If you heard me on a bad day at my office, you may hear me cursing Volusion’s name or mumbling death threats to this online storefront. If you’ve ever followed my Twitter ranting (@adamhenige) you’ve probably caught a couple of moments of verbalized frustration. When dealing with Volusion SEO can be tricky, though it’s not impossible.
I must concede that for some online businesses Volusion does have some benefits and I understand why people use it. If you’re doing SEO it can be a major pain in the ass, but there are still some handy things to know that will help you in the rankings. So here’s a quick list of things that you might want to refine on Volusion’s back end.
- Under Marketing>SEO in the navigation you can select “enable SEO Friendly URIs” and “Use Hyphens instead of Underscores” – do both of these. This will keep your URLs from looking like those ghastly ?search=xyzblahblahblah database driven awfulness that comes about when you add dynamic elements to your pages. The hyphens are the preferred method of separating words for most search engines, so why not be nice to the search engines?
- If you decide to keep the non-SEO Friendly URIs, you should probably “Enable Canonical Links” as a checkbox which will add the canonical tag into the header so your dynamic pages don’t show up as duplicate content.
- The “Enable full URL for Home Page Canonical Link” checkbox can also be useful, as it’s likely a default setup of your site will allow you to access the home page at both www.yoursite.com and www.yoursite.com/default.asp. This can dilute your search engine value if you’re getting links to both pages – so letting Google know that one page is the real home page is probably a smart move (why Volusion doesn’t let you add a 301 redirect for this is absolutely beyond me…being able to 301 the default.asp page to the normal domain which EVERYONE who accesses the site directly is going to use must make too much damn sense…oh, I’m complaining again…)
- Speaking of 301s, this is also a handy feature to make yourself familiar with if you want to do some redirects in Volusion. Under Settings>Maintenance you’ll see a link to “Manage 301 Redirects”. If you end up doing away with a popular page or product, you’re DEFINITELY going to want to add a redirect in here. Just add the URI in the left column Source Path. So if your URL is http://www.stuff.com/ourbeststuff just add /ourbeststuff.htm in this column and the full URL of where you’d like to redirect them in the Target Path column on the right – example: http://www.stuff.com/ourbestnewstuff.htm (okay, how about I just give you a picture):
The only thing that’s a little bizarre about this setup is that you have to delete the Source Path page before the redirect will take effect. Be sure you either back up the contents of the page somewhere or be certain you don’t need that information anymore before deleting.
The one other thing that is essential if you have a store is to set up and use the Google Base API (this is something that Volusion definitely did right). Under Inventory>Import/Export select Volusion API. If you set up your Google Base account this is a snap and can be set to generate an XML file each day or you can generate and submit it manually in two steps once you’re set up – this is a very convenient feature that you simply must use if you want to get some additional exposure via Google Shopping.
Need More Help With Your Volusion SEO?
If all of this is more than you want to take on contact us to learn more about how we can help you out. If you have specific questions about Volusion or need support, check out their documentation at: http://support.volusion.com/