Updated December 20, 2018
So you’ve made the decision to go with Weebly for your website management tool…
Now you’ve got to get some traffic to that site.
But how do you do it?
Setting up SEO for Weebly sites doesn’t have to be a difficult task to take on. This Weebly SEO tips guide will equip you with step-by-step instructions on how you can set up your own site to start ranking on Google.
Can a Weebly Website Rank?
I’ve seen discussions about whether or not certain platforms are “good” or “bad” for SEO. In other words, do I have to run my site on WordPress in order to rank well in Google?
The answer is that you do not. Instead, you can turn to a different site, like Weebly. Is Weebly good for SEO?
Yes! You absolutely can use Weebly to build your site and rank well on the search engines.
I know because I’ve done it, so I’m in a great position to give you a complete Weebly SEO review.
In my post with 10 alternatives to WordPress, I mentioned that I’m a Weebly Pro customer, and although I’ve started using WordPress to manage some of my websites, I still run and manage a number of sites on Weebly.
To give you a quick summary of what to expect, here’s a brief breakdown of what makes Weebly an awesome platform:
- Streamlined Page Design and Post Creation — Unlike some Content Management Systems, Weebly allows you to seamlessly edit content and modify design elements through a drag-and-drop interface.
- Integrated SEO Features — Weebly also comes with built-in SEO settings for pages and individual posts. These will be discussed in detail throughout this post.
- Customizability — On top of the existing customization features on the visual interface, Weebly also lets you modify your site’s HTML and CSS codes.
- E-Commerce Integration — If you plan to monetize your Weebly site by selling products, you can set up an online storefront complete with payment processors, product pages, shipping information, and more.
- Apps — Finally, Weebly utilizes apps for easy expandability. On their official repository, they currently offer apps for e-commerce, social media, marketing, website features, and communication functionalities.
Digging into SEO with Weebly
One site that I run on Weebly is BallparkSavvy.com
This was the first website I ever created back in 2008, when Long Tail Pro was still a figment of Spencer Haws’ imagination. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, but I set out to create a site that would provide a no-nonsense guide to every Major League Baseball stadium.
I moved the site to Weebly a few years ago, and despite the fact that I spend very little time on it, it continues to do well on the search engines.
Although it’s a niche site and very seasonal, it’s drawn in over 300,000 visits in the last three seasons.
Over 85% of that traffic is organic, search engine traffic.
Now, let’s dive into how you can set up your own Weebly site for SEO success:
Weebly SEO Basics
We’ll start with some of the basics of SEO for Weebly sites.
I’m assuming you’ve already selected a domain name, so the next step is to add your site title, which you’ve already done if you’ve created your site on Weebly. (If you haven’t created a site yet, click here to start for free and follow along).
The next step is to customize some of the advanced settings on your homepage, which will be how your brand shows up in the Google results. If you go to the “pages” tab on Weebly and click on your homepage, you’ll see these settings on the left panel:
Here, you can make the initial adjustments that can prepare your Weebly site for the search engines. To begin, let’s head into the “SEO Settings” section.
This is where you can edit important page details, such as the page title, permalink, and meta description. While Google claims that these aren’t factored in when it comes to actual rankings, it can definitely affect click-throughs.
Why would your Weebly site description, title, and permalink have an effect on the click-throughs of your page?
Simply put, people are going to click the title and Weebly site description that is most appealing to them. While getting to the top part of Google’s rankings can give you a better chance of click-throughs, you still need to compete with other changes.
There’s a lot that you can learn about writing the perfect title, but I’ve found that you can boil the secret to getting a great title on your page down to these four main points:
- Set your characters up to be between 50 and 60 characters. More than this will be cut off by search engines; less won’t give you a chance to appeal to readers.
- Put the most important keywords first, but don’t stuff the title with keywords. Overstuffing can be unnatural, unreadable, and unclickable!
- Use unique titles for every page, when possible. If you need to have similar title tags, avoid letting your content appear as a duplicate to readers or search engines.
- Focus on writing a title that will entice people to click it.
Like titles, meta descriptions will directly affect whether or not people decide to click-through on your Weebly page’s search result. While search engines do not use the content of your meta description to directly change page ranking, they do use the click-through rate to make adjustments.
This means that crafting a powerful meta description is more important than many imagine!
In addition to being an appropriate length (at least 155 characters) and unique, there are some specific writing tactics that you can use to make your meta descriptions more powerful:
- Snappy & Actionable:
Your description should read like an exciting pitch. It should offer a solution or action that can bring them results….if they click through!
- Call-To-Action (CTA)
Be specific about what the reader can gain from clicking. For example: “Get our full PDF guide now!”, “Try our free sample today!”, and “Take the quiz and find out more:” All of these CTAs will bring in higher click-through rates.
- Focused & Related
In addition to using focus keywords that will draw in the reader in your meta description, you will want to be sure that this focus keyword matches the content that can be found on your page. If you are misleading readers, search engines will penalize you.
- Snappy & Actionable:
Consider this example. If the title of my page was “All About Ballparks” and the meta description said, “Information about ballparks and more,” it would be much less likely to receive clicks compared to how it is performing with an optimized SEO setup.
Notice that, in my Ballpark Savvy site, I’ve focused on the page title with some of the keywords that describe my site, and then added a Weebly site description that also talks about our site and what we offer. This is important because when you “Google” the brand of Ballpark Savvy, it looks like this:
The title and description you see here are what I have set in the “SEO settings” for the page. If you are trying to rank for particular keywords, it’s important that you include them in both of these locations. However, it’s just as important to try to come up with something compelling that makes people want to click on your site when they are scanning the search engine results.
Why Keywords Matter
Whether you are using Weebly or not, keywords still matter.
A “keyword” simply means something that gets searched in Google (or another search engine). Keyword research is the process of finding out what people in your industry are searching for and analyzing the competition so you can know which keywords you should be targeting.
If you don’t know which keywords to target, you’ll be limited to the kind of SEO you can do in Weebly.
After all, how will you know what your page titles, descriptions, and content should be optimized for? I’ll recycle an analogy to make the point that trying to do SEO without keyword research would be like me telling you to decorate your house for a birthday party, but not tell you who the party was for.
Should you decorate for a 4-year-old boy who loves Jake and the Neverland Pirates?
Or for an “over the hill” party for a man turning 40?
You could spend a week turning your house into a real-life pirate ship, but if the target were for a 40-year-old man – you would have completely missed the mark.
Likewise, knowing your keyword targets is critical to doing good on-page SEO. And for this job, Long Tail Pro is one of the best tools you can use. Simply load it up and enter a “seed keyword” to retrieve suggestions.
For example, if I run a blog about digital marketing, I’d enter something broad like “email marketing.” From this, I can extract the following keyword ideas:
When selecting keywords for your campaign, pay attention to the average keyword competitiveness and search volume.
While targeting a keyword with a high monthly search volume has bigger potential for exposure, they can be too competitive to be feasible for new brands. A good rule of thumb is to choose keywords with an average keyword competitiveness of 30 or less.
Long Tail Pro also lets you analyze the keyword strategy of your competitors. All you need to do is to click “Competitor Keyword Suggestions” and type in the URL of your competitor’s landing page or entire domain. (This option is available in our agency plan.)
Optimizing Advanced Settings in Weebly Pages
Google ranks pages and not websites.
For instance, if I forgot to do a page about Wrigley Field on my baseball site then I wouldn’t rank well for Wrigley Field-related searches even though I have a nice website about all the other baseball stadiums. I would need a page focused on the ins and outs of Wrigley Field in order to pull in that traffic.
This is actually the beauty of long tail keywords – it gives us little guys a chance. You can do a keyword-focused page and rank above more authoritative sites because they may not have a page that is optimized for that keyword.
For instance, I may never crack the top 10 when you search for “Baltimore Orioles.” That will be occupied by the team site and more established brands. However, I can rank for a page for “parking for Orioles games” because I’ve got a page that covers this topic in-depth.
So in my case, I’m not so much worried about my homepage ranking for any generic terms, like “ballparks” or “baseball stadiums.” I have a page for each stadium, and most of my traffic comes directly into one of those stadium-specific pages.
The same applies to you.
In most cases, you shouldn’t be relying on just your homepage to pull in traffic. You want to have many pages focused on various things that your audience cares about so you can rank for all these different keywords.
In Weebly, you should always use the advanced settings (shown above) on every page you create to specify the title and description.
The page title should be about 55 characters in length, which is about all that will be displayed on Google before it is cut off. Likewise, your description shouldn’t exceed 320 characters as it will be cut off after that on Google.
Ideally, you should use your target keyword in both your title and description — somewhere at the beginning should be nice.
So if I was building a page to target “Wrigley Field Parking” as my primary keyword, my title might be “Wrigley Field Parking – Find Cheap Parking At Cubs Games” and then my description could be “Looking for cheap Wrigley Field parking? Here are four hidden parking spots that will save you a fortune at your next Cubs game.”
Advanced Settings in Weebly Blog Posts
Hats off to Weebly for continuing to improve their offering.
Blog posts are another area that has made some huge improvements as it relates to Weebly SEO since I first started with them. You used to not have control over the page title and description like you do for non-blog pages, and the URL wasn’t ideal either.
Both of those have changed. Is Weebly SEO friendly? Yes, and doubly so because they’re willing to keep improving.
Keeping in mind the best practices mentioned in the last section, here is how you can do the same for your Weebly blog posts:
When you are adding (or perhaps editing past posts), you’ll see a blue Post Options button in the bottom-left corner.
From there, expand the “Advanced” options to change the post’s SEO Title and SEO Post Description. Just follow the same practices when optimizing the page title and meta description of any other page.
The permalink lets you set exactly what the URL ending will be. So the structure will be something like this:
This is pretty cool because you could have a blog post with a longer title, maybe “12 Ways To Start Yoga Without Pulling A Muscle” and then type in “yoga-safety” into this permalink area so your URL would be:
It’s ideal to feature your keyword in the URL, but always keep your human visitors in mind as well. It’s great to have shorter URLs that are easy to remember and share.
So for my site, if I was going to do a blog post targeting the keyword “Chicago Cubs Parking” I might make the title something catchy like “How To Master Chicago Cubs Parking Like A Local.” Then, I would set my permalink to just be “Chicago-cubs-parking.”
For the title and description, you can follow the same ideas I mentioned in the last section about setting these for the pages on your website. Use your keywords, but try to do something that is going to catch human attention when they see this in the Google search results.
I recommended inserting a clear call-to-action that aligns with the audience’s intent. It must also revolve around the search term or phrase used. For example, if the user types in “email marketing,” then a meta description that concisely defines what the term means will surely grab attention.
TIP: If you’ve already been blogging with Weebly and have never done this, go back and edit your past posts to at least set your Title and Description. I don’t suggest changing old URLs, just make that a part of your process moving forward.
Why You Shouldn’t Change Old URLs
It may seem counterintuitive to leave old, out-of-date URLs in place, but there is a reason that I don’t suggest making this specific update.
Changing the URL on any page is more likely to hurt than help your SEO rankings. Because of the complexities involved in indexing websites, culling search results, and loading websites, even a single character URL change can negate the work that you’ve done on building a solid traffic funnel.
Additionally, any site referrals that you have worked hard on setting up may be lost. Setting up the proper 301 redirects can help this, but even with smooth redirects, it is estimated that you will lose up to 25% of traffic during those crossover moments.
Unless it is absolutely necessary to change your URLs for a bigger reason, I do not recommend changing them simply to try to improve our SEO. You aren’t likely to see any positive changes!
Weebly On-Page Optimization
Besides what you set up in the advanced settings, there are a few other things you can do on the page, which are good common sense for SEO.
1. Use the keyword early on (ideally in the first paragraph) of your post, which helps cement the exact topic of your content in the eyes of Google.
Instead of worrying too much about keyword density, I suggest that you mind where your keywords are placed. An important practice that you can consider is using keywords in your meta title, meta description, H1, URL, and at least once in the main body.
2. Don’t forget to optimize your ALT tag on your image. In Weebly, whenever you add an image, click on the advanced tab:
Once in the Advanced menu, you’ll see a field for the ALT text, which is set to “Picture” by default:
Alt text is described in Wikipedia like this: “In situations where the image is not available to the reader, perhaps because they have turned off images in their web browser or are using a screen reader due to a visual impairment, the alternative text ensures that no information or functionality is lost.”
In Weebly, you should use this Alt text as an opportunity to use your target keyword, or some form of it, while describing the image. Google is able to read this Alt text, so leaving it as “Picture” in Weebly is a missed opportunity to demonstrate further what this page is about.
Tips for Optimizing Your Images for SEO
In addition to using Alt text as a way to improve SEO, you also want to prepare any image files for the best ranking results:
- Always retitle your images to a relevant, keyword-forward title before uploading it to Weebly. Google takes file name into account when preparing rankings.
- Resize the image before uploading to match the largest size of that image that you would ever want to be displayed. Loading times effect ranking, and large image files do not load as quickly as small ones.
- Add captions to the most important images in your article; readers tend to read captions more than the article text itself. Improving reading time will improve rankings.
- Provide context for all images in the text surrounding the image. Not only does this give better understanding to readers, it helps Google to understand what it is scanning.
- Use Weebly “Title” and not just bold text for your sub-headers. When you are breaking up your longer pages, drag over the “Title” element and use that as a sub-header. This will put an “H2” tag on that title, which helps Google understand the structure of your page.
This is a much better approach than having one huge text block and just breaking up your sections with some BOLD text, a mistake I made when first starting out.
Why does it matter if you use H2 tags and subheadings?
Both H2 and other subheading-tags break up your article or informational text into smaller, scannable components. In addition to making it easier for Google to index and understand what your content is about, these tags also make it possible for readers to skim your page and find exactly what they’re looking for without becoming frustrated.
The faster that both Google and any visitors can find what they are looking for on your site, the better your chances are of having a high-ranking page.
What should these sub-header “titles” be like?
An SEO plugin that I use for WordPress suggests that you use your exact keyword in at least one sub-heading on the page. If it makes sense, go ahead and do that. If not, use Long Tail Pro to find some other keywords that complement your primary keyword on the page and use those as your sub-headers.
For example, if my page was about Chicago Cubs Parking, I might have a sub-header (Title element in Weebly) that is “Where to Find Free Cubs Parking” or “Off-site Chicago Cubs Parking” and maybe “Free Shuttle To Wrigley Field.”
Again, none of these are my exact keywords, but they are certainly all pieces of the puzzle when you talk about parking for a Cubs game. There are times when it makes sense to take this approach, and in fact, you can end up ranking #1 for a page on your site for a bunch of different keywords.
Need help finding great supporting keywords? Long Tail Pro has you covered.
What About the Weebly SEO Settings?
To this point I haven’t talked about the “official” Weebly SEO settings, which you see under “Settings” and then “SEO” on the left:
While I put a site description in here long ago, I showed earlier that the description I put in the settings of my homepage is what actually shows up in the search results when you Google “Ballpark Savvy.”
So I’d put a site description in here, heck, maybe the same one you use on your homepage. I don’t think you need to worry about meta keywords, as years ago Google said they don’t use them in their ranking. Perhaps the only use for them now is for labeling purposes, which is great if you’re working on the SEO of a website with a team.
As for Footer and Header code, this is where you can put in your Google Analytics or other tracking codes. I’d definitely recommend this (mine is in the header code area, not shown above) as it will allow you to see how many visits you are getting, where they come from, where they go, and much more.
If you need help setting it up, check out this tutorial.
So in short, there are a couple of things you should do in Weebly’s main SEO area, but I think focusing on all the other things on specific pages and blog posts are much more important.
Limitations of Weebly’s SEO Functions
While SEO for Weebly sites isn’t a complete lost cause, there are some limitations that I want to mention that you may encounter when working on Weebly.
The biggest drawback that should be mentioned is the difficulty of adding very advanced tools to your site. While you can control the HTML of your Weebly page, you can meet some difficulties if you have a lot of custom add-ons that you want to implement to improve SEO.
Many site owners who like to use very advanced add-ons have found that implementing them through a site like WordPress can be more functional due to the specific ways that they allow for theme and site editing.
Still, Weebly provides the tools that most site owners need to smoothly manage their content in an SEO-forward, visitor-driven way.
If you have any questions about SEO for Weebly, or maybe your own advice to add, please share below! If you’re still sitting on the sidelines and haven’t even created your site yet, Weebly has a lot going for it, especially for beginners.
Don’t forget to check out Long Tail Pro for a FREE 7-day trial.
Also, if you’ve decided to go with Squarespace, what are you doing reading this? Go read our guide to Squarespace SEO instead!