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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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
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.
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.
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?
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?