SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is the process of getting visibility of a website in the unpaid, so called “organic”, “natural” or “free”, search engine result. The higher a website ranks the better is its visibility. And when people search for something they mostly don't even go to the second page of Google's search results anymore. So of course everyone wants to be ranked on the first page of Google.
Organic search result means, everything that comes up when you type in a search word in Google and does not have the little AD sign in front of it.
SEO can not be done quickly and over night by just optimizing your website and you are done. But instead it is a long term process of consistency. However you can set up your site optimized for SEO.
If you want to learn more details about SEO go here to read my SEO guide for beginners!
I hear a lot of myths about SEO and one of them is that Squarespace is not optimized for SEO and Wordpress is much better. And I agree that Wordpress is more tangible because there is an app called Yoast SEO which can be used to determine what search result is displayed for every page separately. It feels like you can work more specifically on SEO.
However Squarespace sites are already optimized for search engines by default! And there are many things you can do to help increase your sites visibility in search results. I will outline these below.
If you want to learn more about how Squarespace is already optimized for SEO purposes click here and read an article they have written to give you a better understanding.
What you need to know about SEO
First I want to outline some general facts about SEO.
You need to have good content on your website! First and foremost you need to think of your customers – real people - and what they would like to find on your website. In Google's Webmaster guidelines it says “Give visitors the information they're looking for.” And this is even more important for a Squarespace Website. Search engines also want to see that your site is updated regularly. They crawl each website every so often to see if there is new content and updates on the site to update their search results. If they don’t see any change they will crawl your site less often and therefore it is so important that you update your site regularly. Blogging is a very good way to do that and that is one reason why blogging is recommended everywhere.
You need to use so called keywords throughout your site. Keywords are words that you think people searching for something will use. Make a list of all the words you think might be important for your site and then use them on your pages and blog posts without making it obvious for your readers. Remember Google still prefers good content over just plugging in as many keywords as possible.
You need to have internal links on your website and even more importantly you need to have backlinks. Meaning other people need to link back to your site. That shows search engines that you are a popular Website. This is one of the hardest parts of SEO. If you have a location based business you can list yourself on local business search sites like yelp for example. And if you are a blogger you can contact other bloggers to write guest features for example.
SEO for Squarespace
These are the steps you can take to help your website get ranked higher in search results:
Register with Google Search Console
By registering your website with Google Search Console (a free service, previously Google webmaster tools) you can manage your site's presence in Google search results. Through Google Search Console, you can request that Google index your site, meaning changes you've made will show up in search results sooner. (source: Squarespace)
First you need a Google account and then install Google analytics on your site.
Read this blog post on how to do this: https://www.mnfl-design.com/blog/how-to-set-up-google-analytics-on-your-squarespace-website
Then you need to go to https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/home?hl=en to log into your account. Then enter your domain name and click add property.
Now you need to verify your domain name with Google. The easiest way of doing this is by clicking on alternative methods and verifying your account through Google analytics.
You can request Google to index your site by clicking on fetch as Google on the left hand side and adding page names you want to be indexed. This forces Google’s bots to review your site and look for new content to add to search results.
Adding a sitemap to Google
One way Squarespace is already optimized for SEO is that they already prepare a sitemap for all your pages and images and update it when you add pages or images. You only need to add this sitemap to Google so they can index you.
You can do this by logging into your Google search console account and clicking on sitemaps on the left. Then you click on add/test sitemap and you enter sitemap.xml behind your domain name which should appear automatically.
Search engine description
You can customize your search engine description when you go to the home menu of your Squarespace website, click on settings and then on SEO. There you can enter a description of your website that can appear as the search engine results when people search for your website. This is the text I have entered for my website MNFL Design and how it appears on Google.
Page title and description
You can also add a specific description for each page. Just hover over a specific page and the gear icon, the little wheel on the right will appear. When you click on the wheel you can enter a navigation title and a page title. The navigation title will be displayed on your navigation menu and the page title is the one that shows up in your browser window and search results. You can use this page title to promote keywords for search engines.
Search engines usually prefer site titles (URL), specific page titles, blog post titles and headings. So apart from using keywords in your page titles you should definitely use headings strategically throughout your website to structure your page and blog posts. Short descriptive headers help your visitors and search engines alike to find quickly what they are looking for on a page.
You can add a heading by highlighting a part of a text or just clicking into a paragraph and selecting H1 or H2 and the text will appear as a title on your page.
Alt text for Images
When you hover over an image on a website you can see a small text appear. This is the so called Alt text.
Search engines can only read text and don’t know what is on the image. Therefore they use the alt text to determine the content on a page and what the image is about.
When you don’t determine this text it will just take the name of the image (how it was saved).
When you add an image on Squarespace you should always give it a specific name by adding a descriptive alt text.
Here are two examples how I add alt text to my images.
When I add a single image I change the file name to a short description of my page and I always add my company name so that it will be displayed with my image.
The images show where I add the description and how they show up on Google.
You can learn more about how to add alt text to other types of images on an article Squarespace has written. (https://support.squarespace.com/hc/en-us/articles/206542357)
Slightly less obvious but also very helpful for Google to find out what your page and image is about is adding a caption, a description, to your image. This can be done by adding a descriptive text under each image. It is a good place to add a slightly longer description than your file name and to add more relevant keywords.
Then you need to click edit on the image and go to design and select do not display caption below. Click apply and save of course. Now you caption is hidden but can still be “seen” by search engines.
Tags and categories
Just like headers using tags and categories is not only good for your website visitors to find content but also for search engines. Besides site and page titles as well as headings they prefer tags and categories to scan content.
So when you are blogging your should add tags and categories to every blog post with keywords about the content of this blog post. When a customer clicks on a category or tag in a blog post, they'll see all the posts filtered by that category or tag.
In Squarespace you can add tags and categories for a blog post by clicking edit on the blog post and then adding tags and categories in the bottom left corner.
(You can always determine for your whole blog whether you want them to be displayed or not.)
Categories should be used sparingly as they should only determine the overall category of a post but tags can be used more. These can be words visitors might use in order to find content on your site. For example for this blog post I would use the categories Squarespace and SEO but tags like “SEO”, “squarespace”, “webdesign”, “blogging”, “alt text”, “image description”, “search engine description” and so on.
The same applies to image galleries. I don’t have an image gallery on my website but you can find more information here: https://support.squarespace.com/hc/en-us/articles/206543607
When you are a business with a physical location you should add this location on your website. There are many ways to do this. The easiest way to do this is by adding your location under settings and business information. To actually show your location you can add a map block on your contact page. When you are blogging you can also add your location for every blog post under edit blog post and Location.
I hope this blog post helped you to get a better understanding of how to use SEO for your Squarespace website. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me.
P.S. If you haven't started your Squarespace website yet, have a look at my FREE Squarespace START UP video course!
Join the community
This is me writing blog posts every week
If you enjoyed what you read just now and would like to get more tips and tricks about branding, website design, business and Squarespace straight to your inbox - sign up for my weekly Newsletter and I promise you will find help and support!
Nobody needs to be alone when starting and running a small business!