SEO & Squarespace (with bonus SEO checklist!)
Highlighting Features & Busting Myths about SEO and Squarespace
As a web designer & developer, I naturally get a lot of questions about SEO or search engine optimization. As a Squarespace designer & developer, I also get plenty of questions about how choosing the platform itself affects SEO. This can be a complex and confusing subject with lots of information out there meant to confuse and conflate things and there are plenty of myths that I love busting whenever possible. Let’s do this!
Somehow, way back when, Squarespace got a bad rep when it comes to SEO. This may have been relevant in the early days of the service and could still apply if you’re still operating off the now deprecated Squarespace 5 platform which does not have the same SEO features that the current Squarespace 7 (or upcoming 7.1) platform does. The current platform, which all new websites are built on, features a robust toolkit when it comes to SEO. The best part is that no third-party apps are needed to be able to work on the SEO features of your site and you don’t need to get into any super-technical code either.
All Squarespace sites are optimized for mobile and all templates have been scanned with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool to ensure that they are mobile friendly. Google prioritizes mobile-optimized sites in search results.
Areas where you can edit the search engine and page descriptions on both a site-wide and per-page basis. No third party plugins are needed for this!
Sitemaps are automatically generated and itemize all of the URL and image metadata on your site. Everything is given proper priority and is ready to index regardless of the template you choose.
SSL Certificates are included in every domain that is connected to a Squarespace site. SSL-secured websites may rank higher than those that are not secure.
Squarespace automatically generates clean HTML markup that can be read by search engines when your site is indexed without the need for any extra code or tags.
The tags that improve search engine indexing (alt, title, meta and link tags) are automatically included.
Clean URLs for all primary pages that are easy for search engines to read and index.
If you have multiple domains or use a custom domain on your Squarespace site, automatic redirects ensure that search engines will only see your primary domain.
Easy enabling of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) to create lightweight versions of every page on your site so that they can load faster when people view your website on their phones. Sites with AMP may rank higher in mobile searches.
Products on Squarespace are structured so that data like the product name, image, description, price and URL so that Google can display this information as a rich search result.
Automatic and easy integration with Google Search Console so that you can see Google search keywords analytics directly in your Squarespace analytics platform.
The Secret to Getting Seen: CONTENT
One of the greatest misconceptions out there is that SEO is as easy as adding a plugin (something like Yoast if you use Wordpress). The real truth is that plugins like Yoast are nothing more than a checklist. You’d be just as well off printing an actual to-do list and putting it on a clipboard next to your desk. These plugins do nothing for your SEO just by being connected. The secret to getting noticed is having great content, something that is completely independent from what platform your site is on or what SEO tools you may be using. That being the case, I know that people love checklists so here’s one you can work off of:
Site Title (less than 60 characters, include keywords)
Site Description (50-300 characters, make it a readable description)
Location Info (i.e. a map and business contact information)
Use a Custom Domain
Connect Your Social Media Accounts
Add SEO Descriptions (for each page, 50-300 characters)
Page & Title Formats (for all individual pages, home, blog, shop)
Custom 404 Page
Clean Blog post URLS (include post title in URL)
Clean Page slugs (use real words and make it relevant)
Verify site with Google Search Console
Index your site with Google
Verify your site with Bing Webmaster Tools
Connect your site to Google Analytics
Regularly check Google analytics search keywords panel and update content as needed
As content updates and changes over time, be sure to redirect or fix any broken links using URL redirects
Update your site frequently by blogging
Use keywords strategically
Use Squarespace’s built-in features for creating headings
Add alt text to images
Add social sharing images to every page
Give images readable file names
Use tags & categories on blog posts, products and galleries
Link to other relevant content on your site
Keep images under 500KB
There you have it! Bonus! I made a printable version of this list that you can keep handy and BAM! you’ve got yourself an SEO plugin 😛👇
What if things aren’t going well?
If you’re searching for yourself on Google (who doesn’t routinely do this?!) and not liking what you see, there may be a few culprits. If you’ve worked through all of the items in the checklist above, it may just be that your site is too new or that it was just moved from another platform. You’re just too new to the neighborhood! Google & Bing are crawling sites all the time but it can sometimes take a few weeks for your new site to be scanned. If your site does show as being indexed already in Google and you’re still not seeing the results you’d like, I recommend taking a look at the keywords that you’re using on your site. Like I said before, content really is king!