Squarespace SEO: What you need to know in 2019

The thought of having to SEO your Squarespace and not knowing exactly what to do can be really daunting.

When I made my first Squarespace site I didn’t know anything about SEO or how it could grow my young videography business.

All I cared about was updating my portfolio and having a dope looking website.

SEO techniques?

I didn’t know where or how to start - but the idea that people could find me organically just because of SEO - made me pull up a seat.

These days search is the number source of traffic at Sqspthemes.com come and it keeps growing.

The thing is I didn’t start talking about it publicly until recently. I figured there was enough articles out there on Squarespace SEO - and while that’s true, there were still some gaps that I felt needed to be filled.

The biggest question most businesses owners have once they’re site is launched is, “Can you optimize it for Google?”

The problem is, SEO isn’t an afterthought and it’s not a checklist you can check off once and that’s it - it’s a holistic process that takes into consideration your brand, your reputation and your content.

The see lasting results it has to be approached strategically.

Anyway I’m not going to go too deep into that for the sake of time - this article is simply intended to cover the foundation.

I’ve outlined some best practices and some frequently asked questions.

The essentials.

What you need to know to produce results for your business and your clients.

My goal with this guide is to get you over that hump and set you up for success.

It’s broken up into 2 parts.

  1. What matters most to search engines (Google specifically)

  2. What you can do about it

Here’s what you’ll learn

What is SEO and why does it matter?

Top 5 ranking factors

HOW TO IMPROVE GOOGLE SEARCH RANKING

Squarespace SEO Best Practices

Page Titles and Descriptions

Best practices for index pages

Best templates for SEO

Cover pages and SEO

Best practices for optimizing images

Optimizing a store

Frequently Asked Questions

Why isn’t my website showing up in search results?

How do I know what keywords I’m ranking for?

How do I improve pagespeed?

How to implement Schema Markup in Squarespace?

How to minimize negative SEO impact during a migration?

How do I remove a URL from search results?

Are there any SEO plugins for Squarespace?

Squarespace SEO vs. Wordpress SEO

How to hire a Squarespace SEO expert

But first, what is SEO and why does it matter?

The end goal is more traffic.

Search engine optimization is the process of making your website easy to find by search engines and useful to human beings.

According to the guidelines Google gives its Search Quality evaluators - Google prioritizes websites and content that is expert driven, authoritative, and trustworthy.

They advise to focus on what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging and make your website stand out from others in your field.

So is Squarespace good for SEO?

The better question is, can you apply Google’s best practices and rank you website in a competitive field against other websites?

Yes.

Squarespace is an all-in-one CMS, meaning it handles all of the technical SEO for you.

Most of the quirks you’ll find in this platform are minor compared to the major ranking factors I’m about to touch on below.

Biggest ranking factors

What are ranking factors?

Google uses over 200 different variables to determine where a website ranks in it’s search results. Based on experimenting and sharing data overtime. SEO’s have been able to establish a few consistent trends that help us know where to focus our attention.

What matters most?

SEMRush conducted a study of over 600,000 top keywords and this is what they found.

Direct website traffic is the most influential ranking factor. Meaning, when many users go to a website directly it is a good sign to Google that the domain has high authority and value.

User behavior signals such as time on site, pages per session and bounce rate also influence website rankings, since they indicate website quality and relevance for users.

Backlink factors are extremely important for rankings. All backlink factors impact one another. So your positions are unlikely to change if you boost the values for one factor but ignore others.

The majority of domains in the high-volume group have an HTTPS version. But in the low-volume keyword groups the adoption rate is not so high, so implementing HTTPS would be a strong advantage against your competition.

The on-page SEO factors such as the presence of keywords in title, meta description and body of the text proved to be significantly less influential than other factors, however the adoption rate is impressive — keyword usage is one of the most popular SEO techniques.

Improving your ranking is all about putting these same ranking factors to work for your website.

Implement a content strategy

This article that you are reading now is a mini case study on how to create content that ranks.

To grow your direct traffic you’ll need a way to get your content in front of the people who need it most. Maybe it’s social media, email marketing or paid traffic but you shouldn’t be reliant and on just search to grow and sustain your traffic.

Take for example this recent post.

It currently has Zero organic traffic. If I was relying on search traffic alone, it wouldn’t get very far. Instead I’m sending traffic from different sources daily until the rankings catch up to match.

direct-traffic.png

Simple site structure and UX

Keep your site structure simple and easy to navigate and check your analytics.

  • How much time is being spent on site?

  • What is the bounce rate?

These are relative indicators of a positive user experience. The more time some spends on your site after a search, the more likelihood that they found what the wanted and more. These are signs of authority.

Pay attention to your backlink profile

backlink-profile-google-search-console.png

You can see your backlinks in Google Search Console or you can use a tool like ahrefs or semrush.

You can usually uncover what’s working for your competitors and it gives you a realistic look at what your backlink goals should be.

Turn on SSL

browser lock icon.png

Do you have SSL turned on?

You could get up to a 25% increase in organic impressions by enabling the HTTPS version of your site.

In 2014 this became a ranking factor and it’s a easy one to fix.

Settings > Security and SSL > Enable.

seo https.jpg

Optimize your on-page Settings

Optimize your on-page SEO is well documented. Here’s a shortlist of items you’ll want to optimize.

  • Homepage Titles

  • Meta descriptions

  • Content length

  • Image tags

For more: 17 SEO Mistakes Squarespace Designers Make

Squarespace SEO Best Practices

One of the big critiques of Squarespace’s SEO features has been the inability to edit SEO page titles and meta descriptions separate and apart from the page titles and descriptions which are sometimes used in the template.

Source: Squarespace.com

Source: Squarespace.com

Not any more.

You can now update the page title and description used in search results by going to the SEO tab in the page settings. This means templates are now even more SEO friendly. The only thing left would be to apply the same functionality to blog posts and product pages. Hopefully that’s in the roadmap.

If your sub-pages have enough content to be accessed on their own, fill out the meta descriptions and Google may or may not index it.

If your sub-pages have little to no useful content on their own, no-index those pages with the following tag.

 <META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW">


Typically speaking, templates that are more text based will perform better because there is more context.

Using a Cover page as a homepage can be seen as a SEO disadvantage because it limits the amount of content you can “stuff” on a homepage. If you have a strong brand with lots of backlinks - using a Cover page wont hurt.

If you’re looking to rank your homepage for a specific keyword (vs. your brand name), I’d advise on not using a Cover page.

Kerstin Martin has a good guide on optimize images here. Keep the image filenames simple but descriptive.

Some SEOs suggest that using image captions as alt text isn’t SEO friendly - but I think the main point is, if someone can’t see this image, what is the best way to describe it?

Image size

There are a lot you can actually download the optimized images directly from PageSpeed Insights.

https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/

Upload to Youtube, use keyword in video. Embed in blog of same topic. Link back in description.

Create a different “Shop” for each collection or product category.

In your SEO Settings, use the

If using Brine, make use of the intro layout section to add a category description.

If you have one Shop, consider adding pillar or category pages using summary blocks. More on that here.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to do SEO on Squarespace?

Use the search “site:yoursite.com” to verify.

Nothing showing up?

Here are a few reasons.

Your site hasn’t been indexed yet or you’ve been sandboxed.

If it hasn’t been indexed you can either submit your sitemap, fetch as google in the old console or inspect the URL in the new console.

If it’s been sandboxed it could be a number of issues, including penalty.

You can uncover any manual penalties in the Search Console.

Use Pingdom to check your page load times.

The 2 biggest offenders are images and typefont scripts.

Cheers Studios has a Squarespace font optimizer that eliminates unnecessary fonts from loading.

These were my results - before and after.

  1. Start here to see what kind of schema you can use

  2. Use Data Highlighter to edit the existing Schema

  3. Use a Schema generator to create your own

  4. Add it to your page code header settings

The biggest issue with migrations is not maintaining or being able to keep the same site and URL structure. Squarespace has a really good guide on mitigating these risks.

  1. Keep your domain name

  2. Match URL slugs

  3. Use 301 redirects

  4. Create a custom 404 page

  5. Use Search Tools

Source:  https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/1663419?hl=en

In the old search console go to Google Index > Remove URLs.

Unfortunately this is no Squarespace SEO plugin. But you could try the SEO writing assistant by SEMRush.

If you’re doing SEO for clients regularly I’d invest in one of these tools. Each report slightly different data but give you more insight than without.

If that interests you, here’s a guide on the 6 best SEO analysis tools.

This is a hotly debated topic. Most professional SEOs use Wordpress and naturally advise against platforms that don’t allow maximum flexibility with certain SEO features.

Here’s what you can do with Squarespace and here’s what you can’t do…

  1. In Squarespace you can’t edit your own sitemap or robots.txt file - it’s done for you.

  2. In Squarespace you can’t create SEO only page and post titles. The practice allows you to optimize for Search Engines and people separately. Squarespace forces you to optimize for both with a single tag.

  3. In Squarespace your meta descriptions get used in the template. Sometimes as excerpts, product descriptions and page descriptions.

An SEO’s potential is only as high as the quality of your business or website. –Maile Ohye

There are no quick fixes. Expect 4-12 months to see measurable results from your SEO efforts.

Start with an audit that evaluates your keywords, competitions and provides content recommendations.

Got more SEO questions?

Leave them below.