Want to learn how to speed up your Squarespace website? You’re in the right place!
“55% of visitors spend LESS THAN 15 seconds on your website.” (Source)
Do you want those 15 seconds to be eaten up by page loading times?
And then what about SEO?
Don’t faster-loading sites tend to rank better in search results over slower ones?
User retention and SEO are a big deal when it comes to your website.
So how can you speed up your Squarespace website to help improve loading times AND your SEO?
That’s what I’m diving into in this post.
But first, let’s tackle the elephant in the room.
Being a Squarespace user, you might be thinking that your options are limited when it comes to your website speed, because of the fact that Squarespace hosts your website (vs. you having control over a hosting company). And since they host your website, you get limited control over code and templates, and no control regarding servers.
But don’t fret friend, there’s still a handful of things that ARE in your control.
Things that you can dive into and fix to help speed up your Squarespace website.
How fast is your Squarespace site right now?
But before we get into the tips and tricks, we have to know where we’re starting at.
To find out your Squarespace site’s loading time, you’ll need to run it through a speed checking tool.
Why? Well, for 2 good reasons.
#1. Benchmark Score: If you don’t know how fast or slow your website is NOW, then how will you know if it’s made any improvement after you follow the tips and tricks I highlight in this post? If you don’t have a starting point, it’s going to be impossible to refer back to. Pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down here?
#2. Specifics & Details: Speed Checking Tools not only give you specific loading times (down to the millisecond) but they also give you detailed reports on what’s slowing down your site, to begin with. This detailed report will help you figure out where you should spend the most time with improvements.
Speed Checking Tools:
There are a bunch of free to use tools online and they only take a few minutes — depending on how long it takes your site to load 😉
- Pingdom Page Speed explains your page size and load time.
- GTMetrix includes helpful visuals and prioritizes speed concerns.
- Page Speed Insights helps you see how fast your website loads on mobile.
Important Note*** All though I LOVE these tools, they’re still a free benchmarking resource. Some of the suggestions and details can be a little overwhelming/techy and it’ll likely give you suggestions on things to change that will be out of your control. But no worries, I’m going to dive into the things that ARE in your control so you can speed up your Squarespace site without wanting to pull your hair out!
Okay, now that you have your starting point, let’s get to the good stuff.
7Ways to Speed Up Your Squarespace Website
#1 Reduce & Compress Your Images
One of the best places to start is by optimizing your images for the web.
Images take up more space than any other part of a website. Because they’re some of the “heaviest” and most difficult files for a server to work with. So with that being said, if you think about the compounding effect of having a ton of images on your site, the size and quality can make or break your web performance.
There are quite a few things you can do to images in order to reduce their size and compress them.
Step #2. Save your image in the correct format.
The two most common image formats to use are Portable Network Graphics (PNG) and Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG or JPG).
The major difference is that PNGs are of better quality and allow for transparency (good for logos and design elements), but their image file sizes are larger. JPGs aren’t as good in the quality department but their image sizes are a LOT smaller.
So in short: JPEGs will be your best bet in most cases as they’re a good compromise between image quality and file size. Especially when it comes to background images, galleries, and product images.
Step #2. Resize your image BEFORE uploading it to Squarespace
Keep the width of your image as small as possible, without compromising quality.
Squarespace recommends an image width of between 1500 -2000px in width. If you’re uploading and using images that are 3000px – 6000px wide, your pages are going to load slower because you’re asking the browser to do a LOT of extra heavy lifting (and it totally isn’t necessary).
Also take note of how large the other images on your site are. If you’re creating a gallery with 25+ images and non of the images have been resized….your page is going to load slowly. For a good rule of thumb, I usually suggest keeping any images on your site at no larger than 1000px wide (unless it’s a background image).
If you don’t have a photo editor on your computer, you can use a free online one like Pic Resize.
All in all, the smaller the image size, the better….as long as they still look okay.
Don’t compromise quality for image size. We don’t want pixelated images on our site.
Step #3. Compress your images before uploading them.
This is NOT the same as resizing them.
When you compress an image you strip an image of unnecessary information such as camera details, metadata, color profiles, embedded thumbnails, etc which can bulk up the size of the image file, making it larger than necessary.
#2. Update to Squarespace 7.1
If you haven’t yet, consider updating your Squarespace website to version 7.1 — If your Squarespace website is on the newer side, it might already be 7.1, which is awesome, because in general Squarespace 7.1 is faster than 7.0.
One of my SEO Squarespace clients updated their website and they bumped their homepage’s loading time from 9 seconds, down to 4 seconds. Not saying this is going to happen in every case, but I am seeing the improvement from clients that are taking the time to do this.
HOW TO CHECK & SEE WHAT VERSION YOU HAVE?
On your Squarespace main menu, click “Help” down towards the bottom, and in the bottom left-hand corner, you’ll be able to see what version your Squarespace website is using.
The reason why updating to Squarespace 7.1 can make a difference in the loading speed of your website is that the update included some big improvements from Squarespace developers to make the platform more compliant with Google’s new Core Web Vitals standards.
These updates will not be rolled out for 7.0 templates, so the only way to take advantage of this speedier loading juice is to update your site to 7.1.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Migrating from 7.0 to 7.1 is a PROCESS. At this time there is no “quick fix” way to do this. It’s not as easy as clicking a button and “bam” your site is upgraded. Check out Squarespace’s 7.0 to 7.1 migration checklist here & feel free to reach out to me if you’d like some options for a Squarespace website designer that can help you with this process!
#3. Enable the SSL certificate
Want a quick speed win? Ensure you’re using Squarespace’s free SSL option. It sounds techy, but I promise it’s the easiest to set up.
Log in to your Squarespace Dashboard, and click on Settings >> Advanced >> SSL.
Then you’ll want to make sure that Secure (Preferred) is checked, along with HSTS Secure.
How does this help speed up your site? Because the SSL will now allow your site to be delivered through the faster HTTP/2 protocol.
(Note that it can take up to 72 hours for these changes to take effect).
#4. Keep your page size under 5MB
This is actually a recommendation directly from Squarespace.
When a browser first loads a page, it downloads all of that page’s content. If your page has a lot of content, the browser will have more work to do, resulting in a slower loading page.
If a specific page on your website is loading especially slowly, follow the Squarespace official tutorial here to check the size of your page.
Need to reduce your page size? Here are a few things you can do for faster loading:
Reduce image size: Refer to the tips about this above.
Reduce embedded content: Embedded content, such as videos, can increase page load times. If you have a lot of embedded media on your website, try spreading it across multiple pages, rather than housing it all on one page.
Reduce the number of blocks on a page: Having more than 60 blocks per page can slow down a page’s loading time. And if there’s nothing you can cut completely, consider splitting the page into multiple pages, especially if you’re diving into multiple topics (like having separate services pages for each one of your business service offerings, etc).
Reduce gallery size: Keep photo galleries under 50 images each. Even less if possible. Try to think of your website image galleries as display cases rather than a compilation of total inventory. ***Note: More times than not a website visitor won’t spend enough time on your galleries to even flip through all 50 of them, so keep that in mind. If you need larger galleries, simply link to them across different pages.
#5. Be careful with your fonts
As a general best-practice design rule, consider using no more than 2-3 fonts throughout your site. For visual purposes, this helps create a cohesive design atmosphere…and it also helps you improve your website’s loading time. **Honestly, if you can get away with ONE-TWO font families and just use different weights & modifications, that would be ideal, but a lot of times that’s not an option.
When a browser loads any page on your site, it first loads all selected fonts, including custom ones. If you have more than 2-3 different fonts being displayed on your Squarespace site, all of them must load behind the scenes before the page can appear in the browser….aka slowing down the loading time of your pages.
The more fonts, the slower your site is.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Be careful when you’re changing the fonts from the template, to your business/brands fonts. You could be loading more fonts than you think if you forget to change some of the template’s default fonts.
#6. Be smart with custom code
Adding custom code to your website is a great way to customize your Squarespace template and really make it your own, but it’s important to be aware of how it affects your website’s loading time.
Some custom code (such as third-party embed code, code injections, and custom CSS) can add valuable functionality to your websites, like Addthis or Sumo for social media sharing, or tracking code for online advertising.
But the key to this is to be smart about it.
Keep your priorities in mind when adding extra code to your site. If the extra codes add up and your site ends up loading like a snail, people won’t stick around long enough to read your content, let alone share it on social media. Get what I’m sayin’?
So I’m not saying you need to avoid custom code altogether. I’m actually a big fan of customization. But if you notice your site is starting to slow down, I’d suggest doing an audit of the scripts you’re currently using and getting rid of anything that’s not adding value.
The fewer third-party scripts & custom code on your Squarespace site, the better for website speed.
#7. Use custom thumbnails if you’re embedding videos
If you have videos embedded into the pages on your Squarespace website, make sure you’re using custom thumbnails for them.
HOW TO ADD A CUSTOM THUMBNAIL:
It’s easy! After you add the video content block to your page, click the “+” button to add your video & pop your video URL into that box. Once you do that, you’ll be able to toggle the “custom thumbnail image” on and then drop your custom thumbnail into that box.
If you don’t use a custom thumbnail, Squarespace has to go and find the video content on the site that the video lives on, like YouTube or Vimeo, and THEN load it.
This is basically asking the browser to do extra needed work, which can slow down the loading speed of the page. Even if the visitor doesn’t actually click on the video, this can cause a lag if the files are big.
Plus, not using a custom thumbnail also opens you up to having third-party cookies run on your site, which can slow things down too.
And, sometimes it’s not your fault!
Very rarely, a site loading problem is actually due to a system-wide issue. You can check the current system status on Squarespace’s status page.