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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. Your success comes from blending commercial interests with niche topic knowledge sharing.
  • SEO today is 60% about content expansion. Working towards the status of AUTHORITY implies content quality, which matches Google’s concept of E-A-T or “Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness”. See more about authority content.

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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 CEO is Ardan Michael Blum, who has 30 years of Internet Marketing experience working in Europe, and the US.

How our business works: We set our business model to provide results and then teach our client’s staff how to self manage MULTIPLE top ten results on Google for the most searched words related to the geographic area, niche topic and competition. We work to spring clean websites for a determined list of traffic-creating keyword phrases.

Once the client is seeing an increase in traffic, and the objective of ranking for a determined set of keyword phrases is met, we start to teach SEO. This training is achieved with in-house and/or online workshops.

Generally, we provide 10 hours of SEO agency services, which are then followed by 30 hours of in-house and/or online teaching.

We work with a maximum of 4 clients at any given period. 

IMPORTANT: If you are new to SEO, you will want to understand the working of HTML, CSS, as well as some JavaScript basics. This learning curve should take you 20 hours. It is impossible to achieve good self-management in SEO without having a basic understanding of source code-view markup.


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, we are holding office meetings (for discussion of projects) outside at the charming Café Venetia on University Avenue and on 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 Search Engine Optimization workshops only online. We expect to return to normal operations by the end of 2021; providing in-house SEO training.


Search Engine Optimization tip by Ardan Michael Blum. (Image of small cartoon characters, mountains and several castles)


Authority Content:

The World Wide Web‘s HTML structure of linking was invented to connect experts and share expertise outside of a closed network.
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 go. This can be achieved with the creation of FAQs, a glossary, blog posts, and/or PDF content (always place a navigation button or link at the top of a PDF document which takes the visitor back to your core website).

60% of ranking power comes from ORIGINAL, EXPANDING content, making your presence online an authority resource. The remaining 40% in ranking power is a mix of on-page tweaks, link building and other forms of off-page Search Engine Optimization.

Google speaks of this quality in terms of E-A-T or Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. There is a Google PDF to help human testers measure how well search engine algorithms are performing for a broad range of searches. This document mentions “E-A-T” over 100 times in 175 pages (19,33, 39, 58 and onward).

“E-A-T” is not the Grail of ranking on Google. Ranking on Google is a COMBINATION of small to large on-page and off-page tweaks with extremely informative content; the “E-A-T” criteria is a formal expression of something which has to be customized (getting you listed in the right way across local search and for different Google country extensions).

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.

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.

How you connect the dots and find a logical balance between selling or promoting a product, working for a client’s reputation, and being part of a larger process of links leading to links to more links is what defines your success.

Our Palo Alto SEO company’s work is exclusive to non-sponsored / organic results.

For keyword phrases such as “widget / product and location” to appear on Google, you will generally need great content and about 30 quality inbound links. These do not include a good amount of social media mention.

Note: 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 quality inbound links. This “sometimes” is rare).

This is how Microsoft’s 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. (…)

Once the keywords and phrases are chosen, then we think of the main reasons a person might search for a given term. User intent may be time related, event related, and or needing information from, say, Amazon for a product. (The search query being something like “new shoes amazon”).

Search intent is so complex that Google has resorted to drop-down boxes with “People also ask” also simply known as “PAA box”.

Current advances in AI are being used to determine user intention. Among these is an AI system called MUM or Multitask Unified Model.


SEO Checklist:

Here, in random order, we share examples of small to important on-page and off-page SEO tips and tweaks:

  • 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.
  • Evaluating competition can be different from evaluating your competition. Keep this in mind and run searches for your keyword phrases in different languages on Google, Yahoo, Bing and DuckDuckGo. (You should read the source code of the best ranked site).
  • The use of quality outbound links will serve 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. A good place to seek such content is Google Scholar (southern.libguides.com/google/boolean will be of use when searching on Google Scholar), Khan Academy, Wolfram Alpha and for Tech matters MDN Web Docs).
  • Microsoft Clarity [clarity.microsoft.com] can help identify user behavior in several ways. The product is free of charge and provides, for example, heatmaps and a color coded page scroll map (which shows the depth of scrolling by a user). 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. More: Microsoft Clarity – An Overview on our site. Related: The official Clarity blog.
  • 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. Add related sources (high-level quality resources) and new, relevant hashtags. Keep the hashtags to 4 (or less). See more On Using Curated Content In Social Media.
  • An external consultant doing Search Engine Optimization for corporate projects will want the on-site webmaster, project manager, designer and others to use the same vocabulary! How to achieve this? One way: Make a slideshow with SEO terms & abbreviations. Send it to the team. Then ask them to send you any in-company expressions & abbreviations that you may not know!
  • There are many myths about SEO. In fact, there are so many that Google itself started a YouTube series to inform the public! Here is the homepage to this outstanding collection of videos.
  • Use online tools such as The Google Keyword Planner or Google Trends to give you ideas for rising searches.
  • 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. This may improve your chances at having multiple top ten results. See: Getting Multiple Top Ten Results By Adding A Dedicated Site.
  • Use mobile friendly fonts size and spacing between links.
  • Make ONE central XML sitemap which directs bots to page, video, post or other XML sitemaps.
  • Even if for Google this is not an indexing signal anymore, other search engine bots may find navigation paths with more ease, if you use pagination with rel=”next” and rel=”prev” (which will then appear in your source code).
  • OFF-PAGE SEO is not 90% about backlinks. It is 20% about backlinks at most! Be aware of falling for the endless SEO contracts to do linking for your 20 page website. Content is king for small sites. You gain the same trust which you might get from quality backlinks from high-quality content. Backlinking matters greatly only when you are working for huge websites in a corporate battle for placement.
  • A good Search Engine Optimization glossary (sadly with frankly annoying pop-ups and ads) is found at www.searchenginejournal.com/seo-101/seo-glossary-terms-definitions/
  • The image ALT and image TITLE tags should not contain repeated keywords.
  • Be sure that your link text (the words on a hyperlink to an external website) does not use your focus keywords.
  • Moz, and Ahrefs provide interesting and sometimes essential insight to backlinking.
    This, in my view, is vital if you are managing a corporate SEO project where backlinks count greatly in ranking power between one massive website and another.
  • 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).
  • Use prowritingaid.com which provides much in the way of detailed reports and awareness for readability level, pacing, cliches, and more.
  • Use your main keyword as the first word (or within the first two words) in your meta title.
  • Use a good amount of open graph format meta tags.
  • Learn the basics of Information Architecture management. See also: IA basics.
  • Promote your site!
  • For keyword phrases such as “widget / product and location” to appear on Google, you will generally need great content and about 30 quality inbound links. These do not include a good amount of social media mention. Note: 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 quality inbound links. This “sometimes” is rare.
  • 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.
  • Google provides a helpful idea generating tool for marketing and SEO – See Primer.
  • Show in your robots.txt file the location of your XML sitemap(s).
  • Set up tracking tools such as Google Search Console to analyze your search performance and user behavior.
  • For Twitter posts: There is a resource which can help one plan your tweets and write your tweet copy (in PDF).
  • Use mxtoolbox.com (not a sponsored link) to check domain health.
  • See Powermapper.com (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.
  • Some CDNs do so much re-writing that some of the file names going to images with the right keywords get converted into random numbers and letters. This can impact SEO.
  • 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. Other rel commands include the link “nofollow” (tells bots to ignore the link relationship / see: Qualify your outbound links to Google), “ugc” (user generated content) and “sponsored”.
  • Think of cross linking between your pages, but avoid doing so if the connecting page has less value than the page the viewer is on (the idea of deep linking is only as good as the content you link to).
  • Use keywords in category names. (Example: towns where you provide a service, or the products you sell).
  • Work on page load speed.
  • Use LOTS of structured data! Learn more on this first rate page.
  • Use a dedicated IP. See: IP addresses and DNS.
  • Use canonical URLs!!
  • Check for broken links monthly.
  • Use asynchronous script loading for specific non-vital JavaScript.
  • On a blog: Add “breadcrumb navigation” manually. (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.
  • Decide if you want to remove / strip the category base in the URL.
  • 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. Also: 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).
  • Find Cron jobs monitor and control plugins for your CMS. See 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.
  • See a first rate weekly SEO news resource.
  • Visit the archive of “dir(dot)google(dot)com” – the no longer existing “Google Directory” at https://web.archive.org/web/20040102162641/https://dir.google.com/ (and other screen captures). This can give you ideas on the best way to name the URL structure of content in files and folders.
  • Get multiple social media accounts to link to new content on your blog. 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 good tool 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.
  • Try the Google Lighthouse open-source analysis tool to run a site audit.
  • There is a free and helpful extension from Google which will provide a jump to a section (in highlighted yellow) for a text selection.
  • Google has a little known page to help one identify new potential markets and start selling to customers.
  • Test the reading-ease score of your main content. See webfx.com.
  • Keep updating your social media. Example: With constant diligence, you will probably get the reward of having Tweets show up live in Google results.
  • 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: Localization is much more than translation of a text.
  • Check out this keyword density checker tool from seoreviewtools.com here, and from toptal.com a tool to mix word combinations. (Neither are sponsored links).

Further Reading:

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

Palo Alto SEO company social media image - Man in cartoon holding a pencil while standing over a computer.

More SEO Basics …

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: dot 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.

The interesting thing about keywords in a site name vs a clever name that people will recall with ease must be thought out. Your ranking is not assured a massive boost by using new web domains. What your use of these extensions does do is it implies a dedication on a niche theme or topic; this is the true use of new web domains in the larger scope of providing content which stands out as an authority for the niche terms.


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 of your website.

When using PDF files, you should know (and use) the search operator “filetype” to see which PDF documents are indexed. On Google search: “sitename.com filetype:pdf” or “keyword phrase filetype:pdf” (without the brackets). This list of advanced search operators is well made.


Accessibility:

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.

Other issues can be handled by a plugin. On the top right of this page you will see the userway.org tool, which is one of the best tools for ADA access.

More links about ADA and Accessibility:


SEO Routine:

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.

Saving files is not going to help your SEO abilities unless you keep some sort of tracking as to important modifications. This way, if your ranking position changes, you might have at once the reason.

Note: Often there are external factors at play and the loss of a placement position should not automatically result in your backtracking on recent changes. Also, often different data centers make small variations to the dynamic results and then stabilize back to your original placement and/or higher. In other words: WAIT a while after a change to go back to how the site was a few days before.

To do this well, I suggest writing out your planned tasks and tweaks for a site in a dedicated notebook. You can go back to it and place a tick next to tasks done and add to the top of each page the date (also if you want to be super effective the backup version number).


Some More SEO Related Thoughts:

SEO is a bit like a love story. The more altruism and the less ego you put into the web pages you are trying to rank, the better things go.

Google somehow feels the love!

Google also expects it. To get trusted and well ranked while over time holding your placement is about sharing MORE than just your brand, products, costs and email. You are ranked for what you are giving in terms of information that can be part of a larger pool of data; niche topic excellence in knowledge sharing.


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