13 Squarespace settings you must fix before you launch your new site
Updated: July 26th, 2018
(This post was originally written in 2017 though I've updated it in July 2018 to include all the settings you need to switch to get all GDPR friendly! So if you kinda sorta missed that GDPR compliance boat a few months back and are still meaning to get around to complying, you're gonna want to pay close attention to the last few settings tweaks in this post.)
On every internal and client Squarespace website project I work on, I ensure these ends are all tied up before we go to launch the website to the world. It takes just a few clicks around the Squarespace settings area to help your website function optimally.
So, when you go to launch your new stunning website to the world, be sure to take an extra couple mins to run through this checklist first!
After having run through this checklist a zillion times, I'm able to knock it out in under 10 mins, so it really is easy, and will make quite a difference to your website visitors experience.
1. Secure site with HTTPS & HSTS
Know how every website you visit has a http://www.websitename.com? The new version is https://www.websitename.com. That added 's' after the http indicates a secure website.
Google likes secure, so they're giving a SEO bump to all sites that switch their website over to the new secure https.
To set up HTTPS & HSTS visit settings > security & SSL > check both 'secure (preferred)' and 'HSTS secure.'
2. Add a Google description
This is really one you don’t want to forget, for obvious reasons. What you type in here will appear in your Google search result. You’ll want to use keywords in this description, but just know that repeating keywords isn’t going to make much of a difference, Google has outsmarted that tactic now.
If you serve a specific geographical region or are a brick and mortar store, ensure the location(s) are in the description.
While I’m open to serving those worldwide with my website design studio, my customers most often come from English speaking, developed countries. That is the US, Canada, UK & Australia. Instead of typing I serve those ‘worldwide’ in my Google description, I write out those country names, as people are more likely to search ‘Squarespace web designer UK’ than ‘Squarespace web designer worldwide.’
To add your Google description click settings > SEO > search engine description
3. AMP (Accellerated mobile pages)
Accelerated mobile pages creates lightweight versions of web pages to help them load faster on a mobile device. And psssst - your website loading quickly affects where your website will be shown in Google results. So this enabling this function is important. (Note: AMP only applies to blog posts, so if you don't have a blog on your website, you can skip this one).
To enable AMP click settings > blogging & check 'use AMP'
4. Take out dates in blog URLs
Long, clunky URLs are a thing of the past. Now, it's all about more simplified and shortened URLs.
Squarespace's default settings for the links of your collection items (that includes blog posts, galleries & events) is to include the date it was posted.
The general rule currently however is to only include the date in your URL if it's relevant.
"If your website features daily news and the news is related to a date, be sure to include that date in the URL as well. If someone is looking for the latest news on Apple’s products, the date in the URL will already show if the page is about this year’s iPhone or not. My recommendation: only use the date in the URL if the date matters," (Yoast.com).
To change the default link structure settings click settings > blogging > post URL format
In that field type %t, (this stands for the blog post title).
5. ADD FAVICON
A favicon is that little teeny icon in your website browser bar. The default is the Squarespace black cube, but it’s best to brand your website to your brand, instead of promoting Squarespace.
Because the area is so small, you’ll want to use an icon that is not very detailed. Even a simple shape of your brands prominent color works here.
To add your Favicon click design > logo & title > favicon > upload
6. TURN ON PIN-IT BUTTON
When the Pin-it button is turned on, it lets your visitors save your content to their Pinterest boards. You can decide if you’d like the button to appear on all images on your website or only collections such as blogs and galleries.
To turn on the Pin-It button visit settings > marketing > pin it buttons > enable
7. SELECT SHARE OPTIONS
If you want to customize the sharing options for your visitors, you can select and deselect all the various social channels in the social sharing options area.
To do so click settings > marketing > share buttons
8. Link up Google Analytics
While Squarespace analytics are wonderful, and I’d even say preferable for a quick look at where your visitors are coming from, your traffic growth over time, etc., there’s lots of benefits to being able to get more specific with your statistics over time.
Even if you currently don’t have much of an interest in more complex statistics at this moment, I’d suggest you set up Google Analytics now, as it only begins recording data from when you set it up, it’s can’t go back and record old data.
To set up Google Analytics, visit this article.
Then, go back to your Squarespace site, click settings > advanced > external services > Google Analytics account number (UA - #’s)
9. Add an image for your social sharing logo
This is probably the question I see most often floating around the inter webs, ‘how do I change the image that shows up when I share a link?’ The image that appears with your link is this ‘social sharing logo’ image.
First, pick the photo you’d like then click design > Logo & title > social sharing logo (optional) & upload your photo
Note, Facebook has a bit of a bug, and doesn’t notice sometimes that the social sharing logo image has been changed, so visit the Facebook link debugger, paste in the link to your website and click ‘scrape’ a few times until your newly uploaded social sharing logo image comes up.
10. Disable Squarespace badge
To keep your website clean & branded to you, not to Squarespace, ensure you turn the Squarepace badge off. For some templates the default is to have the badge enabled.
Find this option under design > squarespace badge > select ‘disable Squarespace badge’
11. Enable cookie banner
To comply with GDPR, we have to let site visitors know that we're using cookies with our website.
Find this option under settings > Cookies & Visitor Data > check 'enable cookie banner'
12. Disable Squarespace analytics cookies
When you enable the cookie banner, you're basically telling your visitors that you're collecting their info to use in your site analytics and to learn about the people visiting your site.
However, you're not actually allowed under GDPR to collect that info unless they've consented (clicked okay with your cookie banner.)
So, this next step is to only get Squarespace to collect a visitors information after they've consented with your cookie banner.
Find this option under settings > Cookies & Visitor Data > check 'Disable Squarespace Analytics Cookies'
13. disable visitor activity log
Squarespace used to collect very specific info on every visitors of your site, logging in a long list their IP address ,what page they visited, etc.
However, due to GDPR again, we want to disable that function.
Find this option under settings > Cookies & Visitor Data > uncheck ‘enable activity log.’