SEO Basics | Image Descriptions | Authority Ranking | Tweaking Robots.txt


Welcome! This is a made in Palo Alto SEO guide by Ardan Michael Blum - CEO at A. Blum Localization Services located at 345 Forest Avenue, Suite 204, in downtown Palo Alto, CA. Phone: +1 650 427-9358. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area do sign up for our Palo Alto SEO monthly meetups via!

Search Engine Optimization Basics

The MOST IMPORTANT single SEO factor is the average time spent on your site:

The length of time that a visitor spends on your pages is vital. Everything that you do to improve your SEO should push towards LONGER average user visits. If you have expanding, quality, original content you should aim for at least 3 minutes average visiting time (based on 1000 users). If you can change your average time from 70 seconds to 3 minutes (by working hard on content) your site's ranking SHOULD HOLD OVERTIME in the top ten! Said differently: Your design, navigation, content, and use of social media embedded in your site needs to be tweaked as you watch your stats. 
Be attentive to the distinction of TIME SPENT PER SITE and TIME SPENT PER PAGE if your content/topics on your site differ greatly. In this case, we are aiming for PER PAGE visitor time getting longer. I have always used Google Analytics on my site pages and assume (though this is pure conjecture) that some of the data I am seeing Google may be using to rank my site. This might be also based on cross-site use (ie: user leaves site A to visit my site and goes on to site B - which is a link I suggested the user should visit - all sites mentioned using Google Analytics). Or other ways to measure the time spent based on time from clicking on a search result to returning to google search for that same search. And other means. 
The point is that ORGANIC linking to a long visit is going to get noticed. How exactly this is done is beyond my understanding of Google. What is sure though is that IF you watch your stats (with Google Analytics or another tool) and see growth in time spent on a niche theme group of pages (and in some cases on a single page) your ranking will usually NOT get bounced lower with the arrival of new Quora or Yelp page trying to get fast grey-hat (trick) ranking.
If you are a bit of a geek I would suggest using Google Tag Manager which allows you to set different "goals", "events", and other criteria.
Note: "time spent on a page" may need to be reviewed with factors such as the load time for a page, users NOT allowing javascript and more factors. 
This said, let us stay with basic assumptions for now ... 
- First: that if you have 1000 visitors spending 4 minutes average on your site (and hopefully on the main pages) there is a good chance this will prove TRUST of content for google indexing.
- Next: that if you are seeing a boost of the visiting time on your site there is a need to maintain this and/or increase this time spent if, per example, your competition shows up with a detailed glossary or "resource center" for your topic. You may have to try and determine how much time people are spending on your competitor pages and IF that time is going up. To do this well, you may have to ask people to time their visit to the given pages from a home (generally longer) viewing session. Or you can seek out online tools that claim to measure site stats for other people's content or see if there are changes in copies of the competitor's pages which are reflecting (over the last year) expanding content.
Visits by one visitor may also be important to check - example AVOID TRACKING YOUR OWN VISITS to your site pages! 
Jakob Nielsen writes:

( ...) "How long will users stay on a web page before leaving? It's a perennial question, yet the answer has always been the same:

  • Not very long.

The average page visit lasts a little less than a minute.

As users rush through web pages, they have time to read only a quarter of the text on the pages they actually visit (let alone all those they don't). So, unless your writing is extraordinarily clear and focused, little of what you say on your website will get through to customers.

However, while users are always in a hurry on the web, the time they spend on individual page visits varies widely: sometimes people bounce away immediately, other times they linger for far longer than a minute. Given this, the average is not the most fruitful way of analyzing user behaviors. Users are human beings — their behaviors are highly variable and are not captured fully by a single number. ( ...)" See full article: How Long Do Users Stay on Web Pages?

Further Reading:

7 website analytics that matter most

11 Hacks to Increase Visitors’ Average Time Spent on Site

Statistics and Market Data on Online Demographics & Use

Mobile Marketing Statistics compilation

Chao Liu, Ryen W. White, and Susan Dumais. 2010. Understanding web browsing behaviors through Weibull analysis of dwell time

Related Content Boosts Pageviews, When Done Right

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Part II: Authority as a Ranking Factor

Your site MUST provide ORIGINAL and quality content. The VOLUME of this content must EXPAND on a weekly basis and should be updated over the years. Make sure to have at least 800 words (per post or new page) with the aim of becoming an authority on the given topic and/or keywords that you are aiming to rank for.

Important: This is not a “rule for all situations.” Rather, it is the standard way to rank well and HOLD your ranking over time. There are some cases where what is needed is NOT so much to expand your work but rather to UPDATE and IMPROVE your existing work. Examples include GOING BACK to a page and correcting typos, ...

See More: Authority Ranking

Part III: Image Optimization

NAME the file but “STICK-TO-IMAGE-DESCRIPTION+DATE.jpg/png” (the file name shouldn’t be random numbers).

Add meta data offline to the image itself! (See tutorials for Adobe Photoshop File InfoAdobe BridgeCamera Bits Photo Mechanic and Microsoft Expression Media). You may wish to save your images to a cloud. This in some cases allows you greater control. You can then link to the image file (in the cloud) from your web page. If you choose to upload the image to your server then place the image within a folder called "images".

See More: Image Descriptions

Part IV: Sitemap XML & Robot tags

What is a robots.txt file?

On all well made sites there will be (generally) a chance for you to examine the /robots.txt file which will give you some basic ideas as to what content the webmaster wishes a search engine to focus on and which content to NOT index as well as, in many cases, the location of the xml sitemap and sometimes even messages to users. Note that robots.txt can exclude or include certain types of crawlers. ...

See More: Tweaking Robots.txt

Search Engine Optimization Basics - Some Other Essential Tips:

A) Set canonical URLs for your pages.

B) Work on your title and description (and, optionally, keyword meta tag). To do this well, STUDY what other quality, high ranking sites do. See WHICH keywords they target. Think of HOW their work compares to your goals and optimize your content for CLICKS by using good sentence structure and not stuffing keywords.

C) Disavow bad backlinks  (a lot of cowardly, low level, non-creative, bored humans spend time making link building from poor quality sites their lifelong routine. This CAN and COULD damage your ranking if not checked).

D) Seek out newspapers and university websites that might wish to speak about your projects or products. Get them to link to your home page using the name of the product, not the site name.

E) Check the page loading speed.

F) Structure your text to have one H1 tag (info: about tags) and make sure that H1 tag contains your keyword. Use anchor tags, comment tags, and most of all good sub-header (H2 and H3) tags. You should also use BOLD and write in bullet lists whenever possible.

This made in Palo Alto guide to basic SEO was last updated September 3rd, '18 by Ardan Michael Blum - CEO at A. Blum Localization Services. 

See More: Localization.Company and do join our next Palo Alto SEO Meetup via:

A. Blum Localization Services Palo Alto is located at 345 Forest Avenue, Suite 204, 94301, California, USA.

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This made in Palo Alto SEO guide was last updated by Ardan Michael Blum on 9/16/18