5 Simple Tips on How To Improve Your SEO + 1 Complex Tip
With Squarespace's recent updates to their SEO capabilities, I thought it would be fun to dive into a handful of steps we can take to help our websites rank as highly in a Google search as possible.
Many of you may be recoiling at the idea of calling anything related to SEO “fun,” but I’ve been feeling inspired lately so I’m going to do it. Just try to stop me!
As a quick primer, SEO means “search engine optimization.” It’s the practice of filling your site with creative and technical elements that search engines such as Bing, Yahoo!, and especially Google can use to rank and present a website in their search results.
In other words, improving your SEO and how you market yourself online can be the key factor to making sure your site gets seen by people interested in your products or services.
Improving your ranking in search results is no small feat. Consider how massive the internet is. Realize you’re competing with millions of other websites just in your own small sphere of reference. That’s not to mention going up against established people who are already at the top of search results.
Achieving a top spot on page one of a Google search result can be an undertaking that requires a large amount of time and more concerted effort than you may first realize.
But hey, that’s no reason to feel discouraged about search results, page views, SEO, or any of this stuff.
Remember, those people who are the top of the Google search results didn’t debut at that spot. They had to work hard at this, too. Read more about building yourself up at the beginning of a venture in my previous post, We All Need To Begin Somewhere.
I’m telling you now that SEO, especially on a Squarespace site, is not the impossible obstacle it appears to be. In fact, some fun can be had from it. What’s the best way to have fun on the internet? Make a list out of something.
I’m going to go into five simple ways to help improve your SEO and one slightly less simple way.
1. Create unique SEO titles and descriptions
Squarespace understands how important SEO can be with helping a website rank high with Google. They’re in the website business, so it’s been imperative since day one to help out their customers on this front.
They wouldn’t be much of a website creation service if they didn’t do anything to help your website be seen.
They’ve recently updated their page settings editor to include specific tabs and fields for adding tailored site titles and descriptions.
This is the text that’s used to name and describe your site in the results of a Google search. Squarespace is doing a good job of giving you all the tools you need to set yourself up for success online.
How do these new features work? Let’s work on the main page of a site. Click on Marketing in the Squarespace sidebar, followed by SEO. SEO settings for individual pages can be found by clicking the settings gear next to a page.
Here you’ll see two separate text fields and a search results preview box.
The preview box is a display of how your Site Title and Site Meta Description will appear in a Google search. This is a handy way preview what your potential customers will see when they look for you.
The key to both of these fields is to be descriptive and concise. Aim for keeping your title 65 characters or less and your description within around 150 characters.
Use an active voice in the meta description, as opposed to a passive voice. It’s not just for writing a novel. For instance, using “Your website will be created by Dandy Cat Design, a web design business in the Inland Empire” is kind of terrible.
You need to inspire your future customers to click on your website! Keep it descriptive, make it active, use keywords you want to feature, and include a call to action.
2. Add keywords throughout your site
This is a massive simplification of what they do, but you can think of search engines as big collectors of keywords.
In the same way you’d search for “kitties” in Instagram if you wanted to see a bunch of cute kittens, you’d search for “web design inland empire” if you want to see a listing of sites for web designers in the Inland Empire.
Choosing appropriate keywords to feature throughout your site in the SEO sections and in your headings will go a long way toward ensuring your website pops up when people search for your keywords.
I suggest writing a list of words you feel accurately describe your products or services. “Web design” is an obvious one for me. I’ve made sure to format those words as a heading on my home page.
Choose words that feel like you and sprinkle them liberally throughout your pages. Try not to let them get too repetitive, though. Variety is nice.
3. Add alt text to images
It can be all too easy to forget that websites need to be designed with accessibility in mind. Whether your visitors are impaired in some way or are cursed with slow internet access, it’s important to consider how your site is accessed by other people.
One simple way to create a more inclusive website is to include “alt text” to your images. This is alternative text that web browsers can display or speak if they’re unable to load an image.
Alt text is also used by search engines to identify content that’s on a page. We’re dealing with software here and software doesn’t have eyes to see that gorgeous image you just uploaded.
We need to help search engines out with text. Thankfully, Squarespace includes simple ways to do so. We can find ways to include alt text in the various image blocks.
Click Edit on an Image Block and navigate to the Design tab. Make sure Inline is selected and write text describing the image in the image caption. Finish it up by selecting Do Not Display Caption in the Design tab.
For images in a Gallery Block, the image title serves as the alt text.
We can add that by clicking Edit on a Gallery Block, clicking the settings gear on an individual image in the Content tab, and adding text to the Image Title field. This same method is also used for images in a Gallery Page.
4. Turn on AMP for blog pages
On the whole, I feel Google AMP1 isn’t much of a benefit. You’re giving your content to Google so they can store it on their own servers and present it in the way only they see fit.
A compromise isn’t much of a compromise if only one party is making the rules.
However, there is some good to be gained from it. Turning on AMP for your blog pages is a decent way to help yourself rank higher in Google searches. AMP is a Google product, so that logic works out.
To turn on AMP for your blog pages, got to Settings in the Squarespace menu and click on Blogging. At the bottom of that menu there is a section labeled “Accelerated Mobile Pages” with a checkbox under it. Click the checkbox. Done.
5. Connect to social media
There’s a decent chance you’ve already connected your preferred social media networks to your Squarespace site, but if you haven’t, now's the time to do it.
The goal here is to give your future website visitors as many opportunities to reach your site from other places as possible. Google ranks those sorts of visits particularly high. It sees that your content is attractive enough that people can’t help but visit your site.
Links to your site from other sources are called “backlinks.”
Social media helps spread your content to more places and gives people as many opportunities to view it as possible. If you have a blog post listed on a Pinterest page and someone navigates to your website because of that link, then you’ve got a good thing going.
Now, about that one complex tip...
1. Start blogging
The step sounds simple. How hard can it be to start blogging? However, the key to this step is to keep blogging.
Keeping a blog running with new content on a consistent basis is no easy task. You’ve got to think of new ideas all the time, spend time writing insightful words, and make sure people are reading your posts.
The more you write and post, the more you’re going to start getting noticed by Google. They love people who contribute content to their vast network.
Find something you love and start sharing why you love it. Talk about how it makes you feel. Talk about its challenges. Share some tips and tricks. For instance, I love Squarespace and productivity tools. I always look forward to sharing my thoughts on those topics.
If you have absolutely no interest in writing a regular blog (like, the prospect seems hellish to you), then don’t worry about it. The important part of this tip here is the content creation.
Creating new content and getting it out to people who can see it is what matters. If that’s making your Instagram feed a must-see, then do it. If it’s making YouTube videos, then shoot away. Just get out there and start sharing what you love with others in the best way you know how. You can do it.
Optimize like crazy, cats.
- Google Accelerated Mobile Pages ↩︎