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SEO Company | Intro

– Let’s starts with a few essential Search Engine Optimization take-away tips:

  • Increasing (from seconds to at least three minutes) the average time that visitors spend on your pages will improve your ranking.
  • Link building is not at all the same as it was in 2010. In fact, if your content shines forth with quality and devotion to a niche theme, you should get a similar level of trust from search engines that came from having lots of inbound links. There are exceptions: Sometimes (for big corporate firms) you will need serious backlinking. The crucial aspect of success in 2021 for SEO is sincere, patient creation of high value content not link building. SEO today is 60% about content expansion.

Ask Ardan Michael Blum for details. Request a 15 minute online demo!

Announcing Santa Barbara SEO Services:

Our Palo Alto SEO company is expanding operations to the California central coast. Discover our Santa Barbara SEO services and training workshops, new dedicated social media and more.

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About Us:

A. Blum Localization Services is a Palo Alto SEO company founded in 2016 by Ardan Michael Blum, who has 30 years of marketing experience. We combine SEO services with client Search Engine Optimization training.

We set our business model to provide results and then teach our client’s staff how to self manage. Our work and teaching centers itself on giving our clients MULTIPLE top ten results on Google.

We focus only on organic (non-sponsored) results and lots of effort providing interesting info over months to each and every page (social media, blog and core website).

We will establish a list of the most searched combinations of location and a concept, brand, service, topic, theme, or product(s).

Then we discuss and create an office-wide timeline of year-long objectives.

Covid-19 Restrictions:

Because of the current restrictions, we are holding all our training online. We expect to return to normal operations by the end of 2021; providing in-house Search Engine Optimization training for Northern California from our Palo Alto office and SEO services for central California from Santa Barbara.

Authority Content:

Google uses, among many ranking factors, an AI system called MUM or Multitask Unified Model.

Stay aware of the changes in ranking factors (BERT vs MUM) yet, assume, that high quality content will remain the most essential ranking factor for all Google data centers over time.

A serious SEO company will explain to their clients that keywords repeated across a page are NOT the central aspect of a site’s ranking success. The tricks of 2004 are no longer fooling Google.

Today: There is a return to the mission of the World Wide Web. Let us never forget: The W.W.W was invented to connect experts and share expertise. Google has always aimed to stand out as an index for this type of lasting niche topic knowledge sharing.

Blending into a commercial site FAQ, glossary content and good outbound links (as well as dedicated pages which expand on topics presented) is a way to gain lasting success.

Working your content to the status of AUTHORITY is the secret to good ranking.

60% of ranking power comes from ORIGINAL, EXPANDING content, making your presence online an authority resource. The secret is to keep re-working your content for authoritativeness and trustworthiness.

The power of an ever expanding authority site goes beyond ranking well; having gained the trust of a search engine, you now are gaining the trust of the visitor. Your success comes from blending commercial interests with niche topic knowledge sharing. The remaining 40% in ranking power comes from on-page and off-page SEO. These are small to large tweaks and include link building. You will find examples of this further down the page.

Downtown Palo Alto:

Our SEO company is at 345 Forest Avenue in downtown Palo Alto, just East of Stanford University and a few blocks from the historical Hewlett-Packard Garage. For ease, we are holding office meetings outside at the charming Café Venetia on University Avenue.

See more about the city of Palo Alto and its history.

SEO Checklist:

There are at least 200 tweaks and techniques which may improve your ranking on search engines. In random order, here we share a few of these on-page and off-page SEO tweaks, techniques and tips!

  • Use Microsoft Clarity! This free tool can help identify site visitor behavior in several ways. The metrics dashboard offers a visual overview for a webmaster to see their site’s performance, and their popular pages. You will see insights and debugging information that can help a webmaster improve their pages. For example: It gives a heatmap view (where you see the clicks and movement of the user’s mouse). Clarity provides a color coded page scrolling tracker (where you see the depth of page visits). More: Microsoft Clarity – An Overview on our site. Related: The official Clarity blog.
  • I would suggest a reading: “How to Make Sense of Any Mess: Information Architecture for Everybody” by Abby Covert (not in any way a sponsored link). Also, see IA info at
  • Learn “rel commands” [a good intro here] which can be used, for example, to share the location of an alternate language version, an XML feed. The most SEO related aspect to these commands comes in the form of “nofollow” (tells bots to ignore the link relationship / see: “Qualify your outbound links to Google“), “ugc” (user generated content) and “sponsored”. Note: Along with header – source code – tags add the translated alternatives of your site in a drop-down language menu on the top of your pages.
  • If you are using curated content for some of your social media posts, then introduce the subject with a point of view and add related content which YOU have produced on the subject. See, on our site: On Using Curated Content In Social Media.
  • SEO is about getting things as clear and as simple as possible. Avoid complex navigation menus and opt for anchors and H2/H3 titles (as I use at the top for on-page navigation).
  • If you are using your primary site’s blog to include the announcement of a reoccurring event opt to make a small dedicated site instead. See more: About A Dedicated Event Site.
  • Tip: Bots and humans seem to like custom charts and graphics.
  • Direct users to a few main pages and avoid complex navigation menus. You can provide on-page navigation for long pages. The topic or category listing should be in an HTML sitemap. See, on our site: About Navigation Menus.
  • Google provides a helpful app called Primer. It is presented as: “(…) Primer is a free, fast and easy way to learn new business and digital marketing skills. Primer works offline too, (…) More on
  • Preload web fonts. See Link types: preload.
  • Do you have great content that could be repurposed into an infographic or a podcast? If so, then you should simply avoid a copy and paste process. Change the wording and expand to closely connected keywords and keyword phrases.
  • Show in your robots.txt file the location of your XML sitemap(s). See how to do this.
  • Set up tracking tools such as Google Search Console to analyze your search performance and user behavior. (See what a sample robots.txt page looks like).
  • Use (not a sponsored link) to check domain health.
  • If your blog qualifies (read carefully the terms) as a “news site” then use a good plugin to ping Google after a new post, create XML News Sitemaps and you can use the Publisher Center tool to share your content with Google News by submitting RSS feeds. Related: create a Google News section based on a part of your website. (Note that “Google Ranking in Google News is determined algorithmically by these factors: “Relevance of content, Prominence, Authoritativeness, Freshness, Location, Language”- Source).
  • Using content silo structure (or siloing) may negatively affect both the browsing and searching experience.
  • See: How to Reduce TTFB to Improve WordPress Page Load Times and Network Analysis.
  • See Powermapper (which, among many things, helps with for cross-browser issues).
  • Use Google My Business (and make posts within Google My Business).
  • Tip: Keep your pages free of distractions. If you want to make money with banner ads take a time-machine to 2010 or run a site with at least 200.000 visitors a day.
  • Keep all meta tags relevant to the actual content of the page.
  • Optimize image size with the ‘next-gen’ format such as WebP.
  • Linking to your deep pages from the description of YouTube videos.
  • Use an SSL certificate.
  • OUTBOUND links to high relevancy pages are essential. This is a way to validate and confirm your statements and the information you present. Taking the time to find great external links will boost a search engine’s trust in your site or blog. Tip: Use Google Scholar to seek an expert’s opinion.
  • Reserve your domain name for FIVE years or more.
  • Remove unused shortcode
  • Encode special characters (like quotes) into HTML form. (See the source code of this page).
  • Consider integration within a large site of a custom site search box. Google has “Programmable Search“. (See more).
  • Do not rush to use a CDN (Content Management System) for a site that does not have high security requirements and low traffic. The reason: Some CDN’s do so much re-writing that some of the file names going to images with the right keywords get converted by the CDN into random numbers and letters.
  • Purge your cache on page updates (this may be done automatically by some plugins).
  • Use mobile friendly fonts size and spacing between links.
  • Using pagination with rel=”next” and rel=”prev”.
  • Make ONE central XML sitemap which directs bots to page, video, post or other XML sitemaps.
  • Your Twitter card and your site’s meta description should closely match but should be adapted for length.
  • Use the right size image for the summary card link on Twitter.
  • Use a good amount of open graph format meta tags.
  • Backup your files! If you are using WordPress or another CMS seek out and zip your SQL file, the full directory (by FTP or the hosting provider’s admin panel) as well as the site’s main pages (client side view) saved manually. Make your life simple and use a Zip file compression type such as “.zip” which is the most commonly used.
  • The image ALT and image TITLE tags should not contain repeated keywords.
  • Think of cross linking between your pages. Orphaned pages (those not being cross-linked to) may be seen as less valuable by a search engine. (Make links to your cornerstone content from your home page).
  • Use keywords in category names. Example: towns where you provide a service, or the products you sell.
  • EXPERIMENTAL: Make some plain text content as an option for people using a screen reader. This would be a .txt file. You can put links in brackets. Link to these pages from a dedicated ADA/Accessibility friendly index. Use a noscript tag (provides a section that shows up on the screen of a browser which has scripting disabled) to direct users to this special index.
  • Use LOTS of structured data! (Learn more on this first rate page).
  • Localization Tip: Think about local expressions! Do not speak in miles when people use kilometers. Do not speak of values in Fahrenheit when people use Celsius. In other words: Good Localization is much more than translation of a text.
  • Work on page load speed.
  • Use a dedicated IP. (See: IP addresses and DNS).
  • Use of canonical URLs. (Example of the rel canonical in the header of a page source code view.
  • When you make an HTML sitemap (which you should for a large site) do not use JavaScript for the drop-down menu sections. See the top of this page and click on the orange link to see a good example of how to open and close an accordion simply with the “details” tag in HTML5.
  • Tip: The database for many content management systems may contain errors. Call your hosting provider to see if they offer a tool (most do) to check the SQL file. (Backup this file before running their checker tool).
  • Set the default link instructions for non-essential outbound links to open a new window and use nofollow, noopener and other link qualifications. See also: UGC (User Generated Content), and sponsored.
  • Stay informed on Search Engine Optimization news (by visiting the weekly videos).
  • Check for broken links.
  • Use Asynchronous script loading.
  • Tip: If you are going to present a time-related blog post add into the URL a date and upcoming or current information focus terms. Again: The date in the page name is important.
  • Add “breadcrumb navigation” manually into the top of a blog. (Many plugins make a mess of the navigation by their choice of words).
  • Use of at least one photo, or one video and/or other embedded content within each main site page.
  • Be sure that your link text (the words on a hyperlink) do not use your focus keywords.
  • Think about traffic from Neeva and DuckDuckGo. (Set robots.txt permissions for their crawlers).
  • Check and or other tools for domain age and also use online tools to check a domain’s reputation. This can lead to a choice of switching domains or staying with the domain. Said differently: An old domain that has never been used for spam content and remained faithful to a given theme or topic is likely to be trusted by search engines.
  • Get your site/blog verified on Bing, Alexa (see “Where can I find my Alexa Certify Code?“), Yandex, and obviously Google.
  • Manually check your client’s site WITHOUT going through Google and clicking on your ranking. If you do this too often from different IPs with the same cookies this can be seen as an attempt to manipulate results.
  • For a blog: Decide if you want to remove / strip the category base in the URL. Generally, I would NOT do this for a large blog.
  • Think of combining your CSS files into one and validating the CSS! You can also put your CSS inline (with a good plugin’s help). This option can be good for short pages.
  • Create pages for custom 307, 410, and other http response status codes.
  • Keep track of 404 errors.
  • Manage 301 re-directions.
  • Only use a cache plugin after comparing the many options to achieve this. This area is very complex as there are issues of compression of site assets and server requests that need to be understood. Do not opt to “cache everything” with a plugin and avoid the several hours needed to understand this topic.
  • Think of how your meta title (and description) will look on mobile vs desktop view. Use a tool that gives you a “Google preview”.
  • For advanced users there are Cron jobs monitor and control plugins. (More about Cron jobs).
  • You may wish to block bot access to author, date-related and all other archive pages. You should ALSO add a “Noindex” meta tag to these sections.
  • Be aware of over-use and/or under-use of keywords and their related terms.
  • Be aware of possible attempts to lower your site’s ranking by checking statistics (example: take action to disavow bad inbound links). The average user time on a site and the average user time on a page COMBINED with the arrival of a visitor from a search is your ticket to success. Long dwell/stay-times from users who went to Google and come to your pages are the most important single confirmation as to the ranking placement being correct (the longer the stay, the higher the placement).
  • Use your main keyword as the first word (or within the first two words) in your meta title.
  • Use Google’s Lighthouse! It is a first rate open-source analysis tool.
  • Use which provides much in the way of detailed reports and awareness for readability level, pacing, cliches, and more (not a sponsored link).
  • Think “information sharing is king” and expand your content to a FAQ, and/or a glossary.
  • Suggestion: Have your videos set to a width of 100% for fast loading in mobile view.
  • Check that our client is not appearing with a duplicate version with / or without https and with (or without) www.
  • Suggestion: Host your site on a Unix server to have access to the .htaccess file which gives one the option for configuration changes on a per-directory basis.
  • Get multiple social media accounts to link to new content on your blog. Do not rely solely on your own social media.
  • Make a plan to update your social media with original images and different texts. (Related: Google Images best practices). With constant diligence you will probably get the reward of having, per example, your Tweets show up live in Google results! (Use non-generic images. Avoid the same image and same text in copy and paste across your social media. A resource to check out is Canva).
  • Use a hosting provider which has a seriously professional approach and great client communication. This is sometimes hard to find. I generally use Godaddy as my hosting (with FTP access) and keep my domain names with Google Domains. Related: DNS propagation and Google Domains features.
  • Check that your floating items (like accessibility support tool, live chat) and pop-ups do not cover each other. Test this with a good cross-browser testing tool as well as testing for this problem across the main device sizes and types. Very often MAC and PC sizing is not exactly similar and this can create problems in site navigation for users and anytime your visitor is stuck working out how to navigate or access something is a higher chance that they leave your site. Do not forget: More powerful than link building is the average visitor time spent on a page. Making that time easy ( is the perfectly designed example) is essential, and this comes with design and navigation and pop-up and floating item control.
  • Re-read your pages several times! (Sometimes the order of content needs to be shifted).
  • Visit to view how your client’s site has changed over time as well as how your client’s competition has changed.
  • Use Google’s “Performance audits“.
  • Examine how your site appears with third party cookies blocked, with JavaScript blocked, and with all cookies blocked.
  • Avoid duplicate content. If you are working on a client’s site, inquire as to the source of articles. It may be that content now online was previously found in .ppt or .pptx (Microsoft PowerPoint), .doc or .docx (Microsoft Word), .xls or .xlsx (Microsoft Excel) or a PDF and Google has this document as the source of the content and not the webpage. Often,gmai firms use their best content in brochures. Look for the online version of these brochures – they may be seen as powerful pages even if they are not in the classic HTML format(s).
  • Avoid allowing user comments on your main pages (allow comments only on a limited basis for certain blog posts – but NEVER on your home page, or main content pages). IMPORTANT: THIS POINT IS NOT CERTAIN. I AM HEARING A LOT OF DIFFERENT VIEWS some of which support the idea that Google reads everything on a web page as a single content blog. HENCE, THE QUALITY OF EXTERNAL USER COMMENTS SHOULD BE ADDING INFORMATION OR VALUE TO YOUR SITE. In other words: It is possible that poor level comments may degrade the value of your page as Google may not separate “comments” from “site content”.
  • Make podcasts and/or videos which expand your content and cross link to your pages.
  • Have the standard grouping of “about us”, ”contact” and ”legal” pages.
  • Test your site for accessibility issues. (Scroll page for more)
  • Your page names and folder names should be as clear as possible.
  • Combine header (H2-H5) and anchor tags (jump to location markup) with the same words.
  • Do not assume that using AMP is going to help your ranking! AMP is NOT a Google Ranking Factor it is a made for mobile speed enhancer. In other words you may not need AMP pages (provided you control the loading speed of your site in mobile view with properly sized images and do not use too many scripts).
  • Here is a free and helpful extension from Google which will provide a jump to a section (in highlighted yellow) for a text selection (great for your outbound links).
  • Identify new potential markets and start selling to customers.
  • Test the reading-ease score of your main content (see:
  • Reduce IP collection to the legal requirements of GDPR, “California Consumer Privacy Act” and other regional data protection laws.

And there are more small to large ranking factors to be adapted for each blog, site page, and social media account.

Further Reading:

Important: Whatever you learn about Search Engine Optimization should NEVER be thought of as a one size fits all.

Our Search Engine Optimization Company provides SEO Services and SEO Training

More SEO Basics – Sampling Training Topics

The Keyword Meta Tag Can Be Used In A Limited Way:

A decade ago people were making half a page of meta tags with typos included. This was clearly out of control and led to a public statement by the then head of Webspam at Google that they were “no longer reading the keyword meta tag” (see video of Matt Cutts).

Today, I would use the keyword meta tag in a highly limited way. Will this use of one or two keywords help your ranking (be a ranking factor). The answer is still probably no for Google but certainly not the same for other search engines!

Think, when writing the content, that this is a “bot-visitor’s guide” to the expected subject matter. This bot-visitor will EXPECT to find your keeping a close correlation between the unique keyword tags (up to three) used.

Meta Description Tips:

Think about what you are saying from the vantage point of both “getting people to click on your link” and presenting your brand / project. Do not focus your meta description on trying to cram keywords into a sentence.

Tip: Write down your page title and meta description together. Think of how both balance each other, how both connect. If your page is about something, then start with a question in your description meta content. For example: “What is _______ ? [add your main product or concept]. So let us say that “Palo Alto SEO company is your title keyword phrase – Then make your meta description tag inverse this: “SEO company in Palo Alto founded in …”.

Note: Currently the meta description for this page reads: “Our Palo Alto SEO company was founded in 2016. Our agency combines Search Engine Optimization services with client training workshops”. The idea of inverting the wording of PALO ALTO SEO COMPANY to SEO COMPANY PALO ALTO has not been applied, as this paragraph is being used to compensate for that lack.

New Web Domain Endings:

The first new generic top-level domain(s) or new gTLD(s) were launched in 2014 and continue to be released. These domain extensions (example: .live, .buzz, .top, .xyz, .icu) offer users a chance to have per topic niche / brand and market control.

Localization tip: Make small dedicated event related sites with international extensions.

Keyword Selection:

Determine a list of “non-subjective” keyword phrases (those terms searched for from the specific region / country as defined by using keyword choosing tools).

To allow your page to be best ranked your content has to aim to answer what is called the “informational intent”. That means (as said above) being able to claim an extensive level of authority on the topic / theme you wish to rank for. Part of this sharing of information will be about selecting external pages and similar quality sites which continue the knowledge sharing.

A good place to seek high quality content to validate what you are saying (with an outbound link from your page) is Google Scholar. For more, see an outstanding article by Yoast that will give you added search intent information. Use The Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends. This is how Microsoft Bing defines keyword research:

(…) Keyword research is the fundamental first step for content creators when deciding what content to create. Performing keyword research allows you to check the phrases and keywords that searchers are querying for and their corresponding search volumes. Higher the search volume means more people looking for information on that topic and hence creating content on that topic is a good way to attract traffic to your site. (…)

PDF and Infographics:

If you are going to have your brand / client’s brand featured in a quality site then provide to the webmaster of that site an infographic. Include within the embed markup code a link going from your focus anchor text to your site.

For a PDF file make a header section to allow for a navigation menu taking PDF viewers to the home page page of your website.

Accessibility and SEO:

Along with the legal requirements related to making web content easy to understand for all (see The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) information) there is a close connection with improved ranking that comes by following many of the ADA rules! Search engines and assistive technologies (such as screen readers) are quite similar. See a list of accessibility and Search Engine Optimization practices that are closely related.

More ADA info: ADA Title II and Title III Regulations | Effective Communication | Introduction to Accessible Rich Internet Application (ARIA) | Guide to the ADA Accessibility Standards.
– Extra: Check out this outstanding Accessibility Checker and Validator.

“Backlinks” & Outbound Links:

The purpose of link building has been to show that external sites recommend and trust the content of your site. Over time, this process has become manipulated and only the powerful inbound links (from a newspaper’s article or a university site’s content, powerful social media account, or a very established blog) matter.

In 2021, a search engine’s trust for a web page is based much more on the content provided than on the number of inbound links.


This page would not be complete without some security suggestions:

There is no doubt that making a site in HTML with a good hosting provider is the best security you can have. Once you start to add a content management system (CMS) and plugins you open the server to possible problems.

Between a content management system and a site made with HTML pages, the choice is based on the purpose and size of the site planned and IF your CMS is needed for a blog format. The “default” use of a CMS is not wise. Your template can be made in HTML with Dreamweaver or another tool to tweak it. Using a CMS means that you must focus on firewall plugin options and security as well as the loading of too many scripts (which could slow down a site in mobile view).

Recent Podcasts by Ardan Michael Blum:

These podcasts present suggestions to establish a routine in SEO work.

Rotation of specific tasks may include:
– Checking the security of your site
– Looking at stats
– Backups

Part I:

Part II:


In more detail: Backing up your files must be a part of the routine you establish. If you are using WordPress or another content management system, then make a zip of the files by getting access via the Plesk Panel / cPanel or by FTP.

Then, backup the SQL file (video). Also, make a copy of all online pages that have been modified. Then to put this into a folder and backup the full custom save to a cloud storage and/or to an external USB drive.

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