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What are URL Parameters?

URL parameters, or query strings, are the letters, numbers, and symbols used for passing additional information about a URL. It could be used to indicate the source of the click or to modify the content of a webpage. 

A URL parameter begins with a question mark ?, followed by a key-value pair.

The key-value pair is a string of text, numbers, and symbols that pass information about the parameter. It consists of a key, a value, and an equals to sign = called the value separator.

A URL parameter can contain multiple key-value pairs. In this case, the key-value pairs will be separated by an ampersand .

There are two types of URL parameters:

  • Content-modifying parameters
  • Tracking parameters

Content-Modifying Parameters (Active Parameters)

Content-modifying parameters are parameters that change the content on the webpage. They are commonly used on ecommerce sites. For example,

  • color indicates the color of the t-shirts the visitor is viewing. In this case, they are viewing yellow t-shirts
  • size indicates the size of the t-shirts that the visitor is viewing. In this case, they are viewing medium-sized t-shirts

Tracking Parameters (Passive Parameters)

Tracking parameters are parameters that track the source of a click. They are often used to track email and ad clicks. For example,

  • utm indicates the parameter was created using the Urchin Tracking Module (UTM)
  • utm_source indicates the source of the traffic. That is Google in this case
  • utm_medium indicates the marketing medium. In this case, it is CPC (cost-per-click), meaning it was from a paid ad we are running
  • utm_campaign specifies the name of the campaign. In this case, it is from a summer sale promo we’re currently running
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