Seo Settings for Meta Tags
While using Squarespace for my blog I’ve made lots of mistakes- coding, typography, widget bloat, that Fantastic Sam’s haircut a couple of years back , but I try to learn from these experiences and jot them down so I have something to reference when I’m looking to change an important element on my site. After two years of using the web building software, I’ve cut down these mishaps to only an occasional hair-pulling episode. However, my worst mistake was not checking the option that allows search engines to index my site from within the squarespace meta tags settings!
Well, I’ll try to explain in this post…
One of my few complaints with squarespace is the lack of “layman” explanations for many of their settings. Tool tips and brief descriptions are worded in a way that assumes you have a level of advanced webspeak vocabulary and comprehension. It’s not like they are marketing software (like Drupal) where the entry-level is that of an advanced web developer.
I also wish they would give real world examples of the HOW and WHY you would choose one setting over another. It’s because of the verbage associated with Squarespace’s Search/Index settings, that I originally decided to just leave it alone. Squarespace help docs emphasize that many SEO strategies are unnecessary and can actually do harm. I wasn’t sure if this setting was one of those tactics that really isn’t necessary and might even mess up something on my website. I had intentions of doing the research, but life happened and I forgot about it…for over a year! Yikes!
Enough with my excuses, let’s get started! First you will need to find the Searching / Indexing Settings:
Goto: Website Management > Website Settings > Searching/Index > Search Engine Parameters
Optimize Title Ordering
This option will cause your page titles to appear before your site name in your site’s title bar, rather than after. This can sometimes have an impact on the rankings of the content on your site.
Many experts believe that having the title listed first will help increase search engine results for your post’s keywords (which by the way should be included in the title if possible). It will also help readers to see specifically what your page is about by displaying the title before the site name in the search engine result snippet.
Create Page Specific Description Tags
This option will allow you to specify description tags for each page of your site. Otherwise, Squarespace will embed your overall site description tag for the pages on your site.Squarespace
By diversifying the descriptions for different pages on your blog, users (searchers/customers/readers) will be able to find content more specific to what they may be looking for. With so many results to choose from, you want to offer the best option possible from your website. You are able to edit page descriptions when configuring the page selection options within the structure module.
However, if you notice the search results from the Title Ordering tab, my site description wasn’t included. Google decides what is best in the end so users will get the most relative content. The other thing to note, is that Squarespace only offers options for page descriptions, not individual post descriptions. (as far as I know, anyways… please correct me if I’m wrong!)
Allow External Search Engines to Index Site
This option will instruct search engines to index your site.Squarespace
IF YOU DON’T WANT YOUR WEBSITE TO BE FOUND BY ANYONE except visitors that you have given direct access to links, (eg email, business card, family members) you can keep this unchecked. Theoretically no one will be able to find you via the search engines. (Some less known search engines don’t follow your instructions) Google offers this clarification:
When we see the noindex meta tag on a page, Google will completely drop the page from our search results, even if other pages link to it. Other search engines, however, may interpret this directive differently. As a result, a link to the page can still appear in their search results.
Note that because we have to crawl your page in order to see the noindex meta tag, there’s a small chance that Googlebot won’t see and respect the noindex meta tag. If your page is still appearing in results, it’s probably because we haven’t crawled your site since you added the tag. (Also, if you’ve used your robots.txt file to block this page, we won’t be able to see the tag either.)
This was my mistake for over a year. I always play things on the safe side, not wanting to enable things unless I have done the research first. Life happened and I forgot about it! DON’T MAKE THIS MISTAKE! Because, if you are like most businesses, bloggers, and brands you will want to check this option!
However, one reason to leave this unchecked in the beginning, according to Alan Houser at SquareFlair, is while in the process of developing your website. You may not want visitors to your site until you are ready to launch. Just don’t forget to go back and check it!
If you know of any other reasons to keep this unchecked, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
Allow External Search Engines to Archive Site
This option will instruct search engines to archive previous versions of your site.
This has to be the most confusing explanation of all. If you are not familiar with search engine archiving you may wonder-
- Why would search engines want to have a collections of different versions of my website?
- Will search engines serve up old versions of my site instead of new?
A ‘clearer’ explanation would be that it allows search engines to keep a cache (stored copy or screenshot) of linked pages in a website to give searchers the option of viewing the copy instead of actually visiting your site. It’s the one setting that I’m still not perfectly clear which is the best option. I don’t want to lead you down the wrong path either, so I’ll just offer you some of my own research to help in deciding what’s best for your website.
What’s good about Google caching your pages?
- People can access your pages even if your site is down;
- Google also provides “text only” version of the page that gives an idea how it “sees” your page.
When and why would you want to prevent Google from saving and showing your pages?
- To prevent scrapers from “ripping your site out of Google”;
- For eCommerce sites (e.g. pricing could change);
- For paid membership sites (we do remember some cases of misunderstandings between popular paid membership sites and Google because of that).
I’ve also found some statements without an official confirmation that may or many not matter:
- By not archiving, google might think you are cloaking or doing something not above board.
- By not archiving, you can control and customize the page descriptions. Archiving causes every page to get your main site description.
The most reasonable explanation to archive a site in my opinion, is that it offers a cached version for times when your site is down. One of the best things about Squarespace is that this rarely happens or at least not enough to outweigh the possible negatives. Because I have a blog, I want the most recent comments and articles to be shown. So for now, I’m going to leave the box unchecked.
More Meta is More Better
I want to make clear that the settings in this article refer to your site as whole. There are extra page specific options that allow you to keep search engines from indexing and following different areas of your website in the robots.txt file which is beyond the scope of this article.
So would you like to use Accordion Tabs like the ones featured in this article? Well, it’s also possible in Squarespace too. I’ve created a test version on my squarespace site at http://www.foggyphils.com/accordian-test (er, yeah, I misspelled accordion but hey, I don’t have time to change and update everything. Besides, I’ll save it for the redirection tutorial!) that you can check out until I create a tutorial for a future post. Follow via RSS or Email Updates so you won’t miss it!
- How do I add Page Descriptions? (Squarespace Help Docs)
- Can I stop my site from appearing in search Engines (Squarespace Help Docs)
- Keep the Bots Out (Squareflair)
- Google Support for meta (Google Webmaster Answers)