4 Steps To Improve Your Squarespace SEO for 2019
SEO is so fluid and evolving you’d be better off setting up Google or Apple News alerts than trying to purchase and read a book on the subject. Squarespace knows this and has really started to up their game with their built-in SEO features.
Going in to 2019 there are a lot of technological advances in Google Search as well as Squarespace SEO that will affect how we set up, design and maintain our Squarespace websites in order to make sure they are ranking in Google and other search engines.
I say ‘other search engines’ because Google still maintains a staggering 90% share of the search market. Check out this great graphic by Visual Capitalist showing the market share of the major search engines.
So if it seems like I focus mostly on Google that’s for good reason. If we have limited time to spend on our SEO then it makes sense to optimize according to what the market leader (or dominator in this case) tells us is important ranking factors.
Okay. Now that we have that out of the way. Let’s get back to the information at hand. With all the new advances in search technology and SEO techniques, how do you know which SEO techniques are the most important going in to 2019?
Nail Down Your Foundational SEO on Squarespace
There’s simply no point in utlizing new or advanced SEO techniques on your Squarespace site unless you’ve covered all your basics first. A strong SEO foundation is crucial for any website whether it’s on Squarespace or another platform.
If you already have your SEO basics sorted jump on down to #2.
Fortunately, Squarespace has a number of built-in features that make setting up your SEO basics a breeze. This is important because some other platforms require you to search for and rely on plug ins whereas the checklist below is built-in to your Squarespace site.
Work your way through this checklist and you’ll be in good shape.
Set up a Google Analytics account if you don’t have one already.
Why? >> Even if you don’t look at it for months you will have traffic data being recorded if you ever want to look at it (and you should…but more on that another time). The information gathered over time can help you grow your online presence and make wise decisions about how to market yourself online.
How? >> Go to analytics.google.com to get started. You’ll need a Google account.
Install your Google Analytics ID in your Squarespace site. Here’s a quick video on how to find your Google Analytics ID once you’ve set up your account :
Why? >> Google cannot track your site activity unless you tell them what site to track. This ID will tell Google which site you are wanting to record data on.
How? >> From the main Squarespace menu : Settings > Advanced > External Services : then paste your Analytics ID in the box and hit save.
Submit your sitemap to Google (and Bing, and Yahoo). Squarespace automatically generates a site map for you. The url for your sitemap will follow this format: http://sitename.squarespace.com/sitemap.xml for a built-in Squarespace domain and http://www.yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml for a custom domain.
Why? >> So Google can crawl your site and understand the structure.
How? >> Go to Google Search Console > Site Maps > Add a New Site Map.
Enable SSL on your site.
Why? >> SSL (secure socket layer) is “a protocol which creates a secure connection between a client and the server over which to send information” (read : makes your site more secure and visitors more comfortable spending time and sharing information on it). Google has also confirmed that having an SSL certificate is a small factor in your overall ranking.
How? >> From the main Squarespace menu : Settings > Security & SSL > tick the box for ‘Secure’.
Write SEO rich page descriptions and titles.
Why? >> Google uses this information to understand what each page is about as well as, sometimes, showing that text in the search results.
How? >> For each page on your site, from the main Squarespace menu : Pages > Click the Gear Icon next to the page name > Enter a page name and page description that includes your keywords/phrases and accurately describes the page contents.
Complete the Search Engine Description.
Why? >> Arguably one of the most important few sentences you’ll write on your website. This text is designed to appear directly below your page title and link in the search engine results page.
How? >> From the main Squarespace menu : Settings > SEO > Search Description.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the steps you should take to make your Squarespace site SEO friendly but it’s a good starting point for moving on to the rest of our Top 4 list of things you need to know about Squarespace SEO for 2019.
If you really want to cover ALL of the foundations of good SEO for your Squarespace site signing up for an e-course is your best bet.
2. Improve Your Site Dwell Time
Dwell time is not a new concept. However, it’s importance to your Google ranking is and has been growing since the introduction of Google RankBrain.
So what is dwell time?
Dwell time is a metric measuring the time between when a user clicks on a search result and when they return to the search results page. Essentially signaling how relevant the information was to the user.
If the user spends more time on the site they clicked through to it can be a fairly good indication that the site was able to answer their question or provide them with the information they wanted. If they bounce quickly back to the search engine results page (SERP), we can safely assume that the site did not sufficiently answer their query.
That’s where RankBrain comes in. RankBrain is taking that dwell time in to account when organizing the results you see on the search results page. The higher the dwell time, the more likely the page is to climb in the rankings and vice versa.
So why does it matter in 2019?
Algorithms and updates like RankBrain are only getting more advanced. Google’s overall ability to sort through and prioritize useful information is growing at an amazing pace. This matters because it’s no longer enough to have a site rich in content. That content needs to be high quality.
Now, more than ever, it’s important to put yourself in the shoes of your target audience before you write a single sentence in that new blog post. Anything short of worthwhile, helpful information could be a huge waste of your time.
Quality content is not a new concept either, but consider other factors that will encourage a user to stay on your page/site and increase their dwell time. Designing with these things in mind can make a huge difference in your rankings in 2019.
Suggestions for optimizing your site for dwell time.
Create lengthier, more detailed content.
Content that has built in video and graphics to further engage the user.
Recommended reading for deeper navigation.
Mobile friendliness and AMP formatting.
Easy to read formatting.
3. Work on Your CTR Methods
In 2019 with the continued growth and prevalence of new search result formats like the carousel, featured snippets and paid ads, the space on page one for organic search results is shrinking.
In fact, there are several ways Google will display results appear before organic links on a SERP.
Knowledge Graph Panel
Local 3 Pack
In order to not only stay on page one of Google but also compete for those clicks, you need to have a well thought out strategy for improving your click through rate (CTR).
The more clicks your site receives the higher Google will rank it. Remember that Google’s ultimate goal is to provide users with the most relevant helpful information. CTR is a huge indicator that a site is fulfilling that need for relevant information.
So what can you do to improve your CTR in 2019?
Research ads and apply commonalities
Look at Google ads for your keywords and phrases. What do they have in common? Apply those words/phrases to your own title and description tags.
Utilize power words
There are certain words that attract users who are in a hurry to find their answers. Which, let’s be honest, is most people scanning the page one results. Consider adding well known power words to your title and descriptions:
Step by step
Research the competition
Look at your competitors who rank well in Google. Analyze what they are doing that is different from you. This insight can be applied to your site and tested for CTR efficacy.
4. Optimize for Mobile Reading
In 2019 it’s not enough to be mobile-friendly. In fact, how we define mobile friendly has changed. Whereas the term mobile friendly once simply meant that a site could be viewed easily on a mobile device, it later evolved into a site that could not only be viewed easily but also had a good user experience such as ease of button use and navigation.
Today, to be truly mobile friendly, your site should be optimized for AMP.
What is AMP?
AMP stands for ‘Accelerated Mobile Pages’. It is a Google-run technology which makes reading articles on mobile devices ‘lightening fast’.
When you enable AMP on your Squarespace site you are telling Squarespace to make a super light, fast-to-load version of every article you publish to your on-site blog.
Certain news aggregators and mobile news sites, such as Apple News, will take the lighter version of your article and use it as the defect version of your article for people viewing your article(s) on a mobile device.
How are AMP articles different from regular articles?
AMP works by stripping down an articles’ formatting to make it light and fast to load. This means your articles will be modified for optimal mobile viewing. Some of the modifications you’ll see will include:
Page margins readjust.
All text displays in Muli font.
Supported blocks stack into a single column. This is standard for all Squarespace sites even if AMP isn’t enabled.
A ‘Discover More’ link appears at the bottom of the post linking to your full site.
Why AMP matters.
Google is now using AMP optimized pages for cataloging in the newer search features such as the search carousel and the structured data results. If your site is not AMP optimized your pages won’t likely appear in these prime search locations.