site.
    when i check in google search so ?m=0 represent mobile version

    Want to remove ?m=0 this type duplicate tags but i have no idea how to add parameter and remove these type of ?m=0 duplicate tag Any idea? how to fix this problem? Please response on my query, Thanks,

    jayjay

    Reply
  • Chris Jhon

    Now, I understand many more about URL parameter after you publish this article. Before I feel url parameter is one of SEO efforts that hard enough for me. thank you :D

    Reply
  • Nizam

    Well yes, Google Webmaster tool is one of the best and free SEO optimization tool. This is really useful guide on handling URL parameters and video is really helpful for more understanding. Thanks Harsh for this info :)

    Reply
  • Santosh Krishna

    This is coool. Need to check my webmaster tools data for this. However its better if you avoid too many strings in URLs and keep static URLs all through your website so that you dont have to face parameter handling issues

    Reply
  • Mahesh

    Should I set same options as “replytocom” with other parameters like “utm_source” ?

    I mean, Should I use “(1) Yes, (2) Paginates, (3) No URL” for the utm_source paramater?

    Reply
  • Arun rana

    Nice article harsh , but there is also a new feature is integrated named as ” index Status ” under health . Please discuss about it too in next post

    Reply
  • Rinkesh

    You have explained the whole concept in such a simple language.
    Thanks a ton..

    Reply
  • Piyush Kumar

    You are Genius man, keep it up : )

    Reply
  • Swaroop

    Thanks for the detailed information on this subject, now I am going to use this feature using Google webmaster.

    Reply
  • Nikhil Saliya

    This Option of Webmaster tools Was Out of my Mind until you explained,
    Now, I understand the basic URL parameters of webmaster tools.
    thanks Harsh.

    Reply
  • sania

    Dear Sir,
    First thing i like to share my problem with you . i am using blogger (blogspot)
    well all my blogspot site url end of m=0 i am giving example
    www. example. com/scar.html
    www. example. com/scar.html?m=0

    www. example. com/airline.html
    www. example. com/airline.html?m=0

    www. example. com/cut.html
    www. example. com/cut.html?m=0

    and a lot of duplicate ulrs ends with m=0 show in webmaster tool.
    i already using rel=canonical in my blogspot site but these duplicate url errors shown in webmaster tool as a duplicate tags

    can you please assist me what i do in future and how to remove this duplicate url
    if i add paramter what i expect to next ?
    can you please guide step by step

    Best regard

    sania

    Reply
  • Sanjeev

    Google is really making lots of modifications in Analytics and Webmaster tools, so far so good…this change will make it easy to handle duplicate contents..

    Reply
  • Mani

    When i saw this option in Webmaster tool it was difficulty to understand but now it is very easy for me.

    Reply
  • Michael Aulia @CravingTech.com

    Wasn’t aware of this change – heading off to Google Webmaster Tool now to check out. I’ve added a bunch of parameters in the past to ignore (especially the replycom one) when I was hit by Google Panda

    Reply
  • Bhaveek

    I have understood why to use this new feature in webmaster tool. You have explained it beautifully. Thanks harsh.

    Reply

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