As we move into 2017, I’m still meeting with the occasional business owner who thinks we are living in the same search engine optimization world as we were a decade ago. These men and women are convinced that keywords and links are the key to a prime position on Google, when in reality the company’s search algorithms factor in a much wider range of details.

To give you an idea of how much things have changed, and what you need to look out for if you want to get a leg up on your competitors, here are seven “hidden” search factors that can help or hurt your visibility on Google…

#1 Page Loading Speed and Online Time

Searchers like pages that load quickly, especially if they are trying to access content from a smartphone or tablet. For that reason, Google is also incorporating page loading times into its search algorithms, prioritizing sites that have immediate availability.

#2 Mobile Compatibility

As regular readers of my blog will already know, more than half of all web traffic now originates from mobile devices. Because more searchers than ever are looking for information while they are on the go, Google gives a big advantage to websites with mobile compatibility.

#3 Secure SSL Connections

SSL connections used to be reserved for financial institutions and online retailers. But, by encrypting transmissions back and forth, they make every online communication (like a transaction or form submission) much safer. Late in 2016, Google announced that SSL functionality would be considered a positive search signal, so it’s probably worth making an upgrade to your hosting package.

#4 Geographic Location Factors

Did you know that more than 25% of all searches are for local businesses and vendors? The programmers at Google do, which is why they incorporate phone numbers, ZIP Codes, addresses, and other geographic markers into their search algorithm. If you want buyers in your area to be able to find you, make sure your website has some indications about where you can be found in the real world.

#5 Internal Links Between Pages

Internal links help your search visibility in two ways. First, they make it easier for automated spiders to understand what each page on your website is about. And secondly, they assist humans who are looking for specific pieces of information, too, leading to a better user experience.

#6 Grammatical Errors

Recently, Google has started using artificial intelligence to look for grammatical errors, typos, poor punctuation, and other signs of low-quality content on webpages. Because it’s searchers want timely information that’s expressed in a professional way, you could lose search traffic if your website has obvious mistakes.

#7 The Timing of Your Last Content Updates

One of the great things about the web is that it allows you to get up-to-date information. Google knows searchers want the latest and greatest pieces of content, so it prioritizes recent entries and up-to-date pages over older search results.

If your website and Internet marketing plans aren’t producing the kinds of results you expected, it’s time to work with a creative team who can do better. Call the Biondo team in Philadelphia today to see why we’ve become a favorite of so many small and medium-sized businesses throughout the region.