Session ID's Make Ecommerce Difficult for Search Engines Keyword Discovery
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Session ID's Make Ecommerce Difficult for Search Engines

Posted by Matt Foster on: 2006-08-28 23:56:28

Self SEO > Ecommerce Articles

By and large, the biggest problems faced by ecommerce software is search engine visibility. The problem arises as the result of major search engines being unable to crawl the entire contents of a shopping system. A major contributor to this problem is the use of what is known as session id's.

Session id's are used by ecommerce software for the purpose of tracking visitor activity, populating shopping cart contents, and other uses. A session id usually appears in the url of a product page of an ecommerce system in the form of a string of letters and/or numbers which follow an ampersand, question mark, or a short identifier string such as "sid". Examples of what a session id might look like in your address bar include the following (in these examples, the session id is denoted as abcdefg):




A session id is a variable which is unique to to the visitor and time of the visitor's visit to the ecommerce system. The session id is a unique string of characters and is never repeated - it uniquely identifies each "session" on the web site. Two different visitors to the web site constitute two unique sessions. Additionally, the same visitor visiting the web site on two separate days would likewise constitute two unique sessions.

A session id cannot be dropped into the address bar of a browser and result in the rendering of a particular product page. The pages viewed by the visitor to the web site do not physically exist on the server, instead they are dynamically generated on the server side, rendered and served to the client (visitor) machine as viewable html.

This is the root of the search engine problem. As the pages do not physically exist on the server, and the url of each page rendered contains a unique session id which cannot be replicated, the search engines cannot find (or crawl) the catalog of the ecommerce system. The result of this is that the use of session id's virtually eliminates your entire catalog from the index of the search engines, as if your catalog does not exist.

This, of course, can have a drastic affect on search engine visibility, traffic, and rankings. For example, if you are selling blue widgets, but the search engines cannot see that you are selling blue widgets, a search for "blue widgets" on a major search engine will not turn up your web site. As over 85% of all online transactions have their genesis in a search query, the amount of traffic, and therefore sales, that you are missing as a result of the use of session id's is self-evident.

When selecting an ecommmerce software for your online storefront, it is crucial that you select a system, such as that found at which does not include session id's as part of the product page url's.

About the Author: Matt Foster is the President of ArteWorks Business Class, creator of PrimeCart, the first ecommerce software created for large scale use by a search engine optimization firm ranked in the top 25 firms worldwide. For more information, please visit

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