Are you a small business owner struggling to keep up with your digital presence on your own? Or maybe you aren’t struggling, because your website traffic was doing great last time you checked…. Sometime last summer. I have some unsettling news for you: What worked for your website last year, won’t work for you this year. SEO is ever-changing, thanks to a constant stream of Google algorithms aimed at knocking out spam and other nefarious attempts to manipulate search engine results (sometimes referred to as “black hat SEO”).

digital-marketing-1725340_640.jpgWith Google changing its algorithm several times year, it is important to do your research and change when it does. Here’s just a few of the important SEO factors coming into the start of 2017:

1) The Longer the Keyword, the Better
Hummingbird, Google’s algorithm update in late 2013, greatly decreased its’ reliance on keywords alone, but that doesn’t mean keywords are worthless. They’re still among the most important factors. However, there is almost no point in trying to target keywords that are only a couple of words in length (often called “short-tailed keywords” by SEO gurus.) SEO isn’t a new field and a decade’s worth of battles over these keywords have been settled, with nearly all short-tailed keywords already belonging to well-established websites, either the top brands in their fields or by reference materials like Wikipedia or

Short-tailed Keyword: Buy a house

Long-tailed Keyword: Atlanta condos for sale under $300,000

The latter query, called a long-tailed keyword, has two big benefits for your SEO. First, it’s far harder for the big brands and long-established websites to scoop them all up. Also, they’re the sort of digital queries a well-qualified Lead will be making. These are the type of people, in your area and looking for you, that you should be targeting.

2) Choose Your Battles
Oh no! Now everyone has to be targeting hundreds of specific, long-tailed keywords?!? No, you don’t have to and actually shouldn’t be. For most small businesses, being well-ranked for just a few keywords is all that’s needed for successful SEO and gaining new Leads. In many cases, only targeting three to five long-tailed keywords is completely sufficient. After all, if every single long-tailed keyword worked and you’re receiving more inbound Leads than your sales team can close, you’re not actually benefiting from them.

Spend some time with keyword research tools, especially Google Keyword Planner. Look for a handful of keywords that are relevant to your business and strike a balance between being frequently-used but not too short and generic. Those will serve you well in the beginning and you can branch off if you cement your top spot or find they’re not working.

smartphone-1208230_1920.jpg3) Geotargeting is Here to Stay
Geotargeting, delivering results that are relevant to where a searcher is physically, is big coming into 2017 and won’t be going away. This importance is due to the ever-increasing dominance of mobile searching.

On the small end of the scale, local SEO is huge and has been for several years now. Every day, more people are searching for products and services while they’re already en route, looking for restaurants nearby or a hotel at their next pit stop. Local businesses looking to draw in foot traffic can benefit greatly from having web pages that place a strong emphasis on particular areas, from popular cities to even particular neighborhoods.

On the other hand, SEO can be global as well of course. eCommerce stores and online ordering has made it so even small, locally-owned places can send their products across the word. If you are willing and able to serve a worldwide market, start including web content targeting major cities far away, or even other countries. Put in the effort to do it right though; having country-specific pages translated into local languages will boost your relevant rankings significantly (no spam, please!).

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You know that SEO is important to getting viewers to visit your company’s website. You know that using keywords in your website copy can help make your site more visible. What you may not know about SEO is that the rules are always changing. Don’t worry! If you bring in an expert marketing agency, like Mariposa, you don’t have to keep up with all of these changes on your own. You have a lot more important things to do, like running your business! Let our professional marketers keep up on everything else. Contact us today to discuss what SEO changes your website needs.

Read more: SEO Is Changing: What To Do To Keep Up