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Welcome! Discover our Palo Alto SEO company and lots of Search Engine Optimization basic to advanced level tips!

Let’s start with two items which define SEO in 2021:

  • Increasing (from seconds to at least two minutes) the average time that visitors spend on your pages will improve your ranking.
  • The crucial aspect for success in SEO is sincere, patient creation of high value content. SEO today is 60% about content expansion.

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About Us:

Our Palo Alto SEO company was founded in 2016. We provide Search Engine Optimization services combined with SEO training. Our agency was founded in 2016 by Ardan Michael Blum, who has 30 years of Internet Marketing experience.

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 all search engines.

We focus on organic results and optimize our work for the most searched combinations of keyword phrases (those which include a location and a concept, brand, service, topic, theme, or product).

We devote lots of effort providing every page (social media, blog and core website) with updates that do two things: share new information and aim, by so doing, for specific ranking results.

Once these results are achieved, we switch to teaching our clients to take full control. This is achieved usually with 30 hours of in-house and/or online training.

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 o University Avenue and the terrace of the Rosewood hotel.

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

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:

The World Wide Web 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 niche topic information into a commercial site is the way to do. This can be achieved with the creation of FAQs, a glossary and blog posts.

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. 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.

Today, a search engine’s trust for a web page is based much more on the content provided than on the number of inbound links. For keyword phrases such as “widget / product and location” to appear on Google, you will generally need great content and 30 quality inbound links. These do not include a good amount of social media mentions.

Important: There is no such thing as one size fits all in SEO. Sometimes, to achieve success in outranking a huge corporate site, you will need hundreds of high quality inbound links.

The remaining 40% in ranking power is a mix of on-page tweaks, link building and other forms of off-page Search Engine Optimization which we sample next.

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 high quality outbound links 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 (as the external link should validate what you are saying and/or expand on what you are sharing). A good place to seek such content is Google Scholar, Khan Academy, Wolfram Alpha and for Tech matters MDN Web Docs.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • See: “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
  • A decade ago people were making half a page of keyword 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). If used for up to three page-relevant terms, then the keyword meta tag may be used anew in our view. At this date there is NO indication from Google that it will help your ranking. But then, do not forget that this can be of use for other search engines.
  • 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”.
  • 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.
  • Avoid complex navigation menus and opt for anchors and H2/H3 titles (as I use at the top for on-page navigation).  See, on our site: About Navigation Menus.
  • 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: About A Dedicated Event Site.
  • 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).
  • Promote your site!
  • 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).
  • Use your main keyword as the first word (or within the first two words) in your meta title.
  • Make a plan to update your social media with original images and different texts. (Related: Google Images best practices).
  • Examine how your site appears with third party cookies blocked, with JavaScript blocked, and with all cookies blocked. Also: 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.
  • Google provides a helpful idea generating tool for marketing and SEO – See Primer.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Use (not a sponsored link) to check domain health.
  • See Powermapper (which, among many things, helps with for cross-browser issues).
  • Use Google My Business and make posts within Google My Business.
  • Optimize image size with the ‘next-gen’ format such as WebP.
  • Reserve your domain name for FIVE years or more and put your site into SSL.
  • 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.
  • Preload fonts and other content.
  • 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.
  • Use a good amount of open graph format meta tags.
  • 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.
  • Use LOTS of structured data! Learn more on this first rate page.
  • 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.
  • If your content 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.
  • Work on page load speed.
  • Use a dedicated IP. See: IP addresses and DNS.
  • Use canonical URLs.
  • 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.
  • Check for broken links.
  • Use Asynchronous script loading.
  • 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.
  • Tip: 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.
  • 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 file.
  • 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.  Do not opt to “cache everything” with a plugin.
  • For advanced users there are Cron jobs monitor and control plugins. (More about Cron jobs).
  • Be aware of possible attempts to lower your site’s ranking by checking statistics and be ready to take action to disavow bad inbound links.
  • 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.
  • For social media and your website: Use non-generic images!Avoid the same image and same text in copy and paste across your social media. A GREAT resource is Canva.
  • Use a hosting provider which has a seriously professional approach and great client communication. 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.
  • Use this “Performance audit“.
  • 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).
  • Here is a free and helpful extension from Google which will provide a jump to a section (in highlighted yellow) for a text selection.
  • Identify new potential markets and start selling to customers.
  • Test the reading-ease score of your main content. See:
  • Keep updating your social media. Example: With constant diligence you will probably get the reward of having Tweets show up live in Google results.
  • Important: Be sure that your link text (the words on a hyperlink) do not use your focus keywords.

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 …

About 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.

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.


Along with the legal requirements related to making web content easy to understand for all users, there is a close connection with following many of the ADA rules and ranking better.

Search engines and assistive technologies (such as screen readers) are quite similar.
More ADA info:
See: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) information.

ADA Title II and Title III Regulations | Effective Communication | Introduction to Accessible Rich Internet Application (ARIA) | Guide to the ADA Accessibility Standards | Accessibility Checker

Recent Podcasts:

Listen to our suggestions for a good work routine …

From the podcast, tips include: 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.

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