Last Updated: May 2018

Are you wondering how to rank your Squarespace website? 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 guide covers the essential steps to get started with any SEO project. And if you are evaluating WordPress versus Squarespace, you can rest assured knowing that your pages will rank without a Squarespace SEO plugin.

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 best practices, use this SEO checklist to make sure your Squarespace site is search-friendly, or all your hard work may be for nothing. Keep reading to learn more. 


 

Related Service // 1-on-1 SEO Training — 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 confidence. Learn more here →

 Squarespace SEO Training
 

Squarespace SEO Features

First, let's look at a few ways Squarespace helps your on-page SEO efforts: 

 Squarespace SEO
  • 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 benefits are built into the Squarespace platform, giving your small business time to focus on quality content.


How to get started with SEO on Squarespace

Step 1. Do Keyword Research

 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 are seeking information, search engines return your website in the results. You must understand the searcher's intent.

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.

Step 2. Write for SEO by Providing 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 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, so you might use a keyword in the title tag, once in a header and a few times in the main content. 

 Squarespace blogging for SEO

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. 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. 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 new blog post, it’s critical that you put effort into it.

Step 3. Optimize your Squarespace Title tags

Title tags are key for search engines. On Squarespace, a title tag is defaulted to the name of a page (or blog post, product, event, etc.) plus your site title — any of this information can be customized if desired. Our best advice: be clear not cute with page names and blog titles. You want page titles to be keyword rich, but not spammy. 

Default Squarespace Title Tags: page/post name (keyword) + website name (site title)

Step 4. Use keywords in Headers and Meta descriptions

Using keywords in (a) headings and (b) meta descriptions can still be helpful.

(a) 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.

 Squarespace Meta Descriptions

(b) 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

Update // At the end of 2017, Google increased the length of snippets in search results, but as of May 2018, the previous 155-character guideline is back.

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:

example.com/blog/dog-walking-advice

Make sure you 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 existing URLs, 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. You can use keywords in the image alt text 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.

Step 7. Remove Duplicate Content

 Squarespace SEO tools

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 analyze your site and identify duplicate content or other issues:

Step 8. Turn on SSL

As mentioned above, 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, update valuable external links and analytics accounts from HTTP to HTTPS.

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. Submit your sitemap and content changes

Create a Google Search Console account and submit your sitemap to Google. You can do the same with Bing. If you want step-by-step instructions on how to register your Squarespace site with Google Search Console, just request our free 5-day SEO series.

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. 

Step 11. 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.


Follow Best Practices for SEO on Squarespace

The Squarespace SEO tips above are just a start. There are many factors to consider when auditing a website, but follow sound SEO practices and you’ll do fine. After you optimize your Squarespace site, you'll 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. 

Other reading and resources:


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