Saturday, 13 April 2013

URL Parameters in Google Webmaster Tools


URL Parameters is an excellent feature of Google webmaster tools. It is the part of a web address or a web page which comes after query string (?) or query path. The values of URL parameters set dynamically in a web address. Query strings are normally used in most of E-commerce websites for tracking session ID's, user languages etc. It can create many variations of an URL address which point to same content. So, this URL parameters feature in Google webmaster tools helps webmasters in how efficiently crawling their site by Google. Webmasters can limit their website pages for crawling and escape from getting indexed the pages which have duplicate content. URL parameters are case sensitive.

URL Parameters
URL Parameters

How Google Webmasters URL Parameters work:


When a website has many pages containing duplicate content by using session IDs and other parameters as like:

http://www.s3diviner.com/services/seo/onpage.htm

http://www.s3diviner.com/services/seo?category=onpage

http://www.s3diviner.com/index.php?services_id=12seotype=onpage&cat_id=13&sessionid=02566

In all above cases all three URL's point to similar content on multiple pages having content about on page SEO.

When Google crawls or detects similar content by these variations of URL parameters, It puts or groups all duplicate pages in one cluster and suggests best URL to represent in search engines. Webmasters can use parameter handling tool to provide information to Google regarding handling of specific parameters.

URL Parameters
URL Parameters

How Google crawls URL Parameters:


If there are two URL's of a website which using storeID as mentioned below:

/store-locator?storeID=205

/product/foo-widget?storeID=205

In this condition both pages have similar content and if you want storeID not be crawled by Google then both the path URL (store-locator and foo-widget) will be affected and not be indexed by Google. If you are using these pages for different purposes then you should use different URL parameters for both pages.

Types of URL Parameters:

There are two types of URL parameters in Google webmaster tools as following:

1) Parameters that Don't change page content: It includes those URL parameters which don't affect on the real content of the page. You can select this option in Google webmaster tools if the parameters are session IDs. Google will crawl only one representative URL  in this parameter.

URL Parameters that change page content
URL Parameters that change page content

2) Parameters that change page content: It includes those URL parameters which change actual content of the web page. In this parameter you can select many options as you want to change content like Sorts, Narrows, Specifies, Translates, Paginates and other.

URL Parameters that change page content
URL Parameters that change page content

How this URL parameter affects real content of web page:


  • Sorts - In this option content will sorted according either by name, price or by brand etc.
  • Narrows - It shows subset of content. For example if you want to filter content according to size of dresses like XL, M, XXL etc.
  • Specifies - It specifies that what the content is about like any subject, item etc.
  • Translates - It shows content in a different language.
  • Paginates - It shows specific page either for long content or an big article.

How to use URL Parameters in Google webmaster tools:

It is easy for webmasters to use URL parameters. They can easily use this excellent feature as following the below points:

1) Fine this option in webmaster tools at Dashboard >> Configuration >> URL Parameters.

2) Now you need to click configure URL parameters.

3) Next to this you will get parameters which by default added by Google. You can change by clicking edit or can reset and can be add new parameters by clicking on "Add parameter" option.

4) If you want the parameter will not change or affect the real content displayed on page, select No. And if you want the parameter will change the real content displayed on page, select Yes. After this select values from " How does this parameter affect page content?". It has four options as:

  • Let Googlebot decide - It is default option. If you are not familiar with parameter's behavior, select this option. Google will analyze which parameter could be best for your site. Generally webmasters follow this option.
  • Every URL - Select this option if your pages have unique IDs. Google will crawl all pages and use value information selected above. For example
             /services/seo.htm?serviceID=02566
             /services/seo.htm?serviceID=02567
  • Only URLs with value - Select this option if you want that Google will crawl only the URLs which have specific values for a parameter. Like only URLs with value = x. Google will crawl only the pages where the value of parameters will match.
  • No URLs - Select this option if you want Google will not crawl any URLs which contain this parameter.