Three SEO Problems With Squarespace's Schema Markup
For a complete survey of problems with how Squarespace does SEO, check out our Squarespace SEO roundup, What's True About The Myth About Squarespace SEO.
What Is Schema Markup, Otherwise Known As Structured Data?
Schema markup is code for structured data that helps search engines understand what your website and your enterprise are about. It's a way of addressing search engines directly in order to help them better understand the content on your website and return richer search results. Squarespace adds Schema, which is really an agreed-upon framework for structured data, to all Squarespace websites.
Google has been clear that adding Schema to your website is a good thing. I can personally attest to its power, as I've seen evidence that it helps you get a Google knowledge panel, get review star rich snippets, and even improve your search rankings.
Squarespace's implementation of Schema is pretty good, but it isn't perfect. There are three problems in particular you should be aware about, though these are not the only ones. I'm focusing on them because they're among the more baffling minor issues with Squarespace SEO.
1. The Local Business Schema Problem In Squarespace
The first occurs, or rather may occur, right when you first start using your Squarespace site. If you naively enter any information in the Business Information panel, you will get Local Business Schema markup in perpetuity, even if you later delete the information and leave all the entries blank. This has been confirmed to me by Squarespace customer service.
So one early client of mine who signed up for Squarespace herself and entered her name in Business Information during signup now has Local Business Schema even though she's a musician and is certainly not a local business. And it's irreversible. As it turns out, most people just naively enter some information there because there's no indication that they shouldn't. That's just how human psychology works. People tend to think things should be filled in to the greatest extent possible. It's that SEO optimization stuff.
If you want to check, you can enter your Squarespace website in Google's Structured Data Testing Tool to see if you have any Local Business Schema markup and look over your website's Schema in general.
It's not a grave issue. That musician's SEO is just fine and her website is ranking well. It's just something to be aware about. If there's an SEO penalty for having incorrect Schema like this, it's very small. Nonetheless, if you are not a local business and don't want Google thinking you are, it's best to avoid entering anything in Business Information.
2. The Missing Author Field In Blog Posts' Schema Markup
Another weird issue, this one more concerning, is that both the Author and Date Published fields for blog posts don't get marked up by Squarespace, at least not in a way Google recognizes. Go ahead and pop a Squarespace blog post's URL into the Structured Data Testing Tool. You won't see an author or when it was published unless you added article Schema yourself or used Google's Data Highlighter for your website in Google Search Console.
That's the case even when an author has been chosen in the Author field in Squarespace, and even if author is set to display as meta data, which it should be according to Google's guidelines if you want it to appear in Schema.
Will this issue hurt your article's ability to rank in search? Unlikely. But if part of what you are aiming for is to build up your own personal internet presence and cross-reference yourself among all of your online activities, it's a drawback. For organizations publishing articles with multiple authors who want to rank in Google themselves, it's rather more serious.
Keep in mind that Google will still crawl the article and see the author and date published. It just won't be confirmed by Schema. Unfortunately, I can confirm that authors of Squarespace blog posts are less likely to see their articles appear in Google search when they are personally Googled unless Article Schema with the Author field included is added manually.
Squarespace customer service has confirmed that, "for the time being, Google is not able to recognize the structured data that Squarespace offers for your blog's author, and they sometimes do not recognize dates on blog posts and headlines either." It's a bit odd for Squarespace to put the onus on Google, though, isn't it? They should just do it the way Mr. Google wants.
3. An Empty "Image" Field In LocalBusiness Schema When Using Text Instead Of A Logo
Yet another problem occurs when you don't use a logo for your site. Actually, when you use text for your site title you face a few SEO problems. In a number of templates the site title shows up as an H1 on every page, creating multiple H1's and messing up the headline hierarchy.
But the issue here is that the required "Image" field for your Local Business Schema will simply be blank.
It would be better and more sensible if Squarespace used the social sharing logo here. Presumably, a miniscule SEO penalty is to be paid for this oversight.
Stick To Your SEO Strategy
None of these issues is terribly serious, with the possible exception of the second one. You'll do better to concentrate on developing your SEO content strategy or do other SEO work rather than tearing your hair out over structured data. Still, they are worth keeping in mind. The solution for the last two problems, as well as for adding review star snippets and anything else you feel is missing (like separate services) is to add Schema markup yourself. I'll cover how to do that in a future article.