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How-to 7 min read September 5, 2019

How to set up the processing of GET parameters in Google

GET parameters are the ones that are contained in the URL after the "?" sign, separated by the ampersand "&". Let's figure out how to set up their indexing on Google to avoid duplication.
The main risk of the GET parameter is to get multiple URL pages with identical content and to spend crawling robots budget unnecessarily. There may not be enough budget to scan useful pages. This leads to the pessimization of duplicate pages in the SERP.

A GET request allows you to transfer certain indicators, for example, product number or order number. However, duplicate pages may occur, for example, in online stores where a large number of pages is generated. For example:
GET URLs
Parameters can be different. Let's consider the example of duplicate URLs. There is a session identifier which is a number added to the URL which creates a new page for the user with special content for them. This allows, for example, to show each user their own cart.

Parameters are not used to separate users. Their goal is to allow a user to filter products by brand, color, size, and material when, for example, a user types in the query "shoes". Besides, each combination will add new parameters to the existing URL. Pages will not vary greatly in content. This will result in complete or partial duplication.
Same page with different URL because of the filters
When search engines find such URLs and begin to crawl them, they notice duplication of information. The algorithm groups addresses and selects one among them to display it on the SERP. It determines the "winner" at its discretion, and you will not be able to influence it.

However, you can independently tell the search engine how to correctly process such URLs so as not to allow the crawling budget to be spent on duplicate pages, which subsequently will not be enough for useful pages that generate traffic.

Setting up the processing of GET parameters in Google

The tool "URL Parameters" in Google Search Console can help a search engine to correctly process the URL. It classifies parameters. Therefore, for example, if you have an international online store, the pages will not be duplicated in the search with the "Country" parameter set.

How to set up the processing of the GET request

1
Go to the tool via the link or via the Crawl section, as shown in the picture:
URL parameters in the Google Search Console
2
Add parameters and indicate whether the content of the pages is changing. Enter the parameter as in the URL itself. Note that the character case matters:
Add URL parameters to the Google Search Console
3
GET parameters in Google are divided into two categories:

● active;
● passive.
Active parameters: brand, gender, country, and sortorder change the page content. They sort, restrict, translate language, divide by page, make samples. Passive parameters, sessionid or affiliateid, perform on the contrary; they do not change the content, allow you to keep statistics on views and clicks. Passive parameters include the session identifier. The URLs in the image display the same content:
URL with passive parameters
If the page content changes, specify how this happens in the respective menu:
Configure URL parameters in the Google Search Console
Specify which URLs with this parameter Googlebot should crawl. Let's consider each of the proposed options:

  • "Let Googlebot decide" is the default setting for already-known parameters. Select if you're unsure of a parameter's behavior, or if the parameter behavior changes for different parts of the site. Googlebot can analyze your site to determine how best to handle the parameter;

  • "Every URL". Tells Google never to block URLs with this parameter. URLs with unique values of this parameter do not contain duplicate content. This setting allows the system to identify the uniqueness of the content. Use it if you're sure that the parameter edits the page content; otherwise, the system will crawl the content duplicate;
Processing and crawling GET parameters in the Google Search Console
  • "Only URLs with value" means that the search engine robot crawls pages with the parameter whose value you choose, and ignore all other ones. You should only apply this setting if the parameter value allows you to reorder the content display;
Example URL crawl with value in the Google Search Console
  • "No URLs" tells Google not to crawl any URLs with a specific parameter. Google won't crawl any URLs containing the parameter you entered.
Prevent re-crawling in the Google Search Console
4
Save your settings after deciding how Google should crawl addresses. This completes the settings. You can edit or delete them later.
Saving URL parameters in the Google Search Console
Managing URL with different parameters means that if one address contains several parameters, you need to specify the order of indexing. If you don't specify settings, Google will go by the strict rule parameter.
Indexing URLs with Parameters in the Google Search Console

Conclusion

An HTTP GET request is required to display a page with user-modified content for them. Filters in online stores are an appropriate example. In the URL address, these parameters are displayed after the "?" symbol, separated by "&". The link looks like this:
Example URL with GET Parameters
Indexing such pages can be a problem as search engine robots define them as duplicates due to completely or partially matching content. Another risk is spending the crawling budget of search robots. As a result, useful pages that generate traffic will not be crawled.

Setting up GET parameter processing on Google is easy:
1
Go to Google Search Console and select the "URL Parameters" which is located in the "Crawl" section.
2
Add the parameters that are in the address and set the processing method for Google.
3
Choose how Google should crawl active pages:

  • let Googlebot decide;
  • every URL;
  • only URLs with value;
  • no URLs.
In addition, specify the canonical addresses and make changes to the sitemap.xml.

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