Five Squarespace SEO Tips You May Have Missed
Five Squarespace SEO Tips
- Headings are for SEO first
- Captions add alt text, so be aware
- Use Squarespace's newer image blocks with care
- Don't use too many categories and tags
- Fix your schema markup
1. Headings Are For SEO First
A lot of the attraction of Squarespace has to do with the design elements. Gorgeous templates are a big draw. And Squarespace is particularly well suited to designers, artists, photographers, and businesses that want to display their work in an aesthetically pleasing way.
Which is all well and good. But Mr. Google is a dour sort of fellow. Gorgeous fonts and great images don’t seem to move him very much. He’s mainly interested in words. And what he really likes to see is words that are natural (or at least seem natural) and well organized.
A big part of that organization has to do with the pages on a website and their relationship to each other. That’s your site architecture.
But individual pages also need to be organized. On the page level, headings are the crucial organizing element.
Headings (also sometimes confusingly known as headers, because they exist between header tags) are numbered to indicate their relative importance. Ignore that fact at your peril. Because those numbers actually mean something to search engines: headers should exist in a hierarchy which ideally cascades down in a rational way. It’s not absolutely crucial that there be one H1, a couple or more H2’s, and even more H3’s. But that’s the main way to build a sensible header structure.
If you are going to care about what Google cares about, you’ll figure out the header hierarchy for pages on your Squarespace website first and foremost.
Of course, you do want a good user experience, so don’t take this tip too far. If your site is ugly, you’re not doing anyone any good. Still, if you want a website with good SEO, you’ll want to make sure your header hierarchy is a priority, not an afterthought.
2. Captions Add Alt-Text, So Be Aware
There’s a lot of confusion around about how to add alt text in Squarespace. The rule is that the caption to an image will be its alt text, unless there’s no caption, in which case the filename will be. In other words, captions override filenames for alt text.
That’s true even if you enter a caption and then hide it, as any number of guides will tell you to do to enter alt text. Personally, I just enter the filename and I’m done with it. (Actual filenames for images, as opposed to alt text, are an infinitesimally small ranking factor, so you don’t need to worry about them.)
But sometimes you really just want an actual caption for an image. And a caption is not really a description of an image, is it? It’s more of a commentary. But a description is what alt text is supposed to be. So what are you supposed to do?
Squarespace has a history of doubling up functions like this. It used to use its so-called Page Descriptions for meta descriptions, which was one of the main problems with doing SEO for Squarespace, until they fixed it. In this case, the doubling up of functions for captions remains a problem.
For now, you just need to consider how off-base your caption will be as alt text, keeping in mind that alt text is a ranking factor, but a relatively small one.
Read more about this issue in my article on problems with Squarespace SEO.
3. Use Squarespace’s Newer Image Blocks With Care
There are five newer image blocks in Squarespace: poster, card, collage, overlap, and stack. (Until a couple years ago, only “inline” image blocks were available). All are designed to integrate text with images. And they’re a great addition to Squarespace’s design toolbox, even if their rendering on different devices can get a bit wonky.
This Is Not A Header
This isn’t either. They’re both just body text for a collage image block.
The problem with them for SEO purposes has to do with the two forms of text available, which Squarespace calls the “title” and “subtitle.” The title looks like a header, being larger than the body text (the “subtitle”). Unfortunately, it isn’t.
Remember, for Google, a header is not text that happens to be styled larger than other text on the page. Rather, it’s text that falls within a header tag, such as <h1>, <h2>, etc.. But these image blocks don’t put “titles” in between header tags. So for Google, they’re just a bit of text.
Does this mean you shouldn’t use these blocks? No. The SEO tip here is just be aware of what you are doing. If they play a prominent role on the page, or you really think you need a header somewhere, think about making a different design decision.
4. Don’t Use Too Many Categories And Tags
There’s a mistaken idea out there that tags are the same as keywords. That’s not actually true.
The concept of a keyword relates to the significance of a word for search. Tags and categories on a Squarespace site might be keywords as identified either by you (aspirationally) or by Google (if it ranks you for one of them). But they might not be.
What they are is meta data you have chosen to organize your content with. Even though there is often very good reason for overlap with keywords, that doesn’t mean they are the same thing. And they are certainly not meta keywords, which they are sometimes confused with, since they are both words you add to your site that work behind the scenes.
So here’s a tip: don’t go piling on tons of tags and categories to your site and your posts. It’s not going to help your SEO, and it may very well hurt. And not just because you are keyword stuffing.
Among other reasons, it’s because when you add a tag or category in Squarespace, you’re actually adding what’s called a dynamic page to your website. And that page may compete with other pages on your site for Google’s attention.
Just let that sink in for a moment. When you add a category or tag, you add a page to your website. Are you sure that’s what you want to do?
If you’re interested in keywords, check out our post on how to use keywords on Squarespace. And for more on tags and categories, check out our article on how to use tags and categories to actually improve your SEO.
5. Fix Your Schema Markup
What is schema markup? To quote one of our articles on schema, “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 websites.”
Unfortunately, Squarespace’s implementation of schema is missing some required fields, and produces errors in others. Someday, it will clean up all the problems with schema markup on its sites. But it hasn’t happened yet.
As of this writing, several different schema types on Squarespace websites, including Event and Article schema, produce errors in the structured data testing tool and sometimes provoke disturbing emails from Google if you have a Google Search Console account, which you should.
Let’s not overdramatize this. Schema is a matter of growing but still fairly limited importance for SEO. It’s a small ranking factor, if at all—though this is a matter of some dispute.
Still, error-filled schema can’t be good. And for events and products in particular, you may be missing out on having Google return the best rich results, like your event being listed right in your knowledge panel.
So here’s a final tip. If you decide it’s a matter worth fixing, and you’ve already dealt with the biggest issues on your site, check out our article on fixing problems with Squarespace’s schema markup.
Need Help With Squarespace SEO?
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