Settings Checklist for Squarespace Websites in 2019

When I first started building websites, I was so overwhelmed with all of the steps it takes to get a website built - from pre-design, planning, strategy to content, building, layouts to styling, fonts, colors, hierarchy. It’s a lot! I was sure I was probably missing something important along the way!

Around that time, the fabulous web designer/podcaster/blogger Paige Brunton published a list of her backend settings checklist for Squarespace websites and it was so helpful to me!

So now that I’m comfortable building websites and have processes of my own established for each step, I thought I’d share my own list of final steps to the web building process. There may be some overlap with the steps from her post, but these are the steps I literally check-off myself each time I wrap up a website build. These are the tick-tacky settings or random steps that I like to save until the end of the site-build. I touched on these in the last post on building a non-profit website on Squarespace, but wanted to elaborate a little more here. 

1) Add Region & Time Zone

Settings > Language & Region

This is helpful so that your post dates (if applicable) will show up accurately according to your location.

2) Connect Social Media

Settings > Social Links (To hook up your social media/email to social link icons)

Settings > Connected Accounts (Use this option if you will be pulling information from your social media onto your website, such as if you have an Instagram feed block)

You know those little icons on websites that take you to the company’s social media? Here is where you can connect those! If you have an Instagram Feed Block or if you pull data from other social media sources to automatically load onto your website, then you can connect them here as well. 

3) Enable Cookie Banner - add in your own cookie notice and link to your privacy policy.

Settings > Cookies & Visitor Data

Though you may not reside in the EU, the GDPR (or the updated laws that govern data collection on the Internet in the European Union) probably still apply to you at some level considering that the internet is global.) That being said, you’ll want to inform visitors of the data you collect, how you use that data and how they can opt out. You may be asking yourself if your website collects data. If you have a contact form or newsletter subscription - you are collecting data. If your website is hosted on Squarespace (which provides analytics) and/or if you use Google analytics - you are automatically collecting data for analytics through the use of cookies, unless you disable those features. Here is where you can list your cookie policy, link to your privacy policy and then collect acknowledgement from your website visitors. 

4) If you have a blog:

Remove Dates in Blog Post URLs

Settings > Blogging > Post Url Format > Just put “%t” in the box.

Set Blog Comment Settings

Settings > Blogging > Comments Settings

Enable AMP 

Settings > Blogging > Accelerated Mobile Pages > Check the box to Use AMP

Long blog post URLS with messy dates aren’t nearly as helpful to website visitors as are simple, descriptive post URLS. By removing the dates, the auto-generated post urls will now just match the post title. Enabling Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) provides an mobile-optimized view for blog posts mobile-optimized view of your blog posts that allows them to load quicker on mobile, which is helpful for your SEO. 

5) Connect your Google Analytics to your website

  1. Go to Google Analytics homepage

  2. Scroll down to “Sign up for free” for Google analytics

  3. Fill in the “Account Name”

  4. Fill in the website name

  5. Fill in the Website URL

  6. Click “Get Tracking ID”

  7. Copy the Tracking ID number

  8. Go back to your Squarespace site

    • Settings > Advanced > External API Keys > Google Analytics account number (UA - #’s)

    • Paste in the Tracking ID number

While Squarespace provides great site analytics, Google analytics provides a little more detail. Even if you don’t use Google Analytics now, it’s still helpful to set it up and connect it to your website so it can begin to collect data from the beginning.  

6) Secure Site with HTTPS & HSTS

Settings > Advanced > SSL > Mark “Secure” and “HSTS Secure”

So what is SSL? SSL, (aka Secure Sockets Layer) is a technology that secures the connection between a website and a browser. It encrypts the connection and securely transmits information (such as logins) to prevent unauthorized parties from eavesdropping, altering data, or impersonation. Adding an SSL certificate can help your SEO. In 2014, Google announced that SSL secured websites would potentially earn a rankings boost in the search results. It can also help with site-loading times. I like to go a step further and in addition to the SSL certificate, I make sure to enable HSTS Secure on the websites I build for an extra layer of security.

7) Connect Google Search Keywords

Analytics > Google Search Keywords > Click on “Connect” and follow instructions to set up an account, data will take 72 hours to populate

Google Search Keywords show the search terms that drives traffic to your website. This helps you understand the phrases that people used when they found your site to help you focus your content around those terms.

8) Add SEO Site Description

Marketing > SEO > SEO Site Description

An SEO Site Description is the small description about your website that comes up in a Google search. You can’t completely control what it will say in that description, but putting in your own description can help. This description should be in an actionable, active voice, and around 160 characters.  I like to include the following parts in these descriptions: customer problem, your solution, the result, and call to action.

PS: I also like to add specific descriptions for each specific page. To do this, you go to each individual page of your website and click on the gear icon. Under the basic tab, towards the bottom, you can put in a page description.

9) Enable Share Buttons

Marketing > Share Buttons

This turns on the Share Buttons under your blog posts, events, etc. 

10) Turn on Pin It Button

Marketing > Pinterest Save Buttons > Enable for Blogs, then choose what you want it to look like

This provides people a quick way to Pin your images to Pinterest, so basically free marketing.

11) Add a Custom Favicon (the little icon on the browser tab)

Design > Logo & Title > Browser Icon (Favicon) > Upload your custom logo mark

You know that little icon on the browser tab? Rather than use the standard Squarespace box, add in your own logo mark. It makes your site look even more custom.

12) Add a Social Sharing Image

Design > Logo & Title > Social Sharing Logo 

You can upload a logo or image here - when you share your website on your social pages, this is the image that automatically shows to represent the content.

13) Hook up your custom 404 page

Design > Not Found / 404 Page

This is the page that comes up when a visitor clicks on a broken link or types in an incorrect URL. While Squarespace automatically generates one, I like to design a custom one that includes a search bar, links to content, and a contact form so that web visitors stick around longer and can hopefully find what they were looking for. 

14) Disable Squarespace Badge

Design > Squarespace Badge > Choose “Disable Squarespace Badge”

A Squarespace Badge is text or a button indicating that your site is a Squarespace website. This is just my personal preference, feel free to leave it on if you choose. I just think that removing it helps your site look even more polished and custom. 

Hope that helps you wrap up your website design confidently! And if this all sounds like a chore or a headache, I’m here to help! I love building websites for entrepreneurs so they can focus on their true calling and skills!


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