Do these 7 things to instantly improve Squarespace SEO
Those three little letters are enough to cause panic, doubt and frustration in most website owners around. And for good reason, I might add!
We all want more eyes on our Squarespace websites, but once the basic settings have been taken care of, what should you focus on next?
I'm here to guide you through 7 things you can work on TODAY that will instantly improve Squarespace SEO because I want to make that super easy for you.
These tips are meant to be actionable steps you can actually do yourself, because I have zero interest in making you feel overwhelmed or like I'm adding extra work to your plate. SEO takes time and effort but trust me, it pays off.
Once you start working your way through these points, you'll see great improvements to your Squarespace website's SEO in no time at all! And once that's covered, you'll be able to move onto more advanced SEO strategies while feeling confident that you've got the basics covered.
SEO is admittedly confusing so if you have any questions, you are welcome to leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to respond. I personally work with select consulting and strategy clients every month so if you’re interested in that, please get in touch. Finally, I also share SEO tips with my newsletter (which you can sign up for here) and have a whole Squarespace SEO Series of blog posts and video tutorials that you should binge. Phew!
Pull up a seat and open your notebook, it's time to get started!
Squarespace SEO Series
This article is part of my series on Squarespace SEO. I have so many tips to share on the subject that it would have been crazy to put it all in one article! There are many misconceptions about Squarespace SEO which is why I’m going to dedicate a few posts to this topic.
Click to view all posts in the Squarespace SEO Series.
1. Narrow your website's focus
Search engines like Google are tasked with the monstrous job of indexing alllll the content on the internet so that they can turn back the relevent information whenever someone makes a search. If Google isn't able to identify a clear focus from your website content or article / blog post, it's not going to rank you highly in search results. Search engines are looking for the BEST and most relevant content to present in search queries, so they usually seek out the most specific and credible content available.
If you're covering a ton of content on a single webpage or in an article / blog post, ask yourself if it might make more sense to split it up into targeted pieces instead. Quick answer : it probably does.
Websites that have a clear and strong purpose will see much more rapid growth than those that don't, which is why I always advise people to niche down with their website and dig deep into a smaller area. Google and other search engines will index your website's content, make note of what it deals with, and when that list of topics is super focused you have way better chance of showing up in specific search results. This is exactly what we're hoping for with improved SEO!
Remember that you can always go back and remove or update content on your website that no longer serves your focus. If you have a blog post that doesn't fit your new niche, it might be time to hit that delete button. Same thing goes with pages on your website : go ahead and update it as needed so that you are a presenting the most focused version of content possible! Serve your ideal audience and get lean, the search engines will notice.
2. Link to previous posts / articles or pages within your own content
If your website has a blog (which it should), your content will naturally fall under certain overarching themes. We use tags and categories to contextualize and keep track of all these contents, and it makes it way easier to see how you're creating related content.
Over time, you'll write about certain topics over and over again, so be sure to link back to those older, related posts in your newer posts! The goal here is to direct the reader to other related content that they will be interested in or find useful. You can see plenty of examples of this in the blog post you're currently reading ;)
Not only does this help your readers find relevant content that you've already written (a major bonus for user experience!), it also helps lower bounce rates and keep visitors on your website for longer.
Another bonus specifically for SEO is that it proves to the search engine that you are an "expert" in this area. Basically you're showing Google that you've built up a lot of quality content on a particular subject and grouping it together as such only strengthens the content as a whole. If your website does not have a blog section, it's still important to link to applicable pages within your website since this will have a similar effect (although on a smaller scale).
I suggest going through old blog posts and adding links to content where it makes sense, if you haven't already.
3. Use keywords
It's not enough to simply create content for your website. If improved SEO is the goal, you need to get strategic and start using keywords, specifically in blog posts and in web page content.
"What are keywords?" Good question!
At the simplest level, keywords are the search terms that someone would use to find your website / article / blog post on Google (or another search engine). In most cases, short phrases are better than one word terms. For example, if your article is about coffee, best practice would not be to set your keyword to "coffee" because it's super general and you're competing with a million other websites to rank on the same keyword. Instead, something like "dark coffee roasting trends" will be much more effective and you'll have a way better chance at showing up in a high position in search results because it's hyper focused.
Put yourself in someone's shoes who would be using a search engine to find what they are looking for, and go from there. Use natural language
Pssst: Google Adwords is an awesome resource that helps you select keywords and see how they rank!
On the subject of keywords, it's important that you use your keywords in several places throughout your website's content or in each article / blog post:
- In the page or post title
- In the page or post URL
- In headlines : Google will reward you for using short, easy to read paragraphs. It's recommended that you use headlines (like your Heading 1 and Heading 2 settings) to break up your text, and that your keywords are included in at least one of these headlines
- In image names
- In the first few sentences of the website's text or at the start of the blog post
It's a good idea to repeat keywords throughout the web page or blog post, however you want to do this naturally. Be careful not to overuse your keywords! This is known as Keyword Stuffing and Google will view it as spam and penalize you for it.
4. Build up your backlinks
A backlink is when another website links to your site. The bigger and better the site, the more SEO lovin' you'll be rewarded with.
Be sure to read my recent post where I dive deep into the benefits of backlinks for Squarespace SEO, if you haven't already.
If, for example, you're lucky enough to have the New York Times linking to your site, Google will consider you much more credible because the NYT is an "authority" site. As a result, they will rank you more highly in search results than another website similar to yours.
That being said, don't worry if you aren't getting links back from the NYT just quite yet! Getting backlinks from almost any legit source is still awesome. When it comes to building backlinks, stick to the golden rule : quality over quantity.
You can build backlinks to your website in several ways:
- Create quality and useful content. If people like what you're putting out there, they're much more likely to share it or link to it on their own site.
- Write guest posts. Most guest posts will let you include a link back to your site in your author bio. They will not only help you get your site's link out there on (ideally) more highly ranked sites, but guest posts will also get you in front of a new and relevant audience.
- Contribute to other websites. You don't have to be a blogger to write an article for a quality website! Much in the same way as a guest post, contributing an article to an online publication will have the same results.
- Get featured in the media or by other outlets (use a tool like HARO to get coverage)
There are lots of ways to get backlinks to your website and trust me, the payoff is worth it. Building a strong collection of backlinks to your website is one of the quickest ways to improve SEO so it is totally worth your time.
5. Clean up permalinks
Think back to when you set up the blog section of your Squarespace website. Did you put any thought into the permalink structure of the blog post URLS?
If you read that question and thought "what the heck, I don't even know what that means!", don't worry - you aren't alone.
Permalinks (or URL slugs) are the links to your web pages and/or blog posts, basically the direct URL. Their structure can play a big role in how highly that content ranks in search results because Google favours clean permalink structures.
Clean links, like "charlotteohara.ca/top-seo-tips" are much stronger than "charlotteohara.ca/2018/01/top-seo-tips". The biggest offender is something like "charlotteohara.ca/?p=182". - for the love of all things good, do not use that offending structure!
Now that you know the proper structure for permalinks, you should make sure that the default is correctly set up on the Squarespace back end. Here's a great article that walks you through every stage of changing permalinks in Squarespace. Also, if you really want to up your SEO power, you should go back to old pages and posts and update the permalink structure. Yes this will take time, but it's another step that you should take if you're serious about improving your website's SEO.
6. Name and format your images
It should go without saying that any online content, whether it's a webpage or a blog post, that contains images perform better than those that don't. People are visual creatures so it makes total sense!
I have a video tutorial that shows you how to add and format images on a Squarespace website, so be sure to check that out for the full walkthrough.
When you include images on your site or in your blog posts, be sure to include your keyword(s) in the title, description and name field of those images. In addition, stick to image names that are relevant and descriptive. For example "dark-roast-coffee.JPG" instead of "IMG_13554.JPG".
Search engines can't "see" the image so they rely on the text information associated with the image to contextualize and log that particular piece of content. That's why it's so important to name and format images if you want the SEO benefits!
Related : How do your website images stack up?
7. Design using text instead of images
I know I just told you to include plenty of images on your website but please do it in a way that makes sense! Do not replace text with images "just because".
If you have something important to say, write it up in text instead of dumping it all into a photoshopped image / graphic that has a good name. Yes, Google is pretty darn smart, but it still can't read your images. When you use an image in place of text, you risk the search engine not fully indexing and logging that content, which means that it won't come up in search results to the same effect.
I see people making this mistake a lot on product and sales pages, so be sure to keep that in mind if you want to get the best out of the page's SEO.
Images should compliment the text and written content of your website, not replace it.
Squarespace SEO is a very nuanced practice but if you know what's worth your attention, you'll have a better understanding of what to tackle first. Squarespace SEO is an art, not a science, but by following these 7 tips, you'll set your website up for success!
Start off by working your way though these points and you'll already be ahead of many other websites out there. Once you've got the basics covered, you can move onto the next phase of SEO domination!
Remember that SEO will grow and improve over time as you build it up, and search engines won’t expect you to be perfect right from the start. SEO is ever changing and requires constant attention, but it doesn’t have to take hours and hours of your time in order to start seeing real results.
Now it's your turn to tell me, did these Squarespace SEO tips help you to figure out what to tackle first? Are you already doing any of these SEO recommendations? Any questions or stuck points?
Leave me a note down in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them. No matter what type of website you have, it will benefit from SEO so I encourage you to start where you are and work on improving your SEO a little bit every week.
If you want more SEO goodness, be sure to check out the other posts in my Squarespace SEO Series.
You can also sign up for my newsletter below, where I often share Squarespace SEO tips, tricks and high-quality exclusive content. i send out emails to my list every week and while I don’t talk about SEO every time, I can guarantee that you’ll still find the newsletter topics interesting, entertaining and worth your time.
Finally, shameless plug : hit me up with any specific questions you have about Squarespace SEO and your website because I’m your girl. You can reach out to me directly if you’re interested in working together on your website and we can talk about whether or not you would be a good fit for my consulting and ongoing services. I can’t take on every request to do SEO consulting but I do pick a few websites and businesses to work with every month and I’d love for you to be one of them.
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