How to Optimize Your Website for Search Engines

The more people visit your website, the more likely you are to make a sale, find a new client, or win over a reader for your blog. Simply put, getting traffic to your website is key to achieving your goals. That’s why it’s important to understand search engine optimization (SEO). When you know how to optimize your website, you have more control over where your site appears in search engine results, how many people see your website, and who finds you online. 

Read our search engine optimization guide to learn more about SEO — from how it works, to SEO best practices, and tools for tracking and improving SEO on your website overtime.

What is SEO?

SEO, or search engine optimization, is a marketing strategy that makes it easy for search engines to understand your website. Search engines regularly crawl and index websites — meaning they “read” the content on all of your web pages and rank your website based on what you offer, and who could benefit from your products or information. Good SEO will help search engines easily decide when to show your website to searchers, and make it more likely that you’ll connect with the right audiences for your brand. 

There are two main branches of SEO — technical SEO and content marketing:

Technical SEO

A website’s technical SEO includes aspects of your website’s design and structure, like the time it takes for your website to load, or how it adapts to different screen sizes. Some website templates have automatic technical optimizations, like sitemaps and tagging, so you can focus your efforts on optimizing other areas of your online presence.

Every Squarespace website template has built-in responsive design and technical SEO features.

Content marketing

Content marketing is a strategy that involves publishing blogs, videos, podcasts, and other media to spark interest in your brand, establish its authority, and boost SEO. Whether you launch a blog or add descriptive copy to your landing pages, the more content you create for your website, the more information you’re offering search engines to understand and rank your brand.

Why SEO is important

SEO is important because most people only look at the first page of search results — and only at the first few links that appear on page one. You can take additional steps to grow your audience, like building your brand on social media, but optimizing your site to appear on page one of search results is key to standing out and moving the needle on metrics like sales. 

For example, if you have a shoe line and you’re launching an online store, you can strategically optimize your product pages so that your top selling sneakers appear as an option when someone searches for “best women’s running shoes” online.

How to improve your website’s SEO

You can hire an expert to optimize your website, review our SEO checklist, and take your own steps to improve your website’s SEO. No matter your approach, it’s good to know how to do SEO yourself. Search engines regularly update their algorithms and change how they evaluate content, which means your website needs to adapt, too. When you have a basic understanding of how to influence your website’s SEO, you can use SEO best practices to grow your audience, even as search engine algorithms evolve:

Step One: Do keyword research

Keyword research will help you identify the most relevant words and phrases people use when they’re searching for topics that are related to your products or services. You can use keywords in your website copy and content, which will prompt search engines to surface your web pages for searchers. 

Free tools like Google Search Console can help you get started. Learn more about connecting a Squarespace website to Google Search Console.

Step Two: Write effective website copy

In addition to leveraging keywords, be sure to include copy throughout your website. Fill in your website’s metadata, and incorporate keywords in product URLs, product descriptions, page titles, and image alt text to help search engines read and rank your content.

Whether your website exists to sell a product, promote your services, or showcase your portfolio, good copywriting will go a long way in helping search engines index your website. Learn more about how to write website copy and how to write product descriptions.

Step Three: Improve your website design

Search engines prioritize websites that offer a good user experience (UX). Websites that have faster page speeds (meaning they load quickly), that are mobile and tablet-friendly, and that have clear site navigation are likely to rank over other websites.

Manage variables like page speed by avoiding overloading your website with large video and image files, and choose a website template that is flexible and responsive to different screen sizes. Learn more about how to choose the right website template.

Step Four: Build topic authority

Publish blogs and other content that signal your authority on topics related to your brand. For example, if you’re marketing your photography business, you might launch a blog to showcase your knowledge and expertise in the field. You can link to other authoritative sources in your content to signal your expertise to search engines. The more you position your website and brand as an authority, the more search engines will prioritize your content in search results.

Step Five: Track your growth

It can take weeks and months to see the impact of an SEO strategy, because it also takes time for search engines to crawl your website, index it, and start surfacing it for searchers. After you make updates to your website, monitor new users and traffic sources to understand how your SEO strategy is driving people to your website. Pay attention to metrics like bounce rate and conversion to understand whether you’re getting qualified traffic — meaning that the people finding your website are your target audience.