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There are a wide range of website platforms and Content Management Systems (CMS’) available for developers to choose from. There has also been a huge increase in the number of quick-build platforms that allow easy, visual creation of sites too. Many of these platforms don’t even require a web developer, with simple interfaces and visual builders that allow users with limited website design or development skills to take advantage.
One platform that provides “powerful yet simple” tools for creating stunning sites is SquareSpace; a paid service that provides a wide range of features and 24/7 customer service. However, how good is this platform at allowing you to build sites which look great, function perfectly and can be found online by your target audience?
I have looked in detail at this platform to identify the SEO benefits and drawbacks of using SquareSpace.
There are a number of things SquareSpace does well, making it easier for SEO professionals to efficiently optimise sites built on the platform.
One of SquareSpace’s most notable charms is the simplicity of its interface. The back-end navigation is simple, clean and structured, making it easy to find the setting or sections you’re looking for:
The simple navigation and WYSIWYG interface makes it easy for anyone to use, without the need for advanced code or web development knowledge. Whilst this is true for a lot of web platforms, SquareSpace is one of the easiest to use and smartest interface I’ve seen.
The clean, structured interface makes it easy to find and change the SEO features you’d expect to have control over. From page-level metrics, such as titles, Meta descriptions and headers, to site-wide factors including redirects and a 404 page, SquareSpace makes it easy to manage a wide range of optimisation features.
Another benefit we have seen with SquareSpace sites is notable improvements to site speed and search engine crawl times. With Google putting an emphasis on site speed in recent months, using a platform which improves this, in addition to load times, is great for SEO and search engine rankings.
This example shows the dramatic decrease in the time Google had to spend crawling the site when it was moved from an old static site to a new SquareSpace one. You’ll see that Googlebot still crawled a good number of pages, but it did so in far less time. This was due to reduced file sizes from the end of October when the new site went live:
The “24/7 customer support” is, from experience, very good. There is a clear channel for customers to get in touch with the support team and responses are fast, personal and helpful.
Whilst I’m sure, like any company offering customer support, their service isn’t flawless and some users will experience frustrations, the overall level of customer service I have experienced has been exactly what you’d expect.
The SEO elements of SquareSpace were consulted on by Rand Fishkin, the co-founder of Moz. This helped to ensure that the platform provided its users with a powerful SEO tool kit and that no key areas were overlooked:
Whilst SquareSpace provides a lot of SEO benefits, there are definitely some drawbacks to consider before choosing the platform for your site.
Compared with other website platforms available, SquareSpace is notably more expensive. This is particularly true when compared to some of the free and popular Open Source platforms out there, including WordPress and Joomla.
Whilst more expensive than some of the alternatives, this cost does include storage and bandwidth, as well as a number of other features you wouldn’t always get with free platforms.
Another downside of SquareSpace is that there is no easy access to the back-end files, such as FTP or phpMyAdmin. For general use this isn’t a problem as edits can be done from within the interface, however this could be a problem for more advanced users.
Overall I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how effective the SquareSpace platform is at making some core SEO elements accessible, without the need for plugins or complicated back-end navigation. The interface is one of the cleanest and simplest CMS systems I’ve used which includes the ability to easily control important SEO elements.
There are definitely some negatives when comparing SquareSpace to some of the more advanced systems available. However, as an easy-to-use system which requires very little technical knowledge to build quality sites, SquareSpace is certainly a powerful tool.
If you would like more information on optimising a SquareSpace site or you have any questions about SEO or our other services, please do not hesitate to get in touch today.