Coach’s SEO Highlight Reel (February 15 – 22, 2013)

coachs-seo-highlight-reelIt's not always easy finding articles within the SEO community that directly relate to eCommerce website owners. Things like optimizing for local or international search are great topics for some businesses but they just aren't topics that apply very often to people running dropship eCommerce stores with suppliers who only ship nationally.

Fortunately, there are always a few articles published every week that apply to websites big or small - local, national or international. We're admittedly pretty picky, so when we pull out the very best of those articles, they are all ones that we consider "must-reads."

This week, we have quite the cornucopia of website-related information. From an article that shows you that there is actually some good in what many consider to be "bad" links to advice on how bad guest posts could hurt your website; from an incredible article about how to build an online community to a video that shows you how to get actionable information from Google Webmaster Tools. We even have what looks to be a definitive answer to the ongoing question of whether it makes a difference if a blog is on a sub domain or in a sub directory of a website!

Here are this week's All-Star articles ...

Good Link Building Methods Gone Bad - Really?

It seems to be common knowledge these days that getting links via all of the methods advocated in the past including blog comments, directories, forum postings and article directories are not only a waste of time, but those methods could get you punished by Google.

Well, maybe not! According to Jon Cooper, if you were to believe all of the so-called experts, "we’d be just about out of ways for an average website to build links." In his article on Point Blank SEO, "The Inevitable Demise of Link Building… or so They Say," he discusses the history of those linking methods, why they were originally completely natural, how they were manipulated to the point of being untrusted and why each one of the so-called "taboo" link methods are still a valid way of promoting your business, if done correctly.

If you use all of the methods now described as "spammy" in the way that they were originally intended, with the mindset of a marketer and not just a link builder, many if not all of them still have a place in a website's overall marketing scheme. Interesting read, John; definitely worth checking out!

That Free Article You Just Got Could Hurt You!

Guest blogging is all the rage these days. It is one of the only methods left for getting quality backlinks that most SEOs regard as "safe." Because there are so many people eager to find places that will accept their guest posts in exchange for a link or two, site owners have found an excellent way of getting free content that they otherwise would have had to write themselves or pay someone else to create. A win-win for everybody, right?

WRONG! You need to be very careful about the guest posts that you approve; some of them could definitely harm your website's reputation and search rankings. This week, Neil Patel outlines specific things we should be wary of in his article, "Don’t Accept Guest Posts Unless You Follow These 7 Rules." Checking to make sure the author has a a solid track record of writing quality content and isn't linking out to spammy websites within the blog post are just a couple of the points Neil makes in his article. He discusses what he considers to be the ideal length of a guest post (it's longer than most people think), if you should give guest writers access to your blog and whether or not the post is something that will get readers commenting and sharing. Neil even defines how many links he believes should be contained within an article.

It is that last point where I would have to disagree a little bit with Neil. I honestly don't think there is any such thing as a minimum number of links. We have written plenty of posts where the only link was in our signature. If a post is truly unique, offers a completely new angle, or simply can stand on its own, why should it have to link out to anything at all?

All in all, Neil makes some great recommendations, as usual, and it is definitely a post that not only people who accept guest posts should read, but one that guest bloggers should take note of, as well!

Hello? Is There Anybody Out There?

Having a "following" is one of the most important things for marketing a business these days. Without a group of people who are eager for your next article, tweet, discount coupon or new product offering, all of the effort you put into your website is just an echo reverberating in an empty auditorium. So, how in the world do you go about developing a throng of rabid fans?

In her article on the SEOmoz Daily Blog, "How to Identify an Online Community for Your Business," Mackenzie Fogelson shows us many different ways to go about building a following and it's not quite as difficult as you may think! Before you leap into community building, it's important to know exactly what you are trying to accomplish and who you want to reach, says Mackenzie. Once you have established that, finding existing communities that you can use to build up your own reputation is the next logical step.

Leveraging opportunities at already existing communities via Twitter, blogs and forums is certainly the easiest way of getting your foot in the door. MacKenzie shows you how to organize your community building efforts and some tools to make finding those communities easier. She also warns that, like most things worth doing, actual effort is required and that it is an ongoing, slow process. Every day spent developing your community gets you a little bit closer to the promised land, though.

There really is nothing more important than developing a group of loyal followers. Once you have that, your business is no longer at the mercy of search engine algorithms, which could change in a heartbeat. Mackenzie's post is not a short one (few truly valuable articles are). Pull up a chair and get comfortable; taking the time to thoroughly read this article is definitely time well spent!

WMT Search Queries Can Tell You Exactly What You Need to Work on!

As hard as some people may find it to believe, Google actually does provide something other than cryptic SEO advice. Their Google Webmaster Blog and their Webmaster Forum often contain gems that never seem to make it into articles on the major SEO websites.

This week, Google's Maile Ohye posted one of the most helpful videos I have ever seen from Google - "Make the most of Search Queries in Webmaster Tools." It tells you how to use Search Queries within your Webmaster Tools account to gain actionable information that can lead to better search results as well as better click-through and conversion rates.

Maile begins the video by defining some of the terms that Google uses, which may be confusing to some people, and then shows us how to use the information found in the Search Queries section to determine if we could do a better job with our title tags and description tags. She also shows us how to use the Search Queries information to tell us what pages people are landing on from search results and how we should be using that information to improve the pages that Google is sending searchers to.

One thing that I thought was interesting is how Google defines what an "impression" is. According to Maile, if your search result appears on a page - even if it is below the fold and a user never scrolls down to see it - Google counts that as an impression. Since click-through rate seems to be a "user experience" metric in their algorithm, it drives home the point that getting to the top three positions on a search result page is even more important than you might think.

There is a ton of valuable information that Google provides within Webmaster Tools. Knowing what to do with that information is another story! Thanks, Maile, for putting together this incredibly useful video. The 12 1/2 minutes you'll spend viewing it is easily well worth it!

More Evidence That Blogs on Sub Domains Are Considered Part of Your Website

Did we mention that the Google Webmaster Forum is a great place to pick up information? In a thread on that forum, someone asks if anyone can figure out why their website has fallen drastically in the rankings.

You'll have to scroll through tons of replies, some a little on the nasty side, to get to one near the bottom by JohnMu. "JohnMu" is John Mueller, a webmaster trends analyst for Google. He writes about other "bad" websites that are on sub domains of this person's website and states, "Googlebot doesn't differentiate between accidentally hosting that kind of content within your site and doing it on purpose. If those are really sites that you do not want to be associated with, then I'd recommend making sure that they are not hosted within your domain."

If John is saying that bad websites on a sub domain of your website can hurt you, it only stands to reason that it also means that good websites on a sub domain can help you. Maybe this will put an end to the debate on whether placing a blog on a sub domain of your main domain helps a website or not!

That wraps things up for this week! Let us know if we missed a great article or any other thoughts you may have in the comments section, below.

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Dave Hermansen is the “Coach” at, a community dedicated to helping individuals create profitable online stores. Dave is widely respected as an eCommerce expert and is best known for his interview on Fox Business News. You can find Dave on Facebook, Google+ and on Twitter @DaveHermansen.