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URL Parameters and Duplicate Content

By default, Google will try to crawl every link on your website. Sometimes, it will encounter similar URLs that point to the same content. This is often due to incorrect URL parameters.

A URL parameter is extra information appended to the end of a URL. For example, the sort parameter specifies how to arrange products on a category page, and the setCurrencyId parameter specifies in which currency to display the price (if you’ve set up more than one currency).

Example parameters in the address bar

Duplicate content is a detractor for most Search Engines, but by adjusting URL Parameters, these pages which may seem similar will be considered original content. 

 

Be careful! Incorrectly excluding URL parameters can stop the indexing and crawling of certain pages. This prevents pages from showing in search results. We recommend speaking with an SEO consultant before making any changes.

 
 

URL Parameters and Duplicate Content

Simply changing the arrangement of products on a page does not count as being different, original content. In fact, Google interprets this as duplicate content.

When Google sees these duplicate URLs, it uses learned information about your site to try to determine which link is the best representative of what the searcher is looking for, and it will promote that one while demoting or hiding the others.

Generally, Google is able to figure out which URL to use by using clues like link popularity and content served from the page. However, if you want to further influence how Google does this, you can use their URL parameter tool.

 
 

Using the Google Search Console URL Parameter Tool.

The URL parameters section in your Search Console account provides a tool to specify which links to crawl, and which to avoid. This can be useful in addressing duplicate content and gives you more control over how Google indexes and presents your site in search results.

In the example below, you could use Google’s tool to specify a rule that tells Google to only crawl pages where the sort value is equal to featured.

Google's URL parameter tool

To reiterate, this tool can stop the indexing and crawling of certain pages. Be sure you know what you are doing and consult with an SEO expert before making any drastic changes.

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