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johnon.com  Competitive Web & SEO
December 3rd, 2010 by john andrews

SquareSpace SEO

SquareSpace is a hosted website builder. As with most website builders, SEO is a big concern. Search engine optimization requires careful consideration of system level, site architecture level, and content level factors, separate from off site factors like link building. That translates into attention paid to server configurations, navigation and templates, as well as content structure.

A competitive webmaster needs to be in control of these factors, and most hosted website builders reserve a significant amount of that control so they can provide a stable, robust mass hosting environment. SquareSpace is no different. So how does SquareSpace handle SEO, and how does a web publisher using SquareSpace for a website manage the SEO issues?

  • Some of the many issues that need to be addressed, and which this blog post will explore as I expand it:
  • canonical domains and SquareSpace (see this scary thread)
    • Squarespace continues to publish sites on a subdomain, even when they use domain mapping
  • language and SEO (SquareSpace URLs are autogenerated, and character sets may be an issue)
    • non-ascii characters are stripped out of URLs, so if you’re using non-ascii languages your URLs are “SEO unfriendly”
  • SquareSpace creators exhibit the common “do the basics and SEO will take care of itself” approach to SEO, which I know to be risky and not a recommended SEO best practice by any means
  • Actual, real-world performance: I’ve got test sites out there now, and you SEO people can always run a quick audit yourself on the samples

Addendum: DevHub.com is a free website builder that does a good job with SEO while still providing websites via the software as a service model.  It changes with its evolution over time, but the team behind it had SEO in mind from the start.

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