There are several myths out there regarding Volusion’s SEO capabilities and, the fact is, our platform offers a number of powerful tools that can help you customize and optimize the various categories, products and pages on your site. A common misconception we hear is that Volusion isn’t conducive to SEO customization. We’re here to set the record straight: you can customize the SEO data for nearly every part of your store easily and in great detail.
Search Engine Optimization is a far-reaching, sometimes daunting topic – people make careers out of it and companies, from the tiniest mom-and-pop shops to the juggernauts of ecommerce themselves, all vie for ranking on search engines like Google and Bing. If you have any kind of web presence, you want good SEO.
Maximizing your Meta InformationThankfully, Volusion makes dipping your toe into this ocean of optimization easy and straightforward. Getting started is as simple as navigating to your store’s Admin Area, then to Marketing > SEO. The first section here is called Meta Info, and the first tab is called Default Values. If you don’t have time to customize each page of your store, you can fill in these default SEO values and they will apply to every page on your storefront (except for pages that have their own SEO information already). This is a great temporary fix to fill in some basic components of SEO; however, you’ll want to optimize each page site individually at some point.
Going down the tabs on the left in the Marketing > SEO section, you can see that there are many different pages you can customize. These tend to be pages that are not category, product, or article pages (those pages have their own SEO values which we’ll also cover later).
The Meta Tag Title tells search engines the “name” of a page on your site, and displays both as the first, clickable line of text in search results page listings and in the title bar of web browsers when users come to that page. Keep the title tag as specific to the page’s content as possible and use as much of the roughly 65 character limit as you can – it’s valuable SEO real estate.
The Meta Tag Description is just as it sounds – a couple of sentences describing a page in more detail. Although this information doesn’t display on your storefront, it is visible in the description section of search results page listings so be sure to include information that will make your business stand out as unique from your competitors.
Meta Tag Keywords are words or phrases relevant to a page that search engines previously used to determine what your site was about. However, these are no longer used – so you can just leave this section blank.
Meta Tags Override is generally reserved for SEO experts - this field is for custom HTML code that is used to override the other meta information fields completely. An SEO specialist (like the ones employed on our marketing services team) can use this field to provide even more tailored search results and to expand your store’s capabilities. For the layperson, it’s best to leave this section blank, too.
Finally, the Globally Appended Meta Tags section is used to add additional meta information to the pages of your site. All manner of information can be embedded here, such as verification tags, canonical tags, and more; however, we recommend leaving this field blank if you’re unsure what to do here, as this data will override other meta tags on the page in many cases.
Refining Results with Categories, Products and ArticlesWhen you’re ready to devote effort to your SEO beyond what Default Values can do, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and dig into individual page customization. This allows you to dictate more of what search engines pick up from each individual page of your store, making how you show up in their results more accurate and giving you better ranking – and more customers!
The SEO values for your categories and products can be found on their individual admin pages under Advanced Info > Search Engine Optimization, and the ones for your articles can be found by looking up the particular article page in Design > Site Content and navigating to its Search Engine Optimization section. All three are fairly similar - they all have some of the same sections found in Marketing > SEO: Meta Tag Title, Description, Keywords, and Override.
Products and categories also have Category URL Text and Product URL Text respectively, which allow you to customize your URLs for those pages. (See one of our previous Myth Busting blogs for more on that, and how it relates to the Search Engine Friendly URLs section you might’ve noticed in Marketing > SEO.)
Products in particular also have the Photo Alt Text field, which can be handy if you want search engines to pick up information specific to a product’s main image. (As of now, search engines can’t read images so this text allows them to understand what is being shown.)
Synchronizing Your Robot and Sitemap SettingsReturning to Marketing > SEO for a moment, you can see the Robot Preferences and Sitemap XML sections at the bottom of the page. The first of these defines how your store reacts to “robots”, that is, the search engine bots that crawl your site to index its information. Checking the Enable Robots Meta Tags box authorizes engines like Google to peruse your store and come up with their own “picture” of how it looks based on pages they can access, items they can add to their cart, meta info, etc. Or, you can edit the Robots.txt file below the box to further limit how and which search engines can access your site (or even block them altogether).
Remember that “picture” I mentioned robots making of your site? Well, the next section covers a big part of that: your sitemap. This useful file is updated once a day by your database, keeping track of any changes you make to the search engine-accessible areas of your storefront. The engines scan this and use its data to help inform how your store is laid out for their search results. Rarely, you may wish to update it manually (such as making major changes to your site layout), but in most cases the once a day auto-update is enough. You can also access the raw XML file here, in case you need to provide it to another application or just want to have a look at what those bots see!
Feature-Fiddling ForesightWhile performing all of this SEO work, you may also wish to track how popular your meta information changes make your store over time with our built-in analytics tools. Just keep in mind, it can take some time for changes to show results, as your new meta tags get indexed and sorted by every search engine on the block! The time it takes for new meta data to be indexed depends on a dizzying array of factors, many up to the search engine in question, so it’s best to ask an SEO expert if you’re curious.
But there is no denying the results that can come from good SEO – some customers of our SEO services have seen their organic traffic nearly double after only six months! The number of people using search engines to find products they want is only increasing – and here at Volusion, we offer these extensive SEO options so you can capitalize on that and get the results you want!
Got questions? Comments? Feel free to add them in the comments section below. Happy SEO-ing!