LisaAuch asked a good question in SquidU on how we update lenses (which could apply to any kind of webpage). My answer got longwinded, so I’m posting it here!
95% of the time, I confess, I assume I made a good page and don’t update much. I’ll just skim titles and images to see if anything jumps out at me that I could tweak. I’ll trim a word or two since I tend to be longwinded. Then I hit publish.
During the 5% of the time when I decide to make a significant update, it’s for one of four reasons:
- I have new content to add
- I’ve decided to improve the graphics and appearance,
- I’ve decided to improve the on-page optimization to increase traffic, or
- I want to add things people are more likely to want to click on (which boosts lensrank).
With 3, it’s often because I’ve learned a new SEO method I didn’t know before. For example, using words and phrases from searches related to my main keyword, rewriting titles so that the most significant keywords are at the start, or reviewing images to make sure their filenames and alt-names are concrete words and phrases like “pictures of the statue of liberty” that people are more likely to search for (as opposed to, “liberty”).
One time consuming but powerful method is to
use traffic stats as clues on how to improve a lens
1. I check lens stats and go to the “Traffic” tab, changing the time period to the longest possible to get a larger sample. Then I pore over the info Squidoo records.
What words and phrases have people searched? Do the search phrases fit the lens (queries about cats on a lens about cats) or is my lens is attracting the wrong traffic (queries about dogs on a lens about cats)?
2. If a search phrase fits my lens content or goal, and if I think other people may search for something similar, then I use it to improve the lens.
I may just work the word or phrase into a module title or body text if it seems appropriate. That may help convince search engines the page is more “relevant” for that search.
Sometimes, if I see a search phrase that’s a great question or topic, I’ll make a real improvement:
3. First I ask myself, “If I were looking for X and Y (whatever the visitor typed), what content would satisfy my query?” For example, if the person asked “is cat grass good for cat,” I’d make sure my lens has a good answer to the question, or links to a good vet site answering the question (link = clickthrough, ka-ching!)
4. Just as importantly, since people are in a hurry, does the first screen of my lens suggest they’ll find an answer further down the page? Does the prose seem competent, compelling, focused? Does it sound like the kind of page that would cover that topic? Why or why not?
Most visitors glance at the top of a page and take a split second to decide, “Yes, this looks like a page that has what I’m looking for” — in which case they’ll scroll down — or, “Hmm, this doesn’t grab me; I’ll keep looking” and hit the BACK button.
In sum: I improve the page to fit what people are actually looking for, hoping that search engines will see my page is even more relevant for those searches, and hoping that people are more likely to bookmark, link to, or pass on the great page they’ve found.
When search traffic doesn’t fit the page…
5. But what if the search queries don’t match? What if I’m getting lots of traffic about dogs on a cat lens?
Then I need to figure out what on my lens is throwing off the search engines .For example, I had a lens about beachcombing that got a lot of questions about advanced neuroscience. BAD match! What’s going on?! Oh, I see. The sea animal I was focusing on is used in neuroscience research, and I’d given its scientific name in the introduction and a few module headers, so search engines decided I was talking like a scientist. I removed those from most places on the lens and used language more appropriate to the general public “this is a cool critter!” and suddenly I was getting search traffic that fit what was actually on the lens.
The goal of all this…
My goal is to make a lens that draws traffic to itself. The better you can make your content, the better the visual appeal and organization of the lens, the better the writing, and the more you can craft what you say to fit what people are looking for (not in a phony way, but really satisfying their searches), the more likely it is that search engines will rank it well, and the more likely it is that people will link to or share the page because they found something worthwhile.