Venda is a well known, and generally liked, e-commerce platform. Many large e-commerce retailers use it, including one of our clients: BBC America. The BBC Shop,(www.shop.bbc.com), is based on the Venda platform. You would think that if large retailers are using it, it has to be friendly. It’s not the case, and this blog post is about helping CMO’s and other Director’s who are considering Venda – to consider something else.

First and foremost, Venda is a nice looking platform. It’s a managed platform, meaning Venda owns the platform, the software, and you get a team on their end helping you. Managed care is a great asset for a Director of Marketing who needs less responsibilities. Being able to create tickets with the “Venda Team,” can sure make life easy. We have seen them be responsive, and helpful. Having said that, they make money by doing “consulting,” in terms of their team helping you. In one case, Venda tried charging one of our clients – several thousand dollars – in order to create  sitemap for the website. Anyone with a rudimentary understanding of web design, or SEO, knows how simple it is to create one, and the necessity that it be included in any web site. To be extorted several thousand dollars is a bit aggressive, in my opinion. Some institutions, just don’t care and will pay it – but if you’re a savvy marketer – you’ll know you’re getting screwed, and there’s nothing you’ll be able to do about it.

SEO Ramifications

Venda, as a platform is mostly OK when it comes to SEO. Product pages appear properly in search engines, which is crucial for e-commerce purposes. In addition, they render quickly, and are pretty functional, following best practices.

However, there’s a serious flaw in it, and that flaw is huge. Because the platform is driven by javascript, in some instances it has issues when it comes to being indexed by Google. In particular, category pages on the website are essentially broken.

Below is an example of a category page, it’s blank – has no content, and doesn’t link to the internal page in the website.

Why is this important? Well, essentially, in order for google to know about your product pages – it will visit your category page, and then from there visit the product pages. This is also how “SEO juice,” flows to the product pages.

This is why big companies like Ebay rank for EVERYTHING, even though they aren’t SEO’ing all of their pages. It’s the juice, flowing, to the subpages and product pages. 

With the category page broken, your product pages are starved of SEO credit, and thus don’t rank as well. In the case of our client, the BBC, this one flaw was extremely fatal and caused an immense drop in SEO traffic.

This one flaw, makes the entire platform worthless as a business tool (assuming you’re going to leverage SEO). Due to category pages appearing blank, essentially all your product pages are now “orphan pages,” making them seem worthless in Google’s eyes.

Internal links, are not created, to the product pages, which makes them look unimportant to Google. This is the one limitation i’ve seen with Venda, but it’s so huge I could never recommend them to a client.

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