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Millions of websites have been created on Squarespace to date. According to StackShare, brands like HBO, Turo, Wattpad, and Accenture use the website builder to create and manage digital content easily.
As the popularity of Squarespace continues to increase, so does the competition for traffic, leads, and sales. To keep pace with their rivals, Squarespace site creators are increasingly turning to a sustainable method of driving business growth known as Squarespace SEO.
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What is Squarespace SEO?
Squarespace SEO (search engine optimization) is a digital marketing strategy used to improve the visibility of Squarespace websites in search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. These search engines consider certain ranking factors when they compile web pages on a search engine results page.
SEO involves improving these factors on your website to make it easier for potential customers to use and for search engines to process your web content (through a process called “crawling and indexing”). Higher search engine rankings are correlated to more organic (unpaid) traffic, which translates to more opportunities for leads and sales on your Squarespace site.
Is Squarespace SEO-friendly? 13 Built-in SEO features
A lot of people wonder: Is Squarespace SEO-friendly? Though Squarespace may not be as versatile for SEO as other content management systems, like WordPress, every site does come with 13 built-in features for SEO that will help users rank higher:
- SSL certificates: Squarespace comes with free SSL certificates, which enable secure data transfer for your viewers when they visit your site.
- Sitemap: A sitemap is a map of your website URLs, which gives search engines a map to all your pages. This way, Google never leaves any of your content out of search results accidentally.
- Clean HTML markup: Squarespace automatically generates pages with organized, easy-to-crawl HTML markup when selecting a heading style.
- Automatic Tagging: WIth automatic tagging, Squarespace will ensure that your images contain proper alt tags and that meta and link tags are automatically produced.
- Clean URLs: All pages on your site have short and simple clean URLs optimized for easy indexing. Squarespace auto-populates your page URL based on the title you entered when creating it.
- Auto redirects: If you change the URL of a page or have multiple domains, you must create a ‘301 redirect’ to it. This will automatically redirect users and search engines to your primary domain.
- Search engine and page descriptions: Squarespace provides fields for inputting your site’s search engine and page descriptions. Customizing them can lead to more click-throughs to your website.
- AMP: implementing AMP allows you to create fast-loading versions of web pages in Google search results. This formatting prioritizes readability and mobile user experience.
- Google rich image search for products: Squarespace labels and categorizes content with schema, which helps to create search results with rich snippets. These are bigger, more engaging search results that can come complete with images, reviews, and more.
- Built-in mobile optimization: Google’s algorithm prioritizes a website that is optimized for mobile devices. Squarespace sites come mobile-friendly, which makes them more likely to rank well in search engines.
- Built-in meta tags: Squarespace automatically adds meta tags based on titles and descriptions of your web pages, which can improve SEO by better labeling content.
- Search keywords analytics: The search keywords analytics panel reveals visitor search terms that drive traffic to your site. This data helps you get a good idea of what people search for, refocusing you to create targeted content that shows up on SERPs (search engine results pages).
- Structured data: Squarespace automatically generates structured data using schema, allowing search engines to serve more engaging versions of the following types of search results: blog posts, events, local businesses, organizations, websites.
While Squarespace is less flexible in terms of SEO than WordPress, it does make up for it through its ease of use. And its basic functions are enough for most businesses to succeed with SEO.
Squarespace SEO best practices for beginners
Not every aspect of SEO takes an expert. Anyone with a Squarespace site can get started optimizing their website for search. This comprehensive SEO checklist will help jump-start the process.
13 SEO tips for before you publish your Squarespace site
Squarespace comes built-in with SEO functionality, but you’ll have to update SEO settings to ensure you’re using the functionality to its potential. Before publishing your site, optimize it for search with these SEO tips:
Add a site title
The site title is the name of your site, and it can appear in various high-visibility places like your website, search engine results, browser tabs, and social share snippets. Make sure your title is under 60 characters and includes relevant keywords in short go to: edit – edit site header – site title and logo (in settings).
Add a site description
Add a short, relevant description of your site’s content. This text usually appears below the site title in search results. To add an SEO site description: Home Menu, click Marketing, click SEO, in Search Appearance area click the Home tab, edit SEO Site Description field, click Save.
Add your location
Create a contact us page so that searchers in your area who are seeking your content or services can find you. Include your address and maybe even a map. This can help you show up on search results pages for local searches.
Publish your location online
Create and manage online listings for your business’s location and its related operation info. You can connect your Google My Business listing information with your site to adjust both platforms simultaneously.
Connect a custom domain
Use a custom domain instead of using the default squarespace.com URL that you’ll get when setting up your website. This can improve brand perception by making you appear more professional. It will also make it easier for you to be found in search results.
Connect to social media
Enable social sharing to allow yourself to promote your content on social media. Though social media isn’t an official Google ranking factor, it is a Bing ranking factor. And despite not being an official Google ranking factor, high social media engagement is correlated with higher rankings.
Add a browser icon
Adding a custom browser icon or favicon makes your site and brand recognizable. This icon can be seen next to your page title and browser tab.
Add social sharing images
Social sharing images display on social media platforms when one of your pages gets shared. Without them, a default image will be chosen that may not be the one you want to represent your page. This is a good way to control brand perception.
Add SEO descriptions
Make sure each page on your site has a meta description set up. Squarespace refers to these as “SEO descriptions,” and they’re important because they show up in search engines as the description of your page. These can affect the rate at which people click through your search engine listing. More on this later.
Update page and title formats
The formatting of your page titles should be consistent. Take control of how your page titles appear across multiple platforms by updating your preferred format in Squarespace page settings.
Create a custom 404 page
When visitors click on a broken link, they’ll arrive at a 404 Page. You can fill it with information relevant to your brand when you create your own instead of relying on Squarespace’s default messaging. Yours can include a search bar, a link to your homepage, or even a new page with your most valuable resources.
Check URL slugs
Choose how you want your blog post URLs automatically formatted, such as including the post title. The URL slugs should be changed to reflect the content of the relevant page.
Your Squarespace site is automatically protected with free SSL certificates. But it’s important to select the SSL settings based on your security needs.
14 SEO tips for after you publish your Squarespace site
Now that you’ve gotten your Squarespace optimized with the basics, it’s time to establish a long-term SEO strategy to get you closer to ranking #1.
Verify your site with Google Search Console
For Google to show your site in search engine results, it has to first recognize it exists. While Google can find your website at its own pace, you can speed up the process by verifying in Google Search Console.
Every website has free access to Google Search Console, where you can manage your website’s presence in the Google search engine. To verify your site, you can navigate to Google Search Console and request that Google crawls and indexes your web pages. You can do the same with Bing through Bing Webmaster Tools.
Do keyword research
Keyword research involves discovering words that people use to search for products and services related to your business. Identifying these will help guide the kind of content you create to accommodate those searchers. Whether through blogging, products pages, videos, etc., if you can accommodate searchers looking for answers related to your business, you can position yourself as a trusted source of information while driving traffic to your website. This translates to more potential customers.
Once your site is integrated with Google Analytics, you can use the Search Keywords panel in your Squarespace Search Keywords Analytics dashboard to gain more info on how your target audience searches, what they look for, and the analytics on each keyword.
Then you can use these keywords in your titles, headlines, body, and descriptions to optimize pages to rank. Other additional methods include looking at related terms at the bottom of the SERP and in autocomplete searches in the search bar. SEO plugins like Yoast can help you ensure your post is keyword-optimized for search.
Organize your content with headers to make it easy to skim
Search engines prioritize the user experience. And users want to find answers to their searches quickly and easily. That’s why it’s important to organize your content with headers.
Consistently formatting your heading text can make long blocks of written content more visually appealing. It also helps your visitors to skim a page and find what they came for easily. And it can help crawlers better understand your content, too. To do this, In the Text Block toolbar, use the format drop-down menu to create custom headings.
Optimize your images
Search engines crawl and index images as well as text. And failure to optimize your website’s images can keep your site from ranking to its potential, and it can cost you valuable impressions in Google Image Search as well. To optimize your images:
- Compress or resize images large images. Page speed is an official ranking factor, and large images are the most common effectors of slow load times.
- Add alternative text (alt text) to each image. Alt text is designed to help users with visual impairments, but Google’s crawlers also use it to rank web pages. Yours should be short, descriptive, and it should use the focus keyword if possible.
- Include the keyword in your image files. Use descriptive but short file names, and use dashes to separate individual words. Crawlers also use file names to understand your image.
Internally link your content
Internal linking connects one page of your website to other related pages on that site. This allows for easier website navigation for visitors, and crawlers, too – providing paths necessary to get from page to page on your site efficiently.
It also helps Google understand how each of your pages is related to the other, including your site’s overall structure and hierarchy.
When linking from one piece of content to another on your site, it’s important to ensure a strong relationship between each page. A link should offer visitors an opportunity to learn more about a specific topic.
If, for example, you’re writing an article about internal linking, it would make sense to include an internal link to an article about content marketing, on-page SEO, and anchor text. These are all topics you’d likely cover in the article that visitors may want to learn more about.
When you link to other pages on your site, make sure your anchor text is relevant. For advanced internal linking strategies, consider the topic cluster model.
Generate backlinks with link-building strategies
When it comes to achieving better organic rankings, Google places high value on generating high-quality backlinks or links directed to your site from other websites. They’re among the most important ranking factors.
The way Google sees it, if a website is willing to link to you, that means it’s willing to send its visitors to your site. And that means your content must be valuable, and your website must be trustworthy. The more backlinks you have from high-quality websites, the better organic rankings you’ll have.
Backlinks can come organically, but you should have a link-building strategy to increase your likelihood of generating them. Here are some of the most common and effective:
- Create linkable assets that contribute value, increasing their chances of being shared.
- Replace dead or broken links on other websites by offering to supply them with your quality content.
- Regularly check your site’s inbound links and replace dead ones, giving them functionality.
- Use your competitors’ sites to get ideas about where to get backlinks.
- Provide informative content on other websites related to your niche or business by participating as a guest blogger, in interviews, or as a contributing writer.
- Get listed on resources pages, round-up or rankings posts, or industry directories.
Write great page titles and meta descriptions
Meta titles and descriptions are snippets featured on SERPs that tell a search engine user what your page’s content is all about. It should be written to engage and invite them to click on and visit your site.
Page titles are best written with a benefit that includes the keyword. What will the visitors get out of clicking your content? What’s the benefit to them? Be sure your SEO title tag is short enough to avoid truncation. On SERPs, the meta description is right below the meta title.
Optimal meta descriptions for search engines involve between 50-300 characters that are relevant and keyword-rich. Try to put yourself in a visitor’s shoes. Use the meta description to elaborate on the meta title. Let visitors know what they can expect when clicking through your search listing…
What does the page include? Will they find expert tips? Proven strategies? A checklist for success? Infographics? Original research? These are all things that your visitors will appreciate knowing.
This will increase your click-through rate (CTR), which affects your ranking opportunities. Squarespace allows you to edit and adjust your descriptions simply using the SEO tab to optimize your site’s performance in SERPs.
Share your content on social media
Simultaneously publish your site content and share it to your social media platforms using the Squarespace built-in share option. This saves you the time of manually copying and pasting links to your social profiles. You may also opt into adding share buttons to collection pages and icons that link to your social profiles as well.
Though social media isn’t an official Google ranking factor, there’s a correlation between high-ranking posts and high social engagement. And remember…Bing has been open about its decision to include social media as a ranking factor. So it can’t hurt to stay active on social.
Send an XML sitemap to Google
An XML sitemap is a map to all the pages on your website that Google can use to crawl your web pages more efficiently. You can create and submit an XML sitemap through Google Search Console.
Luckily, Squarespace automatically generates a sitemap for you and updates it with any pages you add or remove. This will help you identify areas of issue to improve them and get one step closer to ranking better in results. You can view your site map by adding /sitemap.xml to the end of your domain.
Improve page speed
While Squarespace has measures to ensure fast load times, various factors can impact how quickly your website loads. Here are a few things you can do to ensure fast site speed:
- Try to keep each page to 5 MB or less.
- Keep image widths relatively low, recommended typically between 1500 and 2000 pixels.
- Use compression tools to reduce the size of any images before uploading, and use compressed JPGs instead of PNGs for images.
- Avoid the over-use of external scripts.
- Use fewer fonts and make sure they are Google or web-safe fonts.
- Check your local connection and network firewalls.
- Check your mobile compatibility; you may consider enabling AMP to display fast-loading versions of your content in mobile SERPs.
Page speed is an official Google ranking factor, so make sure your pages load as quickly as possible.
Create a robots.txt file
Not every page has value to searchers, so you won’t want every page on your site to end up in search engines. A robots.txt file signals a search engine bots which pages on your own website it should avoid crawling. Squarespace does a good job of creating your robots.txt file. However, you do not have the ability to edit it. See your robots.txt file by adding /robots.txt to the end of your domain.
Use schema markup
Schema markup is a labeling language that helps categorize content on web pages so crawlers can better understand it. When crawlers can better understand your content, it’s easier for them to serve users in a more engaging way.
Using schema markup can result in rich snippets on search engine results pages. These are bigger, more engaging search listings that can include photos, reviews, ratings, events, contact info, and more.
The easiest way to create schema if you’re unfamiliar with it is to try a schema generator, like Merkle’s Schema Markup Generator tool.
When you’re done creating yours, test to see if your Schema markup is correct using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. Then in Squarespace, add a code block at the top of the page you want to markup, paste the markup, and click apply. Be sure to save all your work.
Use the canonical tag on duplicate content
When a search engine crawler finds two pieces of content that are identical or nearly identical, it will only index one. And crawlers aren’t always sure which is the original. If Google has to guess, there’s a chance it may index the wrong one. That’s what the canonical tag is for.
Adding a canonical tag to your content gives search engines the ability to determine which pages with similar or identical content should be indexed. Squarespace does the job for you by automatically putting canonical tags on pages, redirecting traffic to the primary URL.
Prioritize mobile design
The great news is that all Squarespace websites are mobile responsive, making them mobile-friendly. This is important because Google’s algorithm indexes a website based on its mobile device adaptability. Beyond this default accessibility, there are a few more things you can do to prioritize mobile design:
- Enable AMP for Blog Pages
- Ensure Mobile Styles is enabled
- Keep your pages under 5 MB
Get a complimentary Squarespace SEO audit
Squarespace is among the top website builders that make running a successful website easier for creators of any experience level. It comes equipped with the fundamental SEO tools, templates, and plugins vital to generating organic site traffic needed to rank high on SERPS. With these tips, you’ll be able to take the built-in SEO power of Squarespace to even new heights.
Want to see how you’re doing with Squarespace SEO? Get an instant SEO audit below. Or, schedule a free consultation to see how intent SEO can boost search traffic revenue by 700%.