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I have a homepage, https://example.com, where a parameter can be added to unlock a discount on our website https://example.com?code=abc. I don't want this URL to be appear in Google search results, which it currently does.

According to the following doc, I should add a noindex meta tag: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/9689846#make_permanent

I am wondering though if I really should add a noindex meta tag to my homepage when the code parameter is present. I obviously don't want to hurt my home pages' SEO. Specifically, I have some link juice for https://example.com?code=abc and would like that to benefit https://example.com.

Question 1: is this really safe?

Question 2: would a canonical tag serve the same purpose? So that https://example.com?code=abc declares https://example.com as canonical. To make things more complicated, the homepage is actually localized as https://example.com/de?code=abc and https://example.com/en?code=abc.

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You definitely want to use a canonical tag here, not noindex.

For URLs of the form https://example.com/de?code=abc, use a canonical tag pointing to https://example.com/de.

For URLs of the form https://example.com/en?code=abc, use a canonical tag pointing to https://example.com/en.

The noindex directive tells the crawler that it should not index the page. The canonical tag tells the crawler that it should index the page but at a different URL, which fits your intent much more closely.

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  • Hm, I thought so too in theory, but I've done that many days ago and Google Search results still lists https://example.com/de?code=abc... (I've already asked to recrawl the page etc) Mar 26 at 9:50
  • This is precisely what my head includes: <link rel="canonical" href="example.com/en"><link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="example.com/en"><link rel="alternate" hreflang="de" href="example.com/de"> Mar 26 at 9:54
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    Unfortunately, Google can take weeks to update its index depending on how often it crawls your site. If you've already requested a crawl, the only other thing to do may be to wait. Personally I would be wary of trying to speed it up through some sort of removal request. Google says this about removal requests for non-canonical pages: "Don’t use the URL tool to block the URLs you don’t want in search results. It won't keep your favorite version of a page; instead, could remove all versions (http/https and www/non-www) of a URL." Mar 26 at 15:49
  • Alright, it's not like it's a super prominent Search Result anyway, so I'll just leave it as is and check in on it every now and then. Thanks! Mar 26 at 16:05

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