Some time ago, Google announced plans to make a raft of important (and long overdue) improvements to its URL Parameters tool in Search Console. After which, nothing happened – no further information, and no apparent changes to the tool.
Now, Google has backtracked on its initial announcement by confirming that as of April 26, the URL Parameters tool is to be removed entirely. A decision that may prove to be divisive, as the URL Parameters tool had a tendency to divide SEOs right down the middle, ever since its introduction in 2009.
As a reminder, here’s how the URL Parameters tool looked back in the day:
Justifying the move, Google essentially said that there is little to no place for the URL Parameters tool on today’s increasingly sophisticated online landscape.
Here is the full text of the announcement from Google, confirming that all settings added using the URL Parameters tool will no longer work as of April 26:
“We’re deprecating the URL Parameters tool in Search Console in 1 month. There’s no action required from the current users of the tool.”
“When the URL Parameters tool launched in 2009 in Search Console’s predecessor, Webmaster Tools, the internet was a much wilder place than it is today. SessionID parameters were very common, CMSes had trouble organizing parameters, and browsers often broke links. With the URL Parameters tool, site owners had granular control over how Google crawled their site by specifying how certain parameters affect the content on their site.”
“Over the years, Google became much better at guessing which parameters are useful on a site and which are —plainly put— useless. In fact, only about 1% of the parameter configurations currently specified in the URL Parameters tool are useful for crawling. Due to the low value of the tool both for Google and Search Console users, we’re deprecating the URL Parameters tool in 1 month.”
“Going forward you don’t need to do anything to specify the function of URL parameters on your site, Google’s crawlers will learn how to deal with URL parameters automatically.”
“If you need more control, you can use robots.txt rules (for example, you can specify parameter orders in an allow directive) or use hreflang to specify language variations of content.”
We await the response from the SEOs regarding the welcome (or otherwise) nature of the decision, regarding what has always been a somewhat divisive tool.