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Videos | URI Management Overview

Miva Merchant 9.4 adds some powerful new tools to help manage the URL structure of the various pages in your store. We take a look at how the new URI Management area gives you better control of your page URLs.
ver.9.4 and later

Video Transcript

This video has a look at the various settings in the Miva Merchant Admin that can influence the formation and structure of URL’s in your Miva Merchant store. I'd like to mention that these settings we’ll be looking at are quite powerful and a misconfiguration of these settings can easily break your store’s ability to load your Store Pages. Furthermore, you may want to consult an expert before making any changes to your store’s URI settings. Chances are if you've had your store for a decent amount of time, the SEO benefits of changing your URI settings might not be worth it in the long run. Prior to version 9.4 of the Miva Merchant Admin, there were two modes that influence how a store’s page URL’s were structured. A store was either configured to use long URL’s which is the default setting, or was configured to use what we called short links, which resulted in shorter URL’s that could potentially perform better from an SEO perspective.

The settings for configuring short links used to be found in the Domain Settings of the Miva Merchant Store Admin. As of Version 9.4, these settings have been relocated to a new area in the Admin called URI Management, which can be found here. To access the short link settings I was talking about, click into URI Management and then click into the Legacy SEO Settings tab. Here you will find the section called Short Links, which again is the old way of setting up short links in your store. If we go back into the settings tab, here we can see that the store is configured to use long-form URL’s. Let's have a look at what these long-form URL’s look like. Here we are in a Category Page found in this demo store. The category we’re looking at is called “Backpacks.” If I click into this Address bar and copy this URL and paste it into this text editor, we can see what a long URL looks like for a Miva Merchant store. Let's see if we can break down what's going on here. The URL starts with http:// which identifies what protocol this address is using. It's followed by the domain. Since this is a demo store which isn’t accessible online, it happens to end with a .local, but usually a domain would end in a .com or .net, etc. After the domain, we see a /mm5, which is the Mivs root folder. After the mm5 we have a /Merchant.mvc which indicates that this webpage was rendered using Miva script. After that we have a question mark, followed by some variables that are being passed in the URL structure. Here we have Screen=CTGY& and that tells us that this page that we’re looking at was rendered using the Category Display Page Template found in the User Interface area of your Miva Merchant Admin. Finally we have Category_Code=backpacks and that tells the Miva Merchant software which category’s data it should render into the Category Display Page Template. Add all of these together and you get a long URL that loads a specific Category Page in this Miva Merchant store. Had this store been configured to use the Short Links URL, the URL for this Category Page would look something like this. As you can see, it is quite a bit shorter. Again, we have the URL starting with http:// and ending with a domain. After the domain we have /category and then finally we have /backpacks.html, which is what the short links use as an identifier for determining which Category Data to load into the Category Display Page Template. /category in the short link has the same function of Screen=CTGY and /backpacks.html in the short link, has the same function of category_Code=backpacks in the long URL. All of this combined is the short links URL version of the Backpacks Category. Both the long link and the short link URL’s represent the old ways of generating URL’s for pages in the Miva Merchant Software.

Miva Merchant 9.4 introduced some new tools for managing your URL’s and let's have a look at those tools now. Notice we have been talking about URL’s, but the area in the Store Admin we’ll be working in is called URI Management. So what's going on here? It turns out that URI and URL are very similar things, but they're not quite the same. URI stands for Uniform Resource Identifier, whereas URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator. If you remember, we were referring to segments of the URL like the /category or the /backpacks.html as identifiers for specific data in the Miva Merchant Software. This complete address starting from http: and ending at .html represents a complete URL. I won't go too much further into the difference between a URI and a URL, but for the purposes of this video, there is an area in the Miva Merchant Admin where you can configure the URI Settings that will influence the formation of a Store Pages URL structure and again the area we’re talking about is URI Management. URI Management allows you to influence the URL structure of general pages, as well as the URL structure for Category Pages, and finally the URL structure of Product Pages in your Miva Merchant store. All three of these page types can be independently configured from these three different sections under URI Management. Each section has a snippet of code which we’re not going to break down in this video. I’ll add a URL on the bottom of this page for a more in-depth resource if you wanted to dive into this further, but chances are you're not going to be configuring this snippet of code. Just know that this code represents the logic that determines how URI Management is going to form the URL’s of your store pages.

Next you have some various settings that you can check on and off and some drop down menus. Again, what you see on the screen represents the default configuration for URI Management and it's likely that you'll be leaving these settings alone unless some advanced customizations of your page URL’s is required. Let's go ahead and turn on URI Management. We just select “URI Management” in this drop down and then click “Update” and when we refresh the Backpacks category, we can see that the URL is even shorter than the Legacy Short Links URL. Here we have http:// followed by the domain and after that we have /backpacks.html. When you have your store configured to use URI Management, a Page Template indicator isn't necessary in the URL and that's because URI Management uses a lookup type system. There's a specific record entry for this URL and the system knows that if it sees this URL then it should load the data you would normally see had the URL been the full length URL up here. In fact, if I copy this long URL and paste it in a new tab in my browser, the page content will load it just the same. You can see a list of all of these URI’s if you go back into the Store Admin and click on the URI’s tab. Here we can see a batchlist of every single URI in this test Miva Merchant store. If I do a search for backpacks, this is the specific URI that pertains to the Backpacks category that we were working with. So an address that has a /backpacks.html will load the backpacks category. Notice that the type of URI is canonical. You can manually add a record to your URI’s batchlist by clicking on the “+” sign here. Let's go ahead and define a URI. In this case, I'm going to type “hiking-packs.html” or even just “hiking-packs.” Here we can define a destination if it's going to be a page, a screen category or a product. Let's go ahead and select “Category.” We can search our existing categories. In this case I'll select “Backpacks.” Here we can define the type of URI that we want to configure. It could be a normal URI, or a canonical URI, or could be a permanent redirect, or one of these temporary redirects; depending on what your needs are. Let's go ahead and leave this as normal and go ahead and add it. Now when I go back to the store and I type in the hiking-packs URI, it loads the Backpacks category data. This is the same category data that we see if we went and browsed to the backpacks category, which has a URI of backpacks.html, but this URL is the canonical URL for this content. Whereas if we go back to this tab /hiking-packs might load the same content, but it doesn't represent the canonical URL for this Category Page. Let's say that I want to retire /backpacks.html, in which case I'll edit the record for /hiking-packs and make it canonical and you can see that there can only be one canonical record for a category at a time. So, since /hiking-packs is now canonical, the /backpacks automatically got downgraded to normal; but if I wanted to retire the /backpacks.html URI, I’ll go ahead and edit this and select it to “301 Redirect.” Now if I attempt to go to the URL ending in /backpacks.html, we can see that it gracefully redirects to /hiking-packs. It's worth noting that if you're going to be making updates to what your canonical URL’s should be, you don't want to delete your old URI records. You would want to “301 Redirect” them to avoid any sort of broken URL situations. And that's an overview of the new URI Management Settings in Miva Merchant version 9.4.

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