Parameters play an important role when a client, such as a browser, retrieves server resources. The parameters ensure that the correct resource is retrieved.
When a user retrieves a URL via a browser, this client sends a request to a server. There are two methods for implementing this communication: GET or POST. The most common method today is data exchange via http via GET parameters.
These parameters consist of so-called "name-value pairs" that are separated from the URL by a question mark (?). A URL can contain several parameters. These are then separated from each other by a & character. For this reason, the term "parameter URL" is also used. Since the URL itself can adapt to the output content due to different parameters, it is also referred to as a dynamic URL.
Parameters are important for correctly displaying the content of a website for a browser query. These parameters are often found in online shops, for example, when product filters are used. GET parameters can also be used to fill forms with content.
A typical dynamic URL can then look like this:
In this case, this would be the URL for the product filter for blue shoes in size 45.
Parameters can be stored in the browser cache, and the corresponding URLs can also be indexed by Google. In this case, it is possible for Google to index multiple URLs with the same or very similar content. This results in duplicate content which can have a negative effect on your rankings, as it isn’t clear to Google which URL should be indexed first. This can lead to keyword cannibalization, as the ranking potential is spread across multiple URLs.
At first glance, URL parameters are not always clearly assigned to a category or a name. Long URLs with many parameters can become very cryptic for users, and these URLs are also only conditionally suitable for sharing. Very long URLs with many parameters can also present Google with a larger task if the search engine cannot, for example, determine the exact purpose of the respective parameter. To make it easier for the crawler to assign parameters, you can assign them manually in the Google Search Console.
Figure 1: Assign URL parameters with the Google Search Console
With Ryte, you can analyze and determine the URL parameters on your site.
Go to "URL Structure" in the Website Success module and then click on "GET Parameters". All URLs with parameters will be displayed.
Figure 2: Find your parameters with Ryte
There are several ways to handle URLs with parameters.
To avoid duplicate content, you can link from URLs with parameters to the main category via Canonical tag.
If many parameter URLs are created in your online shop by product filters, you can exclude these filter URLs from indexing with the NOINDEX,follow meta tag. The addition "follow" ensures that the Googlebot does not index the URL, but still follows the links to it.
If your CMS uses parameters for static URLs, you can convert the URLs to SEO-URLs using mod rewrite and 301 redirect. This improves the usability of your website for users, because they can see where the click on the URL takes them.
Parameters are important so that clients such as web browsers can correctly retrieve content from servers. However, if the parameter URLs cause duplicate content or compromise usability, you should act. Ryte will help you to find the affected URLs safely and quickly.
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Published on 10/18/2018 by Olivia Willson.
Who writes here
After studying at King’s College London, Olivia moved to Munich, where she joined the Ryte team in 2017. She is in charge of product marketing and CRO, and also helps out with SEO and content marketing. When she's not working, you can usually find her outside, either running around a track, or hiking up a mountain.