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E-Marketing Performance Blog

When are Session IDs Appropriate

When are session IDs appropriate for a search engine friendly website? The quick answer to that is… wait for it… NEVER!

When you require session IDs to be assigned to your visitors a unique ID string is attached to the URL of your site each time a visitor comes to your site. Let’s say I’m on your site and looking at your products or services. When a session ID is assigned the URL might look something like this: http://www.yoursite.com/about-us.htm?id=9879834023 today and http://www.yoursite.com/about-us.htm?id=9879868496 tomorrow. No big deal for the user, but it is a big deal for the search engine. As far as they are concerned, you have an indefinite number of About Us pages, each one with the exact same content. This creates duplicate content issues that you’d be better off avoiding altogether.

If you need to keep track of individual users on your site in order to track their shopping cart activity or purchases, consider using cookies instead of session IDs. Alternately, you could assign a session ID only after a product is added to the shopping basket. This can help eliminate a large part of the search engine indexing loop session IDs cause, allowing the engine to index all content pages up to the point of following a link that goes to a shopping cart.

Stoney G deGeyter

Stoney deGeyter is the author of The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!. He is the founder and CEO of Pole Position Marketing, a web presence optimization firm whose pit crew has been velocitizing websites since 1998. In his free time Stoney gets involved in community services and ministries with his “bride enjoy” and his children. Read Stoney’s full bio.

2 Responses to When are Session IDs Appropriate

  1. Stoney, I am entering an unfamiliar ground here with session IDs, but why would people want to use them if,

    1. Using site tracking tools you can track visitors without User ID tracking and
    2. You can’t assign a variable to track visitors based on Keywords and other things you want to show up in your reports if you practice above mentioned method

    Need a quick clarification.

    P.S. Are you planning on attending a PubCon in Las Vegas this November?

  2. Stoney G deGeyter
    Stoney deGeyter says:

    The basic reason to use session IDs is to keep track of a visitor as they shop through the site. This so when they add products to the shopping cart and then shop some more the shopping cart info remains assigned to them. This same thing can be done using cookies, which is a more search friendly approach.

    I’ve got my hands full just trying to get out of here for SES SJ. Wasn’t planning on doing any more events, but who knows. Give me the pros and cons of PubCon.