tutorial

5 Squarespace Hacks To Improve Your Search Engine Optimization

Is Squarespace bad for SEO? I hear this question a loooooot. Here’s the deal: not paying attention to SEO is bad for SEO. But wait, wait: what’s SEO?

SEO is internet-speak for Search Engine Optimization, which basically means can the Google robots understand your site enough to make sure it shows up organically when people search relevant topics.

For whatever reason, Squarespace gets a bad rap when it comes to SEO, but there are actually quite a few measures you can take to help your SEO (that you should be doing regardless of your preferred platform). I’m going to cover 5 specific ways to improve your SEO on Squarespace today.


SITE TITLE

First things first, when you’re setting up your Squarespace website you’ll see a left hand panel with a few options to click. I’m not sure if it’s everyone’s instinct, but mine was to click “Design.” From there the first option you see says “Logo & Title.”

The menu that opens up from there is an important one. The very first section asks you to fill out your Site Title and Tag Line. This is the first area I want you to highlight what you do by using keywords that relate to your business.

With SEO it’s important to have things “make sense” and not be completely ridiculously obvious that you’re trying to win over the Google robots. I recommend putting your business name here and then a few essential key words. Mine says: “The Crown Fox | Branding Design, Logos, Websites, Strategy for Online Business.” There are quite a few words that people will search for that relate to what I offer I there, but it reads as a sentence that makes sense and is fluid.

Just a side note: I included logos because I understand a lot of my potential clients start off thinking that they “just need a logo” and will search that term over “branding.” For your own business take the time and research (my favorite way is to just ASK people) what they would search in relation to your business. If you are a local business that works primarily in your town, definitely be sure to include that.

The Tag Line is another area to throw some more keywords in, but be wary that on most templates this does show up somewhere so I wouldn’t sacrifice the look/feel of your website for a huge string of words. Mine is simply “branding design + strategy.”


SEARCH ENGINE DESCRIPTION

Once that’s done and saved, travel back to the main menu (click the arrow in the top left panel that will navigate you back through the different menus). This time I want you to scroll down to Settings > Marketing > SEO.

The first section here is another huge SEO booster. This is what people will actually see when they search for you or if you come up as a result: the 1-2 lines underneath your website name.

Again, focus on making real sentences or at least fragments that make sense versus a jumble of keywords. I incorporated my services and my mission statement into this area: “Cohesive Branding, Website Design, Brand Strategy | I create cohesive branding for small business owners, to they can find their success, become influential, & stand out as the authority in their industry.”

So I have words that I think people will search for plus a small bio about my business that encourages the click through if someone is a small business owner who wants these different things. Only the first portion of this actually shows, so there’s not a huge benefit to making it excessively long.


PAGE DESCRIPTIONS + TITLES

The next focus should be on each of your pages within your website. If you head back to the main panel, the first option says “Pages.” This is where every page for your Squarespace website is housed. Each one has the option of being optimized.

If you hover over a page a small gear icon appears to the right. Clicking that will bring up a window that allows you to change the “Navigation Title” (what actually shows on the top of your browser), “Page Title”, and further down a “Page Description.”

For each page you should take notice of these areas and make sure they have keywords and content in them. SEO Robots look here when they index your website, so leaving it blank is a missed opportunity. This might take a little bit of time if you have a ton of pages, but is worth it. Maybe you have a sales page that has slightly different key words or something that someone might be able to find separately from your overall website! There could be a gold mine hidden in there that you’ve never taken the opportunity to grab.

Don't miss these SEO Hacks for your Squarespace site! [Tweet That!]


IMAGES (NAMES, SIZES, DESCRIPTIONS)

Another huge SEO misstep is not paying attention to your images. The SEO robots (does anyone else actually picture little robots? I do!) can really “see” pictures so instead they look at the actual size of the picture, the name of the picture file, and the description you’ve attached to it.

The size of the file and naming the file comes before you even upload it to your website, so take care of that first. The size should be web friendly which means it doesn’t need to be a huge 300DPI image, but rather 72DPI. This will let it load faster and overall improve your website.

If you’re confused about this just make sure you are exporting files for web use or look for free websites that will shrink your files. A good website designer will take care of this initially for you too.

The file name itself should be something relevant with keywords. For my blog post graphics I usually use 2-3 words from the blog title that are also keywords (maybe like ‘brand’ or ‘blogging’ or ‘online business’) and then my website name. This also matters when it comes to pinning your blog post graphics [link] so you’re really killing two SEO birds (robots?) with one stone.

When you upload an image to Squarespace you have two places that you can enter a description. First is as a caption, second is in a spot they (misleadingly, in my opinion) call ‘filename’.  I fill out a lengthy description in the ‘filename’ area that describes the image (and also doubles as the Pinterest description whenever I pin it). Even if you’re not on Pinterest still take the time to add some essential keywords into either the caption or the filename so you’re not missing another great SEO-boosting opportunity.


BLOGGING

This one might be obvious, but blogging is hugely beneficial to your SEO. It’s filled with relevant key words, made up of real sentences (not an obvious ploy to boost your ranking), and is a loooot of content, right?!

I understand that blogging might not *~be~* for everyone. So even if you do podcasts or videos or periscopes or whatever, create show notes that contain relevant words so that the robots can process that (similar to an image, they can’t listen to or watch other forms of content).

If you think about a website with 5 pages of content that features relevant key words, that might seem like a lot. But then picture those 5 pages + 50 blog posts! That website will instantly be able to rank higher because there is so many more variations of keywords, pages for other websites to link to, etc.

Within your blog it's a great idea to use hierarchy to point out to the robots what is super important to pay attention to. I covered other things to include on your Squarespace blog yesterday!



SEO Squarespace Designer

I’m Kaitlyn, your design assistant! I work with successful creative entrepreneurs to create cohesive, clean, and compelling visuals for their businesses. You can keep being the #girlboss you are (but with more time to focus on growing your empire)! Let's set up a time to chat!


5 Ways To Use (+ Set Up) The Squarespace Summary Block

Squarespace is one of my favorite things, if you hadn’t guessed that before. I love it. It’s simple, it’s efficient, it’s got great support, it’s easy to pass off to clients, and it’s just a really nice tool for online business owners and bloggers.

I’m launching a little mini-series today all about Squarespace. Today we are talking about one of my favorite blocks in Squarespace: the summary block.

The summary block is incredibly useful and can be used to accomplish an incredible amount of tasks on your Squarespace site. Through my site I use a summary block on nearly every page and quite a few on the blog itself. I’ve got five ways you can utilize the summary block on your own Squarespace site and a walk-through on actually setting it up below.

Learn five great ways to use the Squarespace summary block! [Tweet That!]


BLOG ARCHIVES

Creating blog archives are a fabulous way to get traffic to your old posts and let people see everything you offer at once. I saw my old blog posts views skyrocket when I created and promoted my archives page (plus it makes sharing your content easier, no more shuffling through your blog to find a post). The initial set up, if you do it similar to mine, will take a little bit of time – but difficulty level is basically nonexistent.

First things first, decide how you want to showcase your different blog posts. I chose to do mine in date order, but you might choose to do it by category instead. Either way, this is where the time portion comes into play – you’ll have to revisit each blog post and make sure there is an appropriate tag or category on each post.

What I mean by that: my archive is my month/year, so each of my blog posts has a tag that says “September 2016” or “May 2016” or whatever month/year it was that I created the post originally. When I created my archive, I had to revisit old posts to add those tags. It’s not exactly difficult, but slightly time consuming (this is the sort of task I would do when I was watching The Bachelor or something – thoughtless, but time consuming).

You’ll also want to make sure that each of your blog posts has a thumbnail assigned to it, preferably one that is ‘on brand’ and has a unified, cohesive look. You wouldn’t want a random image to appear in your summary block/archives, but rather something that has the title on it and fits with your overall aesthetic.

As far as setting up the page, you’ll need to first create a new page (probably an unlinked page, so it doesn’t show in your main navigation). You can title it archives, or whatever you deem appropriate.

The summary block will be the main element in the page. All you do is click the teardrop shaped tool and scroll down to the third section titled “summary”. I prefer the grid for this, but there are options that you can choose between (another popular one is the ‘wall’ for a Pinterest-esque look).

A box will pop up with further settings. From here you choose where to pull content from (your blog) and some general visual settings (that you can see the changes in real time to determine what looks best). For me, I chose a square, since my thumbnails are always square. I also chose small text, center aligned, and no metadata to show. The important part comes near the end, under ‘display’. This is where I tell this particular summary block to only show posts tagged with whatever corresponding month/year.

If you look at my archive page, that might make more sense. But each section is a separate summary block (all with the same exact settings, but a different tag filter). I separate the months with a little design element, just to make it look nice and cohesive with the rest of my site.


RELATED POSTS

Another great use for the summary block is within your actual blog post. You’ll notice in all my blog posts, at the very end, there’s an area that says “you might also be interested in:” and four other related blog posts. This is created through a summary block within the actual post.

Having a related post section is a huge value; it leads visitors onto the next post and keeps them on your site longer. If you are writing stellar posts you want to keep that momentum going and have visitors stick around for as long as possible (and even become a subscriber).

Setting up the summary block to function in this way is similar to the archives page, except this time we are going to do it within a blog post. So, if you are in the blog post window (where you’d actually type in your content), those same teardrop shaped icons appear to the left. Clicking that brings up the same options for adding different blocks, and the third section will be a summary block.

For my own blog posts I again use the square ratio, small size text that is centered, and show no other information or meta data (just the title and thumbnail). I use the grid here too, but carousel would be another great option if you wanted to show a lot of relevant posts (I only show 4). This time I use the category filter and only show related posts by category (so if the post is about social media, the related posts will be ones that I’ve categorized as social media posts as well).


TOP/FEATURED POSTS

In a similar fashion to the previous two examples, we can set a filter for a tag or category that you’ve created to mark your top posts. This again might take a little bit of time to travel back to posts that have done exceptionally well or you’re particularly proud of and tagging them accordingly. I tag mine as “top posts” (very original, I know!).

It’s a common idea to place this summary block into a start here page, a 404 page (learn more about customizing your 404 page here), or into your blog sidebar. Another common place would be a start here page, where I would use a carousel block to best showcase multiple posts.

I would use a carousel block because it easily shares more posts, but still could be designed as a small section that doesn't feel overwhelming or too distracting. The carousel option adds left/right arrows to allow visitors to scroll through however many posts you decide to share.

It might seem slightly overwhelming to go through and manage all the settings for each summary block – but once you know the settings that best fit your visuals, it will become second nature very quickly. If you generally make your thumbnails more vertical, you’ll use a different ratio than me. If you want to include the date or an excerpt for posts, you’ll toggle that information on.


PORTFOLIO PAGE

If you have a portfolio of work you can use a summary block to link to the individual pages or posts that showcase the work. Here’s how my portfolio works:

I have a separate blog that doesn’t have a sidebar and functions as my “portfolio posts” with each client’s work as a separate post. The link that I direct people to for my portfolio functions similar to my archives page, except it pulls content from my “portfolio blog” versus my normal blog.

You can do this too! Squarespace allows you to have multiple blogs. So, if you have any sort of client work to showcase or a need for some sort of portfolio, I recommend creating a secondary blog (instead of separate pages – keep your page count lower), and go through the same steps as we did in the archive page. The difference might be in how you display the thumbnails (I made the thumbnails larger), but you can edit that easily within the settings.


A FAUX “READ MORE” BLOG

This is very similar to an archive page too, but sometimes I have clients that want to create a blog that uses excerpts and “read more” buttons. Although Squarespace templates definitely allow for that (you just need to actually add the excerpt for it to toggle that feature ‘on’ – under the options setting within individual blog posts), there are some limitations within certain templates. The main limitation is whether or not the thumbnail or blog post graphic will show.

After hitting that bump a few times, I figured out a way to create a faux “read more” page for blog posts. This is set up exactly the same to an archive page, except I use the “list” option so that the page follows a more traditional blog look. The excerpts are added manually within each blog post, and the only settings difference is I turn the checkmark on to show excerpts and I don’t use any sort of category/tag filter (so all the posts show).

If your template doesn’t allow you to turn on a sidebar on regular pages you can go through the steps of manually creating a sidebar that is the same as your actual blog page (by using the teardrop icon to add the different elements and then drag/dropping/resizing it to be the same size).



squarespace designer

I’m Kaitlyn, your design assistant! I work with successful creative entrepreneurs to create cohesive, clean, and compelling visuals for their businesses. You can keep being the #girlboss you are (but with more time to focus on growing your empire)! Let's set up a time to chat!