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The Tier One Challenge – Getting a Dud to a Stud

LindaJM has issued a Tier One Challenge:

Choose ONE lens that has never made it into Tier Two… in other words, the highest lensrank ever must be under 10000. The challenge is to do everything you can to get that lens into Tier ONE.

I was surprised and pleased to discover that it was hard to find a Tier 3  (or below) lens that had never been in Tier 2. Yes, there are a few, but I know they just don’t have tier 1 potential.

However, eventually, I found one. It is one of a set of SquidQuizzes I created a year ago while working towards Giant 100. Each of them consisted of:

  • A SquidQuiz (quiz content, created by Javascript, is not indexed by Search Engines)
  • A Text Module with an attractive ad/backlinks to my Greece Odyssey lenses.
  • A Featured Lenses module pointing to the other SquidQuizzes in the series.

Unsurprisingly, they never saw much traffic; most never even reached tier 3. Then Squidquizzes started earning points, two of the series crawled out of the depths into tier 2, and I realized I needed to make them easier or do something to give more value them to Squidoo members, as opposed to for the students I had in mind when I wrote them.

I was in the process of revamping the series when LindaJM issued the challenge. I picked one that I think has the most potential for improvement. I’m going to keep notes here on what I’m doing to improve it, and how its rank changes.

So, here’s its starting condition:

  • CREATED: 11/27/2009; How-to and Education.
  • 0 likes, 0 favorites, 0 blessings never emailed.
  • averaging 40-50 visits per month, 0 clickouts.
  • has been below LR 100,000 every month except April, when its average was in the 80,000 range.
  • I republished it once every 60 days but had given no extra content.
  • October 5th it was LR 101,282 with 23 visits in the last week.
  • Backlinks: 5, including lensmaster profile, SquidUtils directory, an announcement post in SquidU from 2009, my Squidbits lensography, and a “musings from ancient Greece” Livejournal post from 2009.

Last week I created a cool navigation strip on all the quizzes in the series, cross-linking them in the Intro and Guestbook modules. Then I started revamping.

On October 5th I updated the test lens. Following the quiz module, I created one text module per quiz question with addtional content related to that question and a Creative Commons image (or my own photo) which linked to the source. For most of the modules, I included linked citations pointing to my source of info, or to excellent pages “for more info, see…” In other words: images for clickouts, and links to related content.

More traffic began to arrive: it climbed to 27. No clickouts. Its traffic was through search engines (Google and Ask) plus 7 from the other quizzes. Its lensrank rose up briefly into the 69,000 range for Oct 6, then dropped back down to 80K.

I signed up on 10-10-10. So I posted in LindaJM’s thread.

By today it’s gotten 8 likes.

Things I’ve done today and yesterday:

1) half-assed keyword optimization yesterday; I found out what popular searches were for it with low competition — very roughly; I just eyeballed Google Adwords Tool — picked one and reworded the title, then wove a primary and two secondary search terms into it with on-page optimization. I also added some “related search” terms (according to Google) in the body.

2) Added a couple Amazon sidebar widgets: one I call a WTF!!!? spotlight which isn’t meant to sell, but to attract clicks (it’s a gag item related to the topic), the other a serious product related to the topic that the target audience might actually buy.

3) Added backlinks from my Livejournal profile, my Cafepress shops (all basic, so the links are raw URLs with no anchor text), and rewrote an old Gather article on the subject with a “BONUS: [Keyword Keyword] Trivia Quiz!” link in the first paragraph and another link at the end.

4) Examined the tags of other Squidoo lenses that turn up on Google for my search terms and included some of their more relevant tags on my own so they would be cross-linked.

5) built a a few inbound links to this lens from related lenses.

None of these actions are very impressive, but my basic approach here is going to be “A little bit each day.”

As of today it’s now LR 25,125, thanks to visits from that SquidU thread and likes.

Stay tuned.

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