A couple of years ago – WordPress expert Rand Fishkin came out and went against everything he had slammed on Squarespace for SEO previously. The problem – he had started consulting with Squarespace. He said he wasn’t being paid for the consultation, but it’s really hard to impartial when you’re helping them out. As we’ll discuss below even in 2021 – Squarespace still has some major SEO problems – this was Rand in 2014.
Here’s SEO Expert Rand Fishkin – maybe changing his tune in 2016:
Ouch. Looks like Squarespace has gotten less SEO-friendly: https://t.co/orGAbpRMAV no longer possible to make fully customized titles 🙁
— Rand Fishkin (@randfish) September 3, 2016
No offense to Rand – but I’m going to do my own digging and you should too probably.
An important point / caveat about Squarespace SEO / any platform for SEO:
No matter what your platform – if you put out crazy useful, comprehensive content in a systematic, regular way, you will still have decent results with your SEO.
If you are using Squarespace there is hope – just make sure to do these 5 things:
- Have 500-700 words on each of your key service pages.
- Fill out your meta-titles and descriptions (preferably with some keyword research and competitive analysis)
- Make sure you use ‘code injection’ to insert <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”> on low-quality, thin or duplicate pages.
- Submit your sitemap to Google through Google Search Console.
- Create comprehensive content for things ideal customers are searching for on a regular, systematic basis (ideally at least 4 times a month, but you can get away with less if your content is best-in-class.)
The major problems that still exist in 2019 for Squarespace SEO
Quite a few terrible templates that use Meta Titles for Headlines
Clapping Dog Media – did some digging and found Moz forum user’s confused by Squarespace’s often hairy set up of meta-descriptions (absolutely crucial or SEO) that were set up to show on the template – even as the main header images content!
I was reading on the Moz forums where someone was having issues with a Meta Description on Squarespace. A Meta Description is a block of content that summarizes a page’s content. Search engines show this meta description when the searched phrase is contained in the description, so having a well optimized meta description is very important.
The issue this user was having was that the Meta Description she was entering was showing up as “hero content” on a home page image and that there was no way to disconnect the meta description from the hero content, it was a feature of the theme.
No H1’s on some pages – What?!?
Literally, some templates are missing one of the most important things in on-page SEO – Templates were found that put the main heading in a p tag.
Problems with their schema markup
Author tags missing, other tags missing – all while touting effective SEO principles, and making it difficult to get under the hood and make significant changes.
Schema informs voice search now – and what allows sites to get into those coveted meta boxes that show up in search results these days – so it’s not something that you want to be botched.
Card & Poster blocks have headlines – but are just <p> tags
Once again – areas of templates that were intended to look like headings, and act like headings in the page hierarchy were coded as non-headings.
Captions as Alt text & No clarity on alt text
According to Marksmen Studio –
There are two ways to add alt text to images in Squarespace. You can add it to the Filename box in the Image Block and it will become alt text if there is no caption. Or you can add it as a caption to an image. If you add it as a caption and then choose “Do Not Display Caption” in the Design section of the Image Block, the hidden caption will become the alt text.
So far, so good, though from a user experience point of view it’s not exactly great, since users need to puzzle over documentation to figure this out rather than just have an obvious field to enter the alt text, which would be more straightforward.
But the real problem arises when you really want to add a caption for an image. Occasionally, a caption makes for pretty good alt text, but not usually. That’s because of the actual function of a caption.
In the section above on Schema markup, there is an image displaying Event schema, with an appropriate caption that ties the image to the discussion it is associated with. The problem is, the caption doesn’t really provide a brief description of the image, which is what alt text is supposed to be. And that will often be the case, because the purpose of captions is to provide context for images. They are not descriptors. But that’s what alt text should be. In this example, more appropriate alt text would be something like, “An example of complete Event schema markup”.
This doubling up of the caption function with alt text doesn’t serve Squarespace SEO well.
Just Fixed – Trailing slash problem, but the main problem is deeper
The issue was one of duplication. In the source code, a page’s canonical URL ended with a trailing slash, though you could go to either page without a redirect. In the sitemap, there was no trailing slash at the end of URLs. Links in the navigation had a trailing slash, but links in the body didn’t.
This messed up audits in tools like Screaming Frog and SEM Rush, in Analytics, and likely – affected search results.
But the fact that this is just getting resolved in 2019?
- Maybe Squarespace has a shortage of developers focused on the SEO problems
- Maybe most of Squarespace users don’t care as much about SEO so it gets put on the back burner.
- Maybe it’s just a matter of priorities – and the super bowl ads get the budget.
Long story short – Squarespace is ALWAYS behind because it’s not open-source
This may seem like a rip-fest on Squarespace, but the point is that because Squarespace is a private company, and the platform isn’t open-source like WordPress, it will always suffer from a lack of public help – that WordPress gets every day.
Why not take every advantage possible
Do you take every advantage possible when planning and implementing for your business?
Since tools for WordPress SEO tools are aggressively getting better – with thousands of open source programmers and SEO’s creating new plugins, and identifying new methods using the platform – the incentives are just not aligned for Squarespace to ever get near WordPress or be half as good.