Coach’s SEO Highlight Reel June 7-14, 2013

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Coach's SEO Highlight ReelThis week, we were only able to find four articles that we thought were worthy of our SEO Highlight Reel (yeah, we're pretty picky). Fortunately, we were able to fill in the hole with one from last week that just barely got edged out by five others.

In this week's Highlight Reel, we have an excellent guide that shows people how to really use Google Webmaster Tools and a fantastic announcement by one of the top backlink analysis resources.

We follow those articles up with one that points out commonly accepted SEO fallacies and a thoroughly enjoyable article about how to create an excellent user experience on your website.

We finish up the Highlight Reel with one of the industry's iconic infographics - one that just had a makeover.

Webmaster Tools 101

There is no doubt that a ton of great, actionable information is available in your Google Webmaster Tools account (with the exception of detailed backlink data - see below). There is so much data there, that new users of Webmaster Tools frequently have no idea where to begin.

In "How to Use Google Webmaster Tools to Maximize Your SEO Campaign," Jayson DeMers demystifies things. He outlines various WMT tools you should be using and explains how to use them. Using search queries, drilling down into individual keywords and finding optimization opportunities for your pages are just some of the things that Jayson shows you how to do.

For those of you who have found yourself staring blankly at your Webmaster Tools info, occasionally clicking randomly to see what you may find, this is an absolute must read. Even moderately experienced website owners might learn a thing or two!

Free Detailed Backlink Reports!

As great as Google Webmaster Tools is for getting detailed information relating to your website's performance, Google has always been less than forthcoming when it comes to letting you know about all of the backlinks that are pointing to your pages. Because of that, it is often quite difficult to figure out what may be causing a website to tank in the rankings - especially ever since Penguin was introduced to the scene!

Folks really had no choice but to pay monthly sums to get the best backlink information possible from a variety of well respected places (too many to name). One of those places was Majestic SEO's Site Explorer. Up until this week, although you could run a URL through their tool and instantly see a few backlink results, you had to pay to see any more than a handful of backlinks.

This week, Majestic SEO announced that Site Explorer will now provide up to 3,000 backlinks for free - something that is sure to make many small business owners quite happy. In "Site Explorer goes Free for Verified Domains," Dixon Jones outlines what the new benefits are to free users and why they decided to make all of this available for free now. Naturally, Dixon also discusses why you may want to upgrade to a paid account.

If you've never set up your free Majestic SEO account, what are you waiting for? All you need to do to get a ton more backlink detail than Google is showing you is to verify your website ownership!

Things You Think You Know About SEO Might Be Wrong!

As most people know, there is a TON of misinformation circulating about SEO best practices. Some things are based on hunches, some on guesses about future algorithms and there are quite a few that are born from trying to figure out what are often fairly cryptic statements made by people like Google's Matt Cutts. In a few cases, an SEO concept gets repeated so many times, that it becomes accepted as "fact," even though there has never been any real proof of it.

In "4 Important Backlink Analysis Misconceptions still kicking in 2013," Razvan Gavrilas points out some of the more common myths regarding backlinks - ones that I am certain that you have heard more times than you could count. Of particular note, are Razvan's assertions that the number of backlinks aren't important and neither is Page Rank. Razvan tells you why, and we couldn't agree more!

This was one of my favorite articles this week. Not only because it dispels some of the more common SEO myths, but because we have been pointing out a couple of these fables for years. When someone agrees with you, they must be right. Right?

Bikini Bottom User Experience

As I mentioned in last week's SEO Highlight Reel, there were so many outstanding articles, I simply had to cut out some that would have made The Reel in other weeks. I also stated that I'd keep a few in my back pocket, just in case there wasn't anything that beat them this week. Well ... it happened!

Inessa Bokhan, a writer who has never appeared on the Highlight Reel before, put together a fantastic article late last week about creating a great user experience using Bikini Bottom's most famous resident - SpongeBob Square Pants. Her article, "SpongeBob’​s Guide to User Experience for Beginners," is not only an example of putting a delightful new twist on otherwise mundane information, but it contains excellent advice, too!

Inessa discusses the importance of creating a custom 404 page (the subject of our Tip of the Week a couple of weeks ago - Create a Custom 404 Page and Save Sales!). She also advises website owners to monitor the movements of customers on their websites to help create better user experiences (also one of our Tip of the Weeks from a couple of months ago - Follow Visitors and Interact with them Using Zopim). She discusses things like creating great, sharable content that is free from errors, having a regularly updated blog and making sure that your website is mobile friendly - all super important parts of our eCommerce Training Course.

We love it when people agree with us - almost as much as we enjoy reading articles like Inessa's. It's a perfect example of how a little creativity can go a long way. We're glad we saved it and were able to introduce it this week to those who may have missed it.

The "Science" of SEO

One of the more iconic infographics ever produced in the SEO world was done in 2011 - "The Periodic Table of SEO Ranking Factors." The table, which looks like something long forgotten from science class, broke down SEO into 7 fundamental areas - Content, HTML, Architecture, Links, Trust, Social and Personal. Each of those fundamental areas are made up of "elements" that are represented in the table.

Due to a bevy of algorithmic changes by Google in the last two years, the table has now been updated. In "What’s Changed With The Periodic Table Of Search Engine Optimization," Danny Sullivan shows the new table and discusses the changes that were made in the new version. The name of the table has been changed to "The Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors" and a few new elements have been added. Like the old table, weights are assigned to the elements and some of those weights have changed slightly, too. The biggest change is that Violations (i.e. things that could hurt your website) have now been integrated into the table instead of listed separately.

Although they solicited advice from hundreds of Search Engine Land readers, the editors ultimately decided what factors needed to be changed on the table. If you've never seen it, click on the image, below, for a larger version of the table, where it will be easier to read the various definitions of each element.

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Well, that's it for another week of the best in SEO. More outstanding stuff that will hopefully lead to a better understanding of SEO and better results for your website!

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Dave Hermansen

Head Coach at StoreCoach.com
Dave Hermansen is the “Coach” at StoreCoach.com, 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.