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By now you are well aware, maybe even painfully aware, of how ever-changing SEO really is. While you plan your strategy for the new year, it’s important to pay attention to the latest search engine optimization trends. What from the past year will remain relevant, what will fade away and what will emerge as new? As I look at the SEO landscape, I am struck by three very distinct things that I believe will become highly critical to effective SEO.

#1—Semantic Search

It’s been a while now since keyword stuffing has been effective. Long-tail keywords and relevant content that focused really on giving people useful information and direction have instead become more beneficial. That has happened as Google realized the importance of really using search to give people what they’re looking for. The keyword-only approach proved short-sighted and highly flawed. Natural verbiage not cluttered with odd words here and there is far preferable to anyone who actually has to read materials.

The next step in this evolution takes us even further away from the keyword days and focuses more directly on the general meaning of what is being searched for and what content matches that. As the study of meaning, semantics is all about this and it’s exactly what Google is doing more of these days. It gets a request via search and scans web content to see what best matches not based upon word or phrase but based upon meaning.

To make the most out of this new trend, the quality and relevance of your content and your outbound links will only continue to increase in importance for SEO. Additionally, if you have not yet ventured into the world of Schema markups, now is the time. Providing more context and meaning to a sitemap is exactly what a Schema markup is all about and how it differs from an HTML or XML sitemap.

#2—App Store Optimization

By nature, apps offer more flexibility than websites, even mobile sites. Their interfaces tend to be more intuitive and they are designed with clear purposes in mind. These are just some of the reasons that apps are starting to become more relied upon by consumers than their mobile website counterparts. While apps are showing up in SERPs, the bulk of them are still found on app stores. That means that your App Store Optimization, or ASO, should get some of your SEO attention this year.

Finding ways to increase the number of ratings, reviews and downloads for your app will directly impact its ranking in an app store search. When developing a new app, avoid making your name too jargony. Here is where keywords can still help you because the more descriptive your title, the more likely you will be shown in this new SEO frontier.

#3—Google AMP

Frustration with long page loading times is shared by consumers and Google alike. To this end, Google now offers you the chance to store your site content off-site. It is still available yet without those long waits. Targeting mobile users, Google Accelerate Mobile Pages, or AMP, can give you a whole new area to perfect some SEO techniques. Carefully select the content that you will put offsite and keep your mobile audience clearly in your mind when doing so.

Ready, Set, Go

Ready or not, the new year is coming and so are more SEO changes. Get ready to embrace them and implement them with vigor—testing as you go, of course.