11 Strategic SEO Tips for Small Businesses in 2024

filed under:

light workplace with laptop in office

Hi, I'm Stepfanie!

And if you’re looking to learn more about SEO, content marketing, and website design—you’ll want to check out my weekly newsletter!

Thank you for subscribing!

If you’re a small business looking to take advantage of the power of Google, you’ve come to the right place! I’m breaking down 11 essential SEO tips for small businesses that are easy to implement and should be top of mind this year.

Here’s a quick overview of the small business SEO tips and tricks I’ll be going over in more detail…

  1. Write strategic title tags and meta descriptions
  2. Optimize image alt tags
  3. Prioritize content structure and use of headings
  4. Avoid filler sentences just to include your keywords
  5. Optimize internal linking opportunities
  6. Optimize anchor text
  7. Test out deep linking
  8. Don’t gatekeep your knowledge – leverage it with 10x content
  9. Setup and leverage a custom 404 page
  10. Avoid AMP pages (accelerated mobile pages)
  11. Take advantage of free SEO tools

Let’s get started!

Small Business SEO Tips and Tricks for 2024

Write strategic Google title tags to avoid a dreaded rewrite

If you’re a TSMC Insider and get The Friday Five, a weekly newsletter spotlighting 5 key takeaways from the week related to SEO, digital marketing, social media, Squarespace, and even some lifestyle content thrown in there, then you know 2021 was the year of the title tag rewrite.

First, let’s take a step back. Title tags, also known as page titles, are an HTML element that specifies the title of a webpage. They tell both users and search engines like Google the topic of the page, and they help search engines determine if the content of the page will be relevant to a searcher’s query.

Title tags appear in the following places…

  • The clickable element within the results of a Google search.
  • In the tab of your browser.
  • On external websites and/or social media platforms when a link to the page is shared.

Now that you know what a title tag or page title is, here are some easy tips for writing simple yet strategic title tags to (hopefully) avoid Google from rewriting them…

  • Put your focus keyword as early in the title tag as you can (NOTE: A focus keyword is the keyword or search term you want a specific post or page to be ranked for in search engines. Each page of your website should have its own focus keyword; the focus keyword could be a short or long-tail keyword).
  • Use “trigger words” to help drive clicks: how, why, ultimate, guide, etc.
  • Google has a 600px width limit for title tags so aim to keep them between 50-60 characters to avoid them being truncated (or worse, rewritten).
  • Every page and blog post needs its own unique title tag; do not duplicate title tags.

Optimize image alt tags for SEO and accessibility

Similar to title tags, image alt tags are an HTML element that tells search engines like Google what an image is. If for some reason an image is unable to load correctly, the image alt text can appear on the website.

Image alt tags are also crucial for website accessibility as the alt text is read by screen readers to tell the website visitor that one, there is an image, and two, what that image is.

With this in mind, you can see why it’s crucial to optimize your image alt tags for both search engines and accessibility. Here are some tips for writing the best image alt tags…

  • Briefly describe the image and its purpose
  • Be concise and try to keep image alt tags to fewer than twelve words
  • Omit terms like “photo,” “picture,” or “graphic of” as screen readers will announce that it is an image before reading the alt text
  • Write in a full sentence, not with hyphens or underscores between each word
  • For Squarespace website users, the caption becomes the alt text for image blocks. If there is no caption added then the file name becomes the caption (so make sure file names are optimized, too!).

RELATED: SEO for Beginners – Glossary of SEO Terms Explained

Prioritize content structure and use of headings

Similar to image alt tags, content structure and use of headings are essential for search engines like Google and screen readers. They also help website visitors understand and read the content more easily, and let’s be honest – they help people skim the content.

When it comes to headings, they typically range from H1 to H4. H1 is the most important headline of the page and/or blog post. H1 tags should only be used once per page. From there, the heading tags are used in order of importance. You’ll notice that H1 tags are the largest text and the H4 is the smallest of the headings.

Let’s take this blog post as an example….

  • The H1 tag is the title of the blog post at the very top of the page – 11 Strategic SEO Tips for Small Businesses in 2022.
  • There are two (2) H2 tags in this blog post:

    • What is SEO
    • 11 Strategic SEO Tips for Small businesses
  • There are then 11 H3 tags, which are each of the main tips for this blog post.

Avoid filler sentences just to include your keywords

Do you know those blog posts for recipes where it takes 10 minutes to even get to the actual meat and potatoes of the recipe? (food pun not intended). Well, a lot of that is filler or fluff content. Since recipes don’t contain a high word count, there is some benefit of describing the entire backstory of a simple chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Other times, it’s a bunch of filler content to help incorporate their target keyword and other keyword variations in hopes of helping their SEO. These filler sentences provide no value to website visitors and can almost be seen as a blackhat SEO technique – a big no-no.

People are busy and screen readers are smart, don’t add fluff content to your website or blog posts just to make them longer. Share your knowledge and insight…but get to the point (and use your keywords strategically without keyword stuffing).

Optimize internal linking opportunities

Internal links are links on your website that link to another page, product, blog post, etc on your website. Internal links are designed to keep website visitors navigating through your site, which in turn helps to keep them on your site longer. The longer people stay on your website, the better for SEO.

For example, if someone is reading this blog post on SEO strategies for 2022, I know that they are interested in SEO content. Because of that, I’ve included a “Related” content link under various sections that link to other relevant SEO-related blog posts. These are all inbound links.

When it comes to optimizing internal linking opportunities, you don’t want to link to all of the internal pages and blog posts you have, just like you don’t want to keyword stuff. Be strategic and evaluate what will be beneficial for your website visitors and your business. Make sure it is related to the content and that the anchor text is optimized (which takes us to the next SEO tip).

RELATED: Beginner’s Guide to Link Building for SEO

Optimize anchor text

Simply put, anchor text is the string of words that are hyperlinked to another page, website, and/or document. When it comes to anchor text and SEO, you want to ensure the string of words being linked is strategically selected. It should be succinct and refer to the nature of the content and/or website and avoid keyword stuffing.

There are a few different types of anchor text to be aware of…

  • Exact Match: anchor text is considered an exact match if it includes keywords that mirror the exact content of the page (ie: “link building” linking to a page about…you guessed it…link building).
  • Partial Match: anchor text is considered a partial match if the keywords are a variation of the keyword on the linked page (ie: “anchor text in link building” linking to a page about link building).
  • Branded: anchor text is considered branded if the brand or company name is used as the word or string of words being linked (ie: “The SM Collective” linking to our services or about page).
  • Image: I’m guessing you’ve heard of alt tags for images from both an SEO perspective and an accessibility perspective. Search engines like Google can read images (hence the image search function). They use the text contained in the image alt tag as the image anchor text. I’ll be diving more into image alt text later on in this post.
  • Naked: don’t worry, I’m keeping things G-rated here! Anchor text is considered naked when there is no string of words being linked and it is just the URL itself (ie:thesmcollective.com/blog). They aren’t the most attractive link type to see in a blog post, for example, so I usually opt for exact, partial, or branded when possible.

Test out deep linking

Deep linking is a type of internal linking that is even more strategically optimized. Typically with internal links, your anchor text or button is going to a different singular page and/or blog post. With deep linking, you are linking to a specific part of a blog post or page.

Deep linking examples include anchor text linking to a specific text passage in the blog post, a specific image, and jump links. You can see jump links in action in the What is SEO and Why is it Important blog post. An example of a deep link would be a link that goes specifically to the types of links important to link building section of that same blog post.

Don’t gatekeep: leverage your knowledge with 10x content

I see this far too often and it is quite a pet peeve of mine. A great blog post title (aka H1 tag), maybe it’s even a bit clickbait in nature, but it pulls me in and leads me to believe it is going to be a robust blog post, jam-packed with information and step-by-step processes.

And it ends up falling oh so short.

Do not gatekeep your knowledge. I repeat, do not gatekeep your knowledge.

I get it, you think that by providing too much information and educational resources for free that you are going to turn your audience and ideal client away from working 1:1 with you, signing up for your course, or buying a digital product from your shop. That may be the case for a very, very select few but with the majority, it helps to build trust and showcases you as an expert and authority in the space.

And that is what will turn them into paying clients!

Instead of being fearful of sharing information, rephrase it and ask yourself how can you make a piece of educational content 10x better than what is already out there. This is what I refer to as “10x content.” It’s a different viewpoint, a more streamlined process, a unique approach, a more in-depth guide compared to other resources on the same topic.

Setup and leverage a custom 404 page

Have you ever tried to access a link and you see a message on the website that says “Page does not exist?” That is called a 404 error, a type of HTTP status code.

An HTTP status code is a message that a website’s server sends to the browser (ie: Google) to indicate whether or not that request can be fulfilled. There are a few different types of HTTP status codes…

  • 1xx – Information Response: a server is thinking through the request
  • 2xx – Success: this is your normal, properly functioning website
  • 3xx – Redirection: signals that a page has moved permanently (301) or temporarily (302)
  • 4xx – Page Not Found: the page or site the browser is requesting wasn’t found by the server, most typically seen as a 404 error
  • 5xx – Server Error: a valid request to the page or website was sent but the server was unable to meet the request, or it’s unavailable (what happened the day Instagram went down)

With your website, you want to ensure you have a custom 404-page setup. We’re all human and no matter how many times you check every button and link on your website, something may have slipped through the cracks. This ensures website visitors still have a seamless and branded experience, and helps to not disrupt the user experience too much.

On your 404 page, keep the text or copy short and sweet. A witty or funny headline is a great way to start, and be sure to include a search bar or navigation back to your home page or popular pages/blog posts on your website so the user can continue to navigate.

RELATED: The Day Instagram Went Down – HTTP Status Codes and What They Mean

Say “bye, bye, bye” to accelerated mobile pages (AMP)

Unpopular opinion – I’m not a fan of accelerated mobile pages. There, I said it! Accelerated mobile pages, AMP for short, are a stripped-down version of your website that helps page speed and loading time on mobile. Now yes, a quick loading site is great for user experience.

With AMP though, all of the customizations and branding elements from your site go away. If you worked with a Squarespace website designer like me on a custom website, all of that hard work doesn’t get to be seen on mobile with AMP activated.

When using AMP, you technically have to manage 2 versions of your website and optimize both…which means they are essentially competing against each other. Call me crazy, but having your site compete against itself seems extremely counterproductive.

If you’re curious what the AMP version of your blog looks like, you can get a sneak peek by adding a bit of text to the end of the blog post URL. So if you’re blog post URL is https://mywebsiterocks.com/best-blog-post, you’ll instead use https://mywebsiterocks.com/best-blog-post?format=amp.

If you’re a Squarespace website user, you can check to see if you have AMP enabled or disabled in a few easy steps…

  • Click Settings and then click Blogging
  • Scroll down until you see Accelerated Mobile Pages
  • Ensure “Use AMP” is unchecked and disabled

If you’re still on the fence about enabling or disabling AMP, here are a few things to note about AMP in Squarespace…

  • Only blog posts can display AMP formatting
  • AMP formatting is only visible on Google and other mobile search engines will display the regular mobile version of your blog posts
  • Squarespace analytics DOESN’T record traffic on blog pages with AMP enabled
  • All blog post text will display in Muli font with AMP enabled
  • CSS and custom code won’t display so if you’ve worked with a Squarespace designer, any customizations to your site using CSS code won’t appear on mobile with AMP enabled
  • Only select blocks appear in AMP (audio, gallery, image, line, markdown, quote, text, and video) and all others will be hidden

Use free SEO tools to your advantage

You don’t need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on fancy SEO tools or platforms to have a successful SEO strategy. Not every small business has the funds to do so, the staff to manage it, or the interest in the super high-level info they provide.

Sometimes, the basics are all you need and there are various free SEO tools that can help improve your SEO strategy. I like to call these freemium tools because although they are free, the insights and data they provide are very impactful when it comes to improving your SEO strategy.

Some free SEO tools you can use for your small business include…

As you prioritize the power of Google and search engine optimization, be sure to keep these 11 SEO tips for small businesses in mind.

If you enjoyed this blog post, you’ll want to check out these SEO resources, too!

  • Get the free basics of SEO guide—a 5 day in-your-inbox guide to the basics of SEO
  • Subscribe to my weekly marketing newsletter: In true TGIF fashion, I send a Friday morning pick-me-up newsletter with a roundup of helpful biz tips, tricks, and resources on anything from SEO to web design to must-read books…and maybe even something for you to add to your online shopping cart.
  • Read more from the blog: The blog is stocked pantry-level-full with everything from SEO resources, Squarespace tips, how-to guides, and more.
  • Explore the resources library: The resources library is home to the best free web design and SEO resources.
  • Enroll in my signature SEO course: Learn SEO at your own pace AND get personalized support from live monthly Q&A calls, an interactive community, and guest expert sessions.

Did you love this post? Share it!

Hey there, I'm Stepf—Google Superfan & Passionate Educator

And the showit website designer and seo strategist you’ve been looking for

Through strategic Showit website design and done-for-you search engine optimization, I work with innovative and creative business owners like you to build magazine-worthy websites that effortlessly attract your ideal client—so much so that they’ll never want to leave.

Get to know me