SEO

6 Reasons to Use Squarespace for Restaurant Websites

Restaurateurs like you combine entrepreneurial gumption with culinary passion and expertise to bring delicious dining destinations to your communities. These days, building a website to represents your restaurant that is just as eye-catching as your entrees is a must if you want to take advantage of the social/local/mobile (aka "SoLoMo") revolution and drive more customers to your restaurant.

Here's a half a dozen reasons why using Squarespace for restaurant websites is an appetizing idea. 

1. Squarespace Offers Image-Rich Templates

There's nothing like full-color photos to tantalize taste buds and drive interest in the items on your menu. Squarespace's award-winning templates are completely customizable, too, so you can achieve a unique look and feel that is both beautiful and effective at driving more customers to your location(s). Check out our templates guide, and be sure to pay special attention to templates like Adirondack, Aviator, Dovetail, Frontrow, Momentum, and Peak.

2. Squarespace Restaurant Websites are Mobile-Friendly

Squarespace's website templates are all mobile-friendly right out-of-the-box. Your website are built with impressive responsive design best practices, which means customers will see the a tantalizing website no matter which device they have. Smartphones are where people are when they decide they're hungry these days. Squarespace gives restaurants a leg-up. 

 Your restaurant's website will look great on any mobile device with Squarespace's responsive design templates.

Your restaurant's website will look great on any mobile device with Squarespace's responsive design templates.

3. Squarespace Integrates with Google Maps

Squarespace makes it easy to show people how to get to your restaurant by seamlessly integrating with Google Maps. Simply add a map widget to your Squarespace website and enter your address. Squarespace takes care of the rest, bringing you stylish and elegant Google Maps customized for your restaurant's website.

 Squarespace integrates with Google Maps.

Squarespace integrates with Google Maps.

4. Squarespace Integrates with OpenTable

Provide patrons with an easy way to make reservations with an OpenTable widget that works with your existing account. If you already work with OpenTable for reservations and reviews, simply visit your restaurant's profile page and copy the five-digit "RID" code within the page's URL.

Paste your OpenTable RID into the Squarespace widget to enable reservations on your restaurant's site.

Paste your restaurant ID in your Squarespace OpenTable widget and you've given your customers an easy way to book reservations at your restaurant straight from your website.

 Embed a Squarespace OpenTable reservations table on your website.

Embed a Squarespace OpenTable reservations table on your website.

5. Create Simple Menus with Formatting Options

Squarespace recently released a lightweight menu system with simple formatting options for price, menu item titles, descriptions, and some minor design options to account for variations in products and visual preference.

 Squarespace's menu widget allows for lightweight formatting options for your menu items.

Squarespace's menu widget allows for lightweight formatting options for your menu items.

6. Squarespace Restaurant Websites are SEO-Friendly

You want your website to show up when people search for food and restaurant options within their area. Squarespace is SEO-friendly and is a reliable platform when used as a part of an effective online marketing strategy. 

Squarespace and Restaurants are a Tasty Combination

Are you a restaurateur looking for a website platform for your place of business? Take a look at these awesome Squarespace websites and then check out Squarespace's two-week free trial to see if your restaurant might just be a Squarespace restaurant.

4 Myths and Realities About Squarespace SEO

A friend of mine who builds Squarespace websites wrote to me recently, concerned that his client's search engine optimization (SEO) consultant was trying to persuade the client to change content management systems from Squarespace to Wordpress because "performing SEO work on [Squarespace] could come with some limitations."

As someone who both loves Squarespace websites and also who knows a thing or two about SEO, it frustrates me to see mis-information like this swirling around the web. In reality, Squarespace supports the ability to attract search engine traffic incredibly well, and even includes features most Wordpress developers don't know about or often just plain get wrong. 

Today we're bringing to light four myths about Squarespace's SEO capabilities, and the underlying realities you need to know before someone persuades you to switch for no good reason.

Myth #1: You Can't Access Squarespace's System

The first myth presented by the "SEO expert" was that Squarespace prevents SEO success due to its proprietary code base:

"Squarespace has a lot of tools in place that give us access to optimizing your site, however, it is a proprietary CMS so we don't have access to some key code based items. SEO service providers need access to some parts of that HTML in order to write appropriate tags and information so that search engines are able to understand it.
While Squarespace has made a great effort to give as much access as possible to relevant SEO items, and gives more access than most proprietary systems, there are still some shortcomings - such as the XML sitemap, alt tags for images, categories being hidden - that we will be unable to resolve or work around due to the nature of the CMS."

Reality #1: Squarespace's Proprietary System Facilitates SEO

While it's true that Squarespace's code base is proprietary, that doesn't present any major barriers to generating search engine traffic. Squarespace facilitates all the major SEO tasks, and in certain cases, such as with the automatically-updated XML sitemaps, newly integrated Google Authorship markup, and even URL canonicalization standard with every site, Squarespace's proprietary system actually facilitates more search engine optimization success.

 Complex SEO tactics such as URL canonicalization are automatically implemented on Squarespace.

Complex SEO tactics such as URL canonicalization are automatically implemented on Squarespace.

Sure, Squarespace doesn't let you do everything an SEO would want to tackle straight out of the box, such as hiding blog categories, but the Squarespace developer platform provides complete code control. Advanced Squarespace designers should be able to tackle even the most sophisticated SEO requests. 

Myth #2: Squarespace Limits Where You can Edit

The next Squarespace SEO myth is also often accompanied by encouragement to change platforms to Wordpress for best results:

"Performing SEO work on this system could come with some limitations, and it's only fair to let you know that up front. I am not saying that you NEED to switch CMS, but as we work with the system, we may find there are additional items that hinder our ability to perform the best SEO for you."

Reality #2: Squarespace Takes Care of SEO or Lets You Do It Yourself

There are a handful of critical elements needed for SEO on-page success, including your page's meta title and description tags, image alt tags, and including important phrases within the content of your site.

 Important fields such as page title tags can be maintained at a sitewide and page-specific level.

Important fields such as page title tags can be maintained at a sitewide and page-specific level.

In addition, there are some architectural factors, such as the page's URL, canonicalization meta tags, Google authorship, and XML sitemaps, that contribute to a website's SEO success.

Squarespace either addresses all of these factors automatically, let's you adjust them manually, or a combination of both. There's not an important tag or setting that can't be changed to promote SEO success.

Myth #3: Wordpress is Dramatically Cheaper than Squarespace

Every website investment will consist of your hosting (i.e., where the files that make up your website actually exist on the web), and content management (i.e., the tools required to build your website). The next myth is related to price:

"I don't know what you pay per month to host through Squarespace, but independent hosting can offer you  a great deal of savings, and the Wordpress CMS is free. The only real cost involved with going to Wordpress is the design and implementation phase."

Reality #3: Squarespace's Premium Services are Cost Effective

Squarespace's pricing ranges from $8 - 20 per month depending on features and your billing terms. Compare this to a free Wordpress install and a no-frills hosting account at $5 per month and you're looking at a cost savings at $3 - 15 per month by going with Wordpress over Squarespace.

But don't assume you'll get the same level of service. $5/month hosting won't stand up to huge spikes in traffic, while Reddit or even Hurricane Sandy couldn't bring down Squarespace websites. And every Squarespace account also comes with 24/7 tech support, built-in mobile-friendly responsive design templates, and intuitive editing and design tools.

 Squarespace comes complete with 24/7 tech support.

Squarespace comes complete with 24/7 tech support.

Yes, you may pay a few bucks more for a Squarespace website, but consider what you're getting for the extra investment.

Myth #4: Serious SEO Professionals Only Use Wordpress

This next myth comes from the Squarespace designer himself as he lamented to me about his client's wavering faith in Squarespace's ability to meet his SEO objectives:

"After speaking with several SEO consultants and all saying the same thing (i.e., 'move your site to Wordpress for optimal benefit'), the client's confidence in the Squarespace platform has eroded."

Reality #4: SEO is About Your CMS and Your Content

Many of the SEOs you'll talk to will recommend Wordpress because it's a system they're familiar with. Wordpress is the majority player in the CMS marketplace, and so it's only natural that there will be more SEOs in support of it over Squarespace. But that doesn't make one better than the other. 

Ultimately, your success with SEO is based on a combination of factors, including the on-page and architectural tactics governed by your content management system, as well as facets that are independent of your CMS, including your content creation and outreach strategy and your ability to attract social media engagement and links from across the web.

Some of the best SEOs in the world cite Squarespace as a fantastic platform for organic search traffic, including SEO tool company CEO, Rand Fishkin, whose SEOmoz is among the most trusted of all resources in the SEO industry:

 SEO industry hero Rand Fishkin endorses Squarespace.

SEO industry hero Rand Fishkin endorses Squarespace.

And if that isn't compelling enough, this website is built on Squarespace, and our organic traffic has been increasingly steadily each and every year I've owned and operated it:

 This website has attracted over 100,000 visits through search engine traffic, including over 7,500 just last month alone. 

This website has attracted over 100,000 visits through search engine traffic, including over 7,500 just last month alone. 

What You Should Consider Before Working With SEOs

A great SEO will be able to work with clients to create the best plan to support the client's business, not just the SEO's ability to easily implement the plan. Your primary consideration when building a website should be the content management system that helps you best meet the objectives you laid out for your website in the first place. 

Squarespace and Wordpress both support SEO efforts incredibly well, and neither present any major limitations that should dissuade you from choosing either platform.

If your SEO is struggling with the Squarespace platform, consider having them provide their recommendations to your website designer so someone familiar with the platform can implement them, or even have your design give your SEO a tour of Squarespace so the SEO can more comfortably implement their strategy. 

But if a Wordpress lover insists that you switch from Squarespace, send them to leave a comment here on this article, and I'll be happy to engage in a conversation to help you understand your options. 

Squarespace Themes: 6 Advantages for Creating Effective Small Business Websites

Small business owners demand many tools in a content management system in order to build a website that will bring in new customers and keep the ones you already have. And even when you find a platform you can work with, you also need customizable templates that help your business stand alone.

The many Squarespace themes, or templates, are incredibly business-friendly, and offer six major advantages for small business owners considering their web publishing options.

1. Squarespace Themes are Built for Business

Every Squarespace template is different, and each offers a unique combination of highly configurable options to support the creation of web pages, image galleries and portfolios, product pages, and more. Use drag-and-drop controls to build each page with intuitive tools. 

 Each Squarespace theme supports every standard widget block.

Each Squarespace theme supports every standard widget block.

2. Squarespace Integrates with Small Business Tools

You can either invest in a website that requires thousands of dollars in custom integrations, or you can go with Squarespace, which includes simple, out-of-the-box connections with small business tools such as Google Docs, Mailchimp, Google Maps, Google Analytics, Facebook, Twitter, Disqus, Amazon, Pinterest, Reddit, Tumblr, and more. 

 Squarespace integrations include many plug-and-play connections with popular small-business services.

Squarespace integrations include many plug-and-play connections with popular small-business services.

3. Squarespace Themes are Highly Customizable

No one likes a cookie cutter website. The stale look of stock photography and a theme that induces Internet deja vu will make it challenging to differentiate your small business.  Squarespace's templates can be customized infinitely using the unique drag-and-slide interface. Simply click on a section of your website in Squarespace's style mode and make a quick change using the tools provided and you'll be on your way.

 The WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) design tools of Squarespace cut down the time and effort required to administer your website.

The WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) design tools of Squarespace cut down the time and effort required to administer your website.

4. Squarespace Websites are Easy to Manage

If you haven't noticed by the first few screenshots, Squarespace's administrative tools are incredibly easy to understand, which makes maintenance and performing updates less confusing and more manageable. Many small business owners are able to all but eliminate tech support costs related to their websites by going with Squarespace. Just look at how intuitive this page's editing interface is:

 Edits take just a few minutes so you can be in-and-out, and back to managing your business.

Edits take just a few minutes so you can be in-and-out, and back to managing your business.

5. Squarespace Themes are SEO-Friendly

It's hard enough to plan and build a website. You don't want to have to worry about extra steps to make sure you show up in the search engines, too. Squarespace templates are all search engine optimization-friendly (SEO-friendly). You have full control over the important areas of your web pages, including meta titles, descriptions, and even image attributes.

 You can configure each meta title in Squarespace for maximum SEO impact.

You can configure each meta title in Squarespace for maximum SEO impact.

6. Squarespace Templates are Mobile-Friendly 

Everyone knows that mobile devices and tablets are where it's at in this day and age of the mobile web. Every Squarespace theme is built with an approach called responsive design, which means the design of your website responds to each device that loads it separately. Your website looks great on desktop browsers, tablets and smartphones without paying thousands of dollars for mobile-friendly website development.

 Responsive design means your business looks amazing on any device.

Responsive design means your business looks amazing on any device.

I personally loved how easy Squarespace made running my consulting business when I was taking on new clients through Big Picture Web. Every Squarespace website comes with a free two-week no-credit card trial, so there's no risk. Start your small business website using one of the many Squarespace themes, and you'll be convinced by the end of the trial.

What are you looking for most in a small business website? What services have you tried that haven't quite fit the bill?

Serious Leaps in SEO with Squarespace 6 and How to Leverage Them

A web publishing platform is vital part of any good search engine optimization (SEO) campaign. Your results can often only be as robust as are your options to access and affect your content management system (CMS) and the amount of thought that went into the tool's design.

The new Squarespace 6 boasts responsive design, canonical URLs, HTML5, and more SEO goodies than you can shake a stick at. If SEO is a consideration for your website, you'll want to take a fresh look at Squarespace's hot new platform to see if it's right for you. 

 Squarespace 6 is more SEO-friendly than ever before.

Greater SEO Control Than Ever Before

Search engine optimization professionals (SEOs) have traditionally voiced general support for Squarespace save for a few caveats. Minor feedback persists, mostly in the area of modifying specific page elements for SEO gain. Historically, these restrictions have been byproducts of Squarespace's Apple-like tendency to define and curate the user's experience.

Squarespace 6 introduces more granular control in a few key areas that provide many new opportunities for search traffic on Squarespace.

Improved Title, URL, and Headline Control

Page titles, URLs, and headlines are all critical page elements frequently lehveraged by SEOs. Traditionally, Squarespace has provided decent support controlling these properties, but there were a few limitations.

With Squarespace 6, page title support has increased considerably. You can now control page title formats uniquely for your home page, different collections (e.g., portfolios and galleries), specific pages, and even individual blog posts.

You can even use shortcuts to automatically pull in metadata into the title such as the date, your website, or your blog's name.

Squarespace 6 also supports better control for the URL structure of your website and control of your page and article/page headlines.

 Squarespace 6 provides more advanced meta data structure options for your pages.

Squarespace 6 provides more advanced meta data structure options for your pages.

Page-Level Meta Header Injection

My personal favorite new feature, Squarespace 6 now allows you to insert scripts and other HTML into your page's <head> section. Although limited in its use, this small tweak unlocks a world of options in the world of A/B testing for any online marketers using Squarespace because tools like Google Analytics require access to the <head> in order to run Content Experiments.

Alt Text for Image Captions

One of my favorite improvements to images involves alt text used by screen readers for vision-impaired visitors to your site, as well as by search engines to determine the subject matter of your images. Squarespace now uses any captions you provide automatically as the image's alt text.

 Squarespace's new captions also set the image's alt text.

Squarespace's new captions also set the image's alt text.

Better SEO Through Better User Experiences

SEO is more and more driven by tactics that benefit users visiting your website. Squarespace 6 is certainly at no loss for improvements in this area.

Share the Right URL Every Time with Rel=Canonical

Possibly the best SEO change to Squarespace 6 of them all involves the introduction of the rel=canonical meta tag.

The rel=canonical meta tag tells search engines which URL should be indexed when it encounters variations in the URL for a web page (e.g., bigpictureweb.com or www.bigpictureweb.com or bpw.squarespace.com). It's considered an SEO best practice to use the rel=canonical tag to prevent indexation issues and promote a better understand of your website by Google.

This simple meta tag is now included in all Squarespace 6 websites automatically and takes care of two major issues facing nearly all blog and content management system (CMS) platforms:

  1. Social Media Sharing: People using your social media buttons will always share the exact URL you want them to share and build links to with no extra effort on their part.
  2. Indexation and Links: Avoid Google indexing duplicate pages on your website with rel=canonical. Similarly, avoid fracturing your backlink equity by having it all flow to the right URLs on your website.

Social Sharing with Titles, Descriptions, and Images

 Social sharing on Squarespace is better title, description and image control.

One of the most frustrating experiences possible is sharing something on social media and having the wrong article image or title forcibly pulled into the Facebook or Google+ status update. It makes you  not want to even share what you were going to share in the first place.

Squarespace 6 blogs now implement meta tags that grab your article's title, description and image and spoon feed them to social media networks for a friction-free sharing experience for anything you publish on your website.

Brilliant Social Mobile Experiences with Responsive Design

Mobile usage for websites typically ranges anywhere between 10-30% for blogs. It's critical to deliver a great mobile experience to this ever-growing audience.

Squarespace 6's responsive design techniques automatically serve up mobile-versions of your web pages with no silly m.yourdomain.com redirects, which are now officially out-of-date according to Google.

 Squarespace 6 uses SEO-friendly and Google-endorsed responsive design for beautiful mobile experiences.

Squarespace 6 uses SEO-friendly and Google-endorsed responsive design for beautiful mobile experiences.

A Stronger SEO Foundation for the Future

Squarespace also made some sweeping changes to their code base (i.e., it's brand new) that fundamentally change and support SEO much better. These changes fundamentally change the value proposition of tool if you ask me.

Automatic Updates for Sitemaps and Robots.txt

One of the first updates to Squarespace 6 after it launched in mid-July marked the introduction of automatically generated sitemaps and robot.txt files for a Squarespace websites. Little things like not having to update your sitemap appeal greatly to optimization-oriented SEOs who are always looking to earn an ever-increasing return on the same or a decreasing amount of effort.

Agile Marketing with Squarespace 6

The overall ease of creating and managing pages enables marketers to be much more agile than ever before. I believe that you can be up and running with Squarespace easier than even with Wordpress. 

Furthermore, a sophisticated new Squarespace 6 tools unlock powerful marketing features. Building custom forms, creating robust landing page experiments, and quickly building gorgeous landing pages all take a fraction of the time that it does on other platforms. 

HTML5 and CSS3

Finally, the next generation of great Internet websites will likely be built on HTML5 and CSS3. These forward thinking development languages aren't used nearly as much as they should be.

Squarespace 6 is built with these technologies and will no doubt facilitate a deeper understanding of your website by search engines. Also, the frills HTML5 can afford your users make sites without it seem stale.

 Squarespace 6's forms export easily to an email address, Google Doc, or a MailChimp list.

Squarespace 6's forms export easily to an email address, Google Doc, or a MailChimp list.

A Few Areas for Minor Improvements

Although Squarespace 6 represents a big step up from Squarespace v5 an objectively awesome marketing platform for SEOs or anyone looking for high quality, cost-effective online publishing solutions, there are few areas where Squarespace is likely smoothing out the rough edges of their new platform.

With a talented pool of full-time developers and an impressive pile of investment cash to fuel them, I have no doubts we'll soon see improvements in the ares of:

  • I'm currently having troubles tracking certain elements due to an inability to use HTML on thank you dialogs for forms. Squarespace assures me this will be addressed soon.
  • SEOmoz's seo tools report a lot of minor issues related to importing the /storage/ directory of any Squarespace v5 sites.
  • Tiny tweak: I wish Squarespace would implement the rel=next/prev tags on blog paginated listings to avoid page/title duplication
  • Feature request: I'd love an overall improvement to tag and category level pages where you'd be able to re-design these pages if you'd like as a hub or pathway page for your website visitors
  • Feature request: It would be nice to have more granular control of rel=canonical, sitemaps and robots.txt through the user interface

What SEO Needs Are You Looking to Meet?

 SEOmoz founder and CEO Rand Fishkin recommends Squarespace.

At this point, I've got nearly all I could ask for in in a content management system when it comes to SEO. And I'm not the only one saying nice things. Even Rand Fishkin, founder and CEO of SEO tool provider and source of information, SEOmoz, thinks that Squarespace 6 is solid for SEO.

Do you use Squarespace or have you looked at using them? What SEO improvements do you see lacking? What is your idea of the perfect web publishing platform for SEO?

Squarespace SEO Philosophies

Squarespace SEO Hangout on AirLast week four Squarespace enthusiasts — designer/developer Alan Houser, author of Squarespace for Dummies Kris Black, non-profit podcaster Ed Lucas and yours truly — opined about search engine optimization (SEO) strategies for Squarespace in areas such as indexation, social media SEO, and SEO keyword selection using the new Google+ Hangouts on Air. Today, you can catch all the important details or watch the re-broadcast.

If you have the time, you can watch the entire episode on our YouTube channel (don't forget to subscribe). Or, catch the highlights below. Also, contact me if you'd like to be a part of the next Hanging Out and Talking Squarespace on Thursday, July 26th. Our topic will be "quick and dirty design tips."

Highlights from Squarespace and SEO Hangout

The Hangout on Thursday, June 28th was full of perspective due to a dynamic group composition consisting of a non-profit expert and podcaster, a two developer designers, and marketer. The differing viewpoints provided for a rich conversation around several important topics:

  • Indexing on Squarespace - The group discussed the SEO implications of using Squarespace's built-in search engine indexation options, as well as the ever-popular SEO issues that can result from having an active yourusername.squarespace.com subdomain in addition to your custom domain.
  • Social Media and SEO on Squarespace - Next up the quad covered using extra HTML snippets for social media sharing buttons on Squarespace and what Squarespace will likely do around social sharing as a part of the upcoming Squarespace 6. They also talked about using Schema.org microformating to control the image and text snippet that is shared on social networks such as Facebook and Google+ in status updates.
  • Keyword Selection and SEO - Perhaps the most interested portion of the Hangout was the discussion around SEO keyword selection on Squarespace websites. Spoiler alert: a good publication also makes for a solid user experience and supports a major chunk of any solid long-term SEO strategy.

Contact me if you'd like to be a part of the next Hanging Out and Talking Squarespace on Thursday, July 26th. Our topic will be "quick and dirty design tips."