Get ready for a new year of changes to Google's algorithms—and your search engine marketing strategy.

The following five trends, distilled from a guide published on the Link-Assistant.com blog, will undoubtedly be buzzed about next year.

1. Dark Traffic

It's not news that an immense amount of traffic is flowing to websites from social media and messaging apps. But, thanks to a quirk of Google analytics, you can't necessarily tell that's the case.

When Google Analytics can't tell the source of a website visitor, that visit is recorded as direct traffic, even when it's highly unlikely that someone typed that URL into the browser bar. This so-called dark traffic may account for an increasingly large share of your overall visits, making tracking of your marketing activities more complicated: You've worked hard to increase your organic, social and mobile traffic, yet you can't be sure what's working.

For now, the only way to get a handle on your dark traffic is to create a direct traffic report in Google Analytics and then filter out the traffic to pages that really are likely to attract visitors directly, such as your homepage and the front pages of important content sections.

Doing that will enable to segment dark traffic from the genuine direct traffic, allowing you to better estimate the amount of dark traffic to your website.

2. Rich Answers

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Aleh Barysevich

Aleh Barysevich is a co-founder and the CMO of Link-Assistant.com, which makes SEO PowerSuite (website promotion toolkit) and BuzzBundle (social media software) for bloggers, webmasters, and online marketers.

LinkedIn: Aleh Barysevich