SquareSpace vs. WordPress
Squarespace makes website development easy. Their modern templates are a simple solution for building a website with no coding or design experience needed. Squarespace’s platform has the development side covered; but, how much search engine optimization (SEO) does it really provide?
Squarespace doesn’t use plugins like WordPress does because a lot of the work is being done for you behind the scenes in their platform, including:
- SSL certificate installation
- Sitemap generation
- Hosting configuration
- Content delivery network (CDN) implementation
These are all daunting tasks that can harm your website’s performance and even break your site if you don’t know your way around the backend of a WordPress website or your hosting provider’s platform.
The SEO downside: There is a lot more to SEO than Squarespace will cover for you. Without additional, essential plugins like Yoast SEO for WordPress, optimizing your website further for search engines is much more difficult.
As with WordPress, many of the Squarespace templates are better than others. In general, no matter which platform you use, newer website templates account for better SEO optimization. Overall, WordPress templates are more mindful of SEO through the site architecture.
Google ranks your website based on what it can read. Elements like heading tags, metadata, alt text and schema markup may not be front-end pieces a user sees, but are all a part of how Google reads and ranks your site.
- Metadata summarizes basic information about other data by providing information about a certain item’s (webpage, blog, image, etc.) content. The use of metadata makes tracking and working with specific data easier for both users and search engines.
- Alt text (alternative text; also called alt tags or alt descriptions) is the written description of an image that appears on a webpage in place of an image if the image fails to load. Alt text is also crucial for people with visual impairments, who may be using a screen-reader that will tell them what is being shown. Alt text also plays a part in website rankings because it allows search engines to better crawl a website.
- Schema markup (found at Schema.org) is a form of code or microdata. When added to a webpage, schema markup creates a “rich snippet” (an enhanced description) that appears in search results.
Many Squarespace templates do not account for all the elements scanned by search engines. Although your Squarespace site might look pixel-perfect to the user, it could be missing appropriate heading tags or schema mark-up that Google needs to rank your website efficiently.
WordPress offers a library of plugins to help you manage all of the technical aspects of SEO and gives you more control over the data being pulled by search engines.
With Google’s Page Experience update, site speed is more important than ever. Site speed plays a large role in overall page experience for the user. Faster websites make it easier to manage bounce rates and improve overall rankings. Many factors for both Squarespace and WordPress impact site speed, including the following:
WordPress plugins can be very large and slow down websites. When choosing plugins to add to your website, make sure they are frequently updated and well-maintained by the developers. You also want to limit the amount of plugins on your site; keep only the essentials and be sure to delete any unused plugins.
Squarespace doesn’t use plugins. However, your site speed is limited by their server. With WordPress, site speed is in your hands.
No matter if you choose Squarespace or WordPress, image optimization matters and is often the largest factor in site speed. It’s also the easiest to fix! Imagery is key to your brand, helps break up blocks of text on the page and improves overall engagement from users. While imagery is a key part of website development, it also takes up a lot of storage. Make sure your images are sized appropriately before uploading to your media library. The image resolution should never be higher than 72 pixels per inch for digital use.
Just like plugins, you always want to delete unused pages from both your website and your sitemap that is submitted to Google’s index via Google Search Console. Even when you delete your Squarespace pages, there is a lengthy grace period before Squarespace actually removes the pages permanently from your sitemap. Some Squarespace users have reported seeing deleted pages in their Search Console even after a year. With WordPress, you dictate your own sitemap and set which pages are crawlable or not. There is no grace period for deleted pages within WordPress.
This may seem like a small improvement step, but the number of pages on a website influences the site speed, and that can be harmful to your rankings if the sitemap contains too many errors.
There is no true hands-off approach to SEO. The bare minimum SEO efforts Squarespace does behind the scenes is not enough for your website to consistently rank in the top three positions of organic search results.
WordPress is a much more manual process, but one worth the time and investment as long as you don’t go overboard with all the fancy (and often unnecessary) plugins. Choosing the right template and developing a strong content strategy for your business are the core pieces to successful SEO efforts.
If you are looking to improve your website visibility on search engines, contact Points Group today for a free online assessment.