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Squarespace SEO | Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Rankings

By Christopher Lin on January 24th 2015

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.

04.02-site-title-squarespace

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/

squarespace-seo-layouts

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/

squarespace-template-hayden

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.

squarespace-seo-rename-images

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.

04.05-squarespace-meta-description

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.

squarespace-seo-name-address-phone

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.

squarespace-socal-media

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.

squarespace-blog-permalink

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:

squarespace-seo-page-names

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

Co-Founder of SLR Lounge and Photographer with Lin and Jirsa Photography, I’m based in Southern California but you can find me traveling the world. Click here to connect on Google +

Q&A Discussions

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  1. R Duncan

    When adding to the site title using the ” |” symbol it shows in the title. Your example “Los Angeles Wedding Photographer | Lin and Jirsa.” I like my main title but would like to add to it if it doesn’t show. Is there a way to do that?

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  2. Matthew Onlyone

    I found some information that I was able to apply immediately to my site http://matthewtweediehypnosis.com.au/
    Thanks

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  3. Spicytee

    Very useful information. Thank you :)

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  4. Karen Vaisman

    Excellent article! I noticed you mentioned some templates are better than others for SEO. I just set up my site for Ishmoto template http://www.KarenVaismanPhotography.com I put a cover page on it with some text but most of my site is made up of gallery pages. Any advice on if I should change the cover page or remove it all together? (for SEO purposes) Thanks! Karen

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  5. Neil Henderson

    Any feedback on comments above ?

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  6. Neil Henderson

    very interesting thread. I am considering squarespace for an seo focussed site but bit concerned about the messy urls they have for uploaded images – do you have any tips on this and do you have examples of images indexing well on the search engines for competitive phrases

    thanks
    neil

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  7. Roman Rama III

    What if you don’t have an official studio (I usually use another photographers studio) and don’t want to use your home address? I’d rather not use it for security purposes.

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    • Abdul Zainos

      Hey Roman,
      I know the struggle. You want to give off a professional image and trust by showing clients you have a professional business address. Try looking into Regus (Virtual Offices). Virtual offices mainly provide a mailing address for your business with the option to rent an office 1-2 times. The second alternative (going cheaper here) is to search for mailbox services without a P.O. Box designation. UPS has several locations that provide this. You can still give off a professional business address, but UPS does not offer meeting space, conference rooms or anything like that. I think the best they do (if you’re signed up) is discounts at nearby offices. Last option would be a P.O. Box at your local post office. Super cheap, only thing that blows it’s sometimes a pain or impossible to receive FedEx, or UPS packages. Up to you. Hopefully this helps you out.

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  8. beccy lee

    Great article, SEO is such a black art!
    Thanks guys!!!
    http://www.moolilondon.com

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  9. Adriana Godoy Neves

    Great article. I would like to buy the book 1, however I couldn’t find the link. Where can I go to buy the book?

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  10. Nicholas mcdonough

    I would leave your search engine description blank AND your blog description blank. This will ensure the search engines fill the blog index with the text snippet from the latest post.

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  11. Lotus Buccola

    Thank you! I cannot say thank you enough. This really helps right now. SEO is my weakness but I love SS and this totally helped me understand how to make it work better.

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  12. Linda Borrego

    Thanks so much for these SEO tips. I need to change one of my websites. I’m going to look into Square Space.

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  13. Col Sanders

    Loving these articles. Thanks guys

    [URL=http://colinsandersphotography.com]csandersphoto[/Url]

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  14. Rafael Steffen

    Thanks for sharing this great article on SEO optimization.

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  15. Chris Nachtwey

    Chris I’m a longtime SS user and have implemented many of these tips over the years, and I can say that they truly have helped my SEO. Also, SS is mobile friendly which I know if you’re searching on Google with your smartphone is going to be a big deal for where you rank soon.

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  16. Vince Arredondo

    This was so helpful. Thank you!

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  17. Anthony Thurston

    Good stuff Chris! I was just thinking about how to improve the SEO on my new squarespace site, so this was perfect timing. Thanks!

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  18. Graham Curran

    Some useful tips for Squarespace users.

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