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With the New Year turning in, it’s time for the rituals – New Year resolutions, yearly plans and business goals. This time add one more thing to your list – SEO trends to look out for in 2018. Without hesitation SEO is one of the best ways to draw organic traffic to your website. You better be prepared with a checklist of SEO trends you should add to your to do list this year.

Every year the trends and rules change faster than the previous year. By the time you catch up with the former, new ones are already popping out. This year prepare yourself from the beginning and don’t neglect even a single trend mentioned below.

Here’s your checklist for attracting organic traffic through Search Engine Optimization.

 1. Semantic Wise Search –  Semantic can be defined as the meaning of something. Combined with search it relates to deriving the logic out of the words. With matching concept, synonyms, meaning of the sentence, etc. search engines are able to provide better search results over matching just a few words in the search query. You will see this trend a lot in 2018 for the reason that it provides personalized results, understands what the searcher is actually trying to search and give them exactly that.

In SEO understanding semantics has major benefits. It is all about staying a step ahead the competition. When we know the topics well and keywords associated with it, great content can be created based on the kind of search queries can come in.

2. Optimising for Voice Search – Voice search will be seen growing a lot in 2018. Search Engines have already started optimizing results based on the voice search. More and more people are adopting this practise for its sheer convenience. Even though it isn’t their first choice to go for voice search, it is predicted to grow at length.

Optimising your SEO strategy for voice search is one important thing you should do this year. Voice search and semantic wise search will go hand in hand in 2018. As one grows, the other will grow more. With voice search you can do a better job at helping people find what they are looking for exactly.

3. Mobile First indexing – With Mobile First Indexing, Google will change how it looks at your site. It will rate you on how your site appears on the desktop and how it appears on mobile devices. All the content that is not optimized for mobile will hamper your ranking. Although there is no definite date given by Google as to when Mobile First Indexing will roll out, you should begin to optimize your site for mobile devices.

Make it your priority in 2018 to optimize your site for mobile users regardless of Google’s launch of Mobile First Indexing.

4. Anchor Text Cloud – Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink. It is usually marked in blue, linking a user to another page. As long as backlinks hold importance, anchor text will matter. It provides both search engines and users relevant information on the content of the link’s destination.

Before the Penguin update in 2012, anchor text was one of the easiest ways for Google to understand the relevancy of a website. Now it is one of the best ways to penalise spam and over optimization. This year your job is to know how Penguin analyses anchor text and determines whether or not the site should be penalised.

5. Earning Links – Google is very cunning when it comes to link building. You try to buy links, work through link baits, or any other default practices, you will be penalised. These faulty links are of low quality and it reflects on our links profile. These are all websites with low quality labelled for spam links and shady private blog networks.

The further away you stay from them, the better it is for you. Earn your links by adopting ways that are ethical and acceptable by Google’s guidelines. You can do guest posts, third party posting, etc. to gain high value links.

6. Poor Website UX – User experience is gaining tremendous value in search marketing for the next few years. With the launch of Mobile First Indexing, the rules of the game will change. Like it or not, you will have to be prepared with a better user experience else it will affect your ranking in the search results page.

Users are shifting to mobile devices for browsing, buying, connecting. This is predicted to grow even more in the coming years. Operating systems have started to put customer experience at the forefront and Google has taken this seriously by adapting to the evolving market.

7. Knowledge Graph – Google’s knowledge graph was launched in 2012 to understand facts about people, places and things and how all of these are interconnected. It is used by Google to improve it’s search relevancy and also to provide direct answers to searchers.

While it may seem like a pretty easy feature, there are some issues that need to be addressed on the SEO front. For example, if you search for Rihanna on Google, it will show you a number of links and information related to the celebrity. The first link that is a Wikipedia page and the official website comes later on. The website has call to action buttons to buy the albums, subscribe, etc. It’s low ranking definitely creates a loss of customers.

To overcome this, optimize your website for humans not search engines. Answer questions, create a structured website, think from the searchers point of view and give a better user experience.

8. Visual Content – There are very high chances of driving traffic from Google Image Results. Thus, you need to keep all the images on your site optimised for good. Most of us ignore this wondering how big a difference is it going to create. But you don’t know you might be up for losing a great deal of valuable customers if you don’t do it. Let’s not take the risk?

When your website has embedded images and videos, it gives major benefits: Ranking, traffic and conversions along with brand impressions.

9. AI and Machine Learning – Artificial Intelligence has been used by most of the marketers even now. It is not an entirely new concept. But in 2018, the use of AI is predicted to grow by 53%. You might see a lot of brands adopting this technology, increasing individual interactions with AI.

Give an out of the world experience to your audience never hurts. In fact it is the best thing a brand can do to get them to remember the name. There are also very high chances of a user becoming a loyalist when they are impressed with such experiences. Because let’s face it, no one can ever forget what they were made to feel.

10. Accelerated Mobile Pages – AMP is a framework for creating fast loading mobile landing pages. It was launched by Google to help publishers to improve the speed and thereby the customer experience.

It seems that Google is spending a lot of time on AMP. Most companies are focusing on creating single post pages entirely on AMP, leaving behind the non AMP versions. That’s how necessary it will become in 2018.

11. Latent Semantic Indexing Keyword – LSI keyword is a phrase that is similar in meaning to the main keywords. It is often a synonym. They understand user habits, what the user means to find when he/she types a query in the search box, and finally provide with the most relevant content.

LSI Keywords help in increasing organic traffic and ranking. They can escalate your Google traffic to 3X.

12. Featured Snippets and Quick Answers – Featured snippets are selected search results that are on top on the Google’s organic search results page. They answer the searcher’s query right away. Being featured means getting additional brand exposure.

It is beneficial to optimize for Featured Snippets and Quick Answers. Start with good keyword research. A study states that majority of featured snippets are generated by long tail keywords. Target question type search queries (those containing words like why, what, where, how, etc.) and informational intent.

13. Crawl Budget Can be Spent Wiser – Optimising your crawl budget is majorly to make your site appealing to the search engine bots. It’s important for you to maintain the hygiene of your website on the inside where you are focusing the pages being crawled, indexed and updated on time.

You have to give your best to make sure Google crawls your website. Apart from building links there several other ways to get bots to notice your website. Make sure there are no unnecessary redirect chains, ensure that important pages are crawlable, optimise the heavy and slow pages, have a neat and clear site structure, etc.

It’s time to work at present, for the future to work for you. Optimizing SEO for your website and taking into consideration the latest trends of the year have become increasingly important. While you keep you focus on customer experience, don’t have an ignorant eye for the search engines. Search engines have become smarter than humans and it’s becoming harder and harder to play games with them.

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