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Using Squidoo’s Traffic Stats to Tweak SEO

Last time I talked about Squidoo Tags functioning as meta keywords. We know that meta keywords don’t boost SEO much, because most search engines, apart from Yahoo, don’t give them any more weight than any other link text on your lens.

So when you check your traffic stats tab on a lens, what good does it do to see which search phrases people used to get there? Newbie lensmasters often think they should add them as tags, but in fact, that may not be helpful.

Instead, I recommend using that data to apply SEO techniques manually. In this post, I’ll walk you through an example to show you how.

Example Lens:  Egyptian god Thoth

First, I check its traffic stats and set the range to three months, so I have a long span to help identify trends. (Short term is more relevant on seasonal lenses). Here’s the lion’s share of hits for that period:

Example Traffic Stats Squidoo

As you see, I’ve added the two most-common long-tail search phrases to my tags, but not two slightly less-common search phrases, “Egyptian trickster god” and “thoth in hieroglyphics”. Should I just ignore them? Nope!

Search engines determine the relevance of search phrases on your webpage by analyzing several factors. We don’t know all those factors or how they’re weighted, but SEO experts have identified some of the main ones: page title, URL, keywords in description, section headers, link (anchor text), filenames of graphics, and body text.

My goal for today is to examine my lens and see if I can better optimize some of those factors on my lens to focus on the phrases “Egyptian trickster god” or “thoth in hieroglyphics”. The challenge is to do it without interfering with any existing SEO. My example is an old lens I made before I understood much SEO, so it’s very likely I’ll find ways to improve it.

Let’s take the second phrase, “Thoth in hieroglyphics”. Where does it show up on my lens? Right in the introduction, which carries some weight in search engines:

Thoth, Egyptian god

The phrase match isn’t exact. I’m betting Google’s synonym algorithm is smart enough to figure out that “hieroglyphs” and “hieroglyphics” are close enough. But I can’t be sure all search engines are that smart, so why not make it easier for them? Plus — a real SEO expert would do months of testing, but I’m a lazy lensmaster — I suspect that an exact match for “hieroglyphics” may rank better than a not-quite-match with “hieroglyphs.”

Therefore, I rephrase it: “Here is Thoth‘s name in Egyptian hieroglyphics.” I trimmed the wording to get the keywords closer together, although I decided after some thought to keep “name” in there since some people might use that term in their search. (Not many have, but you never know.)

Next, I check my graphic to make sure it’s targeting keywords. Here’s the sourcecode:

<img align=”right” border=”0″ src=”” />

WHAT?! “name.jpg” isn’t descriptive at all, and I’m not taking advantage of an alt tag to get my keywords in there!

On the one hand, the URL has the possible keyword phrase, “Thoth name,” which might land a few hits. On the other hand, it hasn’t gotten any, and that’s not the only place the phrase appears on my lens. So I’m going to assume that it’s just not as juicy a phrase as “thoth in hieroglyphs,” which is somehow landing me hits even though I didn’t use quite that wording! So I rename the file and add an alt tag:

<img align=”right” border=”0″ src=”” alt=”Thoth’s name in Egyptian hieroglyphics” />

Notice that I upload images to my own server using a folder name that matches my keywords. That’s another invisible way to boost SEO. Also, I managed to keep “thoth’s name” in there

Now, how about optimizing for “Egyptian Trickster god”?

I notice that my header for that section just says, “Thoth the Trickster God.” Nobody’s been searching for that exact phrase, so I change it to “Thoth the Egyptian Trickster God.” Also, I tighten a convoluted sentence — “The Egyptians loved Thoth so much partly because he was a trickster god” — to a more straightforward, “The Egyptians also loved Thoth as a trickster god.” There’s still five full words breaking up the keyword phrase, but at least they’re closer.

While I’m at it, I find that the graphic in the “trickster” section isn’t pulling in any keyword search traffic with its filename, so I rename it egyptian-trickster-god.jpg and add an alt-tag.

The great thing about image file names and alt-tags is that human users don’t see them, so they’re very discreet places for a little keyword repetition.

Note that I don’t want to change keyword density so much that I de-optimize for my primary keyword phrase. The great thing is that secondary keyword phrases — popular searches you didn’t think of when you designed a lens — often overlap the words for the primary keyword phrase, so when you optimize for one, you optimize for the other.

Just remember, when you’re refining a page to target a secondary search phrase, don’t delete or dilute any spot on your lens where your primary keyword phrase appears.

Final Tip: Don’t forget to search Squidoo and the web to find other pages that use your keyword phrases. Anchor (clickable link) text is a juicy place to embed keyword phrases for SEO, and it helps your lens (and Squidoo) with clickthroughs.

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