The Definitive Squarespace SEO Guide (2017)

This post covers 4 search engine optimization (SEO) topics: setup, content, links, and design. 

Each topic has a priority rating so you know where to start. All of these topics are important to SEO, but every website is different, every market is different, and people have differing time constraints.

We'll start with an overview. Then we'll delve deeper into each topic.


Squarespace SEO Basics

Setup + Technical SEO (HIGH priority)

SEO success requires several techniques that may be considered "technical SEO". But don't fret, Squarespace makes each of these steps relatively simple, even for newbies.

Learn more

Content Marketing (HIGH priority)

Quality content enables you to rank for valuable keywords. Write content for relevant keywords that provide the best opportunity to reach users and drive conversions. Rinse and repeat.

Learn more

Link Building (MEDIUM priority)

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.

Learn more

Web Design (MEDIUM priority)

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

Learn more

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 works.

The benefit of Squarespace is simplicity. You lose customization features (outside of developer mode), 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.

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.

Technical SEO Setup

Google and Bing Webmaster Tools (HIGH priority)

Access historical keyword 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.

Make sure you're registered for Google and Bing.

Google Analytics (MEDIUM priority)

Google Analytics helps you understand the successes and failures of your online marketing tactics. If data analysis isn't your thing, find someone who understands it. It's essential to improving SEO tactics.

Here are Google's instructions to setup Google Analytics. Here's how to link your Squarespace account.

Conversion Tracking (LOWER priority)

Conversion tracking is the best metric to gauge success. Understand how converters (people who contacted you, email subscribers, and online shoppers) found you.

XML Sitemap Submission (HIGH priority)

Introduce your website to search engines by submitting your XML sitemap to Google and Bing Webmaster Tools. This alerts search engines of your site structure and its webpages. Without it, search engines may not index your site.

Content Marketing for Squarespace

Keyword Research (HIGH priority)

Brainstorm a list of keywords you want to rank for and jot them down. Don't get caught up in finding the perfect keyword -- doing so inhibits creativity. Curate as long a list as you can.

When you're done, narrow down your list, and select the keywords that best achieve your online goals.

Keep 3 things in mind throughout this process.

1. Searches. Use Google's Keyword Planner to determine how often your keywords are searched. 

 SERP definition - Search engine results page, search engine listings for a given search.

SERP definition - Search engine results page, search engine listings for a given search.

To state the obvious, the more searches, the better. But remember, more searches typically means heavier competition...

2. Competition. Heavily-searched keywords are difficult to rank for. Don't try to outrank ESPN for sporting news. A great way to 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.

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

3. Relevance. Again, to state the obvious, choose keywords that relate to your business. Better relevance likely leads to higher conversion rates.

Meta Tags

Title Tags (HIGH priority, 60 characters or less)

Title tags do 2 primary 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

Meta Descriptions (LOWER priority, roughly 155 characters)

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 (LOWER priority) 

Search engines can't read images. Alt tags explain images to search engines. Alt tags with keywords get you found in image searches.

URLs (LOWER priority)

Use the words in your title tag in your URL. Squarespace automatically does this for URLs.

Elements of Quality Content

Headers (MEDIUM priority)

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

Headers do 3 things...

  1. They provide structure for readers. Headers make it easier for users to extract information.
  2. Search engines understand headers because they are written in HTML (HyperText Markup Language). They offer search engines topical information about your content, and could increase keyword rankings.
  3. Headers indicate reading progress. People get bored with long, daunting paragraphs. Shorter paragraphs with headings make reading content more manageable.

Include headers in your content to improve your content's flow. Insert keywords in headers as necessary but don't "keyword stuff." Headers are primarily for readers and including keywords are an added bonus.

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

This isn't the end-all-be-all for every page, but it's good practice for blogs and articles.

Your structure will start to look like this.

  1. Header 1 (Should be similar to Page Title Tag)
    1. Header 2
      1. Header 3
      2. Header 3
    2. Header 2
      1. Header 3
      2. Header 3
    3. Header 2
      1. Header 3
      2. Header 3

Topical Relevance (HIGH priority)

Quiet vacuum cleaner search rankings

Brainstorm the different "search intents" that could stem from your target keyword.

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 (MEDIUM priority)

It's best to keep paragraphs short. Long paragraphs can be daunting to some readers. Short paragraphs keep users engaged.

Content Time Lag: The Waiting Game

(This topic isn't actionable. It's just good to know).

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, 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.

(Another non-actionable topic)

Natural link building is creating content so valuable that it will garner links over time.

You may get lucky. It might actually work. But more often than not, link building requires manual outreach.

The bottom line: If you've got someone dedicated to SEO, do link building. If you've got one-foot-in and one-foot-out, focus on content.

Six months down the road, if your content hasn't generated traffic, re-analyze to determine if you need link building.

  • Was your content on topic?
  • Did you get keywords in the title tag?
  • 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. Your colors. Your header sizes. Your buttons. This takes time or money, but if you want to succeed online you need to 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 (MEDIUM priority)

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.

On-Page Structure (HIGH priority)

Squarespace's interface enables a sleek web design.

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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