A Guide To Squarespace Website Search Engine Optimization

A Guide To Squarespace Website Search Engine Optimization

How To Set Up Squarespace Search Engine Optimization

Squarespace is known for providing companies with websites that offer stunning images and stylish templates. While the beauty and simplicity of Squarespace websites may make this website builder the right choice for your company’s new site, beauty is only skin deep. To create a useful website that will draw in customers and convert leads requires knowing what to do behind the scenes. Beefing up your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) within your site’s architecture is just as important as what people will see.

Search engine optimization of a Squarespace website will take some work, but it is now reasonably straightforward thanks to improvements Squarespace has made in recent years. It begins with choosing the right template and ends with captivating content that pays mind to site structure and uses highly searched keywords. Checking the URL of each internal page, properly sizing images, and understanding how page descriptions relay your company’s image are all part of the greater SEO strategy smart businesses use to give their firm an edge on the competitive Google search engine results pages.

Search engine optimization is not randomly littering your web pages written content with keywords. It is a structural element that needs to be built into your site. In this guide, you’ll find some established best practices and helpful tips for on-page SEO that will immediately improve one of your company’s most important marketing endeavors, getting your firms services found online in search results.

Search Engine Optimization Starts With Your Template

The first step in creating a useful website on Squarespace is selecting the right template. Squarespace has become the go-to website building service for architects, interior designers, design-build contractors, landscape designers, and other companies that rely heavily on images to highlight the work they do. This is because these templates are flexible, easy to update and look great. You will find many sleek and stylish templates you like, but there are some that are better than others when it comes to search engine optimization.

Google relies on the text on the page to develop the results of its searches. Having a photo-heavy site may look beautiful, but if the site is lacking written copy, it will not help your search rankings. There are ways to help improve your site’s SEO through alt tags on the images you post, however, without ample written content, it is tougher to insert the number of keywords required to let Google crawlers know what your page is about. 

You’ll also want to select a template that is flexible and fast-loading. It is difficult to determine which templates meet the mark on speed and flexibility when you are touring demos, but Brine, Five and Bedford are the top choices for templates here at Means-of-Production due to their customization options and flexibility. Regardless of the template you choose, make sure to test loading speed once you’ve uploaded some content. No matter how great your search engine optimization is and how beautiful the site, people are impatient and will click elsewhere if they have to wait for your site to load.

Squarespace Banners, Titles, Meta Descriptions and Naysayers

There have been numerous half-baked blogs written about SEO problems and Squarespace. Quite a number of them point to the templates that show titles and meta descriptions on page banners and the inability to add meta keywords to the content management system of a page. This is silly and here's why.

On September 21, 2009, Google announced that meta descriptions and meta keywords are not a factor in their ranking algorithms use for web search. Based on this statement, spending time on meta keywords is a waste of time, but meta descriptions are still important for ancillary SEO reasons. Meta descriptions, more accurately described as page descriptions in Squarespace, show up below your page title in search engine results and are used to inform readers what the page is about. Rather than thinking of meta descriptions as a search engine optimization element, view them as 160 characters of attention-grabbing advertising copy designed to drive traffic to your site. In a nutshell, people who see your listing on search engine results pages are deciding whether your page is worthy of a click-through based on the meta description. An attention-grabbing meta description can increase the click-through rate of your organic search results. I believe that if a meta description is vital as ad copy in search engine results pages, why not reiterate to your visitor why they clicked through in the first place? The page banner is an ideal location for this reinforcement. Remember, you have less than two seconds to hook them with your content.

There are two additional reasons to see meta descriptions as advertising copy rather than an SEO tactic that directly impacts your online visibility.

  1. Sometimes Google will ignore the meta description you've written and insert their own if it does not sufficiently answer a search engine query. In these cases, Google uses a text snippet from your page.

  2. According to MOZ, If a page is targeting a longtail keyword–three or more search terms–it might be better to let search engines choose the meta description. "When search engines pull together a meta description, they always display the keywords and surrounding phrases that the user has searched for."

If you still don't want a page title and description text over your images then you should stick with Brine or choose one from a list Squarespace templates that allow you to change how the title and meta description is displayed on a banner image. Squarespace offers templates allow you to write a meta description that is seen in search engine results pages and then choose not to show it on the banner.
The following templates display the page title and page description at the top of the page. Many of them allow the title and description to be hidden on the page but viewable in search engine results pages. 

  • Adirondack - On this template page titles and descriptions display on Events, Products, and Regular Pages. You can use the Show Page Titles & Descriptions tweak to hide them. To show them, check the Show Page Titles & Descriptions tweak in the Style Editor to display the page title and description above the page content on Events, Products, and Regular Pages. They do not show on Album, Blog, and Gallery Pages.

  • Avenue - Page titles and descriptions display on Gallery Pages opened through an Index. Navigation titles appear below thumbnail images on the grid Index. I find the Avenue template makes it difficult to structure on-page content and headings. Unless you're committed to a grid format index on your homepage, I recommend choosing a different template.

  • Five - On the Five template, page title and meta descriptions display on every page. You can use the header section of the Style Editor to choose what displays over all of the banners on your site:

    • Choosing Banner Content: Site Title, Logo and Tagline - Displays the site title or logo and tagline. Using this style editor tweak allows you to have a meta description that is unseen on the banner.

    • Choosing Banner Content: Page Title, Description - Displays the page title and page description. Page descriptions don't display on mobile. This tweak provides an opportunity to reinforce what the page is about by including your meta description.

    • Choosing Banner Content: Empty - Displays the banner with no text. This allows you to write a meta description and not have it display over the banner image.

  • Flatiron - Page title and description display on Gallery Pages, and Regular Pages opened through an Index. The page title and page description display on the left, above a customizable share link. Adjust the width with of the text with the Project Meta Width tweak. If the page title and description content are shorter than the browser window, it stays fixed in place as visitors scroll. If it's taller than the browser, it scrolls up with the page. 

  • Montauk family including Julia, Kent, Montauk, Om - Page title and description display over special banners–In some templates, you can add headers and buttons to banners using the meta description area–on Regular, Blog, Products, and Events Pages. You can also hide the page title with the Hide Page Title tweak.

  • Momentum - On the Momentum template page titles and meta descriptions display on Blog, Events, Products, and Regular Pages. You can hide them with the Page Title/Description tweak.

  • Pacific family including Charlotte, Fulton, Horizon, Naomi, Pacific - The Pacific family of templates shows the page title and description display over special banners on Album, Blog, Events, Gallery, Products, and Regular Pages. You can hide the page title with the Show Page Title tweak.

  • Tremont family including Camino, Carson, Henson, Tremont - Page title and description display in the page overlay. The overlay can contain your page title, page description, and customizable color. The overlay disappears when you scroll down, or on click and reappears when you scroll back to the top of the page. You can adjust where the overlay displays with the Show Page Overlay tweak. Choose from these options:

    • Always - The overlay displays on all pages.

    • In Index - The overlay displays only on pages within an Index.

    • Not in Index - The overlay displays on all pages except those within an Index.

    • Never - The overlay never displays.

  • York family including Artesia, Flores, Harris, Jasper, Jones, Lange, Shibori - Page title and description display at the top of any page. Hide them with the Show Title and Show Description tweaks. Navigation titles appear on Index banners.

Squarespace Page Titles and SEO

Adding keywords to a top navigation page title while maintaining a concise title can be accomplished when you set up your page. Often, the space in your navigation is limited requiring a short title. If you have a page titled "Kitchen Remodeling and Design" This is how you want that page to appear in search results and on the page itself it might be too long to fit in a top navigation menu if you have a lot of pages. Shortening the navigation title to "Kitchens" allows all pages to fit.

Password Protection While Working On Your Squarespace Site

Another important step when getting set up is protecting your site while under construction with a password. Password protection will enable employees and others to open the site – with the password of course – while preventing casual users from stumbling upon your company’s site half-built with placeholder copy.

Password protection also has search engine optimization benefits. When a webpage or site is under password protection, it tells search engines not to index the site, keeping half-baked copy and content out of search engine results. Password protection must be done before any copy is uploaded onto the site. Setting a password in the middle of the editing process will help keep any further changes off search engine results, but whatever was on the website before and may have been indexed could show up in a search. Once the work is done, remove password protection so search engines can begin indexing your new site.

Building Website Pages for Search Engine Optimization

As you begin to create internal pages by uploading copy and images, make sure to pay attention to the behind-the-scenes infrastructure of your site. These characteristics may not be as visible as the homepage, but they are just as important when it comes to SEO.

Let’s start with the site title and description. It’s easy to gloss over these features when you are excited about building the homepage, but they are places where you can begin to lace your site with essential keywords. The site title should include a primary keyword. The description – which is what people will see below the title when Google returns your page in a search result – should detail what your business does in 100 words or less. It’s a great place to include a few keywords but do not go overboard. Merely listing keywords or making the entry sound spammy sets off alarm bells for Google and it will hinder more than help your search engine optimization.

Next, come the internal pages. This is where you will be able to go into greater detail about the products and services you offer. Squarespace allows you to customize the permalinks, giving you more flexibility to create clean and easily shared URLs. Each internal page also has a title and description that offer opportunities to add keywords. Customize titles and descriptions by clicking the options icon on each page and uploading your information. The length of the title should be no more than 55 characters, and the length of the description no more than 150 characters. It’s not much space, but by adding a few keywords, you will up the page’s visibility.

Keep in mind, the title and description are what people will see when Google returns that page in a search result. While adding keywords helps boost search engine optimization, the title and description must also be well-written and compelling. Create a description that will entice customers to click. If the title and description are too technical or bland, having great SEO won’t matter – the customer will simply glance right over it.

Creating Content

Everyone knows that having keywords within your website content is going to get you better search results, but too few websites maximize their use of keywords or offer quality content people want to read. It’s easy to sacrifice quality to jam as many keywords onto the page as possible, which is why understanding how to use keywords more efficiently will get you readable content and better search engine optimization.

Create a collection of keywords for your site that closely matches the search engine requests of your ideal customer. This can be done with primary keywords, such as “interior designer,” “wallpaper” and “custom design.” These are high-volume search terms for an interior designer or decorator, but they are also highly competitive. Longtail keyword phrases are a way to drill down deeper into what your customers want and lift your website higher in their search rankings.

Longtail keyword phrases are becoming increasingly important as Google users continue to enter more and more complex search requests. They should describe the work your company does, where you do it and the type of customers you serve. Instead of “interior designer,” use “Danish Modern Interior Design Chicago, IL.” While this longtail keyword phrase will have a much smaller audience, it helps get your webpage in front of the customers most likely interested in your services.

The trick is that longtail keyword phrases must fit naturally within your content, or there is the risk of being penalized for keyword stuffing. Keep the primary keyword “interior designer” for the page content and use the longtail keyword phrase in locations like page title, page descriptions, URLs and image captions. This gives you a search engine optimization boost without making your page content sound weird and clunky.

Where to use your keywords on your website

  • H1 Page Title

  • Page URL

  • H2 & H3 Headings

  • Page Descriptions - aka meta descriptions

  • Image File Names

  • Image Captions - aka alternative tags

Using Blogs to Maximize SEO

Building the main pages of your is just the beginning of your SEO strategy. To enhance your company’s website placement in search engine rankings, the site must be updated regularly with relevant content.

The best way to keep your website active and attuned to the needs of your customer is through your company blog. Well-written blog articles with thoughtful longtail keyword phrases boost SEO by answering your customers’ questions. When a customer searches for custom kitchen cabinets in Boston, Mass., having a longtail keyword for this search will make your site rise to the top.

When creating the blog content, either internally or by hiring outside help, thinking long-term, as opposed to week-to-week, will streamline your SEO efforts. Sit down and plot out a series of blog posts on broad topics: kitchen remodels, home additions, color palettes, for example. These will serve as your “pillar” posts, providing a general overview of a product or service you provide. Then create additional blog posts that expand in more detail these broad topics. The content should be focused around a fairly narrow topic. The idea is that you have one primary keyword and a couple of longtail keywords in each post. Diversity is important, so strive for new keywords in each post and make sure these detailed blog posts all link to each other, as well as the “pillar” post.

Plan out a year in advance and aim for one to two posts per week. The more you publish, the more times you’ll be ranked by the search engines.

Getting the Most out of Your Images

Squarespace will prompt you to provide information with each image upload. These are easy to overlook when you’re quickly trying to get your site up but skipping these steps can cause a real hit to your SEO. Taking a little extra time when posting images can transform your photos into traffic-driving lead generators.

As mentioned above, Google does not “see” images without assistance. In Squarespace, you can help Google better identify your images by filling in the meta information prompts offered when posting. Start with the file name. No one will search for IMG4656, so keeping this as the image file name does you no good. Before uploading, pick a keyword or two that you use on your site and make that the image name.

Because people are more often doing searches on mobile devices, Google has begun penalizing sites where the images are too big. Before uploading images to your Squarespace page or gallery, resize it in Photoshop Elements or a free app like JPEGMini. Both will reduce the size without comprising quality. Set the width to 1,500 pixels for a horizontal image and 1,000 pixels for a vertical image and if using Photoshop Elements, make sure to “Save for Web.”

When you upload the photographs to your webpage, make sure to fill out the caption boxes provided by Squarespace. This “alt text” will become the words associated with the image and be used by search engines. In the box “File Name” for example, you can use up to 16 words to create text associated with that image. Make sure it is relevant and descriptive, including color, texture, location, and materials used. It will be displayed as a replacement for images when browsers cannot access image files, and visually impaired users or those with slow internet access may also get alt text in place of images.

In Squarespace, you will also have the option to write a caption. For many designers, they see little use in captions, and you may find that captions don’t add all that much to the look of your website. However, captions are a great place to add keywords, especially with the option to hide captions Squarespace offers. Captions act like “alternative tags” which appear when a website visitor hovers over an image, or a user pins the image to his or her Pinterest board. When used in a blog article, make sure the caption keywords match those used in the post. Then select the option "Do Not Display Caption" in the image upload screen.

Tools To Help You Track Squarespace SEO

Developing your website does not stop the day it goes live. Pages for promotions will be phased out when no longer needed, new pages will be created to promote new services, and the overall site map may change over time. You will also want a way to gauge the success of your site and find out more about who is visiting it.

Connecting to Google Search Console is useful in evaluating your site and boosting SEO. It is a free service that lets you learn a great deal of information about your website, including how many people are visiting your site, how they are finding it, whether more people are visiting your site on a mobile device or desktop computer, and which pages on your site are the most popular. You can also submit your XML sitemap through Google Search Console, helping the search engine find each page of your website more easily and request that Google crawl your site to ensure it is being indexed.

If you are moving from an old website to a new Squarespace site, your customers may end up at a URL address for a page that no longer exists. These bad links will result in taking the visitor to a 404 page on your website. Whether sent via a search engine or by a bookmarked URL, you can send the customer to your new site by using a 301 redirect. This option permanently redirects a user from one URL to another, preventing them from seeing a 404 page. As a bonus, the 301 redirect also passes on most of a page’s ranking power to the new page, helping maintain some of that hard-earned SEO power when you transfer to your new Squarespace site.

Update Your Website Pages Often

Generally speaking, an active website is going to get you more hits than a site you set and forget. No matter how relevant your longtail keyword phrases, it can only take your site so far. You must also update your portfolio, write new blog articles regularly and keep your services page current. Make sure webpage edits and updates provide additional value. Quality content is always going to be what the customer is seeking

Having these tools and tips in hand before you begin building your new Squarespace site will help save you time and frustration. If you’ve recently created a Squarespace site and want to boost its SEO, the information above is a great place to start. By focusing on what your customer wants will ultimately make creating keywords, writing blog posts and building a relevant website that much easier, and in the end help you get the search engine results needed to attract more clients and grow your business.

Additional Information on Squarespace SEO

About Means-of-Production

I'm Michael Conway and I build Squarespace websites and writes blog articles for commercial and residential design construction and architectural firms. Our Squarespace website design services show off your portfolio in the best way possible, get you found online, and positions your firm as the go-to experts. We build websites with SEO as a priority. Contact me for a free video review of your online marketing efforts.