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Working Around Session Ids

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6 replies to this topic

#1 jammin' Jake

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 05:32 PM

Hi all - I've been doing SEO for a couple of years now, and have yet to encounter the situation I find myself in.

I am in a new position with a powersports dealer that uses a well know website company (specializing in our industry) to manage our website. This organization creates session IDs for the majority of the pages a visitor visits (not just shopping cart pages). I am well aware of the problems this poses and have spoken several times with the company about removing the session IDs, but they insist that they cannot be removed as they would need to be removed from all of the URLs for all of the other powersports companies they provide web services for and therefore cannot do anything about it.

Ridiculous I know...

So, I'm wondering what you all think about how creating a site map with static URL w/out SIDs would work for getting our pages into the SE indices. Currently very few pages of our site are cached.

I'm considering creating a site map (which I have the ability to do - go figure) and linking to each page of our site as a means of getting the correct URL spidered and indexed. This would be a very large undertaking as links will need to be made for every make and model we carry (probably close to several hundred), but if it gets us indexed, I think it would be worth it.

What do the experts think about this? Anyone had any experiences similar to mine and been able to work around a pesky web provider in a similar manner?

I appreciate any and all responses!

- Jake

#2 Randy


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Posted 07 April 2009 - 03:07 PM

A question first Jake.

What happens if you visit the url of one of those pages without the SID in the url string? Some back ends (where the SID isn't really a requirement) will go ahead and display the page fine. Others will throw an error because the SID is actually required by the back end.

If the page still loads okay you may be able to tweak the code of the page a bit to use the new <link rel="canonical" ... > to reference the stripped down URL for the search engine spiders.

If the page doesn't load okay or if you cannot add a link rel="canonical" to the mix then you're pretty much left with no other option other than to get some pages optimized for those phrases that remove the SID issue from the table.

#3 jammin' Jake

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Posted 09 April 2009 - 10:13 AM

Thanks for your response Randy.

If I strip out the Session ID I can still load the page properly, so the back end doesn't seem to require it to display the page properly.

As for the link rel="canonical", I would be very surprised if I were able to insert that into my pages as our provider work on "modules" that are the same for other website they provide services, so I don't think that will be an option.

Your reply brings up another question. Were I to create a site map with direct links to each vehicle we cary, does it matter if I remove the URL string parameters.

For example, here is a sample URL from my site: mysite.com/new_vehicle_detail.asp?sid=0313656X4K9K2009J10I08I21JAMQ571R0&veh=87116&CatDesc=Motorcycles&ModelYear=2009

Removing the SID I get mysite.com/new_vehicle_detail.asp?veh=87116&CatDesc=Motorcycles&ModelYear=2009 which displays properly.

Moving further, I can remove the URL parameter and end up with mysite.com/new_vehicle_detail.asp?veh=87116 which will display the same page as the one listed above.

Will the SEs see these as two different pages? If so, which one makes the most sense to use in a site map to get it into their indices?

#4 Jill


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Posted 09 April 2009 - 11:30 AM

Were I to create a site map with direct links to each vehicle we cary, does it matter if I remove the URL string parameters.

Surely, your internal links, in general, are not using the SID, so a sitemap isn't going to offer any additional support.

I would suggest excluding ?sid links via your robots.txt file if you can. But the canonical link element would also be important. It wouldn't hurt any other site if your developers could always make sure that the appropriate stripped down URL was always put in the header via that element.

The other thing you can do is make sure that when Googlebot comes by it only gets the stripped down version of the URL. I don't know how technically to do it, but I know it can be done and has worked for many sites I've worked with.

#5 Randy


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Posted 09 April 2009 - 01:58 PM

Surely, your internal links, in general, are not using the SID

My guess, given Jake's description of what's happening, is that those internal links do in fact contain an SID parameter that's getting appended at the time of page delivery. Sadly, that's how many of those old fangled systems worked. It sets an SID if none is present, then appends it to every internal link so that that particular user carries the same SID as they travel through the site.

Were I to create a site map with direct links to each vehicle we cary, does it matter if I remove the URL string parameters.

You'd want to exclude the parameters you remove vis robots.txt so that you don't end up with something even more confusing for the search engines. But yes that's one way of at least getting them to those MIA pages. The problem is that you're probably not going to have any internal link juice passing to the pages, if my guess of how the internal linkage is getting written is correct.

It's a tough one to be sure.

Another question. Can you put normal html into the page so that it gets pulled into the cart template?

If so, I'd still at least try to <link rel="canonical" if possible. I've never tried it to see if Google etal will pick up on that when it's outside of the <head></head> section where it should be in a perfect world, but they're lenient about enough other things that it might be worth a shot. If for no other reason than to see if it'll work or not.

#6 jammin' Jake

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 11:21 AM

Jill and Randy - thank you for your replies. Good point on the watered down link juice - the site maps isn't the cure-all I was hoping for sad.gif

I've done a good amount of research on the Canonical link element and I think it has some real promise if I can get our web company to figure out how to put in the <head> element of our pages. If they can't they may be losing a client.

Randy, could you elaborate on how to exlude the SID urls with robots.txt? I still want the SEs to know about the pages that get affixed with a SID, but don't wan't 100s of duplicate pages in the indexes (or none at all!)

Thanks again.

#7 Randy


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Posted 15 April 2009 - 07:10 AM

Excluding the SIDs via robots.txt isn't going to help them find the non-SID addresses. All it does it take care of the duplicate issues. You'll still need to give them some way to make it to the non-SID version of the pages.

The robots.txt instruction of excluding pages with an "sid=" query string would look like

User-agent: *
Disallow: /*sid=

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