Squarespace SEO Review

How Good Is Squarespace SEO, and Will It Help Your Site Get Found In Search Engines?

Squarespace SEO
Tempted to use Squarespace, but put off by talk of its shockingly bad SEO? Thinking you might play it safe with WordPress instead, even though Squarespace is ideal in every other way?

Don’t jump the gun! The rumor that website builders are useless for SEO (search engine optimization) has been just that – a rumor – for a while now.

The truth is, the quality of a website builder’s SEO will simply depend on which website builder you’re using. We’ve researched all of the top website builders extensively, focusing on the most relevant features, and have concluded that Squarespace’s SEO capabilities may in fact be underrated. 

Squarespace is recognized by most users – including us – as an excellent website builder for templates and design. However, it’s less well known for its solid range of SEO tools, which can help boost your site so that it appears higher in search engine rankings. Squarespace sites often even hit that coveted first spot on Google’s results page!

Squarespace SEO is an excellent option if you’re already familiar with SEO best practice. We tested its SEO features ourselves, and you can check out the star ratings we calculated below. In this article you’ll find a checklist of Squarespace’s SEO features, advice on how to make the most of them, and extra tips on improving your Squarespace site’s SEO yourself.

Design-Oriented Website Builder

4.3 out of 5

Ease Of Use

3.5 out of 5 stars

Help and Support

4 out of 5 stars

Design Flexibility

5 out of 5 stars

Value For Money

3 out of 5 stars

Further Information:

Squarespace Review – our comprehensive view of Squarespace

Squarespace Pricing Review – find details on Squarespace’s plans and prices

Squarespace eCommerce Review – we check out Squarespace’s ecommerce tools

Exclusive Squarespace Offer Code – when you’re ready to sign up, save 10% with our special discount code!

At a Glance: Pros and Cons of Squarespace SEO

Squarespace doesn’t have a reputation for SEO, not for lack of tools, but because it requires a time investment to really get comfortable with the interface. But if you’re happy with that, then Squarespace is well equipped to boost your site’s search engine rankings.

Pros

  • Clean, structured interface. Pages and posts each have their own “configuration boxes,” where you can enter meta titles and descriptions. It’s a simple feature, but simplicity is what makes Squarespace’s basic SEO functions doable. None of the core features require coding knowledge.
  • Social media integration. Social media integration on Squarespace is seamless and stylish. It helps search engines take note of shares and engagement, which boosts your legitimacy in their eyes. Plus, it’s a great way of unifying your brand.
  • User control. Squarespace lets you add code yourself, which is sometimes the only way to apply advanced techniques. This isn’t a pro for everyone, but in the hyper-competitive world of SEO it can be the difference between the top spot and page two on Google.

Cons

  • Template behavior. Some Squarespace templates have an odd habit of displaying SEO information on the site. There are workarounds for this, but it’s a bizarre quirk to manage and distracts from the substance of what you’re doing.
  • Not for SEO beginners. If you’re comfortable with code and advanced SEO, Squarespace can do just about anything you want. If you’re not, providers like Wix or even WordPress are a better fit.
  • Inability to add SEO plugins. You can’t install apps like Yoast for extra help managing your SEO tools. WordPress is well-known for its plugins, but Squarespace has everything built-in, meaning you can’t add third-party apps.

Further Information:

Website Builder SEO vs. WordPress SEO – we discuss which is better

Squarespace SEO Features Checklist

Even just the three letters “S-E-O” are enough to make most of us recoil in premature frustration. So instead of tossing around terms like “SSL” or “alt text,” let’s kick things off with a breakdown of each feature: what it is, how it works with Squarespace (or doesn’t), and when you should add it to your site.
Squarespace SEO Features: The Definitive List

1. Site title

A site title is simply the title text that appears across the top of every page on a website. Even if you have a great logo, it’s best to use one of these as well – for one thing, the title tells search engines what your site is all about. For maximum impact, keep your site title short and focus on keywords.

Is it included? Yes, you can add your own site title. 

When should I add it? Before launch.

2. Google Index

Google keeps an index of all of the web pages that it recognizes. To do this, Google’s bots crawl and review your site, then ‘read’ and categorize new content and update your site’s standings in search results.

Is it included? Yes, you can request that Google indexes your site using Google Search Console. Squarespace doesn’t do this for you, but Google will automatically index all web pages without any action on your part. It just takes a little longer if you don’t actively request it.

When should I request it? At launch.

3. Bing Webmaster Tools

This is a free service for managing your site’s presence in Bing’s search results, which have similar criteria to the Google index.

Is it included? Yes. You can verify your Squarespace site with Bing and Yahoo, but again, you have to do it yourself – it won’t happen automatically.

When should I add it? At launch.

4. Readable file names

Search engines index everything, including image file names. When naming an image that you plan to upload to your site, keep relevant keywords in mind. A targeted file name will help your pictures rank in image searches.

Is it included? Yes. You can give your images file names that double as image alt text (see #9), and can follow Squarespace’s best practice guide to ensure accuracy.

When should I add it? Ongoing best practice.

5. Meta title

A meta title is an HTML element that tells search engines (and visitors!) exactly what a page on your site is about. The meta title will appear in a lot of key places, most notably as the headline link in search results.

Is it included? Yes – every page and post has a configuration section where you can write the meta title.

When should I write it? Before launch.

6. Meta description

The meta description is your chance to expand on the content in your title. A good meta description will summarize the content users can expect from your page (in under 155 characters), and persuade them to click on it.

Is it included? Yes – you can write meta descriptions in page configuration.

When should I write it? Before launch.

7. Custom URLs

This feature provides you with URLs that reflect your content, rather than a random jumble of numbers and letters. Custom URLs are great – isn’t example.com/article/squarespace-seo-guide so much more informative than example.com/hds73tgha?

Is it included? Yes. Squarespace generates URLs based on the page title. If you want to change it, you can do so in the page configuration section.

When should I add it? Before launch.

8. Headings

Headings (and smaller subheadings for subsections) help to structure your content. They indicate to search engines and readers which information you’ve included, and where.

Is it included? Kind of… Squarespace is quirky in that it only has H1s, H2s, and H3s (all various heading and subheading sizes). By contrast, most builders have up to H6s. You can still structure your content in a digestible format for search engines, though not nearly as thoroughly as you’d be able to with six headline formats.

When should I add it? Before launch.

9. Image alt text

Google is smart, but it’s not (yet) smart enough to know for sure what an image is showing or why it’s relevant. Alt text is what you manually write in to describe each image on your site, and it appears in place of an image if the image fails to load.

Is it included? Yes. Every image can be given alt text.

When should I add it? Before launch and as ongoing best practice.

10. Speed and uptime

Websites with good site speed and uptime load quickly, and are reliably “live” over 99% of the time.

Is it included? Yes. Squarespace’s infrastructure has an excellent foundation for good site speed and uptime. No platform can guarantee 100% uptime, but Squarespace gets about as close as you can.

When should I add it? Squarespace has this covered.

11. Mobile friendly

These sites are easy to use on mobile, and still easily crawled (i.e. understood) by search engines.

Is it included? Yes – every Squarespace template comes with a mobile version that fits to the screen and caters to touch navigation.

When should I add it? Squarespace has this covered, too.

12. 301 redirects

301 redirects mean that if you change a page’s URL from X to Y, users will still be directed to the new page even if they use the old address.

 Is it included? Yes. Just use “URL mappings” in the Advanced section of your site setting.

When should I add it? After launch.

13. SSL encryption (HTTPS)

SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, is what establishes a secure, encrypted link between a web server and a browser (like Safari or Google Chrome). Search engines are beginning to punish sites without SSL, so securing an SSL certificate is essential.

Is it included? Yes – free SSL certificates are offered to all Squarespace domains.

When should I add it? Before launch.

14. Sitemap

This is a complete list of the pages on your site, which search engines can use to determine how your site is structured. You can do this too – try adding ‘/sitemap.xml’ to the end of any URL to see for yourself!

Is it included? Yes, all Squarespace sites come with a sitemap. It updates automatically as you add and remove pages.

When should I add it? No need – Squarespace will take care of this automatically!

15. Google Analytics

A freemium Google tool that allows you to view data about your site, from page-specific traffic to user demographics.

Is it included? Yes. Head to “External Services” in Advanced settings, enter your Google Analytics account number, and you’re good to go. 

When should I add it? After launch.

16. Google Search Console

A free Google tool that lets you see how your site is performing in search results.

Is it included? Yes. Just set up a Search Console account, and follow the steps provided to connect with Google Analytics.

When should I add it? After launch.

17. Social media integration

This refers to built-in functionalities that allow users to share your content on various social media sites. Social media integration also lets you cross-post the same content to your website and your social profiles.

Is it included? Yes, over 30 social media networks can be connected to your Squarespace site. They will appear as linked icons.

When should I add it? Before launch.

18. Search engine instructions

Sometimes a site needs to “speak” to search engines, asking them not to index certain pages. This would be necessary if your site had two very similar pages, and you only wanted one to show up in search results. In other words, search engine instructions are a way of ensuring that any similar pages are not competing with each other.

Is it included? Kind of… It’s possible to create custom instructions for search engines, but it requires a “code injection,” which basically means “do it yourself.”

When should I add it? At launch.

19. Canonical tags

If you have multiple versions of the same page (or if the same page can be accessed with multiple URLs), canonical tags allow you to choose which one search engines should focus on. This stops them from competing with each other.

Is it included? Kind of… Squarespace does put canonical tags on pages automatically. But if you ever want to edit them, you’re out of luck.

When should I add it? At launch.

20. Structured data

Gives search engines more specific information about your pages. For instance, the star ratings you see on search results are structured data – and that’s just one example. Search engines love structured data, because it helps match users with super relevant information.

Is it included? Kind of… Squarespace implements some types of structured data automatically. Further structured data is possible, but you’ll need to do it yourself via another code injection. If you’re not comfortable with code, there are better services than Squarespace for this.

When should I add it? Before launch.

How to Get Started With Squarespace SEO

There are some internal resources on Squarespace to help you get started with SEO. They’ve created a top-level checklist, and even posted their own guide to increasing your site’s search engine visibility. The guide is pretty detailed, with a video and lengthy written sections that address everything from choosing keywords to structuring content. 

The guide is also full of relevant links to more focused SEO questions that Squarespace has already answered at greater length. It’s a great resource, because you’ll get answers that are already tailored to Squarespace’s tools. 

However, Squarespace admits at the start of the guide that “SEO strategy falls outside the scope of Squarespace support,” since search engines constantly change their algorithms and every site’s marketing needs are unique. That’s why it’s wise to take Squarespace’s SEO resources as a starting point. Most of the in-depth SEO help you’ll want will be external.

Because search engine algorithms are always changing, the best SEO advice also needs constant updating – there’s no special rulebook that’s stood the test of time, or anything like that. Instead, we trust sources like the Ahrefs SEO Blog and Neil Patel’s SEO articles, both of which keep their robust collection of tips and tricks up-to-date. See if these sites speak your language, and if you don’t like them, definitely spend a few minutes on Google to find a detailed blog or two that fits your criteria. There’s no shortage of knowledgeable options out there!

squarespace seo support page
Squarespace's in-house SEO help is a great place to get started

Is There a Squarespace SEO Plugin?

The weakest aspect of Squarespace’s SEO support is its lack of a relevant SEO plugin.

SEO plugins are additional software that some website builders allow you to install. They give those of us less familiar with coding a simpler way of optimizing information like title tags and meta descriptions. The resulting ease makes these programs very popular – indeed, the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress is one of the most downloaded WordPress plugins of all time. 

Squarespace, on the other hand, doesn’t have any SEO plugins. Squarespace’s reasoning for this is that its built-in SEO tools are powerful enough on their own. However, we did miss the convenience that SEO plugins provide – they definitely make the process of optimizing your site simpler.

Ready to get started with Squarespace?

7 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Squarespace

Squarespace SEO has crazy potential to boost your site – if you know how to use it. Here are our top tips for ranking above your rivals with Squarespace:

  1. Make your alt text count. Squarespace is big on appearances, which usually means lots of images. Alt text is an excellent way of telling search engines what you’re all about. Adding them on Squarespace can be a pain, but it’s well worth it.
  2. Take advantage of the social media integration. The social media integration on Squarespace is seamless, and it looks great too. Connect your accounts to your site and get users flowing (and sharing).
  3. The ‘Not Linked’ feature is your friend. Squarespace has a handy feature that lists any pages that aren’t linked to anywhere on your site. This is usually used for storing in-progress pages, but it’s also an excellent way of catching any orphan content. Search engines like sites that are easy to navigate, so ‘not linked’ pages are a big no no. Keep an eye on your list of not linked pages to make sure everything stays accessible.
  4. Connect to Google Analytics. This is true for every website builder, but it’s so important that we mention it for each of them. Google Analytics provides fantastic insights on user traffic and where you can improve – and it’s free!
  5. Keep up to date with new features. Website builders are constantly evolving, and Squarespace prides itself on being at the cutting edge. Keep an eye on the latest updates. You might find something useful.
  6. Tag and categorize. Search engines like information. The more they know about your site, the better they can serve their users. On Squarespace, pages, posts, and even products can be tagged and categorized.
  7. Find the right template. Not all Squarespace templates are created equal. Visual eccentricities mean some lend themselves to good SEO much better than others. Take your time, find one that balances your design needs with smooth search engine performance.
squarespace help search box

More Ways to Improve Your Squarespace Site’s SEO

Although Squarespace does optimize your site to a certain extent, sadly it can’t do everything for you. There are some important ways you can boost your site’s rankings by stepping up to the SEO plate yourself, like:

Keyword Optimization

To get the right traffic – and volume – to your site, you need to optimize your target keywords. Start off with a bit of research so you know which keywords people are actually searching for. You can use Google Keyword Planner for free to find the best keywords for your page – they need to be relevant, popular, and within your competition range.

Once you’ve found the most valuable keywords for your site, you need to optimize them! Include them in your meta titles, meta descriptions, alt text, URL, links, and more! Place it in the first sentence of your first paragraph, for example, but always keep it natural.

You can easily see which keywords you’re ranking for with Google Search Console, so you can keep track of which pages need updating or which are performing well.

Content Quality

Don’t fall into the trap of stuffing your keywords into every possible place! Google will strike you down with a vengeance, and that number one ranking spot will be a dim and distant memory. Google loves content quality.

This is vitally important – you need to show a level of authority and trustworthiness in your content for Google to smile upon your site. There are lots of factors that feed into this, such as fact checking, grammar and spelling standards, and keeping your content original.

You can also make sure your page does what your visitor was expecting from it, links to other related or helpful pages, and has good page structure – your main content should be visible right away.

Image Compression

Speed is of the essence when it comes to websites, and while images are fantastic to have on your site, they can really drag your loading speeds down. To solve this problem, you need to compress them first. Using a free tool like Kraken, you can reduce the file size of the image and so reduce the amount of disk space it uses up. The end result? Faster loading speeds!

Build Backlinks

A backlink is a link your site gets from another website, and shows search engines your site is being taken seriously. The main thing to know about backlinks is they need to be natural and relevant. Google will know if you pay for backlinks, and your rankings will suffer for it!

The best way to build backlinks is to create high quality content that people will want to link to. Share your pages across your social media channels and write guest posts for other sites, with permission to link back to your own website. Just make sure they’re valuable links rather than irrelevant or spammy ones.

Site Architecture

It sounds elaborate, but great site architecture is actually pretty straightforward. It’s all about giving your visitors – and those search engine bots – an easy and smooth journey through your website.

Don’t make your users think about where they need to click – make it obvious! Be sure there are no broken links, and try to get users to where they’re going in as few clicks as possible. This is where unique URLs come in handy, because they show search engines exactly where things are on your site.

Anchor Text Optimization

Anchor text is the blue underlined text you see on the page when there’s a link attached to it. The most important thing to remember with anchor text is to keep it as relevant as possible. For example, if the anchor text was ‘Squarespace Review’ but the link took you to a page about dog food, this would not be optimized.

There are different types of anchor text, from generic anchors like ‘click here,’ to branded anchors like ‘Website Builder Expert,’ and there are different ways you can use them. The general rule is to mix them up, and make sure you’re always linking to trustworthy sites.

Want more SEO tips? Look no further…

Anchor Text Guide – a great way to improve your SEO

Backlink Guide – what backlinks are and how to use them

Website Architecture Guide – another great way of boosting the SEO on your site

Squarespace SEO vs Competitor SEO

Held up against its fellow website builders, Squarespace SEO stands out for customization. If you feel pretty comfortable with basic SEO, then Squarespace provides a great opportunity to fully control some of the more technical aspects of your site.

However, if you’re willing to sacrifice that hands-on element for a smoother experience, then Wix’s SEO features might suit you better. Or, if the main focus of your site is ecommerce, then a website builder like Weebly or Shopify might be better equipped to optimize your site. We’ve already compared the top three best website builders for SEO, so you can weigh the pros and cons for yourself.  

Slightly different from website builders are content management systems (CMSs), which generally afford you much more control over the behind-the-scenes elements of your site. WordPress is one such CMS, and it has a huge supply of SEO plugins to help increase your site’s rankings with minimal effort on your part.

While WordPress SEO is easier to use than Squarespace SEO, keep in mind that CMSs like WordPress require more coding knowledge than website builders, so the energy you’ll save on SEO functions will be needed in other ways.

Want to see how Squarespace and WordPress compare for SEO?

Squarespace Success Stories

It’s true that the likes of Keanu Reeves and John Malkovich have powered their websites with Squarespace. But celebrities aren’t the best case studies for SEO, since their public names and personas are optimization enough! Let’s take a look at some “regular” sites topping the rankings with Squarespace: 

The Dieline. This young digital media company formed in 2005 and already has millions of organic visitors every month. Growth like that wouldn’t be possible if Squarespace couldn’t handle SEO.

dieline squarespace seo
There’s no reason why a brand can’t go global on Squarespace

Freeman’s Restaurant. Competition between restaurants in New York City is high, but Freeman’s more than holds its own. It tops the rankings for its own name, which is a good start, but it also pops up for big searches like “best brunch lower east side” and “hipster restaurants nyc.” That’s hundreds of potential customers a month right there.

freemans squarespace seo search results
A humble Squarespace site front and center for a competitive and valuable search term on Google

Interested in learning more about Squarespace success stories? You can check out some of their higher profile partners on their customer page. Take some of the examples with a grain of salt, of course – not everyone has the benefit of being a household name.

Need help getting your site up and running? Check out our handy guides below:

How to Build a Website – for all you need to know about getting online

How to Build an Online Store – to find out how to start selling online

Top Website Builders – to find the right website builder for you

Final Verdict: Is Squarespace for You?

Squarespace has limitations, but most of its SEO features are clean and easy to use. You’ll need to be familiar with coding to implement advanced techniques. If that’s a problem for you, though, you’re best off with a service like Wix or Weebly.

If you’re comfortable with coding and value control over your site, then Squarespace is a superb outlet for creative ventures, small businesses, and personal portfolios. For larger ecommerce sites, it may be worth looking to Shopify for scalability.

Still interested? Squarespace offers a free 2-week trial, which is more than enough time to test its SEO game and see if it’s right for you. Worst case scenario, you’ll get some beautiful design ideas.

Best case scenario, you’ll end up with a stunning, professional website that ranks first in Google’s search results!

If you’re still happy once your free trial has ended, then we’ve got good news: we have an exclusive discount code for our readers that will knock 10% off the cost of any Squarespace plan. All you need to do is enter the code WBE at checkout.

Squarespace SEO: FAQs

Not in an actionable way – there are no changes to be made at your end! However, Google does give higher priority to mobile-optimized sites. Since every Squarespace website template comes with its own unique mobile style, your Squarespace site is automatically ready to be found in mobile searches. If you do want to take this a step further, you can take simple steps, like not putting large media files or too much content on one page. Squarespace also has its own article with helpful tips on formatting your site for a mobile device.

The truth is, WordPress still has more power than Squarespace when it comes to SEO, because of all the plugins you can install. However, Squarespace supplies you with everything you need right at your fingertips, which makes it easy to get started and manage long-term. They both give you powerful SEO tools, it just comes down to personal preference. 

Read more about Squarespace vs WordPress in our in-depth comparison.

Yes! Squarespace does a lot of the optimizing for you, and gives you the tools necessary to easily set your site up for success. Squarespace won’t hold your hand as much as, say, Wix, but it does come with a solid SEO checklist and lots of in-depth help articles in case you do get stuck.

Squarespace is the best website builder for scalability through SEO tools. Wix is best for beginners, while Weebly is best for combining ecommerce with SEO. So again, it really depends on how hands-on you want to be – Squarespace is the most advanced out of the three, but doesn’t provide prompts or an app like Wix does.

Don’t forget that you can read more about these three builders and their SEO tools in our review of the Best SEO Website Builders.

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About Fred O'Brien

Fred O'Brien

I know from experience that building a website is only as hard as you make it. The internet is more accessible than it’s ever been, with all the resources you need to join in and stand out. Anyone can get online. I’m here to help you do that.

8 comments

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  • Avatar
    Naman Modi
    Version 7 has been improved to cater for the complicated editing interface. The site builder now allows real point and click interaction which proves your site’s building speed. However, it may sometimes feel a little minimalistic and requires a bit of time to master the editor completely. Although some of the pages have icons that don’t clearly explain their purpose, Squarespace gives many great tutorials that explain all the tools. Overall, the service is worth it if you need to build a stylish and well-designed website. Try it out for the first-hand experience.
  • Avatar
    Matthew
    I've done a fair bit of SEO work and gotten many pages to no.1 on page 1. But with squarespace i find every step of my work is hindered. It's a terrible platform and I strongly recommend against using it if you want your page to be found. p.s. one of the site I've SEO-ed is no.2 on page 1 for it's keywords. So it CAN be done, but it wasn't easy.
    1 reply
    • Natasha Willett
      Natasha Willett
      Hi Matthew, Cheers for your comment, it's great to bring this sort of issue to others within the community. Can I ask what you found difficult and exact examples of where squarspace in your opinion has not been great for SEO, it may help others who are struggling. I am surprised to hear this however, specially with all the extra support Squarespace provide when it comes down to SEO, if you have not already have a little closer at their SEO visibility guidance post here. Good luck and again thank you for sharing. Natasha.
  • Avatar
    SF
    Well... this article misleads about meta descriptions, which help with conversion. Some of Squarespace's templates (Five, Bedford and others) do NOT allow you to create meta descriptions that are separate from the text overlay on the banner image. So if you want your Google Search sitelinks to have a reasonable chance of displaying properly, Squarespace is not going to be your friend.
  • Avatar
    Monika Gab
    I really like the on-page SEO tools that offer Exai website builder. They offer built in tools that make sure every page on the website has H1, page description, keywords, page name, path etc. And the best part is that you add the name of the page and all the rest are filled with the same name. Plus you can add other keywords and edit the existing if you want to. My site is built there and I can always be sure that I have all on page SEO points thicked.
    1 reply
    • Fred Isaac
      Fred Isaac
      Hi Monika, I've not used Exai personally but will be sure to check it out. Thanks for the comment.
  • Avatar
    rajvishah
    nice blog i loved it.amazing writing.last two days ago i just randomaly checking sites.i found wonderfull design ,very creative sites and blog on buildabazaar.ooo.
    1 reply
    • Fred Isaac
      Fred Isaac
      Thanks Rajvishah!