As I am pushing on in my quest to find a perfect free e-commerce platform that has great SEO, ease of product, brand, stock and category management with industrial strength order management. Not an easy task, to be sure… The latest package I’d like to talk about today is BossCart JV by BossCart
What I had presumed to be a lightweight version of their bespoke commercial product is actually quite different. For starters, it uses mootools (1.11) and the “commercial” cart is under jQuery but let’s not draw any conclusions on the strength of the frameworks based upon this just yet, heh :). It also seems to lack one very important facet of trading: brands/manufacturers (this has been left for the ‘full’ version once again). Other than that, first impressions as a user: it appears to have been coded within the spirit of Web 2.0 in mind – search tags, lightbox imaging, product ratings, the chunky yet slick looks…
Since this IS fragged.org, we write about what we don’t like first and assume the rest is fine or dismiss it as boring… With that in mind, let’s pop the bonnet and see if this baby can organically give good SERPs. n.b. you can always fix the css/theme so this is very superficial
I picked http://jv-cart.bosscart.com/golf-iron-supplier as the page to disect first.
I always wondered what JV stood for and some light got shed here:
<img src="http://jv-cart.bosscart.com/components/com_virtuemart/shop_image/product/0a2d9237bb75f96c09db6f5d91de7287.jpg" width="135" border="0" alt="Titleist Pro V1 Premium Refinished Golf Balls" style="float:left"/>
Seems that at least in part, the jv-bosscart are based on Joomla / Virtuemart. This explains a lot – mootools 1.11 and not 1.2, for starters (Joomla have yet to move over).
The URL is SEO friendly enough, although the title does not appear to be even remotely relevant. We find this:
<meta name="description" content="" /> <meta name="keywords" content="sample Boss Cart JV golf shop,http://jv-cart.bosscart.com" />
It may seem like a little thing to simply go and set it manually – but the last e-commerce site i worked on had 1200 products and 50+ categories. Today’s e-commerce software needs to try and back the site owners up and fill in wherever possible…
The default theme seems to have a topbar and a side menu element floated to the left, with the body of the page that follows. Obvious disadvantage of that is that repetitive text (categories, site pages, header bits) will always precede the real important page headings and body texts that will determine the page relevance.
The page also appears to be using a mix of css-driven-design and tables, as well as plenty of inline css.
Also stuff that you can clean up as you customise it. Links not having title tags is yet another hindrance that will need fixing.
The first real page-relevant bit of code in the source is at line 228 (a bit too far down for my tastes). The most important dynamic content, keywords, heading tags, descriptions – they should be as close to the top of the page as possible and without too much markup. This may be a semantic view but it works.
The questions here is, are there good enough framework templates to get you started re-skinning the default one?
How effective is the organic SEO out of the box? I decided to search on google for the products in the test shop – obviously w/o any proactive marketing as examples: Bay Hill Plasma irons comes as no. 1, Bay Hill Irons as the 4-th site down. This may be due to the number of inbound links to the BossCart site but it’s also no fluke. The product descriptions are explicit and help matters also. Titleist Golf Balls comes up also on page 2.
The provisonal verdict for BossCart JV: There are a lot of areas that need work – messages here and there, visual glitches, optimisations and other bits. We’ve not looked at the admin interface yet — but it has potential. I would say, as an out-of-the-box free solution, it probably does more for a startup business than oS Commerce or CubeCart.
I will post updates here as soon as I find more about it.