Keywords Made Simple For Squarespace SEO

Keyword research means making a list.

Keyword research means making a list.

Not an SEO expert, but don't want to pay to hire an SEO agency like us for your Squarespace-based business? You can still conduct effective keyword research for SEO just using Google search, Google's Chrome browser, and Squarespace's built-in access to Google Search Console. You’ll develop a list of keywords worth optimizing for. Then you can use them in your titles, headlines, body text and elsewhere to rank higher in Google for the search terms that will help you most.

Keeping It Simple

Do your eyes glaze over when you start to read about SEO? The confusing jargon, the complicated tools, the seemingly contradictory advice? It makes it all seem so hard. Which it is, when you get serious about it. But for a lot of folks, a large investment of time or money just isn't worth it for their scale of business. For them, a pretty good strategy and a pretty good execution are good enough. They just need a fairly simple and straightforward way of doing SEO and getting decent results.

Fortunately, SEO doesn't have to be all that complicated. Here's a simple way of using just Google and your common sense to do basic keyword research for your website. You are going to come up with a list of keywords (search terms) you want to rank for in Google, then integrate them judiciously in your page titles, headlines, meta descriptions, and body text. Being reasonable and natural with your wordsmithing is a good standard. Don't "stuff" your site with keywords. ("Keyword stuffing," as you may have heard, means using an overly intense concentration of keywords in your content, thereby setting off the Google tripwire.)

More on this later. Let's begin with the tools we are going to use.

Three Keyword Research Tools

  1. Google Autocomplete

  2. Keywords Everywhere

  3. Google Search Keywords in Squarespace

Google Autocomplete

Keywords from Google Autocomplete with volume figures.

You're already familiar with Google Autocomplete. You just start entering something into Google and it provides a list of suggestions. That list comes from Google's own algorithms about what people are searching for. So it can be a great indicator of what's popular and related to your term. You can discover that when people are searching for "Squarespace SEO," they are often interested in finding a plugin (or an expert or a review), for example. Maybe for your content strategy you should write an article that includes a discussion about the lack of an SEO plugin on Squarespace and what it means?

Whatever your focus may be, just start entering words you think are relevant, and see what comes up before you press enter. You'll get a list of terms. When you see a term that's relevant to your site and that you might want to integrate so you can attract people making that search, write it down. Create a list of keywords just by entering one item of interest after another. And make sure you enter keywords that cover the range of content on your site, including entirely static content on your homepage. That way you can get a full sense of the relevant search universe. You'll end up with a list that you can use to further develop your content strategy (the keyword-relevant posts you are going to create) and optimize your site itself.

You can extend the activity by entering a term and then looking at the bottom of the page. There you'll see a list of "searches related to" your search term. They will differ partly from what came up in Autocomplete. Just use them the same way.

Keywords Everywhere

But wait. Coming up with keywords is only part of the process. How are you going to determine what you are likely to be able to rank for?

Google with the Keywords Everywhere extension.

Google with the Keywords Everywhere extension.

Volume is key. So add the Keywords Everywhere extension to Google Chrome. It's a nifty tool that saves you a lot of work. Once it's installed, your Google searches will include search volume per month, cost-per-click, and a competition score for every keyword you enter into Google. It's not perfect, but the results are good enough for most purposes. It's a labor-saving tool that can be of great help in figuring out what you should go for.

Think about how big your business is and how much traffic you attract. Try to be honest with yourself about what you are likely to have some luck ranking for given your competition. If you're in a field with lots of people trying to rank for the same search terms, you'll need to go further out along the long tail to be competitive. Consider focusing on keywords with less than around 200-300 total monthly volume, or even lower if you still don't have a lot of content or traffic. But you do want the volume to be above zero.

Also, remember that the first page of Google gets the overwhelming percentage of clicks. You want to shoot for the first page if you can. That means less common, less difficult long tail keywords.

Once you've installed the extension, you'll see volume figures as you do your research. Just use your common sense and think about using words that you'll have a good chance to succeed with.

Google Search Keywords in Squarespace

We've looked at keywords we might want to try to rank for. But what about those we're actually ranking for now? They are often the best to work with, since we've already had some success with them.

Fortunately for those turned off by Google's confusing Search Console, not long ago Squarespace integrated Google Search Keywords into its own analytics right in the Home Editor. Just go to Analytics > Google Search Keywords. To begin using this feature, you will just need to click to confirm you give Squarespace permission to access Google Search Console. If you have already signed up for Search Console for your website, make sure to log in to the Google account you used to set up Search Console, so you will have access to up to sixteen months of previous data. If you haven't, you will have to wait a while for search data to accumulate and become useful.

Choose a reasonably long period of time, say 90 days. You'll see a list of keywords from Search Console, plus useful data for each keyword: clicks, impressions, click-through rate, and search position. The significance of these is a somewhat complex topic, but try to get a sense of what are you ranking for. If you see a lot of extraneous terms that appear on your site but won't bring in visitors you actually want (such as those who buy your products or enjoy your content), you'll need to do a better job focusing your SEO efforts on the terms that are actually relevant and valuable to you.

Make a list of keywords you rank for that you want to do better with. Keep in mind that some may not be very realistic in terms of return on effort. If you rank in the 98th position, you'll have a long way to go to improve your rankings enough to actually get clicks from interested visitors. But if you rank 15th, you'll probably have a decent shot at getting on the first page, which is where the vast majority of actual clicks from search come from.

How To Use Your Keyword Research For SEO

Is there any overlap between the terms you are already ranking for and the ones you found to be suitable in your work in Google? Hopefully, yes. Redouble your efforts in those areas. Follow what your position is for those terms in Squarespace's integration of Search Console or, if you would like to get more sophisticated about it, a paid tool like Ahrefs.

Where there's no overlap, there are two steps you can take.

The first is simply to recast some of your page titles or headlines to integrate your desired keywords. If you have done a good job with your keyword research and chosen words with a reasonable volume per month, you are likely to have at least some success in ranking those.

The second is to add more good, relevant content to your site that integrates the terms you want to rank for. Ideally, your fresh content will support what the more static parts of your Squarespace website are already covering, especially when you engage in good internal linking. This is known as pursuing a content strategy. Bit by bit, your great new content will bolster the expertise, trust, and authority in your area that Google likes to see when it ranks websites. And believe or not, you will start to move up in the SERPs and get the traffic you want.

How To Add Keywords To Squarespace

You should integrate the keywords you’ve researched in several places. The site title and page titles are the most important, followed by the H1-H3 headers in your posts and URL slugs. You should also add the primary keyword to your meta descriptions, even though they are not a significant ranking factor.

Try to structure your posts so you have at least a few headlines to break up and organize text, with a pyramid-like hierarchy. It doesn’t have to be picture perfect, but one H1, a few more subordinated H2’s, and even more H3’s subordinated to the H2’s are an ideal structure. You’ll also want to sprinkle your keywords in body text to bolster relevancy and create a natural profile.

What About Tags And Categories?

Don’t make the mistake of thinking tags and categories are keywords. You can read more about the difference in our article on how to use tags and categories for Squarespace SEO.

Meta Keywords In Squarespace

In the early years of the internet, meta keywords played a significant role in SEO. They are words you tell search engines are relevant to the content of your website with a special meta tag, the keywords meta tag.

Those years have passed, and now search engines mostly force you to communicate what your content is about with your content itself, not meta keywords. (Schema markup is the primary behind-the-scenes way to communicate directly with search engines nowadays. Unfortunately, Squarespace has some issues with schema.) But the era lives in in people’s heads. As a consequence, some folks still think adding keywords really means typing in those keywords in a special place on a website. But it doesn’t. That’s why Squarespace doesn’t offer a place to enter meta keywords.

Forget about meta keywords. If you’re interested in finding out more, Yoast published a good article on meta keywords that explains why.

So Are Keywords So Simple After All?

Sound simple so far? Good. You can do quite well following the steps I’ve outlined above. However, don’t think this is less than a very complex topic when you get serious about it, for a number of reasons.

One is that you need to avoid overuse of keywords, which is known as keyword stuffing, but the line where keyword stuffing begins is drawn in invisible ink. You want to go up to that line, but not over it.

Another is that keyword selection itself, done well, is more difficult than I’ve indicated here, because keywords exist in complex relation to each other, and Google has gotten better and better at recognizing that complexity. It may not be using latent semantic indexing, as some folks think, but it certainly has moved way beyond the early days of search when it couldn’t recognize complicated relationships between ideas at all.

Also, Google has moved toward a greater focus on user intent. User intent refers to what someone who searches for a particular keyword is really looking for.

A furry cat or a fluffy one? Courtesy of  Care.com

A furry cat or a fluffy one? Courtesy of Care.com

If you search in Google for “furry cats,” you’ll find most of the first page’s results are actually for fluffy cats. That’s because Google has apparently found that most users who search for furry cats are really interested in fluffy ones. So it returns that result, even if the word “furry” never appears in the title or headlines of the article. That’s the case for the current number one and number two articles for that keyword as of this writing, and most of the first page. And the second-place article never uses the word “furry” at all, not even in body text! Bing, by contrast, returns mostly “furry” results, which is a testament to Google’s superiority as a search engine.

There goes our strategy of finding keywords and then putting them in. But what does this mean for keyword selection?

The simple steps I’ve explored here work pretty well. But ideally, you’ll want to be even more thoughtful about the process. You have to really think about what people want. If you do that well, inadvertently or not, you may find yourself ranking, even for keywords you didn’t focus on at all.

 

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