squarespace development + strategy + UX + design & build + marketing

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I'm a freelance user experience consultant who delivers projects large and small for a client base that includes multinationals, SMEs, and sole traders.   
I specialise in formulating new media strategy, defining information architecture, user experience design, interaction design, prototyping, user research & testing, website and application building, and online marketing. 

Squarespace SEO: Should you change your built in url?

If you have a custom URL for your Squarespace website and you didn't hide your site behind a password while you were designing it, there's a strong chance that your site is being crawled by search engines on both the inbuilt Squarespace domain and your custom URL. 

Duplicate content in Google caused by Squarespace built in url being indexed. An SEO problem? Perhaps. 

How to tell if this problem applies to you

It's easy to check. 

  1. Go to Google
  2. Enter the search term  site:https://your-inbuilt-domain.squarespace .com - this is the url you see when you're signed into your site admin 

If no results are shown you can stop reading now.

However, if you see pages from your site, all prefixed with your admin URL, it means that your site is indexed in Google twice and your search ranking could potentially be suffering from duplicate content issues. 

What should I do if my Squarespace inbuilt domain is being indexed? 

One solution is to do nothing. There are many more important factors that impact on your search ranking, such as having compelling and relevant content, tagging your images, or developing inbound links from other reputable sites. 

The Duplicate Content Penalty is one of the bogeymen that SEO gurus like to scare clients with. It's true that intentional duplication of content can cause problems but it's a small risk. Here's what Google have to say about duplicate content:

Duplicate content on a site is not grounds for action on that site unless it appears that the intent of the duplicate content is to be deceptive and manipulate search engine results. If your site suffers from duplicate content issues, and you don’t follow the advice listed above, we do a good job of choosing a version of the content to show in our search results.

However, what we're dealing with here is Google or Bing seeing multiple websites with exactly the same content.  They're both copies of your site, so there's no worry there.

However, there's a slight risk that one or both sites will suffer in terms of search ranking.  I still maintain that this problem should be low on your list of worries. 

What if I *really* want to fix this?

Well.. ..there's a fix that should resolve the problem but I'm still testing it.  

The theoretical fix is to change your built in url. If you do this search spiders will no longer be able to find pages on the old built in url and the erroneously indexed pages will eventually be purged from the Google index. The new built in url won't be crawled because the primary domain takes precedence.  

Given that this potential fix takes seconds to implement it could be worthwhile doing yourself, but only once it's confirmed to work. 

As soon as I press publish on this post I'm going to change my built in url. I'll update this article when I have some results to share.


UPDATE 1 [28 Jan 2015] - Right now there are 43 pages from my built in url indexed in Google. I've just changed it to a new built in domain.. the waiting starts. 

Update 2 [30 Jan 2015] - 34 results are now showing. Promising, but it could always be Google playing funny buggers.