If your website is on Squarespace, chances are that you love that you get a gorgeous website with minimal coding that integrates well with everything. What’s not to love about that? Welllll maybe Squarespace SEO.
SEO on Squarespace isn’t bad, or even difficult … it just requires some knowledge of how the platform works. Unlike WordPress — which is an open source software that allows anybody to make plugins, including SEO Plugins like Yoast & Rank Math — Squarespace doesn’t have one single place where all your SEO happens; instead, it’s spread all over your dashboard.
But that’s ok! In this post I’ll walk you through all the places to make both site-wide SEO settings for your Squarespace site and how to optimize specific pages, posts and products.
Google vs. Squarespace Analytics: Do you need both?
Before we get started with the tutorial, I want to answer a question that I hear often: “I I’m on Squarespace, do I still need Google Analytics? Or are Squarespace analytics enough?”
And the answer is: if all that you’re going to do is everything lives on Squarespace, you can just use Squarespace Analytics. So if you just are getting people to fill out your contact form on Squarespace, or if every product that you’re ever going to sell is on Squarespace, and all of your marketing happens on Squarespace, then Squarespace Analytics is enough.
However, if you’re doing any sort of marketing efforts that aren’t happening on Squarespace — running a virtual summit, guesting on podcast episodes, selling products on another site, if you want to track anything that’s happening from your email marketing — then it’s a really good idea to have Google Analytics installed.
You don’t need to look at both of them! If you prefer to look at Squarespace Analytics since those are in your dashboard, that’s fine by me … but just have Google Analytics installed in case you ever want to track off-site marketing efforts.
Why are my Squarespace Analytics numbers different than Google Analytics?
Squarespace and Google are looking at slightly different things, and counting things in different ways. So if you are in fact going to look at one or the other, they’re not going to be apples to apples comparisons. That’s totally normal!
Just make sure that if you’re doing you know, an April comparison to May, you’re looking at Squarespace or Google only you’re not trying to compare them against each other because they’re going to be slightly off. So there’s my disclaimer about connecting this to your Google Analytics account. Even if you only ever look at your Squarespace analytics, please connect your Google account anyway.
How to install Google Analytics on Squarespace
In your dashboard, click on “Settings,” then “Advanced,” then “External API Keys.”
The first box will be a place to include your Google Analytics tracking code:
You can find your Google Analytics tracking code number by logging into your GA, clicking the gear in the lower left corner, then in the middle column click “Tracking Info and then Tracking Code”:
Copy that code and paste it into the Google Analytics account number and that will start Google Analytics logging on your Squarespace website.
How to connect Google Search Console to Squarespace’s Site Search Terms
And as long as we’re talking about Google, let’s talk about getting your Squarespace website connected to your Google Search Console, which will tell you all of the search terms that people are looking for on Google and you’re showing up in those search results:
On the Home Dashboard settings click “Analytics” then near the bottom you’ll see “Site Search Keywords.”
Here’s a tutorial on how to set up Google Search Console; once that’s done, you can come back to Squarespace and click the “Connect” button and log-in to your Google account, and confirm that you want to share that information. Your Google keywords will start to show up right here in your Squarespace Analytics within about 48-72 hours. (It’s the same info from your Search Console, so no need to check in both places!)
Technical SEO on Squarespace
When it comes to websites on any platform, there are a few key technical SEO factors that Google cares about, like mobile-friendliness, site security, page load time & content tagging (aka adding keywords to specific pages).
Thankfully for you: Squarespace takes care of many of those factors for you! All of their templates are mobile friendly and it’s really easy to turn on your SSL for site security:
Click on “Settings” > “Advanced > “SSL.”
Having an Activie SSL Certificate makes sure that your website starts with HTTPS, not HTTP. And by turning this on, you make it more likely that people will look at the secure version of your website, and your website will also be less likely to be hacked. I also recommend turning on SSL and the HSTS secure setting. What this will do is make sure that if people have a choice between the insecure and the secure version of your website, it will force them to look at the secure version, so you’re less likely to get hacked.
Page load speed on Squarespace
Often, Squarespace pages load a little bit slower than a perfectly optimized WordPress page. But there are also some things that you can do to make sure that your website loads quickly.
So a lot of those concerns that the WordPress people are really having to worry about. It’s already taken care of for you with Squarespace, which is awesome. It gives you more time to do your business to do your work. But there also aren’t SEO plugins that you can have pop up on your screen and say, Hey, you need to do X, Y, and Z.
Local SEO Settings on Squarespace for local service businesses and Brick & Mortar stores
If you’re running a local business, there are two place to update your Squarespace Settings:
Click on “Settings” then “Business Information.”
If you have a storefront that has specific hours that you will work, I encourage you to put in your phone number, your physical location, and your business hours.
If you’re like me and work online, I don’t really want everybody getting all this information about me, so you can just put in your town & email address.
2. Connect your Google My Business account to Location Management
If you’re running local businesses & want people to find you in something like Google Maps, click on “Marketing” then “Location Management.”
You can connect your Squarespace website to your Google My Business account. And that will help you show up in Google Maps and make sure that Google knows that your website is the same as your Google My Business. If you already have a Google My Business account, you can just come down here and click import from Google.
If you haven’t set this up already. Squarespace will go in and create it for you. Basically, you can click the Create new location and it will help you set up your Google My Business account right here in Squarespace.
If you’re running an online business, you don’t necessarily want to get that local traffic or show up on Google Maps then you don’t need to worry about this step.
Squarespace Sitewide SEO default settings
To make sure that your website has consistent SEO in mind, click “Marketing” then “SEO.” These settings are what will show up on a page if you don’t go through and update it individually.
And from here, you’ll see the ways that you can set up your default settings for the SEO listings on your page. Here are Erika’s default settings:
So if she doesn’t go through on any page, and specifically say this is the title, and this is the meta description for this page, then this is what will show up the same for this is her homepage listing. This is any page that she’s on, it will include the page title here is the default, and for any items that she might be selling in her ecommerce shop.
She can also choose to make changes to specific pages and posts and items and make changes on a case by case basis. This is just setting the default settings for your entire website. So let’s talk about what happens when you have a specific page that you want to optimize for.
How to update your SEO Title & Meta Description on Squarespace
Click “Pages” and find the page or post that you want to update, click the little gear to open up those page settings, then choose the SEO settings. Here’s what this looks like for Erika’s Activism page:
Squarespace shows a preview of what that page would look like in search results; if you want to change the BLUE text, re-write the SEO Title, to change the BLACK text, add a Meta Description.
If you don’t make these updates, the SEO Title will be the default in the site-wide settings — in most cases, the page name followed by the business name — and the Meta Description will be your first 150 words.
Erika’s name gets cut off here, because the SEO Title is longer than the ~67 characters that Google allows; since it’s her business name which is on every page and in her domain, this is ok in her case. If you just want your SEO Title to show up without the business name tacked onto the end, you can go back to Marketing > SEO and change the default settings (in this case, remove the %s from the default SEO title):
Also, before you ask: I don’t know why Squarespace gives a suggestion of 400 characters for the meta description here, what I’ve read pretty much everywhere is we want to keep this to about 150 characters.
You want to use this meta description space to explain to people what they would get when they get to this page and how to click through what what to expect when they click through on it.
Optimizing your blog post on Squarespace
Unfortunately, Squarespace doesn’t have that plug in that will remind you to put keywords into your sub headings or alt text for your images. So that’s something you just got to keep in mind!
You can download my free checklist in order to have something to consult while you’re doing these tasks.
Image SEO on Squarespace
When it comes to image SEO on Squarespace, there are a few things you can do to make sure your images look great and don’t slow down your load time:
When you’re uploading images, compress them. That doesn’t mean you want them to be so small that they’re pixelated. But if you’re downloading it from Canva, you can press a little button and export that says compress this file, that’s definitely a good thing. Because then Squarespace won’t have to work as hard to make sure that those files don’t take forever to load.
If you’re embedding any videos on your Squarespace site, upload a custom thumbnail. If you don’t do that, then Squarespace will go grab the thumbnail image from YouTube or Vimeo or wherever that video is hosted. And that little bit of time that it takes to go pull that image every time somebody loads, the page will slow down the load of that page, even if people don’t watch the video.
How to add Alt text to images on Squarespace
One of the best things you can do when it comes to optimizing your pages is to make sure that every image on your site has alt text. Alt text will tell Google what is the image and it will also show up for people who have screen readers have visual impairments. It’ll make it easy for them to know what’s happening in that image.
So find the image on your page, go to Edit and then click on design. Whatever type of layout you have here is fine.
Squarespace doesn’t have a separately place for Alt text and captions, instead you can create a caption that functions as alt text, and then choose whether or not you want it to show up for people on the screen.
Whether it’s visible or not, it’ll still function as an alt text and show up in those Google image search results. And Google can still read it, it just won’t actually show up on the screen.
Optimizing your Squarespace product listings
So in addition to the pages on your site, your blog posts, your show notes, whatever sort of content you’re creating, you can also optimize any product listings that you have on your site.
So click “Commerce” then “Inventory,” then choose the product you want to optimize.
In the same way that you would optimize a post, you can also optimize all your products, so that if people are looking for a specific product in your inventory, they can then have that show up in search results as well.
If you have a lot of products on your site, i also recommend breaking them up into Product Categories (you can even include keywords in your product categories to help Google understand how those products are similar).
How to 301 re-direct pages on Squarespace
Another thing that I talk about a lot when it comes to SEO is what happens if you move pages around. And WordPress, they usually have plugins where you can just say I want things to go from here to here.
With Squarespace, it’s a little bit more complex … iIn fact, this is one of the biggest gripes I have with Squarespace functionality!)
Click “Settings” then “Advanced” then “URL Mappings,” and then you have to type in this formula:
<original url> -> <new url> <redirect type>
So copy down what the what the page used to be, just the part that comes after the domain: that’s the old page. And then you want to do like an arrow shape with a dash and close bracket. And then the new page, and then type the redirect type, which is almost always 301.
So if I renamed a blog post and wanted to change the permalink, it would look like:
/old-post-name → /new-post-name 301
For the most part, you’re going to be doing 301 redirects, which means I’ve moved it forever. It’s not just a temporary thing, which would be a 3021 you’re not sure just put in a 301 redirect. No, it’s not easy.
But it really is important that if you’re moving things around on your website, you come in and you do this step because this is what will make sure that if you move something, anything that was directing to the old page will then move to the new page.
Remember that whatever platform you’re on Squarespace, Shopify, Wix Weebly, whatever your nephew makes in his basement, the same rules apply, you still have to tell Google exactly what you want to be found for and do the keyword research and put that information in the right places on your site.