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Looking around, most sites (eg. Amazon) encode the parameters of searches into query string. This means that search engines cannot index these queries.

Why don't such sites use URLs rather than query strings to store search parameters, as this would allow google to index searches?

Search using a query string:

example.com/search?author=john+smith&year=2007&title=do+dogs+have+lips

Search using a URL:

example.com/search/author/john_smith/year/2007/title/do_dogs_have_lips

This URL would then point to a unique page, containing the results of this search. If a strict order of parameters was observed (eg. author always comes first if used, year always comes next if used etc.) This would seem like a great solution.

What am I missing?

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    Actually search engines CAN index URLs with query strings, and do for many sites. But they ignore URLs that appear to be only search results. – DisgruntledGoat Feb 26 '13 at 11:38
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Google doesn't want to index search results. Matt Cutts said so: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/search-results-in-search-results/ Google now penalizes sites that try that. Google considers search pages to be very low quality landing pages. Why should a user click off a page of search results, only to land on another?

If you think you can target these terms with good content, it would be better to build great pages that can satisfy the user. That is more than a list of links, you need content, product info, ability to buy and compare, etc.

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