SEO Company | Intro

– Main Search Engine Optimization take-away tip:

Increasing (from seconds to at least three minutes) the average time that visitors spend on your pages will improve your ranking position. This is one of the most important ranking factors!

Not clear how or why? Ask our SEO company for details.

Request a 15 minute online demo! Phone +1 650 427-9358.


On-page navigation:


About Us:

A. Blum Localization Services is a Palo Alto SEO company founded in 2016. We combine SEO services with client training workshops. Our business model is about providing fish to eat and long term techniques for self-reliant, successful fishing.

Outsourced work and in-house combined:

First, we rank our client’s pages on Google for the main keyword phrases that will boost traffic for a search which combines a place and a concept, service, topic, theme, thing, product and/or brand.

Following this, we transition to teaching our clients how to maintain the ranking results achieved, and self-manage Search Engine Optimization needs.

Internal training includes PPC (Pay Per Click) campaigns, Social Media Optimization and some white hat / ethical techniques for advanced level ORM. (Online Reputation Management can not be applied to any subject and the limitations are very real. Where ORM generally works is for a person’s name, brand protection).

Our CEO Ardan Michael Blum has extensive teaching experience and provides customized checklists with on-page and off-page Search Engine Optimization tasks for social media updates, RSS tweaking, videos tagging, blog posts, PDF creation, and site expansion.

Once the training is over, we do not bill the client for follow-up support by phone or email.


Covid-19 Restrictions

Because of the current restrictions, we are holding all our training online. We anticipate returning to normal operations shortly; providing in-house SEO training across California and online workshops worldwide.


Authority Content

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 pages 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. Along with high quality content, the remaining 40% in ranking power comes from techniques and tweaks for on-page and off-page SEO.


Downtown Palo Alto

Our SEO company is situated 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, currently, we are holding meetings, which normally would be held at our SEO company, outside at the charming Café Venetia.

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 are a few:

  • 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).
  • Microsoft Clarity can help identify user behavior in terms of the heatmap (where visitors click/move the mouse) and a color coded page scrolling tracker. See, on our site: Microsoft Clarity – Overview.
  • Learn “rel commands” [a good intro to this topic is found here] such as pre-fetching certain scripts or content before the page loads, which can be used, for example, to share the location an alternate language version of page content, the location of a XML feed and other info sharing with robots and browsers.
  • 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 matter. See, on our site: On Using Curated Content In Social Media.
  • 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, on our site: About A Dedicated Event Site.
  • Tip: Bots and humans seem to like custom charts and graphics.
  • Tip: Make FAQs, glossary pages and similar content in several types of doc formats (with a navigation bar on the top of the PDF allowing visitors to transition with ease to your home page).
  • Tip Avoid extremely detailed dropdown menus. Opt instead for anchor tags with on-page navigation and an HTML sitemap.
  • Google provides a helpful (all round marketing and some SEO suggestions) 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 yourprimer.com.
  • Preload web fonts!
  • 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 mxtoolbox.com (not a sponsored link) to check domain health.
  • Using content silo structure (or siloing) may negatively affect both the browsing and searching experience.
  • Understand Multitask Unified Model ranking concepts.
  • 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).
  • Keep all meta tags relevant to the actual content of the page.
  • Optimize image size with the ‘next-gen’ format such as WebP.
  • Avoid making links to poor quality sites (this includes links in comments on a blog).
  • 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 (good for SEO) 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.
  • Do not overdo your on-page SEO! Sometimes your good ranking will go down by too much tweaking.
  • Backup your files! If you are using WordPress or another CMS seek out and zip your SQL file, the full directory (usually 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.
  • Image ALT and image TITLE tags should NEVER 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).
  • Add hreflang tags for translated alternatives and have a drop-down language menu on the top of your pages.
  • Use keywords in category names. Example: towns where you provide a service, or the products you sell.
  • Experimental idea: 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).
  • “Tags” in a blog post are NOT the same as hashtags in social media. Both can be super helpful as a means to shout out to the world “my content is about this”. Only, just like with everything, use both sparingly. (The blog tag is there as a navigation aid for users and should be used for large blogs only and for a determined LIMITED number of key terms). You may wish to use your SEO plugin such as Yoast to block indexing of these blog tags.
  • If your SEO work is localized to a specific region, then 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.
  • 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 SEO events and news (by visiting the weekly videos by Barry Schwartz).
  • A lot of hype comes when Google makes a modification of its ranking. Stay aware of the changes (BERT vs MUM) and such, but assume, as I do, that high quality content remains the most essential ranking factor over time.
  • Check often for broken links.
  • Use Asynchronous script loading.
  • Make your blog posts time-related! This is really the key reason to have a blog. Use the URL to include a date, use the page to give a reason for a search engine to rank the page as upcoming or current information.
  • Add “breadcrumb navigation” manually into the top of a blog. (Many SEO 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 archive.org 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 negative SEO attacks by checking statistics (example: 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 prowritingaid.com 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 have found great support from (not sponsored) Godaddy over the past 10 years.
  • 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 (amazon.com 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 archive.org 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 within your site (such as a PDF document which mirrors your HTML pages).
  • Make a clear navigation menu.
  • Be attentive if you allow comments on your blog that the quality of the comment does not degrade the value of your page. Google reads everything as ONE PAGE. It does not, in my view, separate “comments” from “site content”.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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 if you have a low level of scripts to load and your images are sized correctly you may not need AMP pages.
  • 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: https://www.webfx.com/tools/read-able/).
  • Reduce IP collection to the legal requirements of GDPR, “California Consumer Privacy Act” and other regional data protection laws. (Though not really an “SEO” issue this can have an impact on a visitor’s trust in your brand).

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


Further Reading

Tip: Whatever you learn about SEO should NEVER be thought of as a one size fits all.


SEO Company

More SEO Basics

Obtaining multiple top ten results is for a thing, product, etc and a location is the best way to get your phone ringing! As mentioned above, making a dedicated event site, using PDF documents, really giving a lot of effort to your social media posts and having a timeline / routine work pattern will, generally provide four top ten results (moving the competition down in ranking results). Here are some more tips and tweaks …

Meta Keyword Tag

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).

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! Again: Use a limited and defined number of terms that are UNIQUE (do not fill out all your pages with the same short list of meta tags).

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

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 you may want to 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.


Secure Your Site

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 CMS and plugins you open the server to possible problems. When it comes to the CHOICE between a content management system and HTML pages, the answer is based on the purpose and size of the site and the “default” use of a CMS such as WordPress is not wise. WordPress itself is amazing and has significant security features and good plugins (such as the firewall from Wordfence).


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). Once you have determined your target terms, you understand that in 2021 there are changes in how Google is crawling page content (with AI / MUM) and so a serious SEO company will explain to their client that keywords repeated across a page are NOT the central aspect of a site’s ranking success. 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 you may want to make a header section to to allow for a navigation menu taking PDF viewers to the home page page of your website.


ADA 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 SEO practices that are closely related.

More ADA related reading includes:


Inbound Links (Backlinks) vs Content

Historically, 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.


Conclusion

The World Wide Web was invented so as 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 in SEO.

Our Palo Alto SEO Company’s Promise

Give us 4 months and we will make your staff fall in love with magic of being able to rank for 100 (one hundred) terms for a 200 page blog with 50 page core site content.



Let’s Talk:

+1 650 427 9358


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