You’re building your new business website, and you’ve chosen Squarespace as your Content Management System (CMS). But everyone is telling you that Squarespace SEO is a tough job to master. Don’t believe them – you’ve made a great choice! I love Squarespace, and not just because their templates are incredibly beautiful and easy to customise, all without coding experience or hiring a developer.
Squarespace IS SEO-friendly, regardless what WordPress fanatics will tell you. Squarespace SEO exists, I promise.
Not sure how to boost your Google ranking with your Squarespace website? You can’t install the WordPress Yoast plugin, but thankfully there’s a few tips and tricks for working your way around Squarespace’s SEO capabilities.
Here are just a few simple ways to boost your Google ranking and watch your Squarespace website soar to success. Here we go!
1. Create a sitemap.
Your Squarespace website sitemap is like a menu list of your website pages. It tells Google when new pages have been added, and when these pages have been updated. If you have an ecommerce website, you might want to tell Google to check back often so that new products show up in the search results faster.
It’s easy to create a sitemap yourself. One tool I recommend is using XML Sitemaps Generator.
Keep this sitemap handy, because we’ll be using it in step #3.
2. Create a Google Webmaster Tools account.
3. Submit your website and sitemap to Google for indexing.
Here’s where we’re going to use your sitemap.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Google is a magical machine which automatically notices your website. Unfortunately, Google is much like a clueless guy standing at the bar, unaware that you’re eyeing him off. You have to master the art of getting on its radar, and consider this tactic the equivalent of walking right up to that hottie and giving him your number.
Thankfully, this step is a lot less stressful than the above scenario. Without getting too much into the technical details, submitting your sitemap to Google will allow it to ‘crawl’ your website and deliver it to users much, much faster.
After you’ve created your sitemap (see step #1 if you haven’t already), submit it to Google Webmaster Tools.
Head to your Google Search Console dashboard, and click on your website name (Google refers to your website as a ‘property’).
In the left-hand menu, click on Crawl, then select Sitemaps.
Click on the red button on the right-hand side that says ‘Add/Test Sitemap’, and enter your sitemap in the empty field. You have the option to Test, and then Submit. Et Viola! This sends a strong signal to Google to notice your website.
One more step! Every time I publish new content, I like to be extra diligent and submit that URL for indexing. Go to your Search Console Dashboard, click on Crawl in the left hand menu, then click on Fetch as Google.
Submit your URL in the empty field, and click on the red button that says ‘Fetch and Render’. You’ll notice some activity in the fields below. This means that Google is scanning the web to find your page. Once the Status updates to ‘Partial’, then you can click on the button that says ‘Submit to Index’. You’re done!
4. Optimise your Page Titles.
What WordPress Yoast calls SEO title, Squarespace calls your Page Title. It should be descriptive, use keywords organically and preferably at the front, and be under 55 characters to avoid truncation.
5. Optimise your page descriptions.
What WordPress calls a Meta Description, Squarespace simply names a Description.
These are one and the same, and they tell people searching Google about what content is on that page. Your goal is to optimise description to get people clicking through to your website. Use your keywords at the start of the description, but make sure you’re writing for the human, not just the machine. Keep it to under 155 characters to avoid truncation, and perhaps include a call-to-action at the end that encourages a person to do something. For example, download a free e-book, email or book now.
6. Use image captions.
You might have heard WordPress die-hards or SEO experts talking about image Alt Text. Because we have eyes, we’ll know what the subject of an image is. But Google doesn’t have eyes, so we need to spell it out.
Squarespace has a funny way of incorporating image Alt Tags into its CMS, but let’s talk you through it. Once you’ve uploaded an image in the Page Editor, select anything other than ‘Do not display caption’ from the drop-down menu.
Then you can go and edit the image caption by writing directly over the top of it in the actual post editor itself. Then, double click on your image, and click ‘Do not Display Caption’. That way, Google still has access to that information, but your website visitors don’t have to see it.
7. Make your URLs short and user-friendly.
Whether you’re using WordPress or Squarespace, both CMS like to automatically pick a URL for you. What you want to do is edit these yourself to make sure they’re nice and short for people to remember. You should also include keywords too, because keywords within a URL are a strong ranking signal for Google.
A note about blog post URLs: Both WP and Squarespace like to include the date in the URL structure of your blog posts. Google doesn’t like old content, so it’s best to not include the date. Remove this in Squarespace by clicking on ‘Options’ in the blog post editor, and removing the date yourself.
Another way to ensure this doesn’t happen again is by manually changing the settings in your dashboard.
Click on Settings > Blogging, and from there you can set the Post URL Format. By removing the date, you let Google know your content is evergreen, leaving it much less likely to fall behind in the SERPs due to its publish date.
8. Optimise your H1, H2 and H3 tags.
When you’re editing your page content, you’ll see the option to insert Heading 1, Heading 2 or Heading 3. These headings, also known as <h1>, <h2> and <h3> tags respectively, are used to structure your website content. Each page should only have one Heading 1 or <h1> tag, but you can use a few Headings 2s and 3s. Just make sure you use them logically, as Google likes a nicely organised website!
These 8 steps are just a few of the ways you can optimise your Squarespace website for increased rankings. I love my Squarespace website, and I’ve happily been able to see myself rank #1 for Melbourne copywriter, and #2 for fashion copywriter. Let’s see what you can achieve with your own Squarespace SEO!
Camilla Peffer is a Melbourne copywriter who creates engaging, results-driven content for fashion and lifestyle brands. From website copywriting, to fashion copywriting, content strategies and SEO audits, she’s created clicks and conversions for the likes of Sportsgirl, Seed Heritage and Politix. You can find Camilla at camillapeffer.com.au.