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If you’re like most businesses you have probably invested a lot of time and money into your website. You may even have paid for SEO services to try and get your website onto the first page of Google. If you actually made it there, despite these issues, congratulations it was probably a lot of work. The sad truth is, you probably won’t stay there long. There are things about your website that Google is using to penalize you that you don’t even know about.

These invisible factors are not meant to single you out, they are all part of Google’s commitment to delivering the very best experience to their users. You see they are not picking on your website in particular but may be ignoring your website because it doesn’t deliver the very best user experience possible. So to determine if this is happening we need to look at your website visitors from Google’s perspective.

Photo by Niklas Hamann

Google wants happy users. They want to feel that their users are so happy with Google that they would never even consider using any other search engine. Yes, there are others. Bing for example, still holds a percentage of the search traffic and is poised to swoop in if Google should ever mess up and disappoint their users. Google is very aware of this so they try and listen to their users so they can deliver on all their wants.

So what do they want? Well, they want to know that they are getting the very best information possible when they put in their search phrase, whatever it may be. They want to know that their information is secure when they interact with Google, and the websites Google sends them to. The cybercriminals are lurking in the background, waiting to steal your information at any time.

Their users are using Google on their smartphones more and more. So they want to know that Google is sending them to mobile-friendly websites when they look at their search results. It is becoming a mobile-dominated world, and Google is preparing to deliver results from websites who understand this and ignore websites who don’t.

So are you ready to discover whether you are being “Google slapped?” Are you ready to face the honest truth about your website from Google’s perspective? There are five hidden things that Google will penalize you for and you probably don’t even know they exist. It’s at this point you might want to pass this on to your webmaster, so they can make the changes needed.

Let’s start with the most commonly known one, links.

Hidden factor 1 – Links – So we all know that links have a bearing on website ranking but there are many factors that are involved in link management. It is dependent on the authority of the linked sites. But they also check to see if the links contain the key phrase. This boosts the links value. So when you make those links to authority sites be sure they contain the key phrase, it makes a big difference.

Hidden Factor 2 – Content – Next is the age of the content. Newer content gets listed higher. So it pays to post not only regularly but more regularly than your competition. If they update once a week, you need to update twice a week. The important factor is that your content is newer than theirs.

Hidden Factor 3 – Key PHrase – We also know content needs to be key phrase rich, so be sure to manage the key phrase count.  Because while they want it key phrase rich they don’t want to see any key phrase “Stuffing!”

Hidden Factor 4 – Mobile Friendly – Next we need to address how your website looks on a smartphone. Even if the user is not on a smartphone Google wants to make sure that if the user should happen to revisit your website on their smartphone that they have a pleasant experience and your website looks good and navigates well.

Hidden Factor 5 – Speed – Google wants your website to load in under 5 seconds. Why 5 seconds? Because that has been established as the maximum time a user will wait for a site to load before they are gone. Google does not want too many of those experiences so they tend to avoid websites that take too long to load. They will show them if there is absolutely no other alternative that does show in under 5 seconds but ideally they have a 5 second rule. Your only saving grace at this point is that your competitors likely don’t know this either.

So to sum it all up. Manage your links, keep your content fresh and key phrase rich, make sure your site is mobile friendly not just responsive because some of those aren’t as mobile friendly as you might expect. Bottom line if you’re not sure test it. Visit your own website on your smartphone and if it is not a pleasant experience for you… guess what.

Also, if you want to be sure you get picked over the competition be sure your website uses “rich data” if you’re not sure what that is, look it up. It is very important to Google!

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