Responsive Web Design - What It Does and Why It Matters

Responsive web design is a term attributed to Ethan Marcotte from an article he wrote in 2010 in which he describes it as:

"fluid grid/ flexible images/ media queries"

In simpler terms it is content that automatically changes/responds to the dimensions of the device/screen so that the content remains easily viewable and usable by the user/visitor.

Responsive web design capability has been around to some degree since 2008/2009. However folks still didn't adapt the practices until the past 3-4 year. In fact some folks still refuse to use it or add on an upcharge to do it.

The reality is that responsive web design should be done, should be an industry standard, and shouldn't cost more to provide.

What Does Responsive Web Design Do?

As mentioned before, it automatically changes the content based on the dimension of the device/screen. However there's more to than just that. Basically when you view a website from a device, the browser will look to see what the screen size is set to and then render it based on what the website tells it to do. So for example a website viewed on a laptop will look different than a cellphone. Both will have similar content and style, but the layout will be different. Check out the different views in this screenshot.

Responsive Views Of Vertical Hosts

As your screen size changes, so should the design/layout of your site. It should automatically adjust things like images and text sizes so it stays readable/viewable no matter the screen size. The purpose of responsive web design is so you don't have to zoom in or out to view the content.

As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, some web design companies still refuse to accept responsive web design as an industry standard, or MUST HAVE. They also like to misrepresent how easily it's implemented, and instead add on an upcharge or upgrade fee to add the capability. In fact, they have to purposely seek out older software versions just to implement a non-mobile friendly, non-responsive design.

Why Does Responsive Design Matter?

For starters, it matters because search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yandex will penalize sites that are not optimized for mobile devices. Second, because visitors to your site deserve a sight that works well on their device. They shouldn't have to zoom the page, squint to read text, or struggle to click a button or menu. Third, because it drives traffic and engagement because folks can actually interact with the content. Last but not least, because there's ZERO excuse for a website to not be responsive in this day and age because over 50% of all website visits are done on a mobile device.

Your amazing service or company will only help website traffic so much. It's guaranteed that a poorly designed, non-responsive, non-mobile friendly website will drive sales and traffic AWAY from your site.

In this age of COVID, you need all the sales and leads you can get.

Our promise to you:

Keyword Stuffing and why it's bad.

Meta Keywords used to be one of the most popular (and still is for some web design companies) ways to boost SEO. It's a bad practice and you need to check your website for it.

Black Hat SEO

The problem is that folks stuffed keywords everywhere (in the code, on page, and so on) that companies such as Google decided to eliminate it's usage for SEO. In fact it continued to be abused so much that Google started penalizing websites for it. In the industry it's consider/called Black Hat SEO. Black hat SEO refers to a set of practices that are used to increase a sites or page's rank in search engines through means that violate the search engines' terms of service. Guess what happens when your site gets caught for a violation? Your site gets buried in the returns.

How do I Check for Keyword Stuffing?

Two ways to easily check for keyword stuffing is to check both the front end (what visitors see) and the back end (what you see logged in as an admin and the sourcecode).

On the front end, you can check your pages and/or posts. Do they read normal or do they read like gibberish? If your pages/posts include keywords, that's fine as long as it reads normal. If your pages/posts read like gibberish, like a child is piecing sentences together, odds are either whoever did the text didn't bother proof reading (which can also cause SEO issues), or they are trying to keyword stuff. Here's an example from Google.

Google Keyword Stuffing Example

Back end keyword stuffing isn't always easy to find. However one quick way is to right click on a page on your website, then click on View Source Code. Then press Ctrl F or Cmd F for the finder and type in keyword. You're specifically looking for meta name="keywords" in the code. It should be near the very top. Here's an example of one Knoxville Web Design company that's still doing keyword stuffing. The highlighted area shows an example of meta keyword stuffing in the code.

Keyword Stuffing By A Knoxville Web Designer

Another way some folks are keyword stuffing is by adding normal text on their site, and then adding CSS (display:none) so that website visitors don't see it. However folks like Google when they crawl/scan your site are able to see the text. This method is even worse than adding it by a meta tag.

So how do I add keywords correctly?

Knowing when, where, and how to use keywords correctly can make all the difference. Here's 5 ways to use them appropriately:

  1. Title

    A page or post title describes the main subject of your page and shows up as the first line of a search results entry to let both Google and searchers know exactly what the page is about.

    Placing all or part of the keyword here is important.

  2. Meta Descriptions

    The description is the second most important area, and shows up underneath the page or post title in search returns.

    Though the meta description is no longer a direct ranking factor, it can help Google determine how relevant your content is to what people are searching for.

  3. Subheadings

    Subheadings help make your content scannable by giving your readers’ eyes somewhere to pause. They may help visitors decide about the relevance of content to their needs. Additionally, subheading may also appear as part of a featured snippet or answer box in search returns.

  4. Content

    One of the most important places to optimize the use of SEO keywords is in your content. That’s because content is one of the top SEO ranking factors. It’s essential to get it right, poor keyword usage can actually hurt your search ranking.

    For example, it’s crucial to avoid keyword stuffing. If you’ve got keywords in every other sentence the chances are your content will incur Google penalties. See the Google example shown above again if you need reminding of keyword stuffing.

    An SEO best practice is to include latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords in place of the exact keyword every time. Just remember this if nothing else, it's important to always write for people first, and to make the content readable and understandable.

    Another important part of good content and SEO is Images.

  5. Images

    Here's a few tips to remember in regards to using images and making sure they help your SEO, especially Keyword inclusion:

    1. Relevant Images - Make sure the images you're using are relevant to the topic.
    2. Filename - Use keywords and LSI in the file name.
    3. Title - Again use keywords and LSI in the title, just be sure it accurately reflects the image.
    4. Alt Text - Add an accurate description with the Keywords and LSI in it. Don't stuff.

    Another great way to achieve this is through SEO software or plugin. Many will auto add the Title and Alt Text based on the File name. So just be sure to use a good and accurate file name that uses your keywords in it.


Google announced in 2009, yes 2009, they would no longer use the meta tag keywords for ranking. Want to know more, check out Google's Webmaster Guidelines.

Many folks still use keyword stuffing at the cost of getting penalized in ranking. They honestly believe that black hat SEO will help them achieve lasting and legitimate results. They won't. Don't fall victim to a shady web design company that uses these sorts of techniques.

Use the contact form below, and let us provide SEO that works and follows best practice standards.

Google My Business Category List (2020)

What Are Google My Business Categories?

When you set up a new business in Google My Business, they require you set a category for your business. As the best Knoxville web design agency, Vertical Hosts does this all the time, especially as a part of our basic web design SEO service. When you set your category, it helps your business show up for relevant searches in Google My Business and Google Maps, which can give your business a big boost if you primarily target local customers.

A few numbers to keep in mind:

How To Choose The Best Google My Business Category

When you select a category, you’ll have the best results if you follow these three rules:

This list is sorted in alphabetical order. You can freely save/download a copy and share as you need to.

You can view/download it as a PDF: GMB Category List PDF

As a Google Spreadsheet: GMB Category List Spreadsheet

How to Improve Your Local SEO in 8 steps

Updated October 7, 2020

Every local business needs ways to increase their online presence without having to spend money on every little thing. This article covers some of the most common and easiest ways to immediately boost your local presence.

When you start the process of SEO, keep in mind that there is no instant solution or guarantee. Companies that promise you'll get quick results are lying to you. The SEO process takes time and legit techniques to achieve the results you want. Never settle for cheap tricks or techniques, they will only result in your site getting flagged and worse ranking than if you did no SEO at all.

  1. Create and Verify your Google My Business profile.

    Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can benefit your business, but it goes beyond getting your website ranked for various content and keywords. Google My Business provides local SEO with a twist.

    When you search for something like “restaurants near me” you’ll see a map at the top of your screen and information on shops listed in the main search results such as the name, address, website, phone number, and reviews for each business based on your location.

    Most people don't realize that the information does not come from the businesses website… it comes from their Google My Business profile page. If you don’t have a Google My Business profile set up and verified, you're missing out on an easy and valuable opportunity to get in front of local customers.

    Google My Business is free and they take about 20 minutes to create. Click here to learn more and get set up today.

    One important note, don’t forget to verify your profile. To many business owners forget to do this.

    Not only is verification critical to getting your business listed, but also helps verify you’re the valid owner of your business page. This also helps for any future edits to your business profile you may need to make.

    Google will send you a postcard with a verification code to the business address only. You’ll need to enter this code in order to verify your profile. Another important note, don't use a fake address or PO Box. This will actually hinder your listing from showing.

  2. Check for Duplicate Google Business Profiles.

    Don't be surprised, but some time in the past you may have set up a Google My Business profile and don't remember it.... or worse someone else from the company may have done it for you trying to help out and you simply don't know about it.

    Google hates duplicate content in their search returns. They want to provide the most accurate search experience and results for its users, so when a user sees duplicate information it wastes Google's resources and could potentially affect your business profile due to violating Google's Terms of Use.

    You can easily find out if you have your page listed more than once on Google's My Business listings map by using the Moz Local Check tool. If you find duplicate listings for your business, contact Google immediately to get it removed so your rankings don't get penalized.

  3. Add Details such as: Categories, Description, Hours, Products/Services, and Photos.

    Once you've verified your Google Business, searched and reported any duplicate listings, it’s time to start working on your profile.

    Categories: Setting your profile up with relevant categories is a critical step to improving your rankings. Categories are like sections of the Yellow Pages. The more sections you are in, the more likely your business information is to get in front of prospects.

    Make sure that the categories you choose are actually relevant to your business, it’s against Google's Guidelines to include irrelevant categories. However don't just choose a category just to choose one. A few very specific categories is better than a bunch of vague one's.

    You can search this GMB Category List we have shared to find all the relevant categories for your business. Alternatively you can review categories other top-ranking local businesses have selected in their profiles and use the same ones.

    Description: You can add up to 750 characters of text in your Google business profile. You should take advantage of this by adding a detailed description of your business, services, and products.

    Products & Services: Google also allows you to add detailed blurbs about specific products and services. We recommend filling out these sections as it will only help guide consumers to informed decision.

    Hours: List your business hours, and make sure they match the hours on your website and other online business profiles. If you already know your holiday schedule, you can also go ahead and add that.

    Photos: We also recommend adding photos to your profile. The majority of consumers say local search results with good images help guide them towards a decision.

  4. Ask For Google Reviews.

    Reviews are a great way for your business to stand out from the competition. Your goal should be to increase the number of reviews, the average rating, and the frequency of them.

    Most businesses struggle to get customer reviews. This is often due to the additional effort it takes on your customers end to do this. The reality is though, reviews are extremely important for your online credibility and help improve local rankings on Google.

    Make It a Part of Your Business Process

    You need to consistently ask your customers for reviews (by email, call, or in person) and the process needs to be easy. We've personally made the process simplified with our online reviews form which prompts them to also leave a review on Google and Facebook by incentive (we offer 30 days free website care for each review they leave up to a max of 60 days).

    Sometimes folks get busy or simply don't want to leave a review, and a short email follow up with a question like: How would you rate our service and what did you like most? will allow for some feedback and a potential social spotlight you can at least provide.

    Remember getting positive review can be a slow process but over time it will add up and give you an advantage that's difficult to duplicate.

    If you ask for a review, you're more likely to get it.

    Ask Customers to Be Specific

    Ask your customers to include references/mentions to specific services/products in their review. Google is more likely to highlight your listing for a particular service if a reviewer has referenced that service in their review.

  5. Make Sure Your Business Details or NAP is Correct.

    NAP or Name, Address, and Phone number are extremely critical to your local ranking. It's important that this information is correct both on your website and your Google My Business profile. Google uses this for enhanced credibility.

    Be sure to carefully review your Business profile and Website, make sure the Name, Address, and Phone number are the same anywhere it's placed. Mismatched info can not only confuse customers, but also lower your local search ranking.

    Other Business Listings

    Google compares the contact information or NAP that's on your website to other business listings on the internet. When we say business listings, we are talking about other 3rd party business directories that may also display your business information publicly.

    As previously mentioned, use the Moz Local search tool to help aid in checking for incorrect NAP information on your business. This tool doesn't list every possible business directory, but it's a good place to review the most popular ones being used.

    Slight differences are okay such as Street vs St., or Highway vs Hwy. It's the major errors we are looking for such as a wrong street name, business name, or phone number.

  6. Build Your Citations.

    When an online directory or business directory lists your business NAP on it, this is referred to as a Citation. Some examples of other citations would be Yelp, Yellow Pages, Angie's List...etc. Most are free and others are not.

    Submit Your Business to Directories to Build More Citations

    Most likely your website isn't listed on several important directories that would help boost your Google local search ranking.

    You can use the tool we've mentioned, Moz Local search tool, to see if you're business is missing from the major directories. Moz's tool doesn't list every directory, but just the top 10. Once you use their tool, see what opportunities you have to add your business information to their listings.

    There's also also several websites that provide lists of local citation sites you can also add your business information to. Here's an example of two updated lists for 2020: The Top Citation Sites That Publish Your Listing Instantly and Citations by City.

  7. Add Keyword Relevant Content to your Site.

    Boosting local Google ranking has a lot to do with your site also. So while your website and Google My Business profile are two separate things, your website does have an impact on your local ranking.

    Google will often use keywords you've listed on your website on the map listing if they feel it's relevant to the search.

    If you're wanting to improve your chances of appearing in local searches, your website should reference all the different services you want to rank for.

    For example, you would want to build a separate page for each priority service with 500+ words with quality content including common questions with answers that potential customers may ask.

    A further way to increase relevancy is through frequent blog/news posts of content that pertains to your services. This could include answering common questions potential customers may have, showcasing products or services you offer.

  8. Mobile Friendly Web Design.

    Now in 2020, nearly 60% of online searches are carried out on a mobile device. And HubSpot found that 61% of mobile searchers are more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile-friendly website.

    Way back in April 2015, Google updated their algorithm to include mobile-friendliness signals in their ranking algorithm. And then, in July 2019, Google made mobile-first indexing its standard for all newly indexed sites. But many businesses still haven’t adapted. It is imperative to create a mobile-optimized website in order to compete in the local search results.


SEO, whether local or on a bigger scale, takes consistent and dedicated work. You have to not only be diligent but also stay on top of your business ranking and current standards. This means you need the tools and time to properly dedicate towards this.

Most companies don't have the time to do this or employees who know how to correctly engage in SEO tactics. We can help. Scroll down and contact us today to start your SEO today.