Moving From Squarespace to WordPress Is A Pain, But Worth It. Here is Why & How.
The website on WordPress

We recently moved a website from Squarespace to WordPress. It was a very lengthy process and in the end, was well worth the effort because we discovered multiple things.

Moving From Squarespace to WordPress Is Worth It

It turns out that Squarespace renames every image you upload. That means if you upload an image that has a search engine optimized file name Squarespace renamed it to something not friendly to search engines in any way shape or form.

[clickToTweet tweet="static1.hostingcompany.png is NOT a good filename for your images." quote="static1.hostingcompany.png is NOT a good filename for your images."]

During the migration process, we had to rename every image so that they are search engine friendly.

The second major issue is also related to search engine optimization. By default, all Squarespace accounts have an option disabled that really should be on for everybody without question. This option, while disabled, actually removes all EXIF data from the images. That mean search engines are not seeing any information included within the images that were originally uploaded.

Moving From Squarespace to WordPress Is A Pain

Moving was such a pain, but it had to be done, and the site owner wanted it to be done. It was a pain because all of the plugins recommended for importing content to WordPress from Squarespace did not work as expected. There are two reasons for this, the first being that Squarespace does not export all of its information into a WordPress readable file.

The second being that the recommended plugins for importing images from Squarespace do not work consistently, or at all.

So we went through the trouble of manually importing content including ecommerce content from Squarespace to WordPress. Fortunately, the website was not very large as it had a roughly 22 blog posts, 3 static pages, and 12 products. In the end, the products on the WordPress site were added using easy Easy Digital Downloads. It took me roughly two and a half hours to migrate this website when if it were WordPress to WordPress it would have been done in a matter of minutes.

How To Move From Squarespace To WordPress

If you are going through the efforts of moving from Squarespace to WordPress we recommend hiring a professional to do it. There are automated tools and plugins that can do it however they're not reliable.   So look for a service that can do it for you and look to do it fast. Don't wait until your site has many blog post, pages or products.

The website on Squarespace
The website on Squarespace

Do it while it's small because then the process is much quicker and much easier. But be aware that there will likely be road bumps and hiccups along the way because moving from Squarespace to WordPress is a pain. But as you can see it is important because you are limiting yourself by being on Squarespace and allowing them to hurt your business with poor practices for images (related to SEO).

There might be other issues with Squarespace but being that the website was small, we did not see anything else. If you do not care about SEO in any way shape or form, then they should not bother you.

The first step in migrating from Squarespace to WordPress is identifying a theme you want to use.

You can see in the first screenshot that the original website was very minimal. It was a clean white design with not much going on.

It turns out that the site owner liked our Lightly theme, so she picked that for the new website.

The website on WordPress
The website on WordPress

The new website is modern, built on the Genesis framework and hosted by us, proving Pencil and Lens with unlimited possibilities.

Once you have picked a theme, the next step is to go into the advanced settings in your Squarespace account and export the page and post data into a WordPress XML file.

Then using the WordPress Importer plugin inside of Tools, you can import the page and post content.

This will include embedded copies of images hosted at Squarespace.  It will not, however, import the actual images into your WordPress site.

Import External Images is a plugin that we constantly seeing recommend for Squarespace conversions.  However, we haven't had luck making it work.  It could be that Squarespace blocks the process, or it could be something else.

There are many tutorials about moving from Squarespace to WordPress. But we want to make it known that none are perfect. That's an important part of this article.

Yes, you can move. No, it's not easy. Yes, it's important to move.

Squarespace isn't alone in bad SEO practices, though. From what I have seen, Wix implements a layer of javascript, which embeds an iframe of content. The content inside of the javascript based iframe is the website content. That means when search engines are crawling Wix sites; they see no content.

It's a shame that services do this to their customers, but gladly that does not happen with WordPress.

(If you plan on using Squarespace though, we recommend reading this article on Squarespace blogging tips from our friends at Fotoskribe)

Would you like Imagely to build a Squarespace or Wix migration tool? Let us know in comments.


Thank you to Pencil & Lens for being a test case for Squarespace migration.

If you're looking for email templates for your photography business, check our Pencil & Lens!

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This Post Has 22 Comments

  1. Hey Scott. Great article. I had the opportunity to sit in on a conversation about the same subject on the WP Watercooler podcast: http://www.wpwatercooler.com/video/ep182-graduating-from-squarespace-to-wordpress/

    You bring up a lot of good points that were not mentioned on the podcast.

    I love the idea of a Wix/SquareSpace migration tool! Smart. If you guys decide to tackle that, maybe you’d be interested in a partnership with Beaver Builder? We get a lot of SS/Hosted Builder converts using our software. Seems like it could be a good fit. Feel free to ping me anytime to chat more about it!

  2. Several of my friends have opted for Squarespace, rather than letting my help them with WordPress. I love the idea, and think you might make money, on a Squarespace (then wix & weebly) migration tool. Love the idea. and thanks for this as I know one of my friends and one of my social media clients will be needing to move from SqSp to WP soon.

  3. Can you export the actual theme from Squarespace to WordPress? If so, how would I go about doing it successfully?

    1. No you cannot. You would either have to pick a WordPress theme that is similar, or design one to match your current site.

  4. I have been looking for this kind of advice everywhere, I am so glad I read this. I am in a bit of frustration at the moment with my Square space website. I have had it for nearly 2 years now and blogging is a massive part of my website. I have about 70 blogs and I am in the middle of an SEO contract too. I get probably on average 20 website hits a day, which is useless. The SEO company are not helping me either or trying to rectify problems I asked them to do and they won’t let me out of a contract.

    Which has made me think would it be worth making the switch to WordPress? Square space’s blogging system is very bad as well and it does not let me categorize and label my blog URL’s correctly. Which I suspect google is not a big fan of because, I always get Data structure highlight errors, when it does a page crawl.

    I would love to know what would be the best way to go about this?
    Anyone?

  5. Hey, this was an interesting read. I currently have SS and have been considering migrating, but my website is hundreds of pages with thousands of pictures. It would be a huge undertaking, so I’ve really been struggling with a decision. A migration tool would be super handy!

    Other than SS not indexing photos like WP, were there any other differences you noticed? Any other insight would be really appreciated!

  6. Just moving a SS site to Wp for a client now so really interesting to come across this. I somehow didn’t think it would be an easy move!

  7. This is a very interesting article. I just moved to WordPress and I must say it is totally worth it 😀 I am very happy .

    I must say the move went very smooth and easy ~~

    1. How did you do it? By yourself, or hired a service?

  8. Just the job! Thank you, Scott!
    I’m just considering Squarespace to WordPress migration. But as far as I lack any tech skills, I have an intention to use the automated migrator cms2cms. Any suggestion regarding this? I would be thankful!

    1. While we haven’t had any first hand experience with their service, we’ve heard good things from a handful of photographers who have used them.

  9. Interesting to read. I just imported in the opposite direction. Squarespace just seems a better fit for me. But I’m also guessing most of you do the self hosting on WordPress. I am (for the moment) on WordPress.com.

  10. I was chatting to a friend only two days ago about the differences between SquareSpace and WordPress. Hes has opted to try out SquareSpace. I will pass along this article to him for when he is ready 🙂

  11. Hello Scott,
    We want to import only the blog articles from our Squarespace .xml file and nothing else. We have a newly designed WordPress site already and the only thing we want from Squarespace is our blog articles. How can be do this? Thanks.

    1. The Squarespace export file includes all posts and standard pages. So you’d have to import all that’s there at once. But you could always delete the imported pages after.

  12. Thanks for the knowledge, helped me out a lot. WordPress is the way!!

  13. Such a great read. I’m currently looking to hire someone to help me with my migration from squarespace to WordPress, any reliable recommendations of companies which do this?

  14. Is this information still relevant in 2019? Squarespace has made some changes to their Seo and I wondering if it is even worth moving to WordPress now?

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