How Volusion Mobile Ruins Your Google Analytics Data

This post is part of a series about the recently updated Volusion Enhanced Mobile Ecommerce. The first post in the series is Volusion Serves Up a Turkey with Enhanced Mobile Ecommerce.

Mobile, mobile, mobile… we all know it’s about mobile devices and traffic. It is a trend that will continue because mobile devices will surpass desktops in the near future.

For Volusion store owners you have two options: (1) enable their mobile storefront service, or (2) leave the option off and force the visitor to navigate through your store on the desktop version.

Volusion Mobile Storefront

As many of you have probably done, you have turned on the mobile version and are using Google Analytics to track your visits, interactions and conversions. However, did you know that when you turn on the Volusion mobile functionality within your store, you are effectively also turning OFF your Google Analytics tracking for your mobile store?

Let me repeat that… when you enable Volusion’s mobile storefront you are also turning off any hope of tracking that traffic via analytics (Google or otherwise).

Crazy, right?!!! Let me explain….

Volusion Loses Your Google Analytics Code

When you turn on your mobile storefront you are turning on another portion of your store and Volusion detects and redirects mobile device traffic to your mobile pages, which is served by a template you have no access to. Because of that switch, your Google Analytics code is left off of mobile and only serves on the desktop version of your store.

It is easy to prove, simply navigate to a mobile page of your store and view the source of that page. For example, if you navigate to a page like this: http://www.eastcoastvapor.com/mobile/product.aspx?id=38295 and View Source you’ll see there is no GA coding.

Without that GA code your analytics simply stop once a visitor switches to the mobile experience of your store. Every click and interaction with your mobile store is lost. You have no way to monitor it, track it or analyze it.

Mobile Traffic in Google Analytics

But wait you say…

Hey, I know what you’re thinking. You’re going to say that you can see the mobile traffic in your store in via your Google Analytics. But can you really?

Let’s take a look:

Google Analytics Mobile Traffic

Yes, you are seeing mobile traffic. However, you are only seeing mobile traffic to the desktop version of your store. You are NOT seeing a single visit from a mobile device that has visited a mobile page in your store! In other words, GA is only capturing non-mobile storefront traffic. And we can prove it with a simple advanced segment.

Add this segment to your store: Volusion Mobile Page Visits (this will automatically add the segment to your Google Analytics). The custom segment will show you all traffic that has /mobile/ in the URL.

Now, apply that segment to your data and you will see a picture like this:

Volusion Mobile Traffic in Google Analytics

See? Nothing… nada… zip. The only “mobile” traffic you can see in GA is visits from devices that use the desktop version of your store on a mobile device.

A Bounce that isn’t a Bounce

Let’s take this a step further and try this scenario on your mobile device:

  1. Do a Google search for a product you know is on your mobile store. Use your exact meta title tag to get your page to come up as #1 (Did you not come up #1? If so, you may have other SEO issues we can help you with… get help here)
  2. Click on your product URL. This will take you to the desktop version of the product page because naturally Volusion’s mobile implementation is so bad that they don’t even redirect you to the mobile page when you’re on a mobile device.
  3. Click on your logo or homepage link. This will navigate you to the home page of your mobile storefront. But guess what? From GA’s perspective, you just bounced in analytics! You landed on a page and stayed on the same domain but because there’s no GA code installed on the mobile template it will appear as a bounce in your analytic report.

How many bounces in your store are false because of Volusion?

Can it get any worse? Unfortunately yes…if at any time you jump from the mobile storefront to the desktop version, Google Analytics will a) count the desktop page as the “landing page” and b) will count that as a direct visit instead of an organic visit.

Destruction of your analytics is in full force with Volusion running your mobile storefront.

Volusion Adds Insult to Your Injury

With the new mobile storefront, Volusion has introduced a new, mobile-optimized checkout cart and checkout pages (actually, the cart and the checkout are all combined into one page at www.yourstore.com/checkout.asp).

Of course the simple solution to this problem would be for Volusion to allow you to add your GA code so you can monitor your mobile traffic. Unfortunately, not only do they not offer this but they are adding in their own Google Analytics code to monitor the checkout process of YOUR store.

If you go to your store’s mobile checkout page and do a view source you’ll see the following code:

Volusion Capturing Mobile Checkout Traffic

Doesn’t look like your GA code, does it?

So, Volusion gets the analytics and you don’t. How does that feel?

Conclusions and Options

This is a devastating flaw in Volusion’s mobile execution. As a Volusion store owner you have no way to measure engagement and conversion of your mobile traffic. You have no opportunity to improve the experience and identify issues of this major traffic segment.

Knowing this information, if mobile is 35% of your overall traffic and you’re using the mobile storefront, how reliable is your analytic data now? Your Google Analytics revenue will never match your Volusion revenue because of this. You cannot fully understand how well your marketing dollars are being utilized.

When will Volusion get it together? It is a simple fix. Make it happen Volusion.

Volusion Serves Up a Turkey with Enhanced Mobile Ecommerce

This post is part of a series about the recently updated Volusion Enhanced Mobile Ecommerce. The second post in the series is How Volusion Mobile Ruins Your Google Analytics Data.

Volusion recently released their “Enhanced mobile commerce” for Volusion stores. This updated version of their mobile storefront has come with big promises. The most notable change was the option to have an end to end mobile experience with a mobile checkout.

There were more than a few bumps in the road when it was rolled out. It has been discussed (and complained about) at length. The functionality and challenges have been discussed at length on our forum and elsewhere. These have done a great job discussing the Volusion Enhanced Mobile performance from a user and store owner perspective. However, there is a lot more going on than meets the eye and we wanted to bring some SEO and technical insight into things.

Many of you may have figured that once Volusion worked out some of the kinks and got things functioning as advertised that this was really going to make a difference for your store. Surely a decent mobile solution is going to push you forward. Now you can provide a better experience. Increase conversions. Get an SEO boost.

Not so fast!

Faulty functionality & limitations aside, the technical glitches in this thing should keep you awake at night.

Volusion Enhanced Mobile Commerce Issues

Faulty functionality & limitations aside, the technical glitches in this system is riddled with issues that will plague your store. Let’s take a look.

Structured Data

Earlier this year we were so excited to see schema.org structured data come to Volusion products and reviews. It has not, I repeat not, made it’s way over to the mobile side.

Structured Data Comparison

Volusion DesktopVolusion Mobile
Structured Data for Products & Product ReviewsNo Structured Data

Not So Hidden Products

I don’t know about you, but many of my clients (and I) heavily leverage hidden products. Whether as a way to temporarily turn off products or make use of them as child products that don’t stand alone, this is critical feature of any ecommerce cart.

Now suppose, you have hidden a product that you don’t want purchased. Maybe you even double checked it on the front end. What a shock when all of a sudden you are receiving orders on a so-called, hidden product.

That’s right folks. Hidden products have come out to play. Watch out!

Hidden Products Comparison

Volusion DesktopVolusion Mobile
HiddenNot Always Hidden

Title Tags

Remember how you slaved over those title tags, trying to come up with descriptive titles that would not only be relevant but help get you found in the search engines? Well, when it comes to mobile it’s all for naught. Volusion drops your meta titles and instead opts for your product names. Now you’re thinking, it could be worse. You’re right. It could. And it is.

They also use your product name as the title tag for the mobile product “zoom” image. Since they link to a page containing the image instead of the image itself, it comes with a title tag of its own. A duplicate title tag. All of a sudden stores are seeing hundreds of duplicate titles appearing in Google Webmaster Tools!

Title Tag Comparison

Volusion DesktopVolusion Mobile
User DefinedProduct Name

Canonical Tags

“But surely they would account for this,” you say. They haven’t. The zoom images do not have unique titles, nor noindex tags, nor canonical tags.

“But I’ve enabled canonical tags! They were designed to avoid duplicate issues.”

Volusion has opted not to use canonical tags on these zoom images regardless of your configuration settings. You’re stuck.

“Okay, but they have canonical tags on the mobile product pages, right?”

The mobile storefront product pages DO have canonical tags. And the astute among you already realized that the duplicate title tag we encountered above should effectively be irrelevant thanks to these canonical tags.

But don’t get excited just yet. Here the plot thickens.

While on your main, desktop store, Volusion will use your SEO friendly URLs for the canonical tags if you configure it to do so, they like to use ugly URLs on the mobile product canonical tags. So, instead of “/your-product-p/yourproductcode.htm”, they are using “/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=yourproductcode”.

This effectively says please look to this other page for the primary version of the product. The problem here is that this other page is not the destination. It is canonicalized to yet another page (the SEO friendly version of your product).

Now, theoretically it is possible for Google to follow a canonical chain designation like this. But it’s not recommended. And the ridiculous thing is that the SEO friendly canonical tags are used on the desktop version. Why not use the same ones???

Whether or not Google will ultimately discover this relationship and follow the trail is unknown. What is clear, however, is that as of today each and every one of these is seen as a duplicate. They have not followed the canonical chain designation yet.

Canonical Tag Comparison

Volusion DesktopVolusion Mobile
Point to SEO Friendly URL*Point to Non-SEO Friendly URL
Single Canonical TagChained Designation

Mobile Search Results

Now, let’s suppose you overcome these platform challenges – thanks to our advice below :-) – and your products are ranking well. Everything is good in Volusionland, right? Here’s what you’re hoping for:

Scenario 1: A potential customer whips out their mobile device and does a search for “your store’s great widget”. And you actually show up in the results. The prospect then clicks on your result and lands your mobile product page with an optimized mobile experience. They are just itching to give you their money.

Scenario 2: You send out your next newsletter. You have noticed that more and more users are reading it on a mobile device. You are pumped that mobile engagement is going to improve. Users click on the links and are engaged at a whole new level. You can sense your conversion rate increasing by the minute.

Whoa! Hold up. We forgot one small detail. When a mobile user clicks on your search result or product page link, Volusion kind of / sort of forgets to send them to the appropriate mobile page.

You must be taking crazy pills, right? There’s no way that we could have rolled out this (so called) incredible mobile experience that we can now run our visitors through without actually taking them to this “optimized” experience. Ahhh, but we did. Well, not we, but they.

It’s like spending millions on a new theme park and marketing it like crazy but forgetting to unlock the doors and let people in.

Mind. Boggled.

Search Result Comparison

Volusion DesktopVolusion Mobile
Taken to Desktop PageTaken to Desktop Page
Not Redirected

Mobile Whether You Like It Or Not

So, suppose you find all these technical issues to be too much for you. Or you don’t like the functionality. Or the look and feel. You decide to turn off Volusion Mobile Ecommerce. Now you are free just to deal with the desktop issues until they fix the mobile, right?

Wrong.

Let’s be clear. Even if Volusion Mobile Commerce is “disabled”, it is still accessible. You can test this by going to yourstore.com/mobile/ with Mobile Ecommerce disabled. Interesting. Would you look at that. You’ve got a mobile store even though you didn’t want it.

You see, when “enabling” Mobile Ecommerce you are essentially enabling the redirect to mobile commerce – not turning it on.

Now in isolation, are search engines going to find your mobile site without Mobile Ecommerce turned on? No, there are no links to help search engines find it. But suppose you had it turned on and now someone has linked to it. Or suppose someone just guesses and links to yourstore.com/mobile. Now there is a trail for search engines to follow and crawl your site. Duplicate content here we come.

Mobile Store Comparison

EnabledDisabled
Home Page Users RedirectedNot Redirected
Mobile Site Exists/ AccessibleMobile Site Exists/ Accessible

You Can’t Event Track It!

Oh, yeah. One other trivial detail…. Did you know that you can’t even track your visitors in Volusion Mobile Ecommerce? Seriously. Mobile visits, engagement, and ecommerce goals & transactions are all invisible to your Google Analytics tracking. This issue is so massive that we wrote separate post on Volusion Mobile Destroys Your Google Analytics.

Google Analytics Comparison

Volusion DesktopVolusion Mobile
User Added GA CodeNo User GA Code
Goals & Ecommerce Conversions WorkNo Goals or Ecommerce Conversions Work (with Mobile Checkout Enabled)

What Can You Do?

So, now you have a glimpse into the technical mess that has been created by Volusion Mobile Ecommerce (2nd Edition), let’s talk about what to do about it.

As I’ve said elsewhere, the easy answer is to turn off the feature completely and block the mobile entirely.

But for many stores it’s not that simple. Given the technical challenges of your standard Volusion template and the inability to make it respond to mobile devices it can be a difficult decision.

If you decide that you want to move forward with the Mobile Ecommerce solution, we have some recommendations for you.

One last note: these recommendations are to make the best out of a less than ideal situation. This is not how we would design it, but it’s the best we can do if you’re going to use Volusion Mobile Ecommerce.

Solution

First, let’s block search engines from crawling your mobile site.

Update your Robots.txt file, adding the following lines.

# Block Mobile product images
Disallow: /mobile/Zoom.aspx?id=*
# Block Mobile product pages
Disallow: /mobile/Product.aspx?id=*
#Block Mobile category pages
Disallow: /mobile/Category.aspx?id=*

By taking these steps you are recommending that search engines do not crawl these pages. While this is not exactly blocking them, it’s the best we can do.

We have left the mobile homepage accessible here to allow that to be found.

 

Second, let’s add an alternate canonical tag to our desktop products to signal the mobile alternative URL. Ideally we would add a separate alternate canonical tag to the mobile product pages as well. However, with Volusion a bidirectional annotation is not an option since we cannot control the mobile template at all.

In order to do so we’re going to add another line to the head noting the alternate product URL. It will look like the following line (adjusted for your specific product and URL of course.

<link rel="alternate" media="only screen and (max-width: 640px)" href="http://yourstore.com/mobile/Product.aspx?id=81" >

So here’s how you do it:

Since we can’t just add another line to the head section of your product page on Volusion, we are going to leverage the Meta Tags Override section. Now, since we are using this override field, you will also need to manually bring in your title and meta description fields since they will now be left out.

So, your Meta Tags Override field will look like this:

<title>Your Title Tag</title>
<meta name="description" content="Your Volusion product meta description." />
<link rel="alternate" media="only screen and (max-width: 640px)" href="http://yourstore.com/mobile/Product.aspx?id=81" >

The challenging piece of course is to roll this out to all your products efficiently.

 

Feeling really ambitious? There’s one more step we can take.

Third, we’re going to generate another version of your sitemap. This will be structured just like your existing sitemap with one exception. Each item with come with an alternate URL relationship. It will need to look like the following.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9"
  xmlns:xhtml="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
<url>
<loc>http://yourstore.com/mobile/Product.aspx?id=81</loc>
<xhtml:link
    rel="alternate"
    media="only screen and (max-width: 640px)"
    href="http://yourstore.com/mobile/Product.aspx?id=81" />
</url>
</urlset>

This will then be saved as an xml file, uploaded to your site, and submitted to Google Webmaster Tools.

This will be more challenging to set up and is beyond the scope of this post.

 

That’s it. In effect we have told the search engines to ignore the mobile pages and have told them that an alternate to the main page is the mobile page. At least you’re making the best of the hand you’ve been dealt.

 

If you need help Convergent7 is available to roll out the changes for you. Call us at (888) 388-8891.

How to Upgrade to Universal Analytics on Your Volusion Store

A few years ago we posted instructions for how to install Google Analytics for your Volusion store. Recently Google launched a major upgrade to the GA code called Universal Analytics. This upgrade will provide you with a lot more power and flexibility in analyzing your store data.

In addition to keeping the features you have come to rely on for your store, Universal Analytics brings quite a few more benefits to it:

  • Track offline conversions (such as foot traffic)
  • Track custom metrics to open up all new insights into visitor behavior
  • Track at the visitor level instead of a visit level
  • Improved reporting
Google Universal Analytics Ecommerce Screenshot

This post will walk you through both the upgrade process as well as installing the new code into your Volusion template. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with a new version of the ecommerce tracking code for Volusion as well.

Note: if you have not yet created a Google Analytics account, you will want to create a new Universal Analytics account and then skip Step 1 below.

Step 1: Transfer to Universal Analytics

The first phase in the upgrade process is to “transfer” your analytics property to Universal Analytics. Your account really remains the same as transferring is really upgrading.

Note: there is no going back once you upgrade. However, since all Google Analytics accounts will be transferred over sometime soon anyways, it probably doesn’t make a difference.

Here are the steps:

  1. Login to your Google Analytics property
  2. Click on “Admin” in the upper right
  3. Click on the “Universal Analytics Upgrade” option. This will show if your account has not yet been upgraded and the upgrade is available to you.
  4. Universal Analytics Admin Upgrade
  5. Click the “Transfer” button
  6. Transfer to Universal Analytics
  7. In the pop up, carefully review the features that are not currently available, then click “Transfer”

The transfer could take a little while – officially 24-48 hours. I have seen it both go really fast and also take up to 24 hours. Be patient and don’t forget to check back.

Know that Google Analytics should be properly tracking visits and transactions in the meantime. Even if Google completes the transfer but you have not updated your code yet, you should be fine with the old code for the time being.

Once completed, proceed to Step 2.

Google Analytics Upgrade to Universal Analytics - Transfer Complete

Step 2: Update your Analytics Code

The second phase is to replace the previous Google Analytics code with the updated Universal Analytics code. In order to do so, we will remove the old code from the template and add the new one in.

Note: you can get to your template files either through the Volusion dashboard or via FTP – but you already knew that. These instructions will focus on the dashboard method as that is more accessible for those of you who aren’t coder types.

  1. Login to Volusion
  2. Go to Design > File Editor
  3. Edit Your Volusion Template
  4. Under Shortcuts, click on your Template File
  5. Select your Volusion Template File
  6. Before making any changes, backup all the code from this file
  7. Find and remove your old Google Analytics code (should look something like the screenshot)
  8. Remove your old Google Analytics Code
  9. Get your new Universal Analytics code
  10. Get your Universal Analytics Tracking Code
  11. Place the new code just above the closing head tag
  12. Add the Universal Analytics Code to your Volusion Store Template
  13. Click “Save”

Analytics should now be properly tracking visitor data. You can verify this by logging in to Analytics and looking at the real time data to see yourself navigating the site.

Step 3: Volusion Ecommerce Transaction Code

You’re almost there! While Universal Analytics is now properly tracking visitor data, we want to make sure that you can track your Volusion store’s ecommerce data as well. This transaction data can provide incredible insight into how your online store is performing and help you gauge your ROI. Ultimately, this tracking code can help you identify key areas of opportunity and can provide the insight you need to increase your conversions.

  1. Copy the Volusion ecommerce transaction code below
  2. Login to your Volusion store
  3. Go to Design > Site Content
  4. Volusion Site Content
  5. Open Article 130 – ROI_Javascripts
  6. ROI Javascripts Article for Ecommerce Code
  7. Click on the HTML Editor button for the Article Body
  8. Add Volusion Ecommerce Tracking Code for Universal Analytics
  9. Paste the following code in (replacing Convergent7 with your store’s name of course)
  10. <script type="text/javascript">
    // Summary
    	ga('require', 'ecommerce', 'ecommerce.js');
    	ga('ecommerce:addTransaction', {
    		id: Order[0], // Order ID
    		affiliation: 'Convergent7', // Store name - Add yours
    		revenue: Order[2], // Grand Total
    		shipping: Order[5] , // Shipping Cost
    		tax: Order[4]  // Sales Tax
    	});
    // Details
    	for(var i=0;i<OrderDetails.length;i++) {
    		ga('ecommerce:addItem', {
    			id: OrderDetails[i][0], // Order Detail ID
    			sku: OrderDetails[i][2], // Product Code
    			name: OrderDetails[i][3], // Product Name
    			category: OrderDetails[i][4], // Category ID
    			price: OrderDetails[i][5], // Product Price
    			quantity: OrderDetails[i][6] // Quantity
    		});
    	}
    // Send
    	ga('ecommerce:send');
    </script>
    
  11. Click Save

That’s it!

We recommend verifying that the code is working properly. The incoming ecommerce data can lag some, so don’t freak out until you don’t see any data on day 2. But if you follow these instructions, you should be good.

 

Now comes the fun of figuring out how to take advantage of all the new power and flexibility afforded to you by Universal Analytics. Enjoy.

 

Finally, Google has indicated that they will be auto transferring sites that do not upgrade on their own in the coming months so we highly recommend that you upgrade your store today.

If you are terrified of ruining your store by touching the code, Convergent7 will upgrade your store for you (starting at just $95)

 

How to Install Google +1 on Volusion Ecommerce Stores

Today, Google has officially released the Google +1 for websites.  Previously it was only available for Google’s SERPs (search engine result pages).  In today’s article we’ll show you how to install it on your Volusion store.

Google +1 – What Is It?

Google +1 Social Media Button

Google’s “+1” is their answer to Facebook’s Like button and is their push into social media relevance.  Announced back in March, the program is designed to help people recommend sites they like and think are “cool”. 

Advantages Over Facebook’s Like Button

The distinct advantage the +1 program will have over its rival Facebook is the recommendations will show up directly within Google’s search results…provided you’re logged into your Google account.  Naturally you have a Google account already right?

You can bet that this is will become a factor in your organic rankings thereby making installation of “+1” essential for any Volusion store or other ecommerce store.  Google has also announced they will show within the Google Merchant product store as well.

The “+1” program has a lot of catching up to do with Facebook which has already surpassed over 2 Million likes but if anyone catch them its Google and for two very important reasons:

  • It will directly affect your Google organic, pay-per-click and product listings; and
  • It will be integrated with your Webmaster Tools allowing you to view metrics and see trends.

Tracking Performance in Google Webmaster Tools

From a SEO perspective, one of the value added features of Google’s new social tool is the ability to track and monitor how well the “+1” system is working for you.  It will naturally integrate with your Google Webmaster Tools account and provide some valuable metrics including:

  • How many “+1” annotated impressions you are getting on Google’s SERPs;
  • What your CTR (click through rate) is with those impressions; and
  • Your “search impact” with “+1”…that is, how many more clicks are you receiving by having the “+1” on your site;

Tracking Google +1 Metrics in Webmaster Tools

After you’ve added the Google “+1” to your site you will be able to begin to see those metrics in a few days after installation.

You can now control your “+1” preferences within your Google Account Settings and either allow or disallow whether to share your “+1” activity:

Personalization of Google Plus One Settings

Installing on Volusion

Installing the Google +1 in your Volusion store is very straightforward:

  1. Navigate to Google’s site code generator page;
  2. Choose your desired settings;
  3. Copy and paste into a displayable product field in Volusion;

Advanced “+1” Options

As you’ll notice there are several fields that allow you to further customize how your new button works:

How to Configure the Google +1 Button

  1. Include Count: determines whether or not to display the number of people who have given your site a “+1”;
  2. Parse: an advanced function that will explored in another post;
  3. JS Callback Function: again, another advanced function you will probably never need;
  4. URL to +1: here is where you can enter the URL you want to receive the “+1”;

All the above options are optional so if you want to make it as simple as possible, simply copy this code into Volusion:

<script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script>
<g:plusone></g:plusone>

“+1” Button Sizes

You can change the look and feel of the Google buttons as well:

Google +1 Button Sizes

How Google Determines the URL

Google uses the following rules, in order, to determine the target URL of the “+1”:

  • The value of the href tag as defined in the script…or, if you are using the script generator then it’s the value you put in for “URL to +1”;
  • If there is no href reference then Google will check for the existence of the canonical tag;
  • Finally, if neither of those are specified then it will use the URL found in the JavaScript DOM: document.location.href.

[response_msg style="notice" title="Volusion Notice"]Due to this method, we strongly urge all Volusion stores to ensure they have properly implemented the canonical tag![/response_msg]

Where to Put the “+1” Button?

From a Volusion perspective I see 3 viable options for placement of the button:

  1. Product field Photo Sub Text;
  2. One of the five custom fields available for each product;
  3. Use a custom jQuery script to automatically locate it near your add to cart button;

The first two are easy and can be uploaded via a CSV file while the last option would require custom coding.  If you are interested in the last option (which is, in my opinion, the best option) please contact us.

Final Thoughts

From a search engine perspective, implementing Google’s new “+1” button is essential because of the added value of eventually affecting your organic rankings.  Because there are way more people who have a Facebook account than a Google account, Google’s new social media feature is not nearly as easy to use as the Like button. 

You have to have both.

Think of Google’s button will affect your rankings while Facebook’s button can affect your conversion rate.

About Erik Ellsworth
Erik is the President for Convergent7 SEO Services. He’s always trying to improve your rankings and conversions. And, he’s a big NHL hockey fan.

Volusion Adds YouTube Integration

If you’re on version 11 of Volusion you may have noticed a new feature on your product admin pages: support for YouTube videos.  Although adding a YouTube video was never really difficult this new feature makes it very easy for the beginner to add it to their product pages.

YouTube Video Support in Volusion Product Pages

Uploading a YouTube Video to Volusion

To add a video simply follow these steps:

  1. Edit the product you wish to associate the video with in Volusion and open the YouTube section.
  2. Click “Add Video” and paste in the YouTube URL.
    How to Upload a YouTube Video in Volusion
  3. If you’d like to rearrange the videos and what order they show in your product description, simply drag and drop them.
    Drag-n-Drop Videos in Volusion to Arrange Order

When completed, your product page will display your content right after the product description:

Completed YouTube Upload on Volusion

Formatting Your Video

You’ll probably want to format your video placement and spacing and luckily Volusion includes a CSS class called “video_container” so you can control it.  If you want to center it, put this into your template’s CSS file:

.video_container {
	text-align: center;
	}
[content_box style="gray-box" title="About Erik Ellsworth"] Erik is the President for Convergent7 SEO Services.  He’s always trying to improve your rankings and conversions.   And, he’s a big NHL hockey fan. [/content_box]

Track Page Speed in Volusion Ecommerce with Google Analytics

As a Volusion consulting firm we continually get asked about their performance and quality of hosting.  If you’ve been around Volusion enough (or any ecommerce platform such as 3dCart, Big Commerce, etc.) the topic of site speed eventually comes up.  When Google announced that page speed is a factor in organic rankings, the queries really ramped up.  If you’re a pay-per click advertiser, site speed is also a factor in your Adwords Quality Score.

With today’s short-attention-span user, if you cannot provide the best and fastest experience possible then your potential customer will find a website that will.  With a potential of hundreds to thousands of pages in a typical ecommerce store, you need to find the bottlenecks that hurt and lower conversion rates.  It is with this intent that Google has released the new Site Speed Report.  This new report is only available with the new Google Analytics interface.

Why Page Speed Tracking is Important

With this new report you can answer questions such as:

  • Which pages in my online store the slowest?
  • What is the correlation between my conversion rate and page speed?
  • How does page speed impact my bounce rate?
  • Is one version of a browser slower than others?

Once you diagnose and identify the slowest pages you can begin to correct the issues.  With our internal optimization service some of the typical culprits of slow pages we find are:

  • Large, poorly optimized images;
  • Inefficient and non-standard HTML;
  • Category pages with too many displayed products per page;

The One Caveat

There is one negative aspect of tracking your site speed…the new tracking code will slightly slow down your site even more.  The reason is that Google uses a tracking GIF file which adds to the overall size of your page and download to the website visitor.  Due to this issue, the site speed code does not track the site speed of everyone who visits your site but only a sampling.  Some SEOs have reported an approximate sampling rate of 2%.  Therefore if your site does not have a good volume of traffic you may not be getting very reliable data for the report.  I expect the sampling rate may eventually rise or even be a variable you can set.

How to Install the Site Speed Tracking Code

Depending on which Google Analytic tracking code version you’re using, all you have to do is add one method to your GA script:

_trackPageLoadTime(); 

If you’re using the recommended asynchronous version, your script should look like:

<script type="text/javascript">
 var _gaq = _gaq || [];
 _gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-XXXXX-X']);
 _gaq.push(['_trackPageview']);
 _gaq.push(['_trackPageLoadTime']);

 (function() {
   var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true;
   ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://ssl' : 'http://www') + '.google-analytics.com/ga.js';
   var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);
 })();
</script>

If you’re using the old, traditional version, then it will look similar to:

<script type="text/javascript">
var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://ssl." : "http://www.");
document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + gaJsHost + "google-analytics.com/ga.js' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E"));
</script>

<script type="text/javascript">
try{
 var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("UA-xxxxxx-x");
 pageTracker._trackPageview();
 pageTracker._trackPageLoadTime();
} catch(err) {}
</script>

Once you’ve installed this code in your ecommerce template (which will allow every page in your store to be tracked), you should begin to see data after a few hours.

Using the Site Speed Report

The site speed report contains the following default metrics:

  • Average Page Load Time – the average time, in seconds, it took that page to load;
  • Pageviews – the number of page views within the specified date range;
  • Page Load Sample – the number of pages used to determine the average page load time.  In other words the sampling rate;
  • Bounce Rate – the bounce rate for this page;
  • % Exit – the percentage of visits that left your site from this page;

And your report may look something like:

Track Site Speed in Volusion with Google Analytics

It’s another great addition to the New Google Analytics!

About Erik Ellsworth
Erik is the President for Convergent7 SEO Services. He’s always trying to improve your rankings and conversions. And, he’s a big NHL hockey fan.

How to Create a FTP Account in Volusion

Need FTP access to your Volusion ecommerce store?  Follow our quick tutorial on setting up a FTP account to get the backstage access you require.

Why Do I Need FTP Access?

For many Volusion store owners you may never need FTP access but there are many reasons why you might:

  • Ability to upload images in bulk
  • Add custom code or files
  • Add HTML verification files (e.g. Google, Yahoo, and Bing)
  • Add or update Volusion email templates
  • Upload custom templates

If it’s time to access your store via FTP you may begin to wonder, where do I add this user?

Creating a Volusion FTP Account

Where most people struggle with FTP account creation is that you do not create the account inside your store.  Volusion requires you to create your FTP account from within your merchant login ID which can be different from the login ID you currently use to access your dashboard on a daily basis.

To create your FTP login you’ll need to:

  1. Login in to your Volusion merchant account at: http://my.volusion.com

     

    Logging into the Volusion merchant center
  2. Click “Manage FTP” from the left navigation

     

    Managing FTP User Accounts in Volusion
  3. If you have more than one domain, you will need to select the correct domain name.  Otherwise click “Add” to create a new FTP account

     

    Add a new Volusion FTP User Account
  4. Now add a user name and password.  You can fine tune the permissions to only allow read access and also restrict access to only certain folders.  For example, if you are using a custom sitemap program and auto uploads the XML file you would want to limit that account’s access to prevent abuse if that account got compromised. Note: both the username and password must contain at least 8 characters each and also must contain upper-case and lower-case letters and at least 1 number.

     

    Setting FTP Account Permissions in Volusion
  5. Make sure you note your password and then click “Save” to complete the process.

FTP Account Complete

You may now begin to use your FTP account immediately.

How to Setup Automatic Drop Ship POs in Volusion

Follow These Configuration Steps for a Seamless Purchase Order Process

If you’re like most businesses today you have a relationship with one or more manufacturers.  Any in many cases you don’t even carry an inventory but simply have a factory-direct relationship which allows them to ship directly to your customer.  Today, we’ll walk-through how you can use your Volusion ecommerce store to automate the order fulfillment process with your vendors.

The Advantages of Blind Shipments

If you can avoid carrying an inventory it gives you flexibility and cost savings.  In such a scenario your vendor will fulfill your order and create what’s known as a blind shipment.  A blind shipment is shipment that, when received by the customer, appears to have originated from your business and not the manufacturer or distributor or fulfillment house.  Completing the masquerade, the vendor will generally include your packing slip and branding labels too.

Volusion Drop-Ship Configuration

The process of configuring your drop-ship in your store will consist of the following steps:

  1. Creating a Vendor
  2. Creating a Vendor Rule
  3. Updating a Product for Drop-Ship

Creating a Volusion Vendor

Creating a vendor in Volusion is easy but essential for drop-shipping.  In order to create a vendor, follow these steps:

  1. Login to your Volusion ecommerce store’s admin page (e.g. www.yourstore.com/admin)
  2. Click on Inventory, then Vendors:
    Vendor Navigation in Volusion
  3. Click Add to begin a new vendor
  4. At a minimum, you must configure the following fields:
    • Vendor_ID: requires a numerical value
    • Vendor_Title: the company name of your vendor
    • Vendor_PO_Template: use the standard PO_To_Vendor.asp or if you’d prefer you can create one of your own
    • Vendor_PO_SendVia: must select email as the value
    • Vendor_EmailAddress: vendor’s email where they want the purchase order sent
    • Vendor_Email_Subject: not required but highly recommended
    • Active: must be checked
    • Allows DropShipping: must be checked so your form should be similar to this:
    • Create a Vendor in Volusion
  5. Click Save Changes at the bottom of the page and you’re ready to move on.

Note: Jot down the Vendor_ID you used for the vendor as you’ll need it to create the Vendor Rule.

Create a Vendor Rule for a Product

To automatically drop-ship a product from Volusion you’ll need to assign your new active vendor to the product with the following steps:

  1. Edit the product you wish to enable drop-shipping
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the product page and expand the section Vendor Rules for “YourProductSKU”
  3. You must complete the following fields:
    • Vendor ID: enter the Vendor_ID you created in the previous step
    • Vendor PartNo: enter the vendor’s SKU number here, NOT yours
    • Min Qty: enter the minimum number that must be ordered for a drop-ship order
    • Price: enter the vendor’s price, NOT yoursCreating Vendor Rules in Volusion
  4. Click Save Changes to Vendor Rules

Configure the Product for Auto Drop-Ship

As a final step you’ll need to configure the several fields in Vendor Information section of the product:

  • DoNotAllowBackOrders: must be unchecked
  • AutoDropShip: must be checked
  • Stock Status: auto drop-ship will ONLY operate correctly if the stock status of the product is at or below zero!  Therefore, you MUST enter a value that will ensure the product has a zero or negative balance.  For example, if you have a +4 next to your Stock Status field, you would enter -4 which would deduct enough products to equal zero.
Configuring a Product for Auto Drop-Ship in Volusion

Test and Implement

Once you’ve completed the above steps, you’re ready to go!  Now, when an order is placed and you’ve properly authorized or received the payment, your vendor will receive an auto-generated email with all the necessary product and customer details to properly fulfill the order.

Happy Drop-Shipping!

Get Your Volusion Store Ready for the Holidays

Follow These Google Webmaster Tips to Ensure Holiday Traffic Finds You

Hard to believe we’re weeks away from the holiday rush, isn’t it?  For many retailers and business owners, the majority of your revenue is won or lost over the next 2 ½ months.  Is your Volusion ecommerce store ready?  Google’s Webmaster Tools will help you find the answers.

Checking Your Ecommerce Store in the SERPs

First order of business is to see what your visitors will see on the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) and you can do that with the following Google search query:

site:yourwebsite.com

That query will display a page similar to:

Verifying Google Page SERPs with a Volusion Store

Carefully examine each URL and make sure each snippet answers the following:

  • Does the Title tag match the intent and content of that page?
  • Does the page description engage the visitor and invite them to click and learn more about your product or service?

If not, revisit your meta title and meta description tags and update them now.  On occasion, Google will ignore your descriptions and extract content from the page it feels is more relevant.  If that happens, depending on the page, you may want to rewrite them to increase their relevancy.

Content Analysis

As a Volusion Consultant, one of first areas I look for improvement is duplicate content and tags.  In the Diagnostic section of your Google Webmaster Tools, it will tell you all about your duplicate tags:

Webmaster Tools HTML Suggestions

Of the above issues, duplicate title tags are the most severe and should be fixed immediately.  The chances of your Volusion pages getting indexed are slim to none if you can’t even bother to ensure you have unique title tags throughout your store.

If you’re blocking pages with your robots.txt you can verify it’s working correctly here as well.

Sitemap Verification and Indexed Pages

Hopefully you’ve submitted you Volusion sitemap long before reading this article, however, you should verify Google is not only downloading it but also how many pages of your site are currently being indexed within the SERPs:

Detailed Sitemap Information of Your Volusion Ecommerce Site

You should see a recent date of last download as well as a majority of your pages being indexed.  If there are errors with your sitemap, you’ll find the problems listed here.

Manage Your Sitelinks

Google recently added the ability to manage your sitelinks and block pages you feel are irrelevant.  For those of you new to the concept, a sitelink is a secondary, indented group of links on the SERPs:

Google Sitelink Example Volusion Ecommerce Site

You cannot create them and Google will only show them if they believe they will help guide the visitor to areas within your website.  If you feel there are pages you’d rather not have summarized then you can block them within your Google Webmaster Tools:

Managing Volusion Sitelinks with Google Webmaster Tools

Navigation and the Browser Experience

Despite the variety of browsers on the market, it’s still an IE world.  However, you need to ensure the experience is the same across the other major browsers.  At a minimum you should walk through every facet of your store using:

  • Internet Explorer (versions 6, 7, 8)
  • Firefox
  • Safari
  • Chrome
  • Opera

And by “walk through” I don’t mean just looking and jumping from page to page.  You should conduct a full transaction as well.  CSS issues on other browsers can affect your abandonment rates and cause visitor dissatisfaction.

Common Keywords

Want to understand what Google thinks your site is about?  Check out the Keywords section and they will tell you the most common words they run across: Common Keywords as Listed by Google Webmaster Tools

If you’re selling plants online but the word “plants” is listed at number 175, there’s a good possibility you’re not going to rank well for that keyword.  I am NOT saying you should engage in keyword stuffing as that will not work plus it can get you penalized.  What you should be doing is generating natural content with a concentration of your primary keywords and phrases.  Keywords will tell you how well you are executing on that objective.

Top Search Queries

Unless you’re using PPC campaigns there is no way to view what keywords or phrases Google is listing your pages on, i.e. impressions.  Don’t get confused between an impression and click-through.  An impression is when your site was displayed on a SERP yet not necessarily clicked on.  Looking this list of keywords should help you understand where Google serves up your pages and whether this correctly reflects your SEO efforts.

Google's Top Search Queries for a Volusion Online Store

The Holiday Rush

These tips only scratch the surface of information you can learn using Google Webmaster Tools in conjunction with your Volusion ecommerce store.  We’ll touch on more detailed SEO insights and optimization tips for another post.

 

Good Luck!

How to Setup Google Analytic Goals in Volusion

What You Must Do to Properly Tracking Your Volusion Conversions

Essential to any Volusion ecommerce store is properly setting up your Google Analytics Goals and Funnel.  Without proper set-up you will be unable to fully analyze your traffic and determine what’s profitable and what keywords are driving great revenue. Before setting up your Google Analytic goals you’ll need to make sure the following two steps have been completed:
  1. You’ve enabled your Google Analytic profile to track e-commerce transactions; and
  2. You’ve installed the correct Volusion tracking code to ensure the orders; products and their revenue are correctly captured into your GA account.
For those of you who haven’t enabled e-commerce tracking here are the quick steps:
  1. Log into your Google Analytics account
  2. Edit the website profile you want to enable
  3. Once in the proper profile, click “Edit” to open the profile page
  4. Select “Yes” and press “Save Changes”
Enabling E-Commerce in Google Analytics

Enabling E-Commerce in Google Analytics

Create a Volusion Conversion Goal and Funnel

From your Google Analytics profile page, click “Edit” for the goal you want to create:
Creating a Volusion Conversion Goal

Creating a Volusion Conversion Goal

At the top portion of the Goal Setting page you’ll need enter and confirm the following settings:
  • Match Type: Head Match
  • Goal URL: /OrderFinished.asp
  • Goal Name: (You can enter whatever you want here)
  • Case Sensitive: Unchecked
  • Goal Value: 0.0
Setting the Volusion Goal URL

Setting the Volusion Goal URL

Define the Volusion Funnel Pages

A conversion funnel is a breakdown of the sales process and in Volusion’s case it is the 3 pages that make up a sale on your web store.  Although Google says this is an optional step your funnel analytics will be worthless without defining the following 3 pages as your funnel:
  • ShoppingCart.asp
  • One-Page-Checkout.asp
  • OrderFinished.asp
When entered correctly your funnel definition should look like this:
Define the Volusion Funnel Pages

Define the Volusion Funnel Pages

The reason you should leave “Required Step” unchecked is people may get to the checkout page yet bypass the shopping cart.  If you make the shopping cart mandatory then those metrics would not be tabulated with the others. Press “Save Changes” and you are done!

Viewing the Volusion Funnel Visualization

After a week or so, you can begin to peruse the valuable information that is now at your fingertips.
A Completed Volusion Funnel Visualization

A Completed Volusion Funnel Visualization

And, now the real fun begins, right?!