Squarespace SEO for Beginners 2019
I wish I had a dollar every time someone said to me, “But Squarespace is terrible for SEO!” Nothing could be further from the truth. That’s why this post is entirely dedicated to SEO for Squarespace.
Learning about SEO can be frustrating because there are so many little pieces to put together. I’m breaking down all that technical jargon for you in a way that’s easy to understand. You’re well on your way to page 1 of Google searches.
The “Squarespace is Terrible for SEO” Myth
If Squarespace is good enough for these major brands, Squarespace is good enough for me.
But whenever I talk about Squarespace and SEO, people tell me that Wordpress is the best.
What they’re saying is that there is more customizability when it comes to Wordpress. You can add custom code, upgrade to a faster host, and install numerous plugins to help you elevate your SEO.
In truth, those things don’t affect your Google search ranking that much.
This is where SO MANY people get hung up. They assume that hosting on Squarespace will hurt their chances of competing against Wordpress hosted websites.
Google doesn’t look at websites and say, “Well, this one is a Squarespace website, so I’m going to automatically rank it lower than this Wordpress website.”
Google doesn’t care.
Hear it straight from the mouth of Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz:
“I think they've done a solid job with SEO features and functionality.
That said, you can certainly get more flexibility by hosting your system. Wordpress enables a lot of this, especially if you have a good developer making changes to it. Out of the box, SquareSpace is friendlier on many aspects of SEO than Wordpress, but with customizations, the latter can exceed the former.”
Wordpress can be optimized in a way that Squarespace isn’t built for, but that’s assuming you’re hiring a professional developer to nitpick all those tiny details for you.
For simplicity and good SEO right out of the gate, Squarespace is recommended.
Fact: The platform you choose to host your website on will not determine your SEO ranking as much as how you optimize your content.
The Basics of Squarespace SEO
Before we dive into the technical side of SEO, there are a few things you should know, to set a strong foundation for your website.
First, what is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Your website functions in a way that search engines such as Google or Bing want to deliver your website as an answer to something that has been searched.
For example, you’re a busy mom of three kids, trying to live a vegan lifestyle. You want to help other moms who struggle with eating vegan while juggling work and family. So you create a website filled with recipes, shopping lists, and tips on eating vegan while busy.
You want Google to show your website to anyone that searches “Easy vegan family recipes,” or “Vegan shopping lists and recipes.”
SEO is what you do with your website to put it on the front page, whenever someone searches for specific keywords.
The easiest way to get started with SEO for your Squarespace website is to think about the purpose of your website.
Then create pages and blog posts about that purpose.
What SEO Isn’t
A decade ago, people would “keyword stuff” their content to rank higher in search engines. They put their keywords into every title, heading, and sentence of their content.
For a long time, this is how Google ranked websites.
Fortunately, this strategy no longer works. Google now cares more about how helpful your content is and how your voice is an authority in your niche of choice.
Genuine, organic content is favored against website pages covered with meaningless keywords.
Understanding SEO Keywords
I keep using the term, “keyword.”
What is a keyword?
Keywords are the words people type in to find your website.
There are two types of keywords: short tail keywords and long tail keywords.
Example of short tail keyword: Blogging
Example of a long tail keyword: Setting up a blog for beginners
Short tail keywords are difficult to rank for, these days, because of how saturated the internet is. A search for the word “blogging” would bring up millions of pages that you’ll struggle to compete against.
Instead of trying to outrank short tail keywords, focus on long tail keywords. It’s easier to be found when you’re specific and intentional about what your content is about.
How do I come up with long tail keywords?
There are several ways to find long tail keywords related to your niche. I recommend using something like Moz to search for keywords.
Type in your keywords and see what comes up. Write all of these things down as potential topics to blog about. Find something that isn’t too popular (because then everyone is writing about it) but not all the way at the bottom (not enough interest).
Find the sweet middle ground.
Don’t worry about finding the perfect keyword. With practice and building the habit of doing research (maybe one hour per week), this will become second nature to you.
A quick tip: Check your analytics to see what keywords people are using to find your website.
Head to Analytics.
Click Google Search Keywords.
Now you can see what the top searches people are making, to find your website. This is a great starting point to direct you to more content that you should create.
A Quick Rundown of SEO in Squarespace
Now we’re getting a little more technical. SEO is not limited by what I put on here, but are factors that are important for small business owners.
An often overlooked part of SEO is how quickly or slowly your blog post loads. If people are struggling to access your blog post, the post is not “SEO friendly.” Squarespace websites naturally have quick load speeds, but if you have a specific page loading too slowly, compress the images on that page.
You can run your images through free programs such as TinyPNG before you upload the image to Squarespace.
You’ve probably heard that you need X number of words to rank for search engines.
I’ve heard anything from 500 words to 2,000+ words per blog post, to be “optimized.”
Searchengingland recommends over 1,000 words while Forbes believes 600-700 words to be the sweet spot.
My recommendation? Check out your competition. Search similar blog posts to the one you’re writing. You want your content to hit the average of how many words similar blog posts have.
If most bloggers have 500 words, but you found a few posts with 1000 words, you might aim for 750+ words.
That being said, don’t sacrifice your content quality for word quantity. I have blog posts that are 500 words because that’s all it took for me to explain something. Then there’s this post you’re reading now that’s nearly 2,000 words long, because there’s so much to say.
Skip the filler material. Write high-quality blog posts that establish you as an authority in your niche and the word count will come naturally.
The great thing about Squarespace is that all Squarespace templates are immediately optimized for mobile users.
If you’re meticulous, you can also run your website through mobile viewing software to see how it looks on mobile. Sometimes text or images may be out of place, so it’s worth double checking.
Optimize your Title and Headings
Search engines scan your title and headings for your content, the same way people do. Your title should be relevant to your blog post, but also contain the keyword that you’re focused on.
You should also include your keyword in at least one heading.
It’s important to keep in mind that your title should be relevant to your content. Don’t go down the route of writing titles that are untrue. Search engines will punish you for untrue click bait, and it will drop your SEO significantly.
When your website is visited by a user who struggles to view images, they rely on the image’s ‘alt tags.’ You can set your image’s ‘alt tag’ by naming your image something relevant. You don’t need to “keyword stuff” your image. Instead, write what the image shows. If it’s something that can include your keyword, great.
Name your URL and Write an Excerpt
By default, your Squarespace blog posts with have the date and a jumble of your blog post’s title. Change the URL to something shorter and relevant to the content you’re writing.
You also want to write an excerpt of your blog post, using your chosen keywords. This shows up when people search for or share your blog post.
To do this, head to your blog and click Edit.
Then click Options. You can change your URL and Excerpt here.
Add Links to your Blog Post
Search engines love content that has been linked across the internet. One of the easiest ways to build links on your blog is to link to your content!
You can add 2-4 links, in each blog post, redirecting your reader to another part of your blog or website. You also want to add at least two links leading to someone else’s content. (They might also link back because people can see where they’re getting traffic from.)
Overall Changes to your Website for SEO
Lastly, we’ll go over some of the minor changes you can make to your website, outside of your blog.
For starters, you should fill in your website’s title and tagline. Try to put your main keyword somewhere in there.
If you are a local business, you add your location. This helps search engines put your website in front of people who search for your keyword, locally. Wedding planners and photographers, this can be particularly helpful for you.
Make sure your links work! Clean up broken or outdated links because they will affect your ranking.
In 2014, Google said they wanted to see SSL certificates, meaning that your website is “secure.” Squarespace has this built in. Click here for more on setting up your SSL certificate.
Biggest Takeaways for Squarespace SEO Beginners
I know, I threw a lot of information at you at once. This might feel daunting, but before you click the little ‘x’ on the corner of your browser, here’s a final tip.
If you do nothing else, figure out the purpose of your blog or website.
Find related keywords.
Create blog posts using those keywords.
Get into the habit of creating blog posts with relevant keywords and let the rest happen when you are ready. SEO is a long-term practice and a habit that you can build. Don’t be afraid to take it slow and start somewhere small. You can continuously optimize when you feel ready.
What is the most confusing part of SEO for you? Let me know in the comments below!