URL parameters make it easier to develop web applications and sites. They also allow collecting analytics to determine the effectiveness of advertising campaigns. However, incorrect usage of this tool complicates the task for SEO specialists. How to reach the balance and use URL parameters wisely? Let’s look at this issue from the SEO point of view.
Defining Parameters in the Search Line
URL parameters are a sequence of characters located after the address of a resource on the Internet. A question mark is used to separate them from the main URL. Each parameter is a pair of characters separated by “=”. Their number can be different, so the “&” sign is used to separate pairs from each other. To understand correctly what we are talking about, use the search Google or type a URL in the search line.
The main tasks that can be solved using the URL parameters are the following:
● Tracking the source from which the transition to the target page was made;
● Changing the sorting order of products or other items on the page;
● Applying filters to display search results in an online store;
● Making a user identification;
● Splitting long search results into pages;
● Specifying the language or a country version of the page.
What Difficulties Do URL Parameters Create for SEO Promotion?
Let’s consider the main difficulties for SEO specialists if the address contains additional parameters.
1. Duplicate Content
In 8 of 10 cases, when changing the address bar parameters, the page content does not change significantly. Even if the list of displayed products in the online store changes its location. If we compare such pages from the position of a search engine, then the search robot sees several different addresses leading to pages with completely identical content. So, there is a great danger of applying sanctions to the site that participates in the promotion. This is because the number of keywords will exceed the acceptable limits, and this will lead to incorrect ranking on the SERP.
2. The Complication of the Content Scanning Procedure
The creation of numerous duplicate content decreases the effectiveness of the promotion. During the scanning process, the search robot has to work with a large amount of text, fragments of which are repeated. This negatively affects the promotion. Too complex site addresses do not allow the search engine to index all the content and make a decision about its usefulness for the user.
3. Lack of Clicks
Analysis of behavioral factors shows that users are more likely to click on short URLs with few supporting characters. A long URL reduces user confidence and raises fears of clicking on a phishing or other similar link. Because of this, the CTR and the page rank in the search results are reduced. Your resource or landing page will not be visited by users from posts in social networks, from links in emails, from forum posts, or other resources where the URL is displayed without abbreviations.
Simple Life Hacks to Optimize URL Parameters
The easiest way to eliminate the influence of URL parameters on SEO is to stop using them or reduce them to a minimum. To do this, please follow this algorithm:
1. Get Rid of “Trash”
Contact the site developer and ask him to write a list of the parameters used, indicating the tasks that they solve. In 95% of cases, you can find those variables that are not needed for real work. For example, a user’s session can be identified not by using the address bar, but by using cookies. If such options are found, they must be eliminated first.
2. Remove Parameters with No Value
Don’t regret getting rid of the parameters in the address bar that have no value. They do not make any practical sense, but they still negatively affect the promotion. Use the Google search operators to find out the weaknesses.
3. Remove Duplicate Keys
We do not recommend specifying in the URL those parameters with the same names, but different meanings after the “=” sign. If they must be used for the resource to work correctly, it should be done accurately.
4. Arrange the Parameters in the Address Line
It does not matter in what sequence the parameters are presented in the address bar for the website to work correctly. However, each new URL is perceived as a new page, but with duplicate content. Therefore, to index it, the search robot still applies search results for ranking. To avoid this problem, let the developer arrange the parameters in the address bar.
5. Use Rel = “Canonical”
This parameter indicates that the page on the site has identical content. Using this attribute affects the merging of the ranking signals that are specified as canonical. It allows you to bind a multi-parameter URL to SEO-friendly URLs to make traffic analysis or other tasks easier. However, this method is not suitable if the content of the “canonical” pages is different.
6. Use Static Addresses
As mentioned earlier, one of the best ways to avoid negatively affecting search engine rankings is to avoid using them at all. The site structure can be formed by using folders and subfolders without using variables in the dynamic site address. For example, an address like www.address.com/view?id=411111 is less readable than www.address.com/products/blue. We recommend using specialized tools to convert dynamic addresses to static ones.
Now you are well conscious of the negative effect that the URL parameters could make on SEO. To solve this problem, we recommend implementing the above steps, which will provide you with the following benefits:
● The efficiency of scanning site pages by a search robot increases;
● The problems with promotion caused by duplicate content are reduced;
● The resource owner or promotion specialist receives the right analytics and can take adequate steps to further optimization.
The only downside is that the implementation of these steps requires the involvement of a developer and a lot of time. However, this is still very effective.
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