squarespace 6

The Return of the Monthly Website Showcase

Launching a new or re-designed website is an important milestone for any company or individual. I believe it's an event worthy of fanfare and the attention of the Squarespace community each time a new domain sits atop our next generation web publishing platform. 

With that, I'm happy to announce the Squarespace Websites Showcase, our way of celebrating new additions to the Squarespace platform each month. 

Designers and website owners alike are invited to submit your fresh Squarespace website designs. Our monthly showcase will highlight each new site submitted (read: bookmark that URL for an easy way to send a bunch of eyeballs to your newest web creations). Plus, we'll add your creation to our ever-expanding list of the most Squarespace websites featured under one URL.

Explore 35 websites already in our collections, then be sure to add your own creations each month so we can showcase your latest work.

Take the Annual Squarespace Community Survey and Win

Each year we ask the Squarespace community what they think about the web publishing platform and share what we find with the readers of this blog. Last year we received over 100 responses and insights about how people use Squarespace (for example, 75% of Squarespacers surveyed reported using blogs on their websites.).

This year to encourage even more participation, I'll be providing a free marketing/SEO website evaluation valued at over $100 to one lucky person who takes the survey and tweets or talks about it on Facebook or Google+ (be sure to mention me and this page in your update so I can find and reward you.).

Take the survey and tweet, Facebook, or Google+ status it and I'll share what I learn in future blog posts. And who knows, maybe you'll be the one to win the evaluation and start increasing your website traffic as a result.

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?

Now With More Benefits for Squarespace Web Designers

Are you a Squarespace web designer? Are you taking advantage of all the great Big Picture Web benefits available to our designer friends, such as networking, new website customers and more? Find out if you're missing out on all the perks.

The Squarespace Designer Directory: Now on Squarespace 6

Each month over 500 people visit our Squarespace Designers Directory in search of someone to build their new Squarespace website. I built this free resource to meet the demand from readers looking for someone to help them with their current Squarespace project. And since I'm a marketer, not a designer, I figured if I couldn't do something, why not feature those that could.

Today we proudly feature over 20 awesome Squarespace web designers! Together we've created a useful place for designers and customers to connect and build amazing new things on the web. And now this great resource is on Squarespace 6!

Check out the new Squarespace Designer Directory on Squarespace 6, and be sure to apply if you're not already listed.

Hang Out with Other Squarespace Web Designers

How often do you get to hang out with a group of other Squarespace web designers? Most times we're the odd one out trying to convince the people we're with of Squarespace's merits. Am I right? Let's put an end to that.

Join me on Tuesday, August 28 at 6:45pm CDT (7:45 ET/4:45 PT) as Big Picture Web hosts Squarespace web designers for Hanging Out and Talking Squarespace: Designing for Squarespace via a Google+ Hangout on Air. Space is limited, so you'll want to check your schedule and register right away.

Topics for the discussion will include:

  • Squarespace Design Strategies - When to modify existing templates and when to design and build a custom Squarespace website.
  • The Web Designer's Toolbox - A round-robin of designer resources including websites, tools, checklists, and more.
  • Designing for Squarespace 6 and v5 - Discuss the pro's and con's of designing for both versions of Squarespace.

Recent Hanging Out and Talking Squarespace:

Contribute Designer How-To's. Earn New Business.

Readers of this blog constantly ask for articles featuring Squarespace web design-related tips and tricks. I do what I can, but I know when I'm better off deferring to the experts to provide this type of information.

If you're a Squarespace designers/developer and want to share your tips with us, please let me know. I'd be happy to feature your business and knowledge if you're willing to share a tactic that educates the readers of Big Picture Web. 

Bottom line: I'm always looking to connect with excellent Squarespace web designers because marketing is one thing, but design is another thing entirely. I need your help to serve my audience. Participate in Big Picture Web's efforts to educate the Squarespace community and earn new business, recognition, and friends in the process.