SquareSpace websites are cost-efficient, which makes them very attractive. They're a fraction the cost of a custom website. But there's a "hidden" cost of SquareSpace websites that most Columbus website design firms either don't know, or won't tell you: SquareSpace websites have limited search engine optimization (SEO) capabilities.
We know, because we build both SquareSpace (template) websites, and Wordpress and Drupal (custom) websites. You can see many of the recent SquareSpace websites we've done here, and the custom websites we've done here.
What are the limitations of SquareSpace's SEO?
Simply put, they don't allow you to have unique Page Titles and Meta Descriptions for each individual blog.
For those of you who know how important Page Titles and Meta Descriptions are, the limitations of this is obvious. For those of you who DON'T know what they are, and how Google uses them, watch the first 40 seconds of this video to learn about Page Titles and Meta Descriptions.
Blogging and using unique Page Titles and Meta Descriptions for each post, is the best way to keep up your website's SEO. That's because every time you blog;
- You update your website.
- Google re-indexes it, keeping it relevant in searches,
- You're using keywords, which helps Google's algorithms re-connect those keywords with your website, and
- You're also using (or should be using) keywords in the Page Title and Meta Description. Read why Page Titles and Meta Descriptions are critical to Google.
Now you know why this is a problem.
Any Columbus website design firm that ONLY builds SquareSpace websites, probably isn't even aware of these limitations. That's because if you ONLY build websites in SquareSpace, you have nothing to compare it to. But we can, because we're an SEO agency that builds both SquareSpace template websites, and custom websites. And custom websites have much more SEO features as part of their structure.
But SquareSpace's website says their templates are SEO-friendly. (So why not believe them?)
For those who would take SquareSpace's word that their websites are SEO-friendly, we've documented below (with screen shots) exactly why that's not true.
We use their software, as well as had conversations with what is truly an awesome support team. Every SquareSpace's support team member we've communicated with is professional, prompt, personable and knowledgeable. Of course, they're also biased. Plus, the support team, like website designers who only use SquareSpace, might not even be aware of what real SEO looks like in other software.
Following are the details behind our perspective on SquareSpace's SEO limitations.
SquareSpace uses "Tags" instead of Page Titles and Meta Descriptions for their blogs pages.
Here's why "tags"' are not SEO-friendly, and we're using a website we did for Metta Psychology as our example.
The Page Titles of any page (the area inside the red box below), are the first thing Google, and other search engines’ algorithms, reads for SEO. Each Page Title should contain keywords unique to that specific page, or blog (which is a page).
Of course, Page Titles aren’t the ONLY thing Google reads, but they’re important. The specific keywords used in Page Titles and Meta Descriptions also need to be in the blog post itself as well.
In this example, the headline of the blog is called “We’re Getting a Divorce -- How Do We Tell the Kids?” That's a headline that doesn't have the keywords for their business in it. You can see the Page Title (again, the area in the red box) shows the blog headline first, FOLLOWED by the Page Title for the main News page:
For reference, here’s the Page Title for the main News page. You can see that Page Title appears, by default, AFTER the blog post’s headline in the screen shot above.
The problem with that is, search engines only show up to 70 letters AND spaces of a Page Title. (The Page Title is the blue words from this search result example):
If we count where 70 letters and spaces fall in the Page Title for this blog (what shows in Google’s search results), it’s in the middle of the word “Family.”
That, essentially, cuts out showing the keywords “Family therapist” and “Clinical Psychologist,” two very important keywords for their business.
SquareSpace SAYS that their tags help with SEO, but looking at the tags set up for this blog (see inside the red box below):
...shows the tags don’t appear anywhere in the Page Title (See the first screen shot above.)
What do the tags do?
What the TAGS do help with, is when someone searches the word “Divorce” within the Metta Psychology website itself.
In that scenario, one would search for the word “Divorce” (see screen shot below), then any articles on the Metta Psychology website that has those tags in it, would show up in a search results page within the website.
What a custom Page Title and Meta Description look like
The screen shot below is actually the Page Title and Meta Description of this blog.
While the headline of the blog is "Why SquareSpace websites have serious SEO limitations" the Page Title of the blog is "SquareSpace's SEO limitation, SEO Agency, Columbus website design." The keywords: "SEO Agency," and "Columbus website design" are important keywords for us. And that's why we use them in our Page Titles and Meta Descriptions for most of our blogs.
And THAT, is how SEO should work for blog posts.