Greekgeek's Online Odyssey - Hubpages and Online Article Writing Tips

About This Blog

About Squidbits

This blog is where I share my tips, thoughts, and pontificating about search engine optimization, social media, web traffic, creating content that’s useful to visitors, and the sites where I publish (chiefly Squidoo and Hubpages, but I am trying to diversify). I occasionally share tips on CSS, HTML, graphics and webpage design. I’ll also tackle thorny issues such as copyright, online identity and web privacy.

   About Ellen Brundige

With an MA in classical studies (Greek, Latin, and the ancient world) and a second in Mythological Studies, you’d think I’d be holed up in the ivory tower. However, I fell from that tower in 1993 when I began working for the Perseus Project, a research project at Tufts that was building a major archive of ancient texts, images and archaeological information. I became an early adapter of the web — back when it was non-commercial — anticipating that it was going to become the main way we access and gather information. I became interested in web design, search engines (when they began to grow up), and the growing use of the web first by academics and specialists, then by hobbyists and nerds, then by mainstream people, then by commercial interests, businesses and politics.

For many years, the web was my hobby. While in graduate school, I started publishing on Squidoo as a way to earn a little cash from the webpages I enjoyed creating. In late 2010, I realized that my hobby had become my work, that I enjoyed the freedom of being able to write on many subjects instead of restricting myself to one academic field, and that I wanted to make a go of supporting myself with my online writing.

Like many writers, I gain satisfaction by seeing that my stuff gets read. Therefore, I began to study SEO in 2007, looking for ways to attract readers. Also, since 1993, I’ve been curious about and driven to understand how the web works). When I switched from amateur to pro online writer in 2011, I suddenly had practical reasons for needing to master SEO not just for my own sense of accomplishment — look! visitors! — but to earn a living. So I’ve continued to keep abreast of search news and Google algorithm changes partly with the fascination of a hobbyist, and partly with the pragmatism of a sailor watching for shoals.

Warning: I still don’t consider myself an SEO expert, only an informed journeyman! I’ve a better handle on search engine optimization and traffic than 98% of the web, with my own strong opinions about good and bad practices, but I’m still learning.

Um… ’Scuze Me. About SEO…?

Yes, yes, I know. The URL of this blog is NOT search engine optimized. I was stingy. Rather than purchasing a second account and/or parking another domain name, I just partitioned off part of my personal website. However, my laziness may have turned out to be a good move after all, since Google implemented the Exact Match Domain algorithm in 2012.


  1. Susanna Duffy says:

    My dear Ellen, have you been receiving our begging emails about squidu?

    1. Greekgeek says:

      (yes, and that didn’t work out so well, erk)

  2. jersonija says:

    hi ms. ellen. thank the heavens i found your blog. now i am 100% convinced and inspired to start my squidoo money making machine :)

  3. Terry Lyle says:

    Ellen, thanks so much for your site. I started some lenses a few years back. I seem to remember that you could view the modules in code and make adjustments. Now that I’m trying to update, I don’t see any access to the code. Am I missing something? (sorry to bother you with this but the help on Squidoo seems outdated and/or unfocused.) As long as i’m bothering you…is there a way to put a header image in place of the very boring Title text?

    1. Greekgeek says:

      I’m not sure where in the pipeline you’ve gotten stuck, so bear with me if some of this is obvious:

      1. Log into Squidoo. Should be a link up top.
      2. Go to your Dashboard and click “Edit” under the lens you want to edit, or click “Edit” in the sidebar of a lens you’re viewing.
      3. Click the “Edit” button at the top right of each module to change its HTML code. Text modules let you edit HTML; many of the other modules are widgets that don’t let you edit them at the code level.

      No, there’s no way to replace title text with a header, although you could leave off a module title and upload a header graphic into the Text With Big Image module to get the same effect. However, while I used to use header graphics, I’ve stopped doing so now that I’ve learned that:

      • Search engines use header text as a strong ranking signal, when deciding what searches your page is relevant for. Squidoo’s headers and subheaders help our lenses get more search traffic.
      • Usability studies like this one show that readers see plain text and ignore graphics (even if they aren’t ads) in a phenomenon known as “banner blindness.” That’s why news websites, blogs, and most other written content sites do NOT use header graphics for sections.
      • Header graphics may be cut off on small screen devices like smartphones. You don’t know what browser somebody’s using, but you can be sure it wraps around text to fit within the screen.
      • Foreign-language visitors can use Google translate or the equivalent to read our lenses — and they do. In my traffic stats, I always see a few people surfing in through translation software. It can only translate text.
      • Vision-impaired users can’t read text hidden in graphics. And there’s a surprising number of them. The web has been a godsend for millions of blind people and anybody with dodgy vision, since they can customize screen readers to read webpages aloud to them or display text in a way they can see. Sometimes, there’s information you can’t convey in any way except through graphics, but there’s no point in concealing info that could just as easily be delivered as text.
  4. KC says:

    Back in the days, when I was just starting out on Squidoo, you were one of the lensmasters who inspired me to keep making lenses and learning more about SEO and blogging. Looks like you are keeping up with your mission to help lensmasters learn more about blogging and making money online. Great job and thank you!

  5. Don says:

    Hi Ellen,

    I have been away from Squidoo for a while, and am a bit confused by the changes. Years ago, I joined and built small lenses to sell affiliate products. Can one still do that? I don’t mean review lenses that show dozens of products, I mean lenses that focus on one product. The more I look at Squidoo now, the more it seems that they are pulling away from letting us do what we joined them to do in the first place. Can I still sell one thing on one lens there?


    1. E. Brundige says:

      Don, you still can, because my old lenses still work.

      However, in an effort to clean up the site after Google took a huge bite out of Squidoo’s traffic due to excessive spam and (perhaps) too much advertising, SquidooHQ has made the filters more persnickety than they used to be. I think you’ll be okay with a single-product lens, because you won’t have too many affiliate links on the same lens. (I can’t remember the affiliate limit now; it may be 10). On the other hand, I think the filters may be flagging some affiliate programs. I’m not sure, as I only use Zazzle and Amazon affiliate links; I haven’t ventured further afield.

      Upshot: try a test lens, and see if what you used to do still gets through the filters.

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