The Definitive Squarespace SEO Guide (2019 Update)

If you’re looking to optimize your Squarespace website and rank for keywords, you’ve come to the right place. This post covers 4 SEO topics: setup, content, links, and design. 

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SEO Basics

Setup + Technical SEO

SEO success requires a couple “technical” steps but don't fret, Squarespace makes them pretty simple.

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Content Marketing

Target keywords with blogs, hidden pages, and/or product/services pages. Write content for relevant keywords that provide the best opportunity to reach users and drive conversions. Rinse and repeat.

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Link Building

Your link profile affects keyword rankings. Powerful links from sites like the Huffington Post or ESPN indicate to search engines that your site is reputable and link-worthy.

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Web Design

An eye-pleasing, navigable site engages users which enhances your rankings and your conversion rate.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Squarespace good for SEO?

Yes, Squarespace works for SEO: you can specify title tags, get setup with search engines, create compelling content, and build links. It definitely works.

But does it take time? Certainly. Generating content and links takes time, as with any platform.

The benefit of Squarespace is its simplicity. You lose customization features (outside of developer mode) compared to WordPress, but you gain time and energy which you can devote to other pressing areas.

What's the best template for SEO?

Each Squarespace template is setup for SEO. There isn't one that's SEO-ready and others that aren't.

Choose a template that fits your brand, it's message, and it's design. It's important to have a usable, navigable website. However, look out for templates that surface (display) title tags automatically.

Title tags need keywords (more below) and often don't make good headers with actionable copy.

Here's more information about choosing the right template.

Does Squarespace have an SEO plugin?

With Squarespace you don't need a plugin. Everything you need is built into the interface.

WordPress has various SEO plugins (e.g. Yoast, All In One, The SEO Framework) that aid your keyword ranking endeavors.

Squarespace has everything you need built in. It may not have all of the features as those plugins do but it has everything you need.

Technical SEO Setup

Set Up Google Search Console

View keyword ranking data and submit your XML sitemap (more below). Gain access to important tools that tell you about the relationship between search engines and your website.

Verify your Squarespace website with Google Search Console

Verify Bing Webmaster Tools

Similar to Search Console, Webmaster Tools is the interface between your website and Bing. For obvious reasons it's less important than Search Console but nonetheless it's a good thing to do.

Verify your website with Bing Webmaster Tools

Set Up Google Analytics

Google Analytics helps you understand the successes and failures of your online marketing tactics. If data analysis isn't your thing, we’d recommend setting it up if you think you’ll ever hire a marketer in the future. They’ll likely want to see this historical data.

Here are Squarespace’s instructions to setup Google Analytics.

Content Marketing

Keyword Research

When you’re considering which keywords to target with content (like a blog), keep 3 things in mind: search volume, competition, and relevance.

Search Volume

Brainstorm a list of keywords or use a helpful keyword research tool like keywordtool.io.

keyword-tool.png

To get their search volumes, copy those keywords and paste them here.

To state the obvious, more searches is better. But remember, a higher search volume usually means tougher competition.

Competition

Heavily-searched keywords are difficult to rank for. Don't try to outrank ESPN for sporting news!

Gauge competition is with Moz's SEO toolbar

Search Google for your keywords. Compare your domain authority (DA) with the DA of websites on page 1 of Google. When you’re starting out, target keywords whose search engine results page (SERP) has websites with some domain authorities in the teens. As you grow, the difficulty of your keyword targets can as well.

New businesses should consider targeting long-tail keywords, especially in competitive markets.

Relevance

Target keywords that are relevant to your website — keywords that relate to your products or services. Some keywords are more indicative of a person’s interest in what you offer. Some are higher up in the sales funnel — that’s ok too.

Think about your keywords’ search intent (what they’re looking for) as you select which keyword to target.

Meta Tags

Title Tags

Title tags do 2 things.

  1. They indicate your webpage's topic to search engines.

  2. They encourage users to click (or not) on your listing.

The goal: Use keywords and compelling language to accurately tell search engines what your page is about.

This is how to modify Squarespace title tags.

Squarespace menu
Squarespace pages menu
Squarespace title tags

Learn more about title tags — the most important meta tag

Meta Descriptions

Meta description provide extra information in search engine results page (SERP) listings. They don't factor directly into keyword rankings, but they can influence users to click on your listing.

Tip: Use most of the 155 characters Google offers you. I changed my meta description above as it's too short.

Tip: Use most of the 155 characters Google offers you. I changed my meta description above as it's too short.

Image Alt Tag

Search engines can't read images without alt tags which explain them to search engines. Using keywords in your alt could help you get you found in image searches.

Elements of Quality Content

Quality content means creating a simple user experience that’s informative, navigable, and aesthetically pleasing. Here are some simple ways to improve your user experience.

Headers

Headers can be added using the text block's drop-down menu.

In general, use one H1 (Heading 1) per page, H2s for subheaders, and H3s for sub-subheaders.

Headers help in several areas...

  1. Structure

    1. Headers provide structure for readers. Headers make it easier for users to extract information.

  2. Search engines understand headers

    1. They are written in HTML (HyperText Markup Language). They offer search engines topical information about your content, and could increase keyword rankings.

  3. Reading progress

    1. Headers indicate reading progress. People get bored with long, daunting paragraphs. Shorter paragraphs with headings make reading content more manageable.

Your structure will start to look like this.

  1. Header 1

    1. Header 2

      1. Header 3

      2. Header 3

    2. Header 2

      1. Header 3

      2. Header 3

Topical Relevance

Quiet vacuum cleaner search rankings

In order to rank, your content must be relevant to your target keyword(s).

Brainstorm various "search intents" that could stem from your target.

For example, if you're creating content to rank for "quiet vacuum cleaners" your target users may be looking for any combination of the following.

  1. They want to browse quiet vacuum cleaner products.

  2. They want to read about the technology that makes vacuums quieter.

  3. They want decibel levels for vacuum cleaners on their list.

  4. Maybe they're looking for the tri-fecta: durable, powerful, and quiet.

You get the point. Create content that addresses the most relevant search intents.

The best way to uncover search intents? Google your target keyword. The first result probably did something really well. Figure out what they did and approach it in a newer, better way. Browse the other listings for ideas too.

Writing for Engagement

Keep paragraphs short. Long paragraphs can be daunting to some readers. Short paragraphs keep users engaged.

Content Time Lag: The Waiting Game

Content takes time to rank. After you submit your content to Google, forget about it for a little while.

It can take 5+ months for a piece of content to settle in Google's rankings.

What happens in the meantime? Google evaluates your content — rankings shift and clicks and impressions change.

This doesn't affect your methods, but awareness of this lag could prevent a premature denunciation of content marketing.

Link building

Search engines scan inbound links to your Squarespace website as they would for other platforms like Wordpress or Wix.

They use this link inventory to understand your site's relationships to other sites.

Similar to a good recommendation on your resume, a link from Huffington Post sends a powerful signal of trust and authority to your website.

Links don't have to be from Huff Po to help your rankings, but don't waste your time buying spammy links. They may help short term, but in all likelihood your site will be penalized for trying to "game the system."

Link building is a time consuming effort. Convincing webmasters to link to your site can be demoralizing but SEO experts frequently report the power of inbound links.

For more, view these link building strategies.

Natural link building is the passive form of link generation — create content that's so valuable, it will garner links over time.

Six months down the road, if your content hasn't generated traffic, re-analyze to determine if you need a more proactive approach.

  • Was your content on topic?

  • Did you get the right keywords in your title tags?

  • Was your content worthy of ranking?

  • Was competition for your keyword too high?

Web Design for Squarespace

Squarespace provides a simple, elegant layout for customizable websites.

The style editor allows you to make changes to your template's layout. Get your fonts right, colors, header sizes, and buttons. This takes time or money, but if you want to succeed online, build foundations for success!

Squarespace navigation bar (navbar)

Simplify your site's layout so users can easily access information. Your navigation bar should direct users to your services / product pages, your about page, and your contact page. If you have other relevant pages, include them too, but don't clutter the navigation.

Colors and Branding

Check out Google's color page to find suitable colors for your brand. Your colors should speak to your brand and your potential clients. If you're unfamiliar with colors and design, keep it simple.

Use 1 - 2 safe colors that complement each other — that might be all you need.

On-Page Structure

Squarespace's interface can help create a sleek design. Here are a few examples of chow you can layout content in Squarespace.

Avoid long paragraphs. Augment your text with images. Strive for simplicity in navigation — people browsing the web have short attention spans.

Your site and your web pages should be easily navigable, yet should include sufficient content for people who prefer more information.

That's all folks! Got questions? Let us know!

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