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Remove Tracking Parameters from URLs

February 2022 – by Per Christensson

Have you ever shared a link with a friend and been surprised how long it is when you copy and paste it? Chances are the URL includes tracking parameters that make it much longer than necessary. If you want to protect your privacy (or simply prefer to share a cleaner version of the URL), you can remove the tracking information.

URLs often include tracking parameters used for marketing and website analytics. These parameters contain identifiers, such as source (the referring page), marketing campaign, and referring content. For example, a clickable image in an email might include a link such as:

▶ https://example.com/page?utm_source=email&utm_campaign=new_year&utm_content=image

If you want to share the link with a friend, you can copy the URL and paste it into an email or text message. But before sending the link, remove the question mark and everything after it.

So the link above would become simply:

▶ https://example.com/page

Question marks (?) in URLs are used to add parameters. Ampersands (&) allow multiple parameters to be appended after the question mark. In some cases, certain parameters are required for the URL to function correctly. However, in most cases, parameters are simply for tracking information and can be removed. Examples of standard tracking parameters include:

  1. utm (utm_source, utm_content, etc) – Urchin Tracking Module (used by Google Analytics)
  2. gclid – Google Click Identifier
  3. dclid – DoubleClick Click Identifier
  4. fbclid – Facebook Click Identifier
  5. gclsrc – Google Ads Source

▶ After trimming a URL, you can test the link by pasting it into a web browser to ensure it still functions correctly.

While sharing URLs with tracking information is generally not a privacy concern, some parameters may contain personal information. For example, the utm_term parameter lists keywords you may have entered in a previous search. Trimming the tracking parameters simplifies the URL and helps keep your information private.

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