If there’s one thing in this world that really gets my goat, it’s this. People who have noooo idea smack talking Squarespace and it’s SEO capabilities.
… And businesses that make the only way to send them information via a fax. It’s 2018 y’all. Not one single millennial has a clue how to send a fax because it’s ancient technology that everyone should have abandoned ship on 20 years ago. Get with the times. (Sorry, needed to vent.)
You can sign up for a free trial of Squarespace here and I also got ya a little off the price, use code PAIGE10 for 10% off your first year. (Yes, that’s an affiliate link!)
Okay back to Squarespace and SEO.
Here’s the deal. Someone decided to start the rumour that Squarespace sucks for SEO, and it’s been circulating around the interwebs ever since, much to my annoyance.
Whoever started that rumour by the way, not cool bro, not cool.
Here’s the deal. SEO ranking signals are constantly changing and evolving. But, there’s been some pretty consistent themes that are strongly related to a better ranking position for the last few years.
I’m going to start there and then move on to the ‘Squarespace has no SEO plugin, therefore it automatically sucks for SEO’ nonsense.
Let’s start with the basics.
(And yes, I realize there’s a zillion other little ranking signals too, but these guys are the big ones that have been consistent for years.)
Backlinks from relevant, high-authority websites
Valuable, long-form content that relates to your keywords
Having your site settings optimized for search
If a website with an established high authority such as Oprah.com links to your site, Google takes that as Oprah saying ‘this site is legit,’ ‘this site has something valuable to say,’ ‘this site knows whats up.’ The more people talking about your site and linking to you, especially if that ‘endorsement’ comes from a site that’s already considered to be high-authority, the more legit your site must be Google concludes.
Now, what if a low authority website links to you? Or a bunch of low authority sites? That won’t do much. You’re getting an endorsement from just another average Joe, so that doesn’t mean as much as if Oprah links to you.
Bottom line: Work to get noticed by the Oprah.com’s of the world.
Now, in more recent years relevance came into play too with links. If Google starts to pick up on the fact that your website is the site of a wedding venue, then any links back from wedding-related sites will help you greatly. Get a link back from Scott’s plumbing site? Because those two sites are not don’t have much in common, the link would be considered not very relevant and therefore the link won’t count for much.
Does your site being created on Squarespace make a difference to if Oprah.com will link to you? Heck no! So, for one of the most important ranking signals, the platform your site is built on matters zilch!
I’m a Squarespace website designer, so what do I talk about on my blog? Squarespace website design.
All day, e’’ry day.
Now, who’s the first actual Squarespace website designer on page 1 of Google? Moi.
Why? Because I showed Google through LOTS of long-form, valuable posts that I am an authority on Squarespace web design. I stayed niche with my content, I wrote longggg posts that actually help people with questions related to Squarespace.
Google’s entire goal is to help people find the content that solves their problem and answers their question.
They’ve noticed that long-form content tends to be able to fully cover a topic and question, and therefore is the most valuable. Google isn’t in the business of showing your website in search results just because Google likes you. Google is in the business of providing relevant, useful information.
Bottom line: The more relevant, valuable content you create, the better.
Can you create long-form, valuable content on a Squarespace site? You bet you can! Again, for this super important ranking signal, your platform doesn’t matter.
In order for Google to figure out what your site is about you’ll need to have a spot to put a Search Engine description, page descriptions, meta data, and for the site to load quickly.
You’ll also need for your site to work on mobile, and bonus points if you can get it to be secure with HTTPS and show content as fast as possible on mobile phones with AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages.) Though, whats bonus points now (HTTPS and AMP) is with time likely going to become a necessity.
So, can Squarespace do all of those things? You bet it can.
Not to mention, from what I’ve been hearing, switching over to HTTPS for WordPress users is a bit of a technical nightmare and they’re slow to adopt to the change. Not to mention, many WordPress templates come with a mobile version, but some still don’t.
Every single Squarespace site is built to perfectly work on mobile right out of the (digital) box.
Squarespace makes it super simple for users to keep up with the times, and you don’t need to hire a developer to do a lot of these things for you, like a lot of WordPress users have been doing.
So? Does platform matter here? If there’s a platform that’s known for extremely slow loading websites, and not having all the above options, then yes, platform does matter.
Bottom line: Squarespace ticks all the boxes here, sometimes even better than WordPress does because Squarepsace makes it easy to update and keep with the times in terms of site settings.
Alright, now we’ve gathered that Squarespace does indeed make it possible to do all the important stuff, let’s talk about the plugin myth.
I was at a conference this fall where an SEO expert was speaking. She built her site on WordPress and is a fan of WordPress.
Someone had asked about an SEO plugin and the expert made it very clear that simply just adding an SEO plugin to your site in and of itself does quite literally nothing for your SEO.
She explained that an SEO plugin is basically a digital checklist.
If you have a checklist and do nothing to complete the items on a checklist, how valuable is the checklist? It’s not.
Now, if you go through the checklist items and change your content to tick off the checklist items, it’s useful. But, you can just as easily make yourself a little checklist and ensure you’ve ticked all the boxes whenever you go to publish content instead of adding a plugin.
Keywords are in title? Check. Image files are named? Check. Variants of the keyword appear in the content at few times? Check.
Make yourself a little list if you want, and just check over it before you hit publish.
Bam, you just made your own low-tech SEO plugin!
Also, I’ll just leave this here from Anthony Caselena, founder and CEO of Squarespace:
“Squarespace is engineered to work properly without a sea of plugins, and you should not take the lack of a plugin for this to mean that we didn’t actually just build it right from the start. We actually scan the top installed WordPress plugins regularly and ensure we simply do all of that in our core.”
There we have it. Squarespace doest’t suck for SEO, and its about time that rumour died.
So if you want to build a site on a platform that won’t cause you on-going tech meltdowns and isn’t vulnerable to hacking because updating plugins is a giant pain in the buns, Squarespace might not be a terrible idea.