By now, most photographers know that Squarespace sites are beautiful, clean, responsive and modern.  But how do they perform in search engines?  We’ve often gotten this question but never had a chance to dig in and explore.  Our search engine success thus far has been on WordPress sites with SLR Lounge and Lin and Jirsa Photography.

After doing thorough research and setting up our own Squarespace site for our Commercial Photography arm of the company, We’ve concluded that Squarespace has all of the tools you need for SEO success. You just need to know what you’re doing!

For more SEO information, see the Photography SEO and Web Marketing Ebook, Secrets to Growing Your Studio Online by SLR Lounge.  In the three-part e-book series, we cover content creation, site structure, link building, local SEO, social media, and more. To understand some aspects of this article, it will be helpful to read through the book to get familiar with the terminology.

To help, We’ve come up with 10 tips for SEO Success on Squarespace:

Tip 1 | Use Keywords in Your Website Title

When you first create your Squarespace site, you’ll find the ability to input your site title. When filling out this field, do NOT simply use your business name. Instead, use your primary keyword first, followed by your business name.

For our studio, this would be “Los Angeles Wedding Photographer | Lin and Jirsa.” Keyword research is the first step to understanding SEO. We cover it in depth in the SEO Book, but in case you are unfamiliar, think of keywords as words that users are typing in search results. You want the title of your website to closely match your targeted keywords to give it the best chance of ranking for that keyword. For more information, please refer to chapter 2 of the SEO book.

There are two places to set your Site Title, 1) in the Design Section, as you see below or 2) in the SEO section, as you see in the second image.

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Option 1: Set Site Title in Design Section
home-page-title
Option 2: Set Site Title in SEO Section

Squarespace SEO Tip 2 | Choose an SEO-friendly Theme

Certain layouts are better for SEO than others. The main difference between SEO friendly layouts and SEO not-so-friendly layouts is the number of text blocks on the home page as well as the locations of those text blocks. Generally, the more you are able to insert header tags (h1, h2, h3, etc), text with keywords, links with keyworded anchor text, and images with keyworded names, alt text and captions, the better chance you have of ranking for your keywords. We cover all of these elements in the SEO book.

Some templates may look amazing, but they may be image-only layouts. While you can still use them, (and maybe even perform well with them), they are not recommended for SEO purposes. Here is an example of a beautiful template that leaves no room for text or other content beyond images for the home page:

http://flatiron-demo.squarespace.com/

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Example of a SEO not-so-friendly template.

In contrast, here is a template that allows for much more text and allows you to use your target keywords to let search engines know what your site is all about:
http://hayden-demo.squarespace.com/

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Example of an SEO-friendly template.

Squarespace SEO Tip 3 | Use Keywords in Your Images

One of my favorite features of Squarespace is the ability to easily change image names after they are already uploaded. This is not as easy with WordPress, often requiring a reupload. Ranking in image search is a major factor for photographers and covered in detail in the SEO book.  With image names being a critical factor in image search results, this convenient feature is extremely valuable for photographers.

It’s worth noting that a convenient way to generate an image sitemap is not available with Squarespace.  This is certainly on our wishlist for future versions of the site.

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Use keywords in your images.

Squarespace SEO Tip 4 | Write a Catchy Site Description

Your Site Description, i.e. Meta Description, has no influence on actual search rankings. However, since the excerpt is displayed along with your Site Title in search results, it’s an important factor in terms of getting users to actually click through to your site. Make sure it’s thought-out, catchy, and descriptive.

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Be sure to include a catchy, targeted description.

Squarespace SEO Tip 5 | Include Consistent Name, Address & Phone Number (NAP)

Having a consistent Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) is a critical factor for Local SEO. Be sure you include these elements on your contact page; and make sure you use the exact same Name, Address, and Phone Number throughout the web when you list your business in directories, with business pages, etc. For more info on Local SEO and directory listings, check out 3rd book in the SEO book.

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Use consistent names, addresses, and phone numbers on your site and throughout the web.

Squarespace SEO Tip 6| Link Your Social Media Accounts

Make sure you take advantage of Squarespace‘s ability to easily link to your Social Media Accounts. Making it convenient for your viewers to share your work gives it a higher chance of receiving viral traffic. Furthermore, giving them a way to connect to your social media accounts gives you the opportunity to nurture a relationship, develop a conversation, and potentially gain a new fan.

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Be sure to connect your social media accounts.

Squarespace SEO Tip 7 | Change Your Blog Permalinks

Your permalink structure should strip down all of the superfluous numbers and words and get straight to your titles. Ideally your titles will include your focused keywords! Check out the image below to see the best permalink structure for your blog.

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Use a simple, title-only structure for your permalinks.

Squarespace SEO Tip 8 | Submit Your XML Sitemap

Squarespace makes it very easy to access and submit your sitemap. To submit your sitemap to Google Webmaster, go to Google Webmaster Tools and submit the following URL: http://www.yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml. For more instructions on Google Webmaster tools, see this previous post.

Squarespace Tip 9 | Name Pages with Keywords in Mind

As you title your pages, remember to keep your keywords in mind. For example, your contact page title should include keywords instead of something like “Get in Touch.” See the image below for an example:

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Remember to Use Keywords In Your Page Names and Titles

Squarespace SEO Tip 10 | Research More Subjects/Tips

SEO is a very broad subject, and there are hundreds of other applicable tips for good SEO practices. The main two things to focus on are:

  1. Great content
  2. Quality links

If you continue to create great content centered around a targeted group of keywords and drive quality, relevant links to your site, your site has a good chance of climbing the rankings, regardless of which website builder or CMS you are using. For more SEO information, see the Photography SEO and Web Marketing Ebook by SLR Lounge