Doot de dooo. Time to check the dashboard and see how the lenses are doing. Hm hm hm, good good, hey, that’s one’s back in the second tier, and…
WHAT? 300 visits + recent sales = THIRD TIER? Oh, Squidoo, I am WOUNDED TO THE QUICK!
You’re picking on me! No, wait, you’ve changed the lens algorithm to cheat me out of my rightful lensrank! It’s a conspiracy! It’s a bug! It’s inconceivable!
And it’s been happening with that particular lens a lot lately.
In fact, this is a VERY good thing.
It means Squidoo is all grown up. In the beginning, that would’ve been (and was) a top tier lens. Gradually, Squidoo lenses have become more successful, more competitive, and the Top 100 lenses are now really tip-top. The bar keeps rising.
On the one hand, I worry about newbies. If that lens isn’t a lock on the second tier, they may give up before they’ve learned enough to start making a return. On the other hand, this suggests that Squidoo is getting more visitors and (presumably) earning more money. That money gets redistributed to us through the Ad Pool, and some of that traffic will come our way. So we benefit from the lenses pushing our own lensrank down.
So do I shrug and say, “Oh well, onto the next lens!”
Of COURSE not. That lens is a second tier lens, and I’m bally well gonna get it back where it belongs!
Any established lens is an opportunity, even if it’s not doing as well as you’d like. ESPECIALLY then.
This lens, How to Align Graphics on Webpages, is successful in many ways, so what is not working? Answer that question, and I can apply what I learn to that lens and others. That’s why it’s a GOOD thing when a strong lens begins to slip.
In this case, I’m satisfied with the traffic it’s getting (although there are SEO gurus out there who can do better). So the problem lies elsewhere.
Let’s examine its stats.
It’s also received over 100 ratings. But social boosts on Squidoo wear off quickly. Angel blessings wear off after 2 weeks. Favorites and Thumbs wear off too. If you’re counting on social factors to keep a lens afloat, it doesn’t deserve it.
So what is this lens NOT getting much of?
Email. But I doubt anyone would email this lens. People don’t tend to email how-to guides; they email pages on funny stuff, cool photos, or “did you know?” type information.
But also: This lens gets almost no clickouts.
I know clickouts matter, because of this section of the Squidoo FAQ:
We look at community ratings, lensmaster reputation, clickthrough rates, frequency of updates, inbound and outbound links, revenue generated, and lots of other factors and give the lens a number.
So now I know what to tackle today: clickouts, also known as clickthroughs or conversion.
I take a look at the lens, module by module, to see how I can improve its links. There are some links that people could click on, but not many, and they don’t really jump out to the eye.
First thing to do: bold every link and trim out any “filler” text I can so the links stand out better!
Second thing to do: find one or two of the BEST links and spotlight them in a Black Box module or some other visually-compelling format.
Third thing to do: eliminate links that on second thought, aren’t that useful. Find better ones.
What’s “better?” Better is links your visitors like enough to click! So I check the “one month” traffic stats to see all the searches that have led people to the lens. That gives me an idea who they are and what they want.
I see that my visitors are beginners who want to learn CSS, and/or who want to use graphics. So I change/embellish the links on the lens as follows:
- I have a link in the introduction module for Sammy the Six Second Surfer, but it’s only gotten one click. So I changed it to highlight another site related to my lens topic that is an even more valuable and useful free tool. People like tools, resources, and FREE!
- I weave links to my other tutorial lenses (or, sometimes, other webpages with relevant content) into the body text of my lens. For example, in the section about background images, I linked to my tutorial on how to use Squidoo’s built-in background images.
- I realized my Amazon Spotlight was showcasing a professional, expensive product (Photoshop). The people coming to my lens are beginners. So I changed the product to Photoshop Elements, an econo version of Photoshop that’s a tenth the price of the full version.
- I checked all my links to make sure they work. Guess what! I found one that was busted.
- But I didn’t go overboard. I added only 3 links, and adjusted the others to make them more visible. Link spamming your own lens is not the answer.
I predict that my clickthroughs will now go up.
While I was at it, I did a little basic SEO. I tightened up the prose. I linked to the lens from my newer graphics lenses. I did a little self-promotion to call attention to the lens (including this post). But visitors from Twitter or Facebook or other social sources taper off within a few days. They aren’t a long-term solution. So I put my energy into self-sustaining traffic generation.
Of course, the chief way a lens deserves a good rank is through its CONTENT. It needs to be unique, useful, original, well-written. It needs to contribute something to the web. Don’t waste time gilding a piece of poop.