There’s a big debate among website designers: “Squarespace is terrible for SEO!” “Squarespace is fine for SEO!” — What is the Squarespace SEO truth?
My truth? Squarespace SEO has some technical issues.
As an SEO consultant for the wedding industry, I look at a lot of websites on Squarespace and WordPress. And I have to tell you, some of the SEO limitations of Squarespace make me want to pull my hair out.
Now, I’m not saying that sites on Squarespace can’t rank on Google. Many Squarespace sites do.
These Squarespace SEO problems mean that I can rank a site on other platforms (especially WordPress) faster, and with more control over the settings.
I’m writing this article today because some of these problems seem so simple to fix, and yet Squarespace as a company has been very slow to fix them. As an SEO professional, I find it super frustrating.
So this article is half for you, website owner, and half my plea to Squarespace. Fix these dumb issues, help your customers rank better, and help me do the best job I can for my clients.
*Watch out, this is about to get technical. If you just want an article on how to do SEO for your Squarespace site, this is a good one.
3 SEO Issues Squarespace Needs to Fix in 2019
Using the Site Description as the meta description on multiple pages
Squarespace encourages you to set a “Site Meta Description” in Marketing > SEO > Site Meta Description
Squarespace shows you that they use this meta description for the website’s home page. If that’s all it did, that would be great.
The problem is that Squarespace actually uses the “Site Meta Description” for any page or post where you don’t specify a different meta description. That means that the Site Meta Description is almost always applied to multiple pages of your site.
Google is clear that it is a best practice to “Use unique descriptions for each page” and to avoid “Using a single description meta tag across all of your site’s pages or a large group of pages.”
Having a different description meta tag for each page helps both users and Google.
How Squarespace missed this memo straight from Google is beyond me. I would like to see them fix the “Site Meta Description” to apply to the home page only.
Not allowing custom meta titles and descriptions on blog posts
Recently, Squarespace made a much needed change to add an “SEO” tab in Page settings.
Unfortunately, the same feature is not available for blog posts. Instead, excerpts are used as the meta description for blog posts, and you have no option to set a custom meta title for posts.
Good meta titles and descriptions help you optimize for keywords and attract clicks in the Google search results. When I can’t control these for a client, I can’t do every last thing I can to attract clicks for them in Search. They may lose out to good descriptions from a WordPress site, where controlling this is easy with the Yoast plugin.
Using excerpts is also not a good solution. We don’t always have the same goals for an excerpt that shows on the site’s Blog page as we have for a meta description.
I often want an excerpt to be longer, and I have to compromise in both areas when I’m trying to craft it as a meta description.
Not offering a clear place for image alt text
Image alt text on Squarespace is a headache. Figuring out where to put it is not an easy thing for website owners to do, or for me to explain to my clients.
On WordPress, where there is a clear input field for “alternative text” for every image. On Squarespace, where you put alt text varies widely depending on what block type you’re using.
If you’d like to get yourself thoroughly confused, read Squarespace’s own instructions on Adding Alt Text to Images.
The article has separate/different instructions for adding alt text in Image Blocks, Gallery Page Images, Gallery Blocks, Product Images, Cover Page Images, and Thumbnail Images—Yes, it’s different in every single one of those cases!
One of my biggest issues is when alt text is taken from the image’s caption. I find this really problematic because proper alt text and engaging captions are not the same thing.
Take this image as an example:
This caption is fun and has a bit of personality, but I’d likely give the photo more generic alt text like “Bride and groom portrait with fountain at Goodale Park.” I would never want that to show up as a caption, and Squarespace shouldn’t make me compromise in either area.
So… Do I Need to Get Off Squarespace if I Care about SEO?
So here’s the real question: given these technical issues, do you need to change website platforms for SEO?
The Answer: No. Just know that you’re approaching SEO with one hand tied behind your back.
If SEO was the only consideration in choosing a website platform, I’d choose WordPress all day long. WordPress gives you more technical control, and the Yoast plugin for WordPress is way more up-to-date with SEO best practices than Squarespace.
We can create positive SEO results with a well-coded WordPress site in far less time than a Squarespace site.
But, if you love the ease of Squarespace—and that will make you update your content more and spend more time working on your website—you’re going to be better off on Squarespace.
Let’s just keep fingers crossed that Squarespace hears the pleas of SEOs everywhere to fix these technical issues.