Google Webmaster Tools Parameter Handling Explained

A new addition to Google Webmaster Tools has popped up, its called Parameter Handling.  Found under the Settings menu, Parameter Handling allows site owners to specify up to 15 URL parameters that Google should ignore while crawling and indexing your website.

parameter

Google will list any parameters they have found and will auto select what they think is best for you, but this can easily be changed by selecting the drop down and selecting “Ignore” or “Don’t Ignore”.

The main benefit of Parameter Handling is to help eliminate duplicate content issues.  If you’ve used some of the older shopping carts out there (xcart, oscommerce) then you can probably recall the session id’s being loaded in the URL when a user signs in and out.  Well now thanks to this nifty little addition to Webmaster Tools we can eliminate these duplicate content issues.

In addition to helping avoid duplicate content, Parameter Handling can also help with crawl efficiency and PageRank dilution.   If search engines are crawling multiple pages with session ids for example, then they are putting a load on your server and theirs.  As for PageRank dilution, someone can easily link to one of your URL’s that has a session or id tied to it and unless you are using Parameter Handling, link juice will flow to that exact link.

The main drawback is that Parameter Handling is only for Google, but who knows Yahoo and Bing might offer something like this soon.  It wouldn’t be the first time they added a feature Google came out with.

-Marko

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