A Guide to Squarespace

Considering switching to Squarespace? Or want to learn more about Squarespace SEO & Squarespace Design? This is a full guide that takes you through all the Squarespace basics. She also has a Wordpress version of this post! PLUS get a free printable - Squarespace Menu Guide

Squarespace is the Best

Alright, hear me out all you WordPress lovers. I used WordPress for 5 YEARS. That's plenty long enough to know the ins and outs of WP, but I have officially decided I like Squarespace better. GASP, I know. 

Here's the thing. WordPress is a great tool and extremely flexible. WP is great for businesses and companies that want to do crazy things on their site and have a million pages or completely custom design and a million bells & whistles. Squaresapce is better for small business owners, shop owners, bloggers, designers, artists, restaurants and anyone else who just needs a beautiful and powerful site.

Squarespace has top notch security to keep your site safe. Squarespace has a million ways to customize your site (templates, custom CSS, the style editor, developer mode). Most important, Squarespace is user friendly. You don't need to pay a Squarespace Designer $5000 to make you a beautiful site, you can pay half that or even do it yourself! You can add editors, administrators and team members, so everyone can work on one or many sites. You can add more than one blog pages, a store, landing pages and many more. 

I. Love. Squarespace. 

Okay, let's stop talking about how fab it is and dig into the back end.

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Setting Up

If you don't already have a Squarespace account, you should most definitely sign up for a trial! You'll get 7 days free, and another 7 after confirming your email. So you get 14 days of testing and getting to use the interface before having to pay for anything.

To get info on their pricing, go to THIS page.

Make a trial account

To make an account just go to squarespace.com and sign up. If you're a student you should check out THIS PAGE and see if your college is eligible for the 50% discount! If it is, you'll need to sign up for the trial with your student email account.

Choosing a template

After making a trial account, you're going to be asked to pick a template for your site. You can change this at any time, but choosing one that will work for your content is important.

There are certain templates that allow you the option of a blog sidebar - if you're a blogger, your sidebar is an extremely important element. There are other templates that allow you to add music or videos. I made a list of the templates best for your blog or business:

Business Templates

Adirondack | Aviator | Bedford* | Bryant | Devlin | Five* | Fulton | Hayden | Ishimoto* | Marquee | Montauk* | Om | Pacific

Blog Sidebar Options

Avenue | Bedford* | Dovetail | Five* | Frontrow | Forte | Galapagos | Ishimoto* | Montauk* | Peak | Wells | 

(If you're curious, I'm using Galapagos)
*Template falls into both categories

Import content

When I decided I wanted to switch from WordPress to Squarespace, my biggest concern was migrating all my pages, blog posts and files from WP to the new site. I signed up for the trial specifically to test and see what would transfer over. Everything transferred seamlessly. 

Squarespace makes it extremely easy to move to their site. All you have to do is sign into WordPress (or any other blog host) and then your content will be imported. All your pages, blog posts, blog post comments, files and images get moved. The best part about Squarespace is that it fixed all my links in my blog posts.

For example, if I referenced a blog post on my about page, that link was automatically formatted so it would still work even though I was on a completely different site. Even if this didn't work, Squarespace has a URL mapping tool that makes it easy to fix, which I'll talk about a little later on. 

All you have to do after the transfer is enable your pages and move them to the correct navigation area, both are super easy to do and only take seconds. There will be some formatting issues when you transfer if you used any headings other than H1, H2, or H3. But this can easily be fixed by adding some custom CSS into your design. I'll show you how to do all of this in the video below.

Customizing your template

When I ask people why they're NOT on Squarespace the most common answer is, Squarespace isn't as customizable as WordPress. This can be true when it comes to plugins, but as far as the design and templates, there is a TON of options to make your site 100% unique.

Design Options

Squarespace templates are limited, but the design customization is not. You can change fonts, colors, sizes and spacing within the style editor (in the design menu).

There's a ton of options to customize your blog as you'll see in the video below. If you're more familiar with HTML and CSS, you can add your own CSS to the design to create a more customized look, which I'll talk about later on.

Blog Sidebar

If you choose a template that has a blog sidebar, you'll be able to add blocks to that sidebar. You can choose from any of the block options available on pages. I personally use the photo block for my image, a text block for my about me, social links block and a code block for my social media buttons (Bloglovin'). 

You can edit the blog sidebar by clicking on your blog page from the pages menu, hovering over the sidebar, and selecting edit. This will let you add blocks, edit content and save the changes you make. I highly suggest choosing a template with a sidebar if you will be using a blog, it will allow easy navigation for your readers without forcing them to scroll to the top or bottom of your site.

Navigation & Pages

Pages and navigation in Squarespace are extremely easy to edit and create. Depending on which template you have, you will have 1-4 navigation areas. Each area can have pages dragged and dropped to make the links visible to your visitors. This part is easier shown than typed, so watch the video below for help. 

Formatting Content

If you imported content from another site, you may need to edit a few things to make all your pages, links and posts work for your new site. These are some of the best ways to correct common problems.

I also wanted to talk about the unique ways to add files & videos and how to add custom CSS.

URL Mapping

URL mapping is a tool in Squarespace that allows you to quickly redirect broken links or pages to the correct URL. This can be super helpful if you're importing old content, changing a blog post URL or don't want to effect your Pinterest traffic.

Click HERE to see the Squarespace URL Redirect Guide.

Videos and Files

Unlike WordPress, Squarespace videos and files are added as content blocks rather than embedded content or links. To add a content block to a page or post simply hover over the left side of the text editor and click on the grey arrow that appears. 

If you need help with this or want to see what options are available for adding content blocks, watch the video below.

Custom CSS

There are a few places to enter custom CSS in Squarespace, as I list below. You can use the Squarespace Menu Guide (at the bottom of the post) to find these options in your menu.

  1. Individual Pages
  2. Header Tags + Footer Tags
  3. Lock Pages + Checkout Page
  4. Developer Mode

Custom CSS is perfect if you'd like to add additional font settings, colors or background images. I currently have custom CSS used to change the colors of my heading fonts. I added this CSS to the header tags so it would be consistent across the site. 

I also use custom CSS on one specific page, I added the custom coding from my Tinypass Paywall account to keep my Toolbox page available to subscribers only. If you'd like to customize a page or your site, but you don't know CSS, I recommend checking out W3Schools or Codecademy.

Squarespace Settings

There is a ton of options for customization in Squarespace, but I want to touch on some of the most important sections.

Squarespace SEO 

On of the most common questions about switching to Squarespace is regarding the Squarespace SEO setup. We addressed this shortly in the webinar, but I wanted to dig a little deeper into this.

The SEO on Squarespace is no different than the SEO on any other site. How those settings are managed can vary, but your SEO "score" will not be affected by your move. Squarespace has a section dedicated to your SEO.

Go to Settings > Marketing > SEO. There are four changes we can make in this section; Your blog description, homepage, collection and item title formats. Changes in this area will change what your site looks like in the google search engine. You can see what this looks like by googling your site (it can take time for Google to update these preferences).

You'll also want to make sure every page has specific descriptions, you can do this by going to the pages menu and clicking on the gear icon.

Comments & Disqus

Squarespace comes with its own commenting system, just like Squarespace or Blogger. However, you also have the chose of using the Disqus commenting system, which is what I use. To edit your comment settings, go into your main menu > choose settings > click blogging.

To add Disqus, just enter your Disqus shortname (if you don't know what that is click HERE). From this menu, you can also change all your comment settings. To edit the email notifications you get about comments, go back to the main menu, click on your profile photo, choose the subscriptions tab and edit your settings.

Domain Names

Squarespace makes it super simple to redirect your domain name to their site or buy a new domain name for your site. I made a video to help you do this, but you can also use SS's guide HERE.

Custom 404 pages

Nothing makes a visitor leave your site faster than having a link not work and an ugly error page pop up. One thing you can do to keep those visitors from leaving is create a custom 404 page. It's super quick and easy to do. 

First create a new page, either a cover page or a regular page. Name it error or 404. Add a little apology that the page doesn't exist, then use a summary block (on regular pages) to show some of your best content. Also adding a search bar will help the visitor search for related content. Click HERE to see my 404 page for an example.

Once the page is created, go to Settings > Advanced > 404 Error / Page not found, and then choose the page you just made. This way, Squarespace will redirect broken links to that page.