Tag Archives: search engine optimisation

How to Avoid SEO Issues with URL Parameters

Search Engine

Even though parameters are a good thing, they can cause a number of issues for websites, such as duplicate content and keyword issues. But we cannot just wish URL parameters away because they play a vital role in the user’s web experience. The solution is to understand how to handle them in a way that prevents SEO problems.

What are URL parameters?

URL parameters are that part of the website address that come after a question mark. They are also referred to as query string parameters or query strings.

Look at the following example URL about a content for a collection of sectional sofas:

  • http://www.example.com/category/home-furniture/home-furnishings/sectionals
  • http://www.example.com/category/home-furniture/home-furnishings/sectionals?colour=white
  • http://www.example.com/home-furniture/home-furnishings/sectionals?colour=white&style=pattern

The three URLs above point to the same content and is usually found in e-commerce websites so that users can browse products using certain filters.

But this kind of system can result in multiple URLs for the same content, and while it can be useful to users, it will confuse search engines and affect your SEO.

SEO problems caused by URL parameters

As already established, URL parameters can cause a number of problems for your website. Some of the most common SEO issues associated with URL parameters are:

  • Duplicate content
  • Keyword cannibalization
  • Poor search crawl effectiveness
  • Split page ranking signals
  • Unattractive URL that don’t enjoy clicks

Detecting SEO problems caused by URL parameters

The answer to the two questions below will help you determine if URL parameters is causing SEO problems for your website.

  1. Does the URL change but the content remain the same as the content on the original URL when you use search filters on your website?
  2. Does the URL change but the page title and meta-data remain the same or contain similar meta-data when you use search filters on your website?

If the answer to both or either of the questions is yes, then URL parameters could be causing problems for your website. However, if the content on your website changes when you choose a different filter, then you don’t have a problem with URL parameters.

Avoiding SEO problems caused by URL parameters

There are a number of methods you can adopt to ensure that URL parameters do not cause SEO problems for your website. But here are the three most common solutions:

Using canonical tags –

This is the most preferred method and involves using canonical tags to tell search engines which pages are duplicate of a certain URL, and that any rankings should be credited to the original URL.

Consider the following example URLs:

  • http://www.example.com/category/home-furniture/home-furnishings/sectionals?colour=white
  • http://www.example.com/home-furniture/home-furnishings/sectionals?colour=white&style=pattern

Both should have a canonical tag pointing to the original or canonical URL at


You will find tutorials online that teach how to implement rel=”canonical” tags.

Using URL parameter tools –

If you look in Google search console, you will find a feature that allows webmasters provide Google with information on how to handle parameter URLs. However, note that you have to be very careful when making changes as you can easily exclude important pages from Google index which will result in significant loss of traffic to those pages.

Bing Webmaster Central also contain a feature that tell Bing to ignore URL parameters.

Disallow query strings using robots.txt –

Adding Disallow: /*?* to the Robot.txt in your website can discourage search engines from crawling parameter URLS, but this will not stop them from indexing the pages. However, in order not to get a result you don’t want, you have no make sure that no other page on your website carries a question mark in its URL otherwise it will be blocked also.

Final words

Using faceted navigation which results in URL parameters can be a good thing for your users, but it can also be a bad thing for your website. Thankfully, with the suggestions provided in this article, you will be able to successfully avoid any potential URL parameters problems.

Study Shows Web Security Directly Affects SEO

Search Engine Optimisation

Most internet users rely on Google search to provide them with the results they need; which is why over 93% of internet users conduct their searches on Google. In return, they trust that Google will not only provide the results they need for their queries, but that they would be satisfactory. This means web owners have to focus on creating quality content, optimise their site’s responsiveness to all device types including mobile; generally all the things we have come to understand as basic SEO best practices.

However, most people haven’t really considered site security as one of the factors that affect search engine optimisation. It is clear why web security can directly affect SEO since Google’s main goal is providing users with access to quality content in a safe environment. Studies have shown that web security is no longer an indirect factor that affects SEO (since say a hacked site can’t easily be accessed by Googlebot), but a necessity.

A Godaddy report shows that 73.9% of all web hackings are done for SEO proposes; which means the hackers go as far as adding links to sites or an entire webpage whose content might cause your site to get blacklisted. What is more, some of them even show a different website to Googlebot, which leads to a significant decline in your search ranking.

Once this occurs, the effects are crippling so that the only available option is to be proactive and monitor your website’s security. See the exercise as one of the critical SEO efforts for your site. While protecting yourself, also protect the interest of your visitors. If they find that their devices are often infested with viruses after visiting your site, they won’t come back.

The same applies to your use of WordPress plugins. Ensure you conduct a thorough check on every plugin and script you intend using on your site. Run background checks on the companies you buy from through Google and find if the plugins are frequently hacked. It is common to find businesses who purchase plugins from their authors, then add hidden links in them which will serve their own purposes against the interest of the new owner.

In most cases, finding out that a site has been compromised is impossible for most owners. Some of them rely on Google’s ban notification to know if their security has been breached. Such practice is not recommended. Not only does it show you are not proactive, but only a few hacked sites get banned. In fact, study shows that only 10% of compromised sites get banned and consequently notified. The rest will have to figure this out themselves and put appropriate measures in place.

However, what cannot be overlooked is the significant negative impact security breaches have on your site. Most web owners would rather redesign their sites and rework their content than pay attention to the security needs of their site. Today, web security has come to be a crucial SEO necessity which has to be incorporated in your website for optimal performance.

Local SEO Tips: How to increase your Rankings locally

Local SEO Tips

For all businesses search engine rankings are vital for good exposure on the Internet. But as search engines continue to push results for locally specific websites it is becoming increasingly important for websites to optimise their local SEO techniques. Here are a few local SEO tips you can use to enhance your website’s visibility in local search engine results.

Local SEO Tips

1. Google Local verification

Make sure you have your business listed on Google Local and that your website is verified. Add photos of your business, products or services and ensure you fill in all the contacts details plus a 300-word description of your business. Google favours business pages that are detailed and specific.

2. Google+ Page

We have already discussed the usefulness of having a Google+ account to link to your webpages and blog posts for good SEO. But having a specific Google+ page for your business is an ideal way to interact with customers. It will also establish your business as an authority on your industry within your local area. Maintain regular updates and connect with other groups/pages in your local area.

3. Start a niche blog

It is incredibly useful to include a blog on your website. Use this opportunity to talk about your local area or mention the town, city or regions you cover in individual blog posts. Make sure you update your blog on a regular basis to improve your search engine rankings.

4. List location on website

It might sounds obvious, but many businesses don’t specify their location or the areas they cover. Make it explicitly clear on your website and try to repeat the location on at least 3 different pages and include it in your website header or footer.

5. Encourage ratings and reviews

If you take pride in your business and the service you provide, encourage your customers to rate and review you on some of the review websites out there. For example, all restaurants should have a profile on Tripadvisor, Google Local, Yelp or Qype. There are plenty of directories covering niche industries, so get your business listed on a few of these and encourage reviews to help boost the visibility of your business in local search engine results.

These are just five simple local SEO tips that can help your website rank well in search engine results. Remember to keep your output regular, make sure it’s specific and encourage positive feedback.

FirstClick Digital is a London based digital marketing agency with a wealth of search marketing experience backed up with the technology and valuable knowledge needed to deliver a healthy ROI for any campaign. Feel free to give us a call on 0207 289 3218 or fill out the contact form and see how we can help your business grow!