My SEO Review of the Volusion E-commerce CMS

Not sure if I’ve mentioned it here before or not, but Zac and I have a pharmacist friend who has access to private label OTC drugs. So we decided to create an e-commerce store to sell the drugs. After researching our options, we chose to go with Volusion as our platform. We’d heard Magento was really good, but required more knowledge of PHP than any of us had.

Here’s what I think of Volusion so far.

The Good

Volusion has really good customer service. Whether you call, chat or open a service ticket, a real person will work with you quickly. So if you want to know how to do a 301 redirect or create a blog or rename your image files, someone will talk you through your options in a timely manner.

The Bad

Sadly, if you want to do a 301 redirect or create a blog or rename your image files, your options are pretty limited. The system creates mixed-case URLs, as you can see from our domain URL: http://www.drugstodoor.com/Default.asp. But you can’t fix the mixed case via a redirect. You can only 301 redirect non-functioning URLs.

Think about that. If you ever want to change a URL for any reason other than it no longer works, you can’t redirect it, so you lose all your link juice and create a poor user experience.

If you want to add a blog to your site, you have to do it on a subdomain or separate domain. This is not good for SEO at all.

Your image names must match your product numbers. But, your product numbers can actually be words, as long as they contain no special characters. So the only way to get keywords into your image file names is to use keywords in your product numbers.

Overall, this has been a great learning experience. I still don’t know if Volusion is better than Shopify or Homestead or any of the other non-PHP-knowledge-requiring CSMs out there. But these are some things I’ve learned about it. As the site progresses I’ll learn more and share it here.

20 Comments

  1. Hi Cathy,

    I am so glad to hear the support team has been helpful for you. We take pride in our customer service, and it’s nice to hear about good experiences.

    I wanted to address a couple of things in your blog that might help.

    1. 301 Redirects: Volusion offers the following functions to allow Google to index the URL properly:Marketing > SEO, Enabled Canonical Links
    This puts the preferred URL name into the source code in this format:

    This is Google’s preferred method to state what is the correct URL to use (http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=139394)

    Settings > Config Variables, 301 Redirect to SEOFriendly URLs

    This will redirect any page access to the currently defined SEO Friendly URL (you must have SEO Friendly URLs enabled on Marketing > SEO in order for this to work properly).

    Mixed-case URLs are not generaly considered different pages (IIS treats them the same, while some other servers DO treat them differently. It’s a moot point if you enable canonical).

    You can create all the 301 redirects you want that point from a page that doesn’t exist to one that does. EXCEPTION! All .aspx pages can only redirect to the /default.asp page (or just 404)

    2. Image Names: The great thing about the Volusion software is that it’s SEO friendly and gives you a field for “Photo Alt Text” that allows a photo to have a keyword attached to it. This can be found in the SEO section of any product details page.

    I hope this is helpful and please let us know if we can answer any other questions!

    Best,

    Molly Sylestine
    Marketing Associate
    follow me on Twitter @VolusionMolly

  2. Hi Cathy,

    Thank you for writing this article. I really appreciate your insight.

    If you’re seriously looking for a shopping cart that provides top notch SEO capabilities, you should really look at http://www.ascendercart.com.

    I’ve been using AscenderCart on my sites for years. They developed ‘real’ SEO into their software from the ground up. You have tons of control for your SEO.

    I used other shopping carts prior to using AscenderCart; none of them provided the SEO capabilities Ascender does. I’ve even look at many of the top carts and they don’t even come close to what Ascender provides in SEO.

    They even have three patents pending with two of them for SEO technology.

    Give them a look. I promise you won’t regret it.

    Judy

  3. I’d like to echo your points on SEO above, but also add my own.

    I was forced to use Volusion for a client, who wanted a bespoke design/functionality from myself, but wanted to use the actual Volusion shopping cart as a base (not my first choice as it’s based on classic asp) – they liked the look of the admin area – not a great initial reason to use a shopping cart 🙂

    So, I promtly gave Volusion a call to ask a few questions in order for me to quote the client for the work. First question I asked – can I develop the site locally on my computer and then upload, the chap on the phone quickly said yes – in fact he said there is literally nothing Volusion can’t do. Great, I thought. 4 days later I sit down to integrate Volusion into my design and instantly run into a problem. After a lot of digging on their site the Volusion system is a hosted solution – meaning all source code is hosted remotely, meaning my only option is to use their slow and nasty online template editor.

    I really wish Volusion had been honest with me from the off. Since this, the client in question and another client has totally moved away from Volusion, as in reality, the software isn’t as flexible as they make out.

    Granted, when you call them, you do get to speak to someone pretty quick though.

    • cathyreisenwitz

      It’s really hard to get straight answers out of people trying to sell you software. I’m having the same problem with Facebook App companies right now. Thanks for sharing your perspective. What do you use now?

      • For 90% of my projects I use my own bespoke store, that I wrote myself. Simple to use for my clients and doesn’t have, frankly, all the crap that is included with volusion. It’s also not based on classic ASP, like Volusion. For the other 10% I use opencart due to it’s ease of templating and speed (again, totally unlike Volusion as it’s a totally hosted solution, so makes templating a total pain in the ass to honest) 🙂

  4. Amazing when you share something on your blog how you can end up on the front page of a google search for a search phrase that one would think would have much higher competition. But here you are. I typed in “Volusion cms”.

    That is, I have a potential client who mentioned the system to me and I had no idea what it was. I even clicked on the volusion.com website in the google add space and their site did not come up.

    Anyways, thanks for the info. Best of luck with your project.

  5. I switched to Volusion last year and I cannot say enough positive things. The customer service is great and I can always get someone whether it be chat or email or phone. Always..the comment when I apologize for bothering them is…that’s why we are here. The dashboard is more than user friendly and the system is easy to use. If not.. call customer support… they will assist. I LOVE VOLUSION! From a non- biased REAL customer. .

    Paula

  6. Can I simply just say what a relief to uncover somebody that truly knows what they’re talking about on the net. You actually understand how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More and more people ought to read this and understand this side of your story. It’s surprising you’re not more popular because you certainly have the gift.

  7. David

    Note: Paula Lindsay seems to be giving the same templated answer everywhere there is something negative about Volusion. Probably someone doing online reputation management for them.

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