Welcome back to the third and final segment of my “Lensrank secrets” study. In Part I we squeezed the Squidoo FAQ for every scrap of information it could tell us about lensrank. In Part II, we tackled the Squidoo Dashboard stats, on the theory that most of those factor into lensrank (the FAQ showed that many do). Whether or not they are all lensrank factors, they certainly give us a lot of clues about how to improve and promote our Squidoo lenses.
Now I’m going to finish up with an in-depth look at the “individual lens stats” part of the Squidoo Dashboard.
Squidoo Dashboard – Individual Lens Stats - “Summary” Tab
- Age: Do old lenses get a lensrank boost? Probably not; I can’t see any convincing reason for it, and Squidoo tends to encourage fresh and new content. Microsoft and Google give some bonus to domain age, but I’ve only seen people who know even less than me speculating that webpage ages may help. Anyway, Squidoo itself is barely old enough to qualify for such a boost. So just give yourself a pat on the back as lenses hit milestones.
- Ratings: As I said in the first part of my analysis of the Squidoo Dashboard, my guess is that Squidoo isn’t counting the actual rating of lenses, because most get zero, one or 5 stars. However, the FAQ mentioned “community ratings” as a factor, so I’m guessing they measure number of ratings. (We’ve also been told not to fret over one-star ratings, because they still boost lensrank. Thank you to whomever gave me a birthday present a day early by 3-starring (?!) a whole bunch of my lenses today! )
- Lensrank: It’s not just an ego massage; lensrank serves several practical functions. Even if they’re not in the top 100, lenses get listed in order by lensrank when someone uses Squidoo search. So if your lens is top-ranked among lenses sharing its tags (and they are reasonably popular tags to search), then you’ve search engine optimized for a very particular search engine: Squidoo! Likewise, getting onto the Top 100 List for any category means it will get extra attention/clicks from people browsing Squidoo. Moreover, all Top 100 Lists are indexed by search engines and give a small SEO boost, whereas Tags pages are not.Say what? Here, a crash course in how search engines see Squidoo:
- Visit a lens. Click on a tag in the sidebar. You’ll be taken to a page where all other pages with that tag are listed. If you have the NoFollow/DoFollow Firefox add-on, it appears that Squidoo Tag pages are “followed” by search engine crawlers, which index the web by following links. But not so fast! If you check Squidoo’s robots.txt file, you’ll see that all pages in the /tag/ directory are blocked from search engines. (Geeky geek stuff here, yes.) Whereas Top 100 pages, all filed under /browse/, are NOT blocked! Lenses on Top 100 pages get a guaranteed visit by search engines.
- Which means it’s worth your while to make lenses in less-popular categories. Don’t cheat, folks — mis-categorizing a lens means fewer human visitors will find it! But you might check out less popular categories and brainstorm lens ideas for them.
- Oops, digression. Where were we? Ah yes, examining the “Summary” page of Squidoo lens stats.
- Clickouts. One big measure of a page’s performance is whether people found something on it to click, or hit the “Go Back” button. This is what industry experts call conversion: turning web traffic into something you want the visitor to do.
- Squidoo cares about four kinds of clickouts: Adsense/ad clickouts (ka-ching!), merchant clickouts (possible ka-ching!), clickouts to the rest of the web, and clickouts to other parts of Squidoo. According to a trusted lensmaster post I’m still trying to track down—Fluffanutta, was that you?!— directing traffic to other parts of Squidoo may get a bit more lensrank boost. After all, once you send people away, Squidoo gets no more benefit from them. Betcha “ka-ching” clicks (money-earning) carry more weight, though.
(Suddenly I have this image of your readers as a volleyball, internal links as passing the volleyball back and forth around Squidoo, and Adsense and affiliate sales modules as the spike. Moving on…)
- Number of times lens has been emailed. I have a strong hunch that this is one of those “lensmaster reputation” or “other factors” the FAQ mentions in breaking down the lensrank algorithm. Notice how Squidoo remembers all the times your lens has ever been emailed!
- Number of times marked as Favorite. It might be time to get Fluffanutta’s Love This Lens widget which compactly invites people to favorite, rate, email your lens… all things that probably or definitely boost lensrank. Smart guy. (Get and use ALL his Squidoo tools, for that matter. They’re more useful than my yapping.)
- Days on Top 100 list probably isn’t factored into lensrank— although who knows!— but it’s a fun goal to shoot for.
Below this header we have two timelines:
So, seven-day traffic isn’t all Squidoo cares about, anymore than we do. Ditto for lensrank. It’s possible that Squidoo may factor “average traffic” or just “lifetime traffic” to lensrank, although if so, I doubt these are as important as big lensrank boosters like earnings, (7-day) traffic, (30-day) clickthroughs. (The part in parentheses is the span which Squidoo records on the stats page, which I suspect is also the span Squidoo measures for lensrank calculations.)
Squidoo Dashboard – Individual Lens Stats - “Traffic” Tab
This is, in my opinion, the nuts and bolts of what Squidoo is looking for: the vital signs of lens performance, which changes a lot from day to day (hence daily lensrank calculations).
At the top of the “Lens Traffic” page it repeats 7-day and lifetime Visitor Traffic. 7-day is again listed first. Maybe I’m reading too much into these stats, but I keep being struck by Squidoo’s “yesterday is so last week” attitude.
Then a bunch of charts come up. By default they’re 7-day, but when monitoring keywords I advise taking a look at 30-day windows to get a better sense of what keyword phrases are getting searched repeatedly.
Example Squidoo Dashboard Traffic Source charts:
Don’t you love Long Tail* searches? They make me laugh. This example also points to a “long tail chasing” secret: people often type the word stuff in searches.
*(Long Tail: less-popular searches that collectively outnumber popular searches. You can often get most of the traffic for a “long tail” search that no other webpage is optimized for, whereas popular searches are hard to dominate. A graph of search results for nearly any word shows where the nickname“Long Tail” came from.)
- Incoming traffic: Remember SquidU’s thread about whether Squidoo used backlinks as the biggest factor for lensrank? Here’s why I doubt it. Squidoo stats don’t mention how many inbound links (one-way links pointing to your website) or backlinks (properly, reciprocal links between your page and another page) you’ve got. Instead it measures traffic sources: sources of traffic that sent actual visitors to your page. In other words, Squidoo measures performance, not potential.
- The Traffic Source pie chart is careful to distinguish each different kind of traffic source. Do you have traffic from one search engine? Or several? What do you want to bet there’s a minute lensrank boost if you have a colorful “lots of sources” pie chart versus just one source? In other words, it’s worth your while to have links from other parts of Squidoo and beyond it, from several search engines, and from your friends to whom you gave your business card with the URL on the back.
- Keyword searches measures exactly how many different searches landed on your page. Again, what do you want to bet that lots of different searches may give a lensrank boost? It’s worth your while to learn how search engines other than Google work. (See my “SEO” tab up top— I’ve got links to a couple articles discussing optimization for Yahoo and MSN.)
- The Keyword Tool (little plus signs on the chart above) encourages you to add commonly-searched phrases to your lens tags. I’m of several minds about this. Because of the Tags page being Nofollow), Squidoo tags don’t give you any link building SEO juice— see Fluffanutta’s rant about “Squidoo Tags Have No SEO Benefit”. And Google doesn’t treat Squidoo tags as any more significant, for search optimization purposes, than any other link text. However, it turns out that Yahoo and MSN do consider your tags to be extra-important parts of your page, and they’ll boost your page higher on searches for those terms! So I use broad, general terms for my Squidoo tags as Spirituality recommends, at least at first, but later add recurring “long tail searches” that keep popping up. (Fluffanutta says Squidoo’s “health check tool” likes no more than 10-15 Squidoo tags, and sometime I need to find out whether there’s a good reason for that limit).
- Note the Direct category of incoming traffic. This is people’s own bookmarks, clicking on a link in email, or any source of traffic that didn’t start out on a traceable webpage. (People using online webmail get filed under Referral, not Direct). I suspect Direct traffic is factored into the “lensmaster reputation” or “other factors” lensrank boost mentioned by the FAQ. If someone likes your site enough to come to it personally, that’s gotta count for something. So email your friends your best lenses!
Below these two charts we’ve got a much more detailed breakdown of Referrers:
The gray box only appears if you click on a referrer’s domain name. I’m going to hazard a guess that the number of different domains sending you traffic is counted for lensrank in addition to number of
- Finally, we’ve got the “conversion” part of the Stats page: Clickouts (often called clickthroughs). All clickthroughs are listed together: to other sites, to other parts of Squidoo, to adsense ads, to merchant modules. So I think we’re looking at a straight lensrank factor here: Total number of clickouts. Possibly with an extra boost for clickouts on several different links on your lens, instead of just ten clicks on just one. Bottom line, tempt your visitors to click. Preferably on links to lenses you’ve made that are closely related to your topic, using link text that fits your page’s keywords, to help with SEO.
- Last but by no means least, you’ve got the Royalties tab, which I personally wish were named the Commissions tab. This tracks all the commissions you’ve gotten from people buying stuff through your Amazon and eBay modules. I think you’ll also see Cafepress commissions pop up there. We know from the FAQ that Revenue boosts lensrank. Each time you make a sale, lensrank goes up. I’ve not seen any relationship between amount of sale and lensrank boost, but I’ve only got a small sample size.
And That’s IT.
There are three Squidoo Dashboard Tabs I’m ignoring here: Comments, My Groups, My Profile, My Favorites.
However, other than my guess that you may get a slight lensrank boost for answering comments, these tabs don’t have much in the way of data relevant to measuring lens performance. I seriously doubt Squidoo rewards you for adding a lens to more or less groups, though you’ll get another benefit — backlinks — thereby.
In closing, I’d just like to remind you to check your profile to make sure you’ve filled in as many blank slots you can: blogs, favorite lenses on this and that, any opportunity you can get to pass a little link juice to some of your lenses.. Change your featured lenses from time to time, to keep your bio fresh and to distribute traffic and backlink love to different lenses.