Squarespace vs WordPress SEO: Does It Matter?
When you look something up on Google or Bing, you’re probably among the 75% of internet users who won’t go past the first page to find what they’re looking for. That means the first few websites have utilized the right SEO in their pages to target you specifically. If you take this concept and apply it to your website then your target audience will find you. And you definitely want them to find you.
SEO stands for search engine optimization, which means exactly what it presents itself to be. This digital process optimizes your website for search engines to pick up, making it rank higher when someone searches for anything related to your website.
For instance, let’s say you run a small Asian food business in your area. It’s small, but you swear you have the best stir-fry noodles. Foodies might already have their go-to place and have no idea that yours even exists. But, if your website has the right SEO, anyone who might search “Asian restaurants near me” will likely find your shop at the top of their search results. Now, they’ve found you and can get a taste of your noodles.
SEO is only a part of building a website, which you can do with website builders like Squarespace or WordPress. These two website builders are probably the top choices for anyone making a website. Just search “best website builder” and you’ll be sure to find Squarespace and WordPress among the listed results, meaning they’ve used SEO well enough to reach the top. We’re here to share the different facets of SEO and why they matter in building your website, whether you use Squarespace or WordPress to do it.
Squarespace vs WordPress SEO
We discuss Squarespace vs WordPress SEO in this article by comparing each platform based on how well each one accommodates SEO functions. Here’s a brief overview of each platform’s basic differences:
Squarespace is as good of a website builder as you would think a website builder would be. It features a drag-and-drop process where you simply place the content you have wherever you want it. Squarespace gives you a template and you just fill it up, making people view your site how you intend it to be seen. With all SEO tools conveniently built-in with every standard plan, it’s the perfect solution for anyone without web designing experience to build a website, both management-wise and budget-wise.
Meanwhile, WordPress is more of a self-hosted content management system (CMS). You need some kind of idea about coding to effectively build your website and input the necessary SEO to make your WordPress-hosted website rank at the top of a Google search. Having an above-average understanding of coding will get you even further when using WordPress. Besides being advanced for absolute beginners, WordPress has no built-in SEO tools, but you can install free plug-ins or upgrade to a premium business plan to unlock more features.
Knowing all of this information, it does seem like more SEO experts with a budget to support them would go for WordPress to manage their website, but, a Squarespace SEO expert would argue that that's not indicative of WordPress’s superiority over Squarespace. With the right SEO strategy, you can make your website rank better than most, regardless of the platform you end up using.
SEO has three main areas of interest that contribute to your website’s ranking: SEO features, SEO monitoring, and SEO price. Based on expert insights, we’ll compare how well Squarespace and WordPress fare in each SEO area. Keep reading for some WordPress and Squarespace SEO tips to get your site to the top!
We mentioned that Squarespace has all the necessary SEO tools for a basic site to have some type of SEO functionality. This comes with every Squarespace plan, meaning you get access to all SEO tools without paying extra. This may seem like a good thing, but you have to remember that its SEO tools are pretty standard.
Squarespace does not offer any advanced SEO tools in an app market or on any premium plan, so your SEO strategy with this platform may limit your reach. While they get the rudimentary job done, there are advanced SEO tools you need to improve your website’s functionality much further.
Meanwhile, WordPress gives you the option to upgrade your SEO game with advanced SEO plugins for $25 a month through their business plan. Of course, the free version has the basic SEO tools for convenience, if you don’t want to pay for anything extra. But, web developers designed the advanced SEO plugins specifically to improve a website’s ranking quality.
An example of a WordPress plugin is Yoast SEO, which gives any site a competitive advantage in getting to the top Google search position. So, if you’re after the best results, you need advanced SEO plugins, which definitely come at a price.
Here’s a list of standard SEO features and how each platform helps you meet them:
- Headers: Search engines may rank your website based on your content’s headers or headings. Headings are the titles for each section of a website. Google can read your website’s overall title and assess how relevant it is to a searcher’s input. It can also read the smaller headers within the website that separate each section.
Yes, there are different heading HTML tags that go into a website. For example, “Squarespace vs WordPress SEO: Does It Matter?” is this page’s overall title or H1, while “SEO Features” is an H2 or secondary header that introduces this section. Headings help organize a page’s content, which people prefer to read. The more people visit an easy-to-browse website, the better it will rank on Google.
Squarespace supports headings from H1 to H3 for the websites they build. These headings may be enough for basic websites that offer direct information, without going into details of each item it presents. Meanwhile, WordPress supports H1s up to H6s, making a WordPress page extra comprehensive for brands that might have complicated yet integral information to share.
- Custom URLs: Google will rank websites with clear URLs, which are what makes your page unique. If your website URL used numbers alone to make each page distinct, it would look nonsense.
Imagine having a website URL looking like website.com/20210428. What would a search engine do with that? If that same page had a URL like website.com/best_stir-fry_noodles_recipe, then Google can at least direct people to a page that discusses stir-fry noodle recipes.
Both Squarespace and WordPress offer custom URLs for any website they build or host. Be sure to make your page URL as succinct as possible so that both humans and Google can easily know what your page is about.
- Alt Tags: Search engines need alt tags to know what online images show. It’s like their ID tags or closed captioning for Google to know what’s in a photo. When images have alt tags attached to them, search engines can get an idea of what your entire page contains, allowing them to rank your page higher.
Squarespace does not support image alt tags, but you can always add image captions. WordPress supports image alt tags for better SEO functionality.
- Meta Titles: When you search for something on Google or Bing, you’ll find title tags as links to the pages themselves. It could be your website’s H1 or another title. Regardless, it’s what tells people what your page is about. These usually include relevant keywords that match a searcher’s query to help Google target people searching for those terms.
Meta titles are only available on Squarespace main pages, meaning blog page titles are unsupported. Meanwhile, WordPress supports meta titles for all pages, main page or otherwise.
- Meta Descriptions: Under meta titles are meta descriptions or a summary of the entire page. Searchers would look at this description to see if they actually want to click on the page and read further. They also contain relevant keywords that help Google identify whether the page matches a search query. But, as a summary, meta descriptions need to be succinct in 150 or 160 characters (including spaces) for better SEO.
Just like meta titles, meta descriptions are only available on Squarespace main pages, meaning other pages within a Squarespace website like blog posts are unsupported. WordPress meta descriptions are available sitewide, from main pages to blog pages.
- Sitemaps: You need to submit your website’s sitemap or digital outline to Google. When a search engine has your site’s overall structure, it can easily crawl around your pages without having to actually visit each pathway. A comprehensive sitemap tells a search engine that a website has a good structure, giving Google or Bing the go signal that a page is relevant.
Sitemap submission is available on all Squarespace plans. Squarespace’s sitemap functions allow you to automatically send your website’s structure to Google for review. For WordPress, you need at least the business plan and Yoast plugin to access this advanced SEO feature.
- Mobile Compatibility: Almost half of all global web traffic comes from mobile searches. This statistic makes a website’s mobile compatibility just as important as its desktop compatibility. Squarespace automatically reformats your website to function on mobile devices like phones and tablets. With WordPress, you must manually adjust your website’s mobile responsiveness.
- SSL Encryption: If you look at your internet browser’s address bar, you should notice a little padlock. That padlock indicates that a website has a secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate. Search engines like Google are more likely to rank SSL encrypted websites much higher because they want to lead people to safe and secure sources for whatever they are looking for.
SSL encryption is available on all Squarespace plans for guaranteed protection. Meanwhile, you have to purchase SSL encryption separately for your website on WordPress.
Once you’ve applied all the necessary SEO features to your website to make it rank higher on search engines, you’d want to know how much of your efforts produced results. For all you know, you’ve done all the keyword targeting in your titles and descriptions but aren’t seeing the effects that you expected.
Google Analytics is the answer to checking if your SEO strategy is producing the right impact for your website. Google Analytics is a service that assesses your website’s data and statistics. It analyzes this data to see which pages of your website are getting the most views, how people found your page in the first place, and how popular your website is overall.
Both Squarespace and WordPress have Google Analytics connectivity. You can integrate your website to Google Analytics to get advanced insights into your website’s overall and specific performance. For an idea of just how great Google Analytics features are, you have access to real-time monitoring, meaning you can see how many people are on your website at any time of the day. Having this knowledge can help you make necessary adjustments for the most active audience at certain times of the day.
Although Squarespace is compatible with Google Analytics, you can opt-out of their advanced analytics services because Squarespace has a built-in analytics suite. You don’t need an external service to track your website’s traffic to see if your SEO strategy is working. This is not the same case with WordPress, but it’s still easy to connect with Google Analytics.
Since SEO helps your website appear on a person’s search results, it pretty much functions as a tool that gets you more sales. So, advanced SEO tools have to come at a cost. With SEO, you’re paying money to make more money.
Squarespace offers the same SEO features and functions regardless of the plan you purchase. Squarespace plans cost between $12 and $40 a month, which is a relatively cheap pricing range compared to WordPress. You can even try Squarespace for free because they offer a 14-day free trial to see if it works the way you like.
WordPress can be expensive, to be blunt. SEO tools are only available starting at the business plan, which starts at $25 a month. Even with their business plan-level SEO tools, you can still improve your strategy with Yoast, a free advanced SEO plugin. Note that Yoast’s free version is still limited for an advanced plugin. You’ll need Yoast Premium to get the absolute best SEO tools for better ranking.
Squarespace and WordPress each have their own pros and cons when it comes to SEO. Squarespace offers consistent SEO functionality across all its affordable plans but can be quite limited considering SEO’s complex nature. On the other hand, WordPress offers more advanced SEO tools… at a price.
Overall, everything boils down to how well you make SEO tools work in your favor.