Clean up extra url parameters when searching Google

You know when you do a Google search and get all those extra url parameters that crowd things up? “ie” and “hl” and so on? I hate that, because I often copy and email Google urls, and I try to clean up the url by removing all those extra params each time.

You can fix this annoyance in Chrome. Right-click on the address bar and select “Edit Search Engines…” (You can also edit the search engines via the Options menu.) You can either edit the Google option or add a new entry; I added a new entry. Added: you can’t edit the entry for Google, so you have to make a new entry. I set the URL field to be “{google:baseURL}search?q=%s” (without the quotes).

Now when you search for [flowers] the url is just http://www.google.com/search?q=flowers . Ah, nice clean urls in the browser bar. :)

Update: Chrome expert and fellow Googler Peter Kasting points out in the comments that “Doing this results in no more NavSuggest or Search Suggest in the omnibox dropdown — a real quality loss. NavSuggest especially is extremely valuable.” Peter has a good point: search suggestions can be very helpful. It’s up to you to decide whether you prefer search suggestions or a clean Google url. For most people who don’t cut-and-paste Google urls all day long, it’s probably better to stick with the default search option that gives you search suggestions.

65 Responses to Clean up extra url parameters when searching Google (Leave a comment)

  1. Thats neat. One of the feature I am excited to see is improved “Search within a site”. It would be real nice if I get suggestions as I input the “site:somestuff.com” or if I made a typo here.

  2. Awesome! I’ve been looking for an easy way to clean up search query URLs. I wish Chrome would do this automatically to keep others from sending massive search URL strings to me, but this is a great start. Thanks Matt!

  3. Great if you’re in a country where the national language is the same as yours.

    If I tried that in Hong Kong I’d get all my search results in Chinese ;)

  4. dan

    This is an awesome fix. It’s a shame Google Chrome’s suggest features don’t work when you set this as the default :(

  5. Never thought of this as an issue, but I guess it’s good to know when it starts to annoy or become a problem…

  6. Does this only work for Chrome? I mean it would be great to have this in Firefox as well.

  7. Andy

    Out of curiosity, if you are recommending this, then what is the purpose of including these as HIDDEN fields, or Javascript-appended variables when starting your search on the google.com homepage?

  8. So why does Google not make it the default? Why do we have to manually set this up?

  9. Agreed! somebody code this up for FF ASAP!

  10. Good timing, Matt. A few of us were just talking about this, and had come to nearly the same conclusion. Also, made us curious about Google’s use of query strings on logged in services, versus logged out services.

  11. Great tip as usual Matt. Getting on this one right now..

  12. LOL, timely search as I was just looking for some Mother’s Day Flowers
    This will help a lot! I opened the config file in Firefox (typed in about:config into the address bar) but I didn’t see any way to edit the search engine. :-(

  13. Brian R

    Finally! I hate always having to remove those other parameters to make a clean url. Actually, I didn’t even need to create a new entry since there was already one called “Google Quicksearch” which I just made the default. Not sure what the difference is. Hope someone does it for Firefox as well. Big up to URL aesthetics!

  14. Asa

    Thanks for the tip! I was actually looking for a way to lock the chrome search bar to google.com instead of switching to the local country and this tip pointed me in the right direction. It wasn’t such a big deal to use google.co.nz or google.com.au but google.eg is not that helpful, at least to me :-)

  15. Nice tip! Now can you talk to the Feedburner / Google Reader guys? I got to your blog post via Reader; when I went to blog this tip the URL in my location bar was

    http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/clean-up-extra-url-parameters-when-searching-google/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+mattcutts/uJBW+(Matt+Cutts:+Gadgets,+Google,+and+SEO)&utm_content=Google+Reader

  16. Nice idea. Chrome won’t let me edit Google’s entry or add a new one using google.com. :-( I am using Ubuntu

  17. Morris Rosenthal

    Matt,

    What are the extra links that just started appearing under some Google search results? It looks like a short version of site links, a maximum of four, spread horizontally under the Meta Description, but only appears for some sites. I’d say it only appears for sites that advertise, but that would be paranoid and doesn’t match the facts in any case:-)

    Morris

  18. Would be great but Chrome does not allow for that field to be modified. You have to create a new entry from scratch but then you lose the icon :-(

  19. Just wondering why can’t it be implemented in Google itself, like the “personalised search” based on Web History?

  20. Nice!
    To do the same thing in Firefox, you can edit the google.xml file in C:Program FilesMozilla Firefoxsearchplugins (or your own installation directory). Just remove the unwanted items from the .

  21. Morris Rosenthal

    Matt,

    I should have mentioned that the top three results for “flowers” show the extra links, and they do appear to correspond with the right hand column of Site Links. It will give webmasters a reason to pay closer attention to their sitelinks if it becomes general, but I can see a problem for sites like mine that cover multiple subjects. Perhaps it’s limited to highly focused commerce sites?

    Morris

  22. Alexander

    This has been a part of Firefox for years. Any bookmark with a %s in it and a keyword (not a tag) will replace the %s with whatever comes after the keyword in the address bar. So bookmark http://www.google.com/search?btnI&q=site%3Aen.wikipedia.org%20%s with a keyword of “w”, and you’ll be able to type this into your address bar: “w star wars day” and you’ll be taken to the Google I’m Feeling Lucky site search on Wikipedia for “star wars day”, which redirects you to the Star Wars Day page on Wikipedia.

  23. There must be a Firefox plug-in for that :-)

  24. I also like adding “&pws=0″ at the end :)

  25. Roger

    It would be nice if there was a “link to this”/permalink type thing somewhere on the results page just like maps does.

    And it would be nice if the links generated by maps wasn’t some sort of novel! I always have to put them in tinyurl which is silly.

  26. Fire Fox plug-in or grease monkey script please!!!

  27. Yups but how much difference does that make…. Isn’t Google spending or should I say wasting their time and money on such things.

    Improving search page is more relevant. For ex: a Next option at the top would add to usability. Nice idea uhm…

  28. Peter Kasting

    Whoah! Don’t do that!

    Doing this results in no more NavSuggest or Search Suggest in the omnibox dropdown — a real quality loss. NavSuggest especially is extremely valuable.

    Also, your instructions lie — you can’t edit the URL of the original Google entry.

  29. Eric Hewett

    Matt,
    I tried your idea hoping it would solve my Chrome niggle which is I am British but based in France. My default search engine is google.co.uk yet Chrome uses google.fr. This is a real pain as the links I want are usually in English.
    kind regards
    Eric

  30. For Firefox, you pretty much follow the exact same steps.
    1. Type “about:config” in the address bar
    2. Search for “keyword.URL” (also make sure keyword.enabled is set to TRUE)
    3. Double click the value and set it to “http://duckduckgo.com/?q=” or “http://www.google.com/search?q=”
    4. Hit Ok and you are done.

    You can also create a keyword search by adding a new bookmark with
    http://duckduckgo.com/?q=%s and adding a keyword such as “duck” which will allow you to search by typing “duck matt”

  31. I’ve done this a long time ago, but I don’t know why after the page is loaded another parameter is added automatically. In most cases it is – qscrl=1. I mean it is obviously not from the browser, but from Google Search itslef, but could it be removed as well?

  32. David desJardins

    I can’t help being amused (and slightly depressed) that this hacking is easier than getting Google to change it. How does appending “&sourceid=chrome” benefit users? And “&ie=UTF-8″ must be the default for everyone everywhere for at least 5 years now.

  33. David desJardins, as you know from your time at Google, the buck stops at Google in terms of weird devices. We see everything from ancient WebTV browsers to crawling web servers that run on Commodore 64s or Arduinos. Given that, I think Google has evolved defensive methods that let almost anyone search (at the cost of some url cruft). This isn’t something that bugs most people, e.g. I rarely am mad at eBay or Amazon if they have extra url params. It’s only when I’m sharing a url that I really want something clean.

  34. “I should have mentioned that the top three results for “flowers” show the extra links, and they do appear to correspond with the right hand column of Site Links”

    Morris, this is algorithmic. I think of them as one-line sitelinks.

  35. good stuff..I am personally liking Chrome more and more each day..I still use FF as my main browser and Chrome as my second…IE…well I don’t use IE except for testing…lol

  36. Awesome! I’ve been looking for an easy way to clean up search query URLs. I wish Chrome would do this automatically to keep others from sending massive search URL strings to me, but this is a great start. Thanks Matt!

  37. What if I am trying to see Google.com results from a non US location. Would the similifying of the parameters as you have suggested still work?
    Would the SERPs show the same results as shown in a typical US based IP?

  38. Damian

    Other option would be to just use the goo.gl URL shortener extension if you wanted to shorten URL’s ;)

  39. Really? I am often annoyed at eBay or Amazon or other sites that have extra spurious URL parameters. I think it’s lazy site construction, they often want to do things like record an extra parameter that tracks where I clicked from, but the Referer should do that. They shouldn’t clutter up the end-user experience for their own convenience. Google too.

  40. I use the NavSuggest feature a lot. Honestly, I’d rather deal with the messy URLS, than give that up, but who knows in the future.

    Thanks for the code to use, if I ever decide I can live without the NavSuggest feature.

    Frank

  41. Google can handle more parameters in URL but “{google:baseURL}search?q=%s” this one looking so good… make it deault for all searches

  42. http://www.google.com/search?q=%s&hl=all&pws=0 (get rid of any annoying language filter and turns off personalization, just useful if you do not want your results with a personal bias)

  43. Slightly off topic – the Chrome extension URL’s are the worst I have ever seen – its like about 40 random charachters…! Worst URL’s ever! I would prefer parameters!

  44. Hi guys,

    I don’t use Chrome. So I really don’t have this problem. But I will definitely pass this information on to some of my friends who use Chrome. Thanks for sharing.

    Kind regards,

    Sam
    X

  45. Gimite

    If you want to send the URL to someone whose native language is not English, you may want to keep hl=en as well. Otherwise it shows result in his browser’s default language, which is often completely different from English result.

  46. Taking to your suggestion I added the updated Google engine, but deleted the original one. If I’d like to go back to the browser default one, would you provide me with the old URL field? Thanks!

  47. Amen, brother! :-) I hate those long URLs. This reason alone may help me switch from Firefox to Chrome. Plus, it seems to be very fast.

    It’s cool that Google engineers are as annoyed as I am about things like that. I usually just file thoughts like this in the back of my mind, thinking that nobody else cares about them and then it’s nice to find out that someone has actually taken the time to fix some small annoyances. Nice.

  48. They’re an alternative (if you don’t use Chrome). You simply get a URL shortening plug-in for your browser, input the URL and like magic it’s shorter. Of course, if you wanting the person to see what URL it’s from it’s better to use Chrome. Thanks Matt!

  49. Thing I found most interesting recently was the new article on BBC NEWS about Browser Market Share as it shows the Microsoft starting to really get hit, now although IE is apparently showing 60% and Firefox are getting strong with 24.5% I was really impressed with Chrome now marking up at 6.7%. This is a browser on launched last year and generally only used by techies that dislike Microsoft (I do not have a problem with them myself) and people that like to use the latest toy, but this REALLY SHOWS how Chrome is taking off. It is the following and I think the level that Google LISTEN that makes the difference. All the little tweaks makes a BIG difference!!
    Go Google!!!

  50. Ta heaps….this is one annoyance I can now live without. To be honest though, this issue is exasperated by the chrome browser, which I’m surprised hasn’t been picked up as an issue. Oh well, I’ll leave that one for the Google developers.

  51. Very nice feature :)

    @Ravi Gupta
    Do you mean Open Search description ?

  52. On the subject of URL parameters and QS’s, I whipped up a simple site that decodes any QS easily when you paste in a full URL with an accompanying QS… hope you enjoy :) What is a Querystring?

  53. I think a big reason why people stick with IE is they have no idea that are more isp’s out there. Also a lot of programs I use for work require internet explorer.

  54. I usually use the “keyword” function in firefox/chrome. I have assigned ‘g’ as keyword. So if I have to search for ‘flowers’, I just type “g flowers” in address bar and hit enter. This will search google for flowers.

  55. I never send an email with a search query in it. But I am a nerd. Anyway, if it is a common need, google should add a “share search results [email, facebook, twitter]“-Button to its search page.

  56. It would be helpful if this was available in the google SERP’s and not a setting Chrome. I too share URL’s and since some of the URL’s that are pulled out of the results are extremely long, I’ve turned to using short versions or bit urls of the links I send out in my emails. Maybe there can be a share button in the future?

  57. Nice! It’s very useful for me! It really annoyed me, I thoght the extra url parameters is needed, otherwise I cann’t get the right result I need. However, why does Google not do it in default?

  58. Hi Matt. While talking about extra parameters, could you please tell me who to contact at Google about having the search engine correctly index eML tags (see http://nixonpublishing.com), which comprise a # followed by a tag name and then a ;. For example a Google search for “nixon publishing” returns entries such as Nobody’s Reading My Blog! #h:4|#center:By Robin Nixon#-#- #center:#copy: 2010 Nixon Publishing#- #br:the only digital publishing system that’s #br:a website and eBook at the and Using eML for Dynamic eBooks #p1:Everything you need to publish your own dynamic eML documents is available on the #url:http://nixonpublishing.com|Nixon Publishing; website in the form. It would be nice if Google understood these tags so that the correct text could be displayed. Do you think that would be possible?

  59. It is a good tip but i wonder about meaning of url google parameters like fp,ei,aqi,aql,oq,gs_rfa,…

  60. Does this only work for Chrome?

  61. Now if only I could get rid of Google’s weird indexing of my home page index.php?paging=10&pagenum=1. I dont know why its indexing those extra parameters. Quite annoying really. Would this be affecting my rankings???

  62. Sam

    Well Is it possible to get other country results by applying these filters.
    Generlly i use hidemyass.com to get to know US specific result.
    Can i get the same results by making tweaks in settings in chrome.

  63. Like Javi Moreno, I also wonder about the meaning of the other Google parameters. Some are easy to figure out, like ‘ei’ being the value that is passed when you click on page ’1′, ’2′, etc. but some are a mystery — like ‘aqi’ — what is that ?

  64. What is better to have:
    example.com/keyword-id/
    or
    example.com/keyword-id.html

  65. Thanks Matt for useful information. But i want to know more about each parameters process and how to use it. for ex in my blog having fp parameters. I dont know how to select this parameters and need to fix canonical issues from these URL parameters. can you help me out how to do this?

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