Are you trying to get your website noticed? Hoping to reach more customers? This guide gives you basic optimization tasks to get you started with any SEO project. There are no special gimmicks required for Squarespace SEO, and yes, your content will rank without the use of plugins (i.e. Yoast).

Search engine optimization (SEO) 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 inbound links, reviews, citations, and other off-page SEO practices, use this checklist to make sure your website is fully optimized, or all your hard work may be for nothing. 

Related Service // 1-on-1 SEO Training — We believe in the power of personalized training to quickly increase your working knowledge. Our training sessions include common sense explanations of ethical SEO practices and live updates to your website, so you can move forward with increased confidence.

How to get started with Squarespace SEO:

1. Do Keyword Research

Before you do anything else, carry out keyword research. This is the first and most important step when optimizing pages. You need to know what keywords to target, so when people search for a particular word or phrase, search engines return your website in the results. The higher your ranking, the better your site's ability to get more organic traffic.

Make a list of keywords you want to target. Then manually 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, on-site SEO, backlinks, and social signals.

2. Provide Quality Content

Behind every SEO strategy is a content strategy. Your content needs to be high quality, unique, and answer your potential customers questions. Write as naturally possible and do not overuse a word or phrase in your content. Google continues to get better at providing good-quality and on-topic search results, but you still need to use your keywords (see tip #1 above) to point them in the right direction. So you might use a keyword once in the title, once in a header and a few times in the main content. 

Be careful not to over-optimize a page, as this might have a negative impact. There isn’t an exact keyword density that you should be using, but long gone are the days when keyword stuffing would get you a good ranking on Google — although we still see many websites trying this approach.

Again, when you write naturally for your readers, it should provide search engines with enough information to know what a page is about. You can also mix it up by using a combination of similar keywords that you are targeting. 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 blog post, it’s critical that you put effort into it.

Related Service // Content Strategy

3. Optimize Titles, Headers, Meta Tags, and URLs

Make sure you use your keywords in page titles, headers, and URLs. For example, a page title could be your keyword, followed by the business or blog name. You can use the following syntax:

keyword + website name

Example: Dog Walking | Man's Best Friend

In this example, the name of the page or post is "dog walking" and the name of the website is "Man's Best Friend."

Your heading tags should contain some keywords too. Use the main title of the page with your <h1> tag. When you have other headings and sub-headings, organize them clearly using the <h2> and <h3> tags.

You can also use keywords in meta descriptions (or in Squarespace lingo your page descriptions). While these aren't a ranking factor, good descriptions can encourage people to visit your site when they are highly relevant. Again, write naturally as you are hoping to encourage click-throughs from the SERPs. And remember, long lists of keywords anywhere on your site could lead to a penalty, so don't go this route.

Finally, in some cases it is desirable to shorten and/or optimize URLs. As an example, a page with the title of "Dog Walking Advice for Pet Owners" will have the following URL structure if you remove unnecessary words:

You can see that the word "for" was removed. Removing words can make the URL shorter and easier to read. And it can also make it easier to share the URL on social networks, especially those with a character limit such as Twitter.

4. Improve your Images

Images can easily be 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. Make sure you use keywords in the filename, title, and alt text (or in Squarespace lingo your image captions) to tell search engines more about your images. As with everything on your site, keep these bits of content readable and relevant — no keyword stuffing.

5. Avoid 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 tools can help identify duplicate content and other site issues:

6. 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. See the article below to learn if SSL is right for your website:

  • Related Reading // SSL and Squarespace 
  • Related Service // Website Upkeep We actively keep subscriber websites up-to-date with new and important Squarespace features. 

7. 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). 

Follow Best Practices for SEO Success on Squarespace

There are many factors to consider when auditing a website, but follow sound SEO practices and you’ll do fine. Now that you know how to optimize a Squarespace site, you need to get busy generating a significant amount of high quality content (see Step 2). Then you will want to promote your content to help increase traffic to your site — for starters, use social media and your email list. And remember to consider what is required for converting site visitors, not just ranking. Learn how we can provide further Squarespace help if needed.

  • Related Resource // Google's SEO Starter Guide — Learn how to build a search-engine-friendly website directly from Google. Update: December 2017, Google announced they revamped their resource for beginners.

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