Looking to build an optimized Squarespace or WordPress site, or want to improve an existing one? Read on as we debunk myths, and hand out tips that’ll get you hits!
No one just builds a website for the sake of it – they do it so people will see it. The golden question is: how do you make your website easy to find? With good SEO of course.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) essentially means creating your site with search engines, such as Google and Bing, in mind. Having good SEO means your site is more likely to rank highly on search engine’s results pages.
Let’s use an example. You could sell the best ice cream in New York, but simply having a website isn’t enough to attract ice cream lovers – you’ll need to optimize it.
Lots of things can affect your website’s SEO – Google alone has over 200 ranking factors . But if you take the time to get the little things right, your site can rise to the top, and be the first link Google presents to people who search for “best ice cream in New York”.
Now, there’s a common misconception that website builders like Squarespace aren’t good for SEO. Trust us, both Squarespace and WordPress are great for SEO… if used properly.
Of course, knowing where to start with everything is difficult. Luckily, this comparison will take care of that for you. We’ve been researching and testing website building platforms for years now, and we pride ourselves on being the experts in the field.
Below, we’ll look at Squarespace vs WordPress SEO and run through the key differences. By the end, you’ll know not only which is better for SEO, but also how to optimize your website on either platform.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In short, it’s what helps people find your website among all the others out there. Things like using keywords in meta titles, having image tags, and making your site mobile friendly all play their part in deciding how high up a Google page your site sits.
If that all sounds like gibberish to you, don’t worry. Below, we’ll break down what some of the most common SEO-related terms mean, and tell you why they’re important.
Most people are familiar with what a heading is, but on a website, there are a few different types. You can have an overall title of a specific web page, as well as various headings below it which help break up content.
Headings lower down your web pages are also useful, as these make it easier for search engines to read them. In this article, for example, each section starts with a second heading – like ‘What is SEO?’ (a H2) – then has smaller sub headings throughout it, like ‘Headings’ (H3s).
A website URL is what distinguishes one page from another on the internet. The clearer your URLs are, the easier it is for search engines to understand your site structure.
Take a blog post about the latest fashion trends for spring/summer – the default URL for that page may be ‘www.yourblog.com/post6282937’. Sounds like a load of nonsense to us, let alone Google! Instead, you should edit the URL yourself to something like ‘www.yourblog.com/fashion_trends_spring_summer’.
Image Alt Tags
It’s easy for you or I to sit here and say what an image shows, but search engines could still do with a little help. Attaching image tags to a photo helps tells search engines what that photo represents. It’s then easier for them to read your page and identify if your content is related to what someone is searching for.
Also known as meta titles, title tags are what appear on search page results (below). The meta title can be different to the title on your page’s actual website, but it should represent what the page is about.
You can use keywords in title tags to to help search engines, too. As you can see, we’ve included the words ‘Squarespace’, ‘SEO’, and ‘Review’ in our title tag, which helps Google match the page with people who search for those terms.
A meta description refers to the text that comes below the title tag. This is your chance to tell people all about what they can expect from your page if they click on it.
Meta descriptions should also include related keywords, and provide a neat summary of the page – a bit like the blurb of a book. Be careful, though – meta descriptions should be between 150-160 characters long, otherwise search engines will cut your paragraph short.
A sitemap is a breakdown of your website’s URLs. It helps tell search engines about the structure of your site, save them hours of crawling and trawling through every page and pathway.
Once the likes of Google and Bing have a better idea of how your site is structured, they can start directing people to the relevant pages much more efficiently.
Last year, 52% of all internet searches were done on mobile devices. It’s more important than ever that your website adjusts to fit different screens. Some platforms let you edit your website manually, while others will automatically reformat your site to desktop, mobile and tablet sizes.
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. All this means is users will know your website is secure for them to browse. You can tell if a site has an SSL certificate by whether or not it has a small padlock icon before the URL.
Search engines favor websites with SSL security as they are safe sites to link people to. Cyber security is a constant threat, so making sure your users’ information is protected should be a top priority.
Before getting into which platform has what feature, let’s first explain the difference between Squarespace and WordPress.
Squarespace is a website builder. It comes with a selection of templates you can choose from, and uses a section-based, drag-and-drop editor to let you create your own website – without knowing a line of code.
WordPress is a self-hosted CMS (Content Management System). That means once you’ve created your website, you have to pay for things like hosting, your domain, and security separately. WordPress is generally a more complicated platform, and knowing how to code will go a long way.
Now that’s cleared up, let’s find out the key SEO differences between Squarespace and WordPress.
|H1s to H3s available||H1s to H6s available|
|Available site-wide||Available site-wide|
|Image Alt Tags
|Only an image caption||Available site-wide|
|Only available on main pages (i.e. not blog pages)||Available site-wide|
|Only available on main pages (i.e. not blog pages)||Available site-wide|
|Available on all plans||Only on the Business plan and above (via Yoast plugin)|
|Automatically responsive||Can be manually made responsive|
|Available on all plans||Bought separately|
Squarespace is an all-in-one solution, which has its pros and cons. Once you’ve signed up to a Squarespace plan, you won’t have to pay for any extras, meaning everything you see can be used at no additional cost.
The flipside to that is there’s nothing else to it. Squarespace doesn’t have an app market where you can pay to add on more advanced SEO tools, so naturally, it can be a little limited. That said, Squarespace still has all you need from an SEO perspective to build a website capable of ranking highly.
WordPress is the opposite. You don’t have to pay anything anything if you don’t want to, but its SEO offerings will be a tad basic. If you upgrade to WordPress’ Business plan ($25/month), then you can start to install advanced SEO plugins.
These are add-ons made by developers to improve the quality of your website. Using a WordPress plugin like Yoast SEO, you’ll have just about everything you need to claim the top spot on Google’s search results.
It’s all well and good making changes in the hope that search engines recognize your efforts and bump you up the rankings. But how are you going to know if what you’re doing is having the right impact?
With Squarespace, you have two options: make use of its built-in analytics suite, or connect Google Analytics.
Squarespace’s own analytics lets you track the amount of traffic coming to your site and where that traffic is coming from. This is a great way to see if your hard SEO work is being rewarded in the form of more visitors.
You can also search for relevant keywords associated with your website. Without stating the obvious, you need to know which words to target before you can actually start!
WordPress doesn’t have built-in performance monitoring, but connecting to Google Analytics is pretty simple.
As you can imagine, Google Analytics gives you more advanced insights than you get from website builders. You can even get real-time updates of people who are on your site at that very second.
You can also make notes where and when you have made changes, and compare different web pages’ performance before and after.
While WordPress may only have the option of Google Analytics, you can install a free plugin called Yoast. Yoast is an SEO tool that will help give you greater control over your site’s SEO performance.
Most people seem to think creating an optimized website costs an arm and a leg – but it doesn’t have to.
Other website builders may have cheaper pricing plans, but with Squarespace, you’re paying for quality. Squarespace has four core pricing plans: two without an ecommerce option, and two with. Prices range from $12 – $40/month.
Naturally, the two non-ecommerce plans are less expensive, and still give you access to all the templates and features. Among these are the SEO tools we’ve discussed. Put simply, Squarespace’s SEO features don’t change, whether you’re on the cheapest or most expensive plan.
If you’re unsure about anything, you can always make use of Squarespace’s 14-day free trial and see if it’s right for you.
With WordPress, advanced SEO tools are going to cost you. It does offer an entirely free plan, but as it’s a self-hosted platform, you’ll end up forking out for hosting and security – not exactly free!
WordPress’ best SEO plugin, Yoast, can also be used for free. The trouble is, a lot of its features – like internal link suggestion and 24/7 support – aren’t available unless you upgrade to Yoast Premium, which costs $89 per website.
If you are serious about SEO on WordPress, not only will you need to be on its Business plan at $25/month, you’ll also need to invest in Yoast Premium, hosting, a domain, and an SSL certificate. You can see how quickly things rack up!
As we touched on in the introduction, Google has over 200 ranking factors. For that reason, you can’t ever guarantee that if you optimize your site, you’re going to rank number one for the keywords you target.
It’s like training for the Olympics – you can put in all the right training and dieting, but there’s no assurance that you’ll come home with gold around your neck.
We don’t have time to dissect everything that impacts upon your site’s SEO, but here are a couple of things folk often overlook.
Every website will have what’s known as domain authority (DA). The more trusted your site is, the higher its DA will be. One surefire way to increase DA is to get other well-respected websites to link back to your website when referencing something.
For example, we’re the authority on how to get online, so when other sites write content about that, they may cite us as the place where they got their information from. This helps readers trust that what they say is legitimate, and helps our SEO. Win-win!
It’s always important to consider what the public think. Search engines can only judge so much before they need our help. Having social buttons on your site so users can like or share your content is a great way of telling Google that what you’re putting out there is useful and popular.
This may sound obvious, but you’d be shocked at just how many people overlook it. You can optimize your site all you like, but what remains most important is your actual content. What you say needs to include the keywords you want to target (don’t just stuff them in, though – Google hates that!)
You also need to take a step back and think: ‘is this content tackling the problems I want it to?’ It may be answering someone’s question, showcasing a product, or offering advice. Whatever it’s doing, it needs to help the people that search for it.
We hope this article has shown you that, when it comes to SEO, it’s not the platform you’re on – it’s what you make of it!
You can create optimized sites with both Squarespace and WordPress, but the answer to which one is better really comes down to what you’re looking for. To recap, here’s a table summarizing the key differences, and which platform is better for each area:
|All basic SEO features available but some can only be used on certain pages.||No built-in SEO tools but has a host of useful plugins that give you access to advanced SEO features.|
|Built-in analytics and the option to connect Google Analytics.||No built-in analytics but Google Analytics can be connected.|
|SEO tools available on all plans starting at $12/month.||SEO tools and premium plugins only available on the Business plan and above for $25/month.|
Squarespace’s SEO is better for the less tech-savvy out there who don’t have hundreds of dollars to splash. It has all its SEO tools built-in, and won’t cost you a fortune to optimize.
WordPress is best for a more advanced, fully optimized website… if you have the money. There are no built-in SEO tools, and you’ll have to be at least on its Business plan ($25/month) before you can access more advanced features.
Squarespace and WordPress aren’t the only platforms you can use, of course – there are plenty of others out there with great SEO offerings, too. Wix and Weebly, for example, have similar tools to Squarespace, plus an app market where you can pay a little extra for SEO add-ons.
Overall, we’d say you’re more than capable of ranking highly with a Squarespace website. If you lay the right foundations, it won’t be long before your site is an SEO skyscraper among bungalows.
What’s better for small businesses: Squarespace or WordPress’ SEO?
The answer to this is based on your budget and industry. Squarespace is great for creative industries like photography and graphic design. It’s also much cheaper to build an optimized site on. WordPress can be great for advanced SEO, but you’ll have to pay up.
Aren’t there two different WordPress platforms?
Yes, WordPress.com and WordPress.org. WordPress.com is more of a blogging platform, whereas WordPress.org is a fully-fledged CMS used by developers. We’ve spoken mainly about WordPress.com in this article, but if you’d like to know more about WordPress.org, check out our review here.
What’s the most important thing for SEO?
There isn’t really one element of SEO that’s more important than another. Some of the key things to be aware of, though, are targeting the right keywords, writing great meta titles and descriptions, and having a mobile-optimized website with fast page loading speeds.