Are you wondering how to rank your Squarespace website in 2019? Need to reach more customers? SEO on Squarespace is a straightforward process if you understand the basics of search engine optimization — there are no special gimmicks required. This Squarespace SEO guide covers the essential steps for getting started with any optimization project.
Search engine optimization encompasses two practices: on-page SEO (optimizing your website itself) and off-page SEO (increasing external signals to gain traffic from search engines). Before you start increasing your site’s authority with links, reviews, citations, and other off-page SEO best practices, use this Squarespace SEO checklist to make sure your website is search-friendly.
If you are evaluating WordPress versus Squarespace, rest assured your content will rank without Yoast or a “Squarespace SEO plugin”.
SEO Features of Squarespace
First, let's look at a few SEO benefits that are built into the Squarespace platform:
Sitemaps: Squarespace sites come with an automatic XML sitemap. Your sitemap stays current and includes all your page URLs and image metadata for SEO-friendly indexing. Read what Google says about sitemaps.
SSL Certificates: Squarespace offers free SSL certificates to all customers. Your site visitors get a secure connection on every page of your site. Google rewards you for adopting HTTPS.
Mobile-friendly: All Squarespace themes are responsive. Your content and images are automatically resized to fit different devices and screen widths. A mobile-friendly site is critical for Google.
Clean HTML and URLs: Your HTML markup and URLs are easily indexed.
These advantages are built into the Squarespace platform, giving your small business time to focus on quality content.
How to Do SEO on Squarespace
Step 1. Do Keyword Research
Before you do anything else, consider your keywords. You need to know what topics to target, so when people are seeking information, search engines return your website in the results.
Make a list of all the keywords you want a page to target. Then search for each keyword on Google and look at your competition to assess the difficulty of ranking. The stronger the competition, the harder it will be for you to rank above them. When assessing the difficulty of your keywords, consider your competition's popularity, authority, backlinks, and social signals.
Related Resource // How to Find Keywords
Step 2. Offer Quality Content
Behind every successful SEO campaign is a solid content strategy. You must provide high quality, unique content that answers the questions of your potential customers. Your content must respond to the searcher's intent. Write as naturally possible. Do not overuse one word or phrase in your content — instead, use many phrases and concepts that are associated with your main topic. Google continues to get better at providing good-quality and on-topic search results.
Be careful not to over-optimize a page, as this might have a negative impact. You might use a keyword in the title tag, once in a header, and a few times in the main content. There isn’t an exact keyword density that you should be using. Our recommendation is to write first, then review your copy for keywords and related terms.
Again, when you write naturally for your readers, it should provide search engines with enough information to know what a page is about. Keep in mind, the content on your website is a large factor in ranking, so whether you are writing copy for a static services page or a new blog post, it is critical that you put effort into it.
Step 3. Optimize your Title tags
Title tags are key for search engines. On Squarespace, your title tag will default to the title of a page (or blog post, product, event, etc.) plus your site title — any of this information can be customized if desired.
Default Squarespace Title Tags: page/post name + website name (site title)
Individual page titles can be updated and optimized by hovering over a page and clicking the page settings icon. Our best advice: be clear not cute with page, product, and blog titles. You want titles to be keyword rich, but not spammy.
Step 4. Use keywords in Headers and Meta descriptions
Using keywords in headings and meta descriptions can be helpful.
For headings, it is common to use the main keyword of the page in the <h1> tag. Organize other content clearly with sub-headings using the <h2> and <h3> tags.
A note about headings: In Squarespace trainings, we advise using a single H1 tag per page to create a clear title for the primary topic. Why? Because too many people abuse headings and don’t use them correctly. But, it is worth knowing that when building an index page with different sections, Google says multiple H1 elements on different parts of the page are acceptable if done properly.
You can also use keywords in meta descriptions. While descriptions aren't a ranking factor, highly relevant meta descriptions can encourage people to visit your site (these are the short summaries of your pages that appear in the search engine results). Again, write naturally as you are hoping to encourage click-throughs from the SERPs. But remember, whether you write descriptions or not, Google will sometimes pull other text from your page to better answer a searcher's query.
How to add meta descriptions to various pages:
Home page: Settings > SEO > Search Engine Description
Individual pages: Pages > Page Settings > Description
Blogs, products, or events: Select the blog post (product or event) > Edit > Options > Excerpt
Related Resource // Google's Advice for Page Titles & Snippets
Step 5. Simplify your URLs
Google recommends keeping your URL structure as simple as possible. So consider shortening URLs. As an example, a blog post with the title "Learn Dog Walking From A Pro" could be changed to the following URL structure:
Make sure to use hyphens (-) between words for readability. Removing unnecessary words will make a URL shorter and easier to read. It can also make it easier to share the URL on social networks, especially those with a character limit such as Twitter.
Note: Before changing an existing URL, read up on URL redirects.
Step 6. Improve your Images
Images are often forgotten in Squarespace SEO efforts, but they are important and should be optimized. A fast-loading image will improve the overall page speed, which is a ranking factor for Google, Bing, and other search engines. You can use online compression tools to reduce images before uploading to your website.
And most search engines have an image search function — images from your website showing up in these results can lead more visitors to your website. Use descriptive words in your image alt text to give search engines more information — for many images, this will be the caption text. Learn more here. As with everything on your site, keep these bits of content readable and relevant.
Related Resource // Squarespace's guide on formatting images for the web
Step 7. Remove Duplicate Content
Most website owners know that duplicate content is strongly discouraged. If you copy content from another website, it can result in a penalty. This rule also applies to duplicate content found on your own website. Beyond Google Search Console, these SEO tools can help analyze your site and identify duplicate content or other issues:
Step 8. Turn on SSL
Google encourages HTTPS connections everywhere for a more secure web, and it is a positive ranking signal.
New Squarespace accounts have SSL turned on by default, but many owners of older Squarespace websites are unaware that Squarespace now offers free SSL certificates.
When you make the switch, you will also want to update valuable external links and analytics accounts from HTTP to HTTPS.
Related Resource // SSL and Squarespace: Everything your small business needs to know
Step 9. Link Internally
Look for internal linking opportunities. Relevant pages or blog posts can be linked to within your content (not just from your main navigation menu). Help your site visitors find the information they want.
Step 10. List your location
If you are a brick-and-mortar business, your physical address should be displayed on your site. See this article for more details specific to local SEO for small businesses. Make it easy for your customers to find you.
Step 11. Submit your sitemap and content changes
Your built-in Squarespace XML sitemap can be found here: www.yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml
When you create new content or make updates, it can take a while for search engines to notice changes made to your site. But by using the free search tools offered by Google and Bing, you will speed up the re-indexing process.
For step-by-step instructions on how to add your website to Google Search Console, request this free email series.
Follow Best Practices for SEO on Squarespace
The Squarespace SEO tips above give you a great start for auditing your website. Follow sound SEO practices and you’ll do fine. In addition to optimizing your Squarespace site, you'll also want to promote your high-quality content to increase traffic to your website — for starters, use social media and your email list. And you need to consider what is required for converting site visitors once they land on your site.
Want more SEO help? Other resources:
Get personalized SEO training for your Squarespace site
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