10 Tips to Improve Your Squarespace SEO - Squarespace SEO Series #3
As I mentioned in my previous post here, many people believe the rumors that Squarespace sites don’t rank as well on Google in comparison to Wordpress or custom built websites. Well, I’m here to tell you that’s simply not true! I know plenty of websites built on the Squarespace platform who rank on the first page on Google. Squarespace can have superb SEO, trust me.
SQUARESPACE SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION BEST PRACTICES ARE ESSENTIAL
That being said, Squarespace, and any other platform including Wordpress, is not magically great for SEO. All SEO specialists know that you have to put in the work on your end. You can’t just throw your website up and let it go. As awesome as that would be (hello, pink unicorn!), unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
You or your designer should follow best practices to implement the technical side of Squarespace SEO. Yes, plugins are unnecessary as they are just a checklist of what to do (does nothing for your website’s SEO), but you need to follow the rules of the road, so to speak. This includes using headings properly, crafting page descriptions, URLs and page titles that focus on your keywords, add meta to your blog posts, avoiding keyword stuffing (a big no-no), and more. It also means that you need to create killer content that is updated frequently (i.e. blog, etc.)
To get you started on the yellow brick road of Squarespace SEO, here are 10 tips to improve your Squarespace SEO.
SQUARESPACE SEO TIP #1: HAVE APPROPRIATE SITE TITLES
I get it. Having cute, creative names for your page titles is fun: like having your food blog chicken recipes page called “Funky Chicken.” Hey, it was off the cuff. Don’t judge. Names like this can help influence your branding, however it doesn’t help your SEO. Be as clear and to the point as you can with your page titles to help Google understand what the page is about.
I know, it’s not as exciting as doing the Funky Chicken. If you really want to keep your fun names, there is a workaround you can implement in Squarespace. In the “Advanced” tab of your “Page Settings,” paste this code into the “Page Header Code Injection” box.
<meta name=”description”content=”your page description goes here”/>
(Put your basic page description name where it says ‘your page description goes here.’)
SQUARESPACE SEO TIP #2: ADD A SEARCH ENGINE DESCRIPTION
This is a cool feature of Squarespace SEO functionality. Squarespace allows you to add your own search engine description directly on your Squarespace site. Go to Marketing > SEO. Here you’ll find a section where you can write 1-2 sentences to summarize your website. This will be the description displayed on Google when someone comes across your site. Use as many keywords as possible here, while still keeping it short, sweet, and to the point.
Notice I use the keywords brand, story, small business, website, design, Squarespace, and Allentown, PA. Also note that my description states who I help and how I help them.
SQUARESPACE SEO TIP #3: CREATE AN SSL VERSION OF YOUR SITE (& HTTS)
In 2014, Google announced that they wanted to see ‘HTTPS everywhere,’ and that a secure HTTPS website (i.e., using SSL ‘secure socket layer’) was going to be given preference over non-secure ones in search results. SSL as a ranking factor is becoming more significant and, SEO aside, browsers increasingly don’t like non-secure sites.
Ensuring your site is secure is super easy in Squarespace. Go to Settings > Advanced > SSL and switch SSL on.
If you’re enabling SSL on your Squarespace website, it’s also worth checking the accompanying HSTS option, too. Without getting too technical, this basically forces browsers to only ever load a secure version of your site. Simply put, it makes the most of your https status.
SQUARESPACE SEO TIP #4: ADD PAGE DESCRIPTIONS
For every page you have on your website, you should add a page description. Adding descriptions to your pages tells Google what that page is about in 1-2 sentences. Fill these descriptions with keywords that are relevant to the page. I recommend beginning every page description with one consistent keyword or phrase. This will help increase your chances of showing up with those keywords if it is consistently added to each page. Go to Pages and select the gear icon next to the page you want to add a description.
For example, my About page description is:Kat Collins Website Design | Allentown, Pennsylvania | Squarespace Website Designer. About Kat Collins.
This is because I want to be ranked on Google when someone searches for a website designer in Allentown, Pennsylvania specifically. Pick one thing you want to be searched for, and add it to every page description.
SQUARESPACE SEO TIP #5: TITLE ALL OF YOUR IMAGES
Give all of your images a relevant title. This is extremely important with SEO. Don’t just leave your image titled photo1234.jpg when you upload it to your website. You want to give Google more context as to what that webpage, and more specifically, what the image, is about. For example, the image for Prisoner of Hope Ministries website on my Portfolio page is titled “Prisoner of hope Mike Palombi website design.jpg”
You can name these images appropriately before uploading them to your site. Don’t worry if you uploaded all your images already! It’s super easy to change the file names images once they’re already on your site. Click “Edit” on the photo and enter the new image title in the “Filename (optional)” field that appears on the editor screen.
SQUARESPACE SEO TIP #6: ADD CAPTIONS TO ALL OF YOUR IMAGES
This goes hand in hand with SEO tip #5. Adding descriptive captions is another way for Google to help identify your images. I recommend having this description be similar to, but not the same as your image filename. This is a good place to add a longer description (1-2 sentences) of the image which gives you more chances to add in relevant keywords.
To do this, click Edit on the photo > Design tab > click the drop down menu > select “Caption Below” > Apply. Now you can edit the caption of the image on the actual page right under your image. Once you’ve written your caption, go back into the Edit screen for that same image, click the same dropdown menu, but this time choose “Do Not Display Caption.” This will hide your caption from view but it’s still embedded into your website and linked to that image.
SQUARESPACE SEO TIP #7: ENABLE ACCELERATED MOBILE PAGES (AMP)
Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP, creates lightweight versions of web pages to help them load faster on a mobile device. While AMP is not an official ranking item, the speed at which your website loads on a mobile device does matter in mobile search results. So if you enable AMP, your website loads quicker, and therefore, you rank higher. Keep in mind, though, on Squarespace, AMP only applies to blog posts, not to all the pages on your website. Go to Settings > Blogging > Click 'AMP enabled.'
SQUARESPACE SEO TIP #8: USE H1, H2, AND H3 ATTRIBUTES APPROPRIATELY
Use your headers appropriately! Break up your content with headers. It not only makes posts and content easier to read by breaking it into smaller pieces, it also helps with SEO. Google will prioritize your information based on whether it is header text or paragraph text. Heading 1 (H1) is typically your Page name and already in use. Use H2 as your next primary heading, H3 as a subheading, and so on. For example, the title of this blog post is H2, while the subheadings for each tip is H3. Having a few headers within your posts will help call out important keywords and information to Google.
SQUARESPACE SEO TIP #9: CHANGE THE DEFAULT BLOG PERMALINKS
This is an easy one. Change the default blog permalinks to just contain “TITLE” and remove all of the superfluous date info (day/month/year) from this field as Google doesn’t like it. Go to Settings > Blogging. Change the Post URL Format to %t. This will use just the title.
SQUARESPACE SEO TIP #10: UPLOAD YOUR SITEMAP TO GOOGLE WEBMASTER TOOLS.
Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) verifies your site’s primary domain and tells Google to index your website which improves your SEO ranking accordingly. By submitting a sitemap, you provide Search Console with your site’s publicly available page URLs and image metadata.
Good news! All Squarespace sites automatically generate a sitemap! Your sitemap will be as follows: www.yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml.
On the Google Search Console dashboard, select “add property” in the top left corner and enter the URL for the site you’d like to index. Click Sitemaps. Under Add a new sitemap, type sitemap.xml. Click Submit to request Google index your site.
BAM! You’re rockin’ these SEO steps!
Implementing these simple 10 SEO tips for your Squarespace website will significantly increase your chances of being ranked on Google. Keep in mind, though, that this process can take a lot of time and doesn’t happen overnight. I don’t claim to know everything about SEO as there is SO MUCH MORE to the topic that what I’ve covered in the past few blog posts. If you want to read even more about Squarespace SEO, checkout this article by Marketgoo (yes, that’s really they’re name and I love it!).
Have any other Squarespace SEO tips? Leave them in the comments below! Download my 24-point Squarespace SEO Checklist to get a head start on optimizing your Squarespace website!