URLs with parameters: Do we have an SEO problem?

Guillermo Gascón

Parameters in URLs are a widely used resource with many functionalities by web developers and the analytics industry. It's hard to find a website that doesn't have these types of URLs with parameters, but for Google, managing these types of URLs can be a problem.

And if something is a problem for Google, SEOs must act to fix it.

What are parameterized URLs

These are the URLs from which different parameters hang.

How can we identify the parameters?

They usually start with a question mark followed by one or more variables.

A parameterized URL would generally consist of? + variable category + = + variable

An example of a parameterized URL can be that of an ecommerce category that we have filtered by size:

  • clothing store.com/ t-shirts? size=XXL

Main uses of parameters in URLs

This previous example could be one of the common uses of parameters in URLs, but there are many more:

  • Content filter: size, price, color...
  • Content sorting: from new to old, from cheap to expensive, better rated...
  • URL tracking: It is common to use parameterized URLs to track campaigns.
  • Pagination:? p=2...
  • Other: search parameters, translation, content identification...

SEO problems arise from parameterized URLs

It really is one of the serious problems that we usually audit when a new project comes in to position. We wonder... ugh... will there be parameters? and most importantly... are they under control?

Because if these URLs are not controlled we are going to face:

  • Duplicate content everywhere.
  • category with different filters applied
  • product sheet that generates parameterized urls with their variants *...
  • Crawl Budget tracking issues and deficit
  • It doesn't matter if they are large or small sites, if the portal manages parameters and it is possible to combine them...
  • Mass indexing. Possible ranking problems.
  • Less friendly URLs
  • Decrease in CTR
  • Possible copy-paste problems...

How to solve SEO problems with URLs with parameters

We have seen the number of problems that can occur to us in a project due to an uncontrolled use of parameters.

Now I'm going to tell you how I do it to solve it and avoid future problems.

First, identify the parameters that the site is managing

  • Tracking with crawlers
  • Revision of the Parameters section of the old version of Search Console

Now we know what parameters we should control, let's see the options that are recommended with their consequent pros and cons:

  • Use of canonical tag:
  • We continue with the Crawl problem since it doesn't prevent tracking
  • It's not a directive, so Google can keep these URLs indexed and accessible.
  • *Use of the noindex meta
  • We continue with Crawl's problems

EYE. In some places I have come to read that it is interesting to use the combination of meta noindex and canonical... I would not recommend it since on some occasions, the canonical one has transferred the Noindex to the canonical URL. Be careful with this.

  • Using parameter locking from the Robots.txt file
  • Doesn't delete URLs that have already been indexed
  • On paginations it can make it difficult to track listed items
  • Search Console parameter control tool
  • It's not directive, the indexed results follow
  • It only affects Google's management of your URLs, in other search engines you maintain the problem.

My recommendation is that from the initial moment of a project, you have control over the parameters from the robots.txt, so you avoid their crawling and usually, their indexing.

If you get a project with this problem already given to you... you can do a step-by-step solution.

  1. Deindex URLs parameterized with the noindex meta. Force their crawling so that Google begins to sweep them away from the results.
  2. Block using robots.txt once you have completely cleaned it
Portada del autor

Soy cofundador de TheCookies Agency, empresa de desarrollo web especializada en proyectos de captación de leads, donde doy servicios de consultoría SEO, optimización Web y optimización para motores de búsqueda, liderando el equipo de este área.

Gestionando clientes desde 2015, me declaro un apasionado del marketing digital y vivo con entusiasmo los proyectos en los que trabajamos.

Autor de uno de los primeros podcast sobre SEO "holaseo" y creador de contenido en diferentes canales como YouTube o Twitter.

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