One of the things that often crops up in conversations with clients is “how can I up my ranking on Google”, and more often than not they’ll genuinely believe that there is some way to ‘game’ the rankings.
Well, there isn’t, clearly, otherwise Google wouldn’t exist, and what is more, whilst Google is naturally secretive about how its algorithms match your query to their indexes, it’s commendably open about how it uses the content of your site to compile those indexes.
If you own / run a site, and are worried about your ranking, what you need to do is let your developers take charge – and point them at the Google reference documentation – starting here -http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/.
Creating a Google-friendly site (yes, and Yahoo, Bing, etc.) is about attention to detail, and crafting each page, understanding the site structure (URLs inc.), every element on the page, the content etc. If you need some real-world pointers, then here’s a shameless plug for Glyn’s blog - http://darkin.wordpress.com/ – where’s he’s promised to reveal all. Should be good stuff.
(I feel quite strongly about this as I was beaten over the head repeatedly by my last employer (a very big online company, who should know better) with an SEO report they had commissioned from a bunch of charlatans who included pearls of wisdom such as meta keyword stuffing. Just to be clear, Google does not index meta keyword or description tags (although the description may be used to generate the snippet that appears in the results list) – details here - http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2009/09/google-does-not-use-keywords-meta-tag.html. If your “SEO consultant” tells you to put in keywords, fire them. If you have a dedicated consultant who is not on the development team, fire them. What we need is better tools with which to understand site structure / best practice.)
[UPDATE: don’t just take my word for it – here it is on Google’s own site: Don't feel obligated to purchase a search engine optimization service. Some companies claim to "guarantee" high ranking for your site in Google's search results. While legitimate consulting firms can improve your site's flow and content, others employ deceptive tactics in an attempt to fool search engines. Be careful; if your domain is affiliated with one of these deceptive services, it could be banned from our index. http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=40349 ]