I wasn’t planning to do lens reviews on this blog, but spouting about my own stuff all the time could get dreary. So why not use someone else’s lens as an example of a good use of Squidoo?
When you find a lens you like, ask yourself: WHY do you like it? You can get insights about building good lenses, articles, and blog posts by jotting down what on that lens worked for you, what didn’t. Don’t copy their content (please!), but learn approaches to presenting your own content in more effective ways.
Here is EditorDave’s Guam: Where America’s Day Begins lens.
What I Liked About This Lens
What I love most about this lens is the personal, unique content.
So much of the web is just regurgitating content someone else wrote, or providing bare-bones information that has no personal stamp. Dave’s writing about a topic he knows: where he lives! He gives his lens lots of life with his own experiences, his own photographs. That makes his page very different from a standard tourism lens, even though he may give less information about hotels, transportation and local attractions (instead, he links to sites on those).
Little details like typhoon-proof (or not so proof) architecture, the plants in his back yard, the “critters”, things to look for in old grade B movies filmed on Guam — make his Guam a real place. This is a first-person story.
Dave also mentions his other lenses on Guam without doing a ton of promotion for them. His writing is good enough, and his content is interesting enough, that I may really want to read more!
I also like his mix of his own photos and using Allposters.com to provide beautiful images to illustrate his content (rather than his content only being there to sell the posters).
Something That Works Here That Might Not On Another Lens
One thing EditorDave does NOT do is provide a Fancy Table of Contents. (Sorry.) That is, there’s no road map to tell us how long his lens is, what topics it’s going to cover, or where he’s going to take us while we’re visiting his lens. His writing is good enough that we don’t need it. I enjoyed browsing and being a tourist on his page. On other lenses of this length, I’d probably want a road map.
Quibbles/Areas for Improvement
Dave could probably capture more clickthroughs— which boost lensrank and thus sales— by making some of the words in his lens clickable links. He mentioned a page about sea cucumbers at one point, but forgot to include the link. People can ignore links in your text if they want to, but don’t be shy about including links to related pages now and then, as long as you don’t go overboard with it— you never know when a visitor might turn out to be a huge sea slug fan!
There’s a number of links to dead auctions –probably an artifact of this being an old lens.
The one thing that didn’t work for me is the Ebay and Amazon modules. The lists were long, I didn’t get the impression that Dave actually had picked out the products in them, and I didn’t feel like clicking on them. I just wanted to get back to Dave’s own writing. Then again, I’m not thinking of going to Guam, so I’m not a target customer for those products.
I think my experience — quickly scrolling past a long list of products to get to the “next part of the page” — is fairly typical of user behavior. You may have more success with fewer products, more closely integreated into the content, using Amazon Spotlight or some other method to draw attention to them. It also helps when you include your own comments about books or products, so we know you picked them out yourself and have at least some reason for recommending them. But let’s face it — only a small percentage of visitors to any web page buy from it or click the sales module links.