I'm using a (very good) developer in Ukraine and he insists on using brackets in the URL of my search query. (I can't remember why)


I would rather like to see:


I'm not sure how this will impact SEO, but usability wise, my "way" it's a lot more user friendly.

So my question is, should I or should I not use brackets in the URL?

  • 2
    It may be that your developer prefers [] brackets for picking values out of the URL in a particular way. However, you are the one paying for your site. It should be your call. I do not see a problem with using the [] brackets except that it is not user friendly, but then again neither are parameters. Perhaps a user friendly URL such as /oslo/no/ would be best. That may solve the issue for you and everyone is happy.
    – closetnoc
    Commented Oct 9, 2014 at 15:30
  • 1
    "I can't remember why" - it looks like your application is written in PHP. In PHP the URL parameters (with square brackets) are automatically converted to an associative array, which I assume the developer is using directly in the rest of the code. It would seem to be a "code-shortcut".
    – MrWhite
    Commented Oct 9, 2014 at 21:39
  • Ah, you are probably right @w3d. We are using PHP and Yii.
    – Steven
    Commented Oct 10, 2014 at 9:09

2 Answers 2


From SEO perspective it does not matter which one you use. Either approach will not effect you SEO directly. It might effect your CTR because the URLs look messy.

When it comes to SEO, the issue here is not really about which way to output the URL's (like your way better) but what to do with the generated pages. You have two options:

1. If you want your search pages indexed

a) Make sure that there are unique titles and descriptions for each search query page. This is often missed.

b) Use Google Webmaster Tools to handle parameters

2. If you don't want your search pages indexed

a) Block search bots from crawling them in robots.txt

b) Set noindex on all search pages

  • 1
    Actual question is "should I or should I not use brackets in the URL?" but your answer is not directly answering the question. Commented Oct 9, 2014 at 18:29
  • 1
    Hey! Thanks for your feedback. I updated my answer as well as added your changes. P.S. - noindex is the proper way.
    – dasickle
    Commented Oct 9, 2014 at 18:42

The characters [ and ] are not allowed in the query component of a URI.

If you want to have these brackets displayed, you’d have to percent-encode them, i.e.:


Your SEO question doesn’t seem to be so much about the brackets, but about choosing between, for example, Search%5BStore%5D%5Baddress%5D%5Bcity%5D=Oslo and city=Oslo. The first variant contains the additional keywords "Search", "Store", and "address". This can be good, bad, or irrelevant. If used in many of your URLs, it’ll most likely have no impact on ranking.

I’d go with the more user-friendly variant. As far as I see, there is nothing of value that these additional generic keywords and the brackets would add for users or search engines, so why make the URLs longer than necessary?

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