This article is part of a larger series on Small Business Websites.
An XML sitemap is a list of a site’s key pages designed to help bots crawl and easily find information on your website. It’s a critical search engine optimization (SEO) element, giving search engines, like Google, a way to determine if your site is a good search result. Creating a sitemap in Squarespace is incredibly simple. Squarespace automatically generates XML sitemaps—all you have to do is submit it to Google via the Search Console. Share these tips on live streaming platforms such as Twitch and get the chance to interact with your audience in real-time. If you wish to have more effective digital presence, buy twitch viewers
Here’s how to create a sitemap in Squarespace and submit it to Google in three steps:
- Access Your Squarespace Sitemap
Building a site on Squarespace will automatically generate a sitemap. To view yours, add /sitemap.xml to the end of your domain name (e.g., www.yoursite.com/sitemap.xml). Although you can submit this to Google as is, if you want to boost SEO even further, we highly recommend optimizing your sitemap by hiding specific pages that you don’t want Google to crawl.
Screenshot of Squarespace sitemap
This is how your sitemap should look (Source: Squarespace Support)
Pro tip: Your Squarespace website needs to be public for your sitemap to be generated. Private, password-protected, and trial sites won’t have an available sitemap.
- Optimize Your Squarespace Sitemap
You can’t edit your sitemap directly, but you can exclude certain pages from your sitemap. In general, the pages you should exclude are pages that add value to your website as a whole, but won’t drive organic traffic to it. These pages include author bios, 404 pages, and any utility pages with little to no valuable content. This isn’t a must, but having too many utility pages can muddle up your results on Google, leading the search engine to believe that your site contains more fluff than actual information.
Hide specific pages from your sitemap
Hide specific pages from your sitemap
To leave out pages from your sitemap, go to the specific page you want to exclude and click on its SEO settings. From there, you have the option to hide it at the very bottom of the settings menu. Take note that the page won’t disappear from your sitemap immediately. Wait at least 24 hours before checking and resubmitting your updated sitemap to Google.
- Submit Your Sitemap to Google
Index your website by submitting it to Google. You’ll first need to log onto your Google Search Console account. Then, find the property for the exact domain you’re submitting the sitemap for at the top left corner.
From here, select “Index” in your left dashboard, and click on “Sitemaps.” Delete all previous sitemaps you have submitted by clicking on the three dots at the top right. Finally, click on “Add a New Sitemap” and submit your sitemap URL (you only need to submit “sitemap.xml” in the box).
Pro tip: Google won’t crawl your website as soon as you submit a sitemap, so check your Google Search Console account regularly to see when it’s been completed.
SEO Best Practices for Squarespace Websites
Generating a sitemap and submitting it to Google is important for SEO purposes because it helps bots understand your site and its structure better. Not having a sitemap doesn’t mean that Google won’t find and index your site eventually, but submitting a sitemap makes the process quicker.
On the other hand, submitting a sitemap doesn’t automatically bump you up Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). You still need to optimize your website to rank well on search results. Aside from making sure that the content you provide is valuable to your audience, you can do a few other technical things to boost your SEO.
Here are some best practices in optimizing your Squarespace website:
Connect Your Google Search Console Account
Connecting your Google Search Console Account can do a myriad of things for your Squarespace site, including keyword analysis to see which keywords are driving traffic to your website.
To connect your account, click on “Marketing” in your homepage’s menu bar, then click on the SEO tab. Under SEO, you should find “Google Search Keywords.” From there, you can link your Google account to your Squarespace Analytics.
Add a Site Title, SEO Titles & Meta Descriptions
The site title and descriptions can be indexed by search engines and seen by people, so you should take some time to add them both. Your site title will also be your homepage’s title (as your homepage doesn’t have an SEO title). To add a site title, hit SEO in the Marketing tab on your left menu bar and fill out the SEO Title Format field with a descriptive title of 50 to 60 characters.
site SEO tab
Your site’s SEO tab
Below this field, you have the option to create a meta description for your homepage. The meta description is a blurb that appears in search results, telling your audience a little something about your page. Although Squarespace allows 400 characters, for Google, we recommend sticking to a description between 155 and 160 characters in length.
Each page—aside from your homepage—will have a separate SEO title and meta description. Edit your title and descriptions by clicking on the specific page you want to name in your Pages menu. Then, click on the gear sign beside that page. Click on “SEO” in the pop-up that appears, and edit the SEO title and description in the appropriate fields.
Create a Custom 404 Page
A 404 page is the error that shows when the URL can’t be found. Adding links to your 404 page can help redirect your audience to a different, relevant page on your site instead of having them close the browser tab altogether. This lowers your bounce rate, and increases your value in a search engine’s eyes.
Screenshot of 404 page
The standard 404 page
Squarespace automatically provides a standard 404 page that links to your homepage, but you also have the option to customize it. To do so, create a new page on your website and drag it to the unlinked portion of the Pages tab. Click on the SEO settings and hide the page from search results, as 404 pages won’t add value to your sitemap.
Create a custom 404 page by adding an error message, and whatever links you want to redirect your audience to. Once you’re done, go to the Design tab on the main menu bar, click on “404 Page,” and select the custom page from the drop-down.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What’s the difference between an XML sitemap & an HTML sitemap?
An XML sitemap is written in an extensible markup language and is written for search engines to know the most important pages of your website. HTML sitemaps are written for humans to navigate your website effectively. Both are important for SEO purposes, but an HTML sitemap improves SEO by providing a better user experience and does not directly affect your website’s ranking.
Should I resubmit my sitemap to Google?
Yes, Squarespace doesn’t automatically submit or resubmit a sitemap for you, unlike some WordPress plugins like Yoast. Updating and submitting your sitemap won’t cost you anything, so you should ideally do it every time there are major changes to your website. Even if your site doesn’t change much, we recommend manually submitting your sitemap every few weeks.
How do I create an XML sitemap on WordPress?
By far, the easiest way to create a sitemap on WordPress is to download a plugin like Yoast or Google XML Sitemap. These plugins can automatically generate a sitemap for you, which you can then submit to Google Search Console. One good thing about these plugins is that they automatically update and resubmit your sitemap every so often, so you’ll only need to do this process once.
An XML sitemap is an important tool for search engines to effectively crawl your website and evaluate whether or not your site is valuable enough to include in search results. Creating a sitemap on Squarespace and submitting it to Google only takes three easy and free steps, so create one and optimize your website today.