I have had the pleasure of working with Miva Merchant sites for about 6 years now. Keep in mind, they are not the only platform I have worked on. I have done SEO on Joomla, WordPress, Drupal, SquareSpace, Wix, Magento, Asp.net, Ruby on Rails, Cake PHP, regular PHP, Expression Engine, Big Commerce, Yahoo Storefronts… Really, you name it and I would be surprised if I haven’t at least assessed it for search engine optimization. But in this post I want to talk about Miva Merchant. I like it, for many reasons. But there are also a couple things to keep in mind for Miva Merchant SEO. So let’s discuss.
Like a good content management system, Miva Merchant has a variety of templates to chose from on various levels in the navigation. In the category structure, you can either have a pure pagination or just showcase a few products and drill further down. This is an important decision because it really plays into the Miva Merchant SEO strategy. Google has changed the way they interpret categories and rank categories. So making the right selection for your template is critical for rankings. But it is not just that, it is also how you load your products, set up your pagination and your over all keyword execution. What is nice is, if you know what you are doing, Miva allows you to configure this in a very SEO friendly manner.
Product Optimization and Category Optimization
In any good ecommerce content management system you are going to want to have the ability to do dynamic optimization. What do I mean by dynamic optimization you ask? It is the ability to optimize a bulk set of pages, that live on one template, based on a set of rules. For example, I might want to set up a template like this for my titles.
<title><Product Name> text, text <Product Name></title>
I can then use this template to insert the product name across each of my product pages, making it so that I don’t need to optimize them individually. Taking this a step further, I can set up templates for a variety of fields on the page. Be it the h1, h2, title, description, etc, these things need keywords in the right places to rank for SEO. Miva Merchant allows you to do this. It is a great feature for both the category and the product level. Of course, you need to make sure you determine the right keyword strategy.
All the Right Technical Features
We all know mobile is a big deal now. Not only do you need to go mobile to rank well for SEO, but even things like email and social media come into play. No matter how they find your website, you will have a much higher bounce rate and lower conversion rate if your site is no mobile friendly. I recently attended a presentation that said that email users have a 70% higher bounce rate when they visit a site that is not mobile friendly. Couple that with the Google looking specifically at mobile sites for the mobile search results, the new mobile ranking update and general conversion rate optimization and you need mobile. Miva Merchant takes mobile SEO into account. While some of the older versions of Miva Merchant are not mobile friendly, the company has made a big push to go mobile moving forward. In personally have worked on a few mobile sites build on Miva that were very nice. Quick note on going mobile, do not forget CRO best practices.
Keeping in Mind Database Management
Database management is important with any ecommerce offering. The way that you structure brands, categories, location, price points, sales, most popular, features, colors, sizes, etc has a major influence on search engine optimization. Miva Merchant has the ability to structure this data in a variety of different ways that are SEO friendly, but, you need to make sure you are deliberate in the way you set it up. Also, you will need to work within the confines of the system, which inherently is fairly vertical. In addition, depending on how your slice and dice it, you will need to watch duplication across categories. There are certainly way to deal with this such as displaying certain items only in Search Spring, modifying dynamic templates, no indexing certain pages or rel canonical for example, but it is just a Miva Merchant SEO decision that will need to be made. However, most ecommerce platforms have this issue to some degree. So it should not hold you back.
A fraction of Many Miva Merchant sites use something called Search Spring in order to deliver products to the end user. This is a light weight front end product delivery mechanism that displays quickly and provides a pretty good user experience. However, there is an issue with it. That being, it is cannot be indexed for SEO because it is built in Ajax. In addition, there has been no Ajax hashbang escape fragment optimization built into search spring. While this is true, it is really not an issue. The reason being, Miva Merchant also offers these same products and categories in the standard HTML of the website. However, if you do decide to use search spring you need to make sure you are loading products in both places and you have an SEO friendly category structure. Outside of Search Springs core functionality, it also has a feature called “Search Cloud.” This is a pretty interesting attempt at SEO. Basically, if creates something similar to a tag cloud, making hundreds or thousands of pages, that can be indexed by Google. However, in order to track these pages in Google Analytics you need to set up special tracking. Some of these Search Cloud pages can rank. But post Google SEO Panda update I would use them sparingly, if at all. Also, Google is launching a new doorway page update that might hurt these even more. The most important thing is to be aware of these items if you use the Search Spring feature.
Good People, Great Support
Overall, I have had a really good experience with everyone at the company. From the developers to the higher ups (keep in mind I don’t know that many people there, but for the handful I do) they have all been highly technical, able to deliver the SEO items needed for the project and dedicated to their customers and platforms success.
Overall Review of Miva Merchant SEO
I like it. It is a good ecommerce system that works well for medium to large sites that are looking to sell multiple products. Selecting the right ecommerce platform to build your site on is a big deal. It is nice to know there is a solid option like Miva out there. Also, I have heard there new versions are really solid. As they deal with mobile and simplify the SEO process.