The majority of the ranking factors with the most weight lie in your website and it's design. The page loading speed depends a lot on the server that the website is hosted on, but the site design can play a role too. Unoptimized images are the biggest culprit to poor website design slowing down your website. The amount of time users spend on your website is tracked by search engines. Do users have a reason to stay on your website? A easy to navigate and attractive website keeps users on your site longer. A blog, history of your business, and big photo gallery can help keep the users attention. Responsive design means that your website adapts to whatever screen it is being viewed on, whether a computer or tablet. Google's official stance is a responsive site is better than a site that has a mobile and desktop version, which is better than a site with only a desktop version. Keywords are still an important factor in your websites ranking but they do not play as big of role as they used to. The keywords that result in your website being displayed in the Google search results can be seen using Google Webmaster Tools. These keywords should be worked into the copy on your website.
The final ranking signal is website authority. One factor in website authority is the number of inbound links, or other websites that link to your website. This is why taxidermy.net asks that you place their banner on your site in exchange for listing your business in their directory. The quality and relevancy of the links makes difference. Having your business listed in the taxidermy.net or your state taxidermy associations directory is much more meaningful than links coming from a site that no one visits or one with unrelated content, such as a hair salon. Having social media accounts such as G+ and Facebook helps as well as being listed in directory sites like Bing Maps and Yelp.
SEO Scam Red Flags
A lot of scams surround SEO. Be wary of emails or calls charging hundreds of dollars a month and making promises. Some things to watch out for are:
- Guaranteed rankings: Google itself states that there is no way to guarantee results. If they guarantee they #1 ranking, I guarantee the company is a scam.
- Top Ranking in a short mount of time: It takes months for a website to build authority and rise in the rankings.
- Trials: SEO isn't done with a flip of a switch. Optimizing websites takes days of work and cannot just be undone.
- Affiliation with Google: The only people who know how the search algorithm work are employees of Google. That algorithm is Google's secret sauce, just like Coca Cola's formula. Anyone who has inside knowledge isn't sending out random emails or making cold calls to small businesses.