Okay, I admit it. I like my lenses to be in the best payout tier they can be, and I like traffic, two related but separate goals.
So at the beginning of the month, I find myself reviewing my dashboard. In particular, I look for lenses that are starting out near a tier cutoff. I look for lenses with over a hundred visitors per week, yet they’re tier 3. And I look for lenses whose fortunes have recently improved, like, say, my Squidquizzes which you all suddenly discovered last month even though I made them over a year ago.
How can I help them begin the month on good footing, or, much more importantly, help them stay where they are now and not drop?
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.
My Photos of Apollo Moon Landing Sites From Space lens has existed for a month, and looks to be a long-term second-tier lens with 50 visitors a week and a fair number of clicks. Those two factors will help this lens maintain its lensrank.
Here’s the steps I took to make this effective lens.
1) Find a controversial subject LOTS of people are talking about, and/or notice something in current news/buzz that people may look up.
I follow space news, and heard there were some new cool photos of moon landing sites. When I searched for them on the web, I ran into a whole pile of people claiming the moon landings are a hoax! (This would be news to my Mom’s friend Neil Armstrong.) A number of people were asking why there were no photos of moon landers from space. Aha! A question that can be answered with a Squidoo lens! Juicy debate and controversy! Perfect for getting traffic. Now, how to target it…
People find things on the web by searching. SEO helps you get your page in front of people searching for it. SEO is like throwing fishing hooks into a sea full of hungry fish. The more SEO you know, the better you’ll be able to ensure your hook gets seen by lots of fish.
But a fishing hook isn’t enough to catch a fish. Even if you get to page one of search engine results, you still need your “hook” to stand out from all the rest. What kind of bait should you use to attract a click on your link?
Look at this example:
Something jumps out when you compare these search results.
Have you taken a look at Pastiche’s Squidoo Stats Blog?
She doesn’t give earnings, just her lens tier breakdown. 40 lenses in the top 2000 out of 120. FORTY. That’s
one out of every three of her lenses earning top dollar. AND they’ll be earning lots of Amazon commisisons, on top of ad revenue!
I have been aware of and lensrolled or featured some of Pastiche’s lenses on clipart, but that figure still knocked my socks off.
It’s worth taking the time to stop and admire Pastiche, and observe her secrets to Squidoo success:
1) Cover a niche very well, with lots of lenses devoted to seasonal and specific topics within that niche.
2) Make well-organized, attractive, easy-to-use and easy-to-read lenses.
3) Target keywords like crazy so you get a lot of traffic for specific searches. Don’t just have a lens on clipart. Have a lens on clipart for vintage hearts, or John Deere Tractor clipart, or squirrels.
4) Clickthroughs. Oh my gosh the clickthroughs. Nearly everyone coming to her lens is LOOKING for something, and almost certainly will be clicking on some of her links because she gives EXACTLY what she promise to give with the lens title and opening blurb.
5) Amazon modules that target her reader’s wishes and needs exactly. It’s one thing to promote items related to your lens topic. It’s another thing altogether to target a particular audience that is desperately wanting the thing you offer, and will be quite likely to buy it.
She’s identified a corner of the web for which there is a steady and unrelenting command, and provides a service so that lots and lots of people looking for it will come to her. I know from my own lens on where to get free graphics that there’s a bottomless demand here, but I haven’t really done much to monetize or follow up on that. Pastiche has!
Of course, since she’s cornered the market on clipart so well, the answer is not to try and target the same niche, but to apply Pastiche’s winning Squidoo strategy to another niche– one that’s wide open.
Hats off to you, Pastiche!
My theory about Lensrank is that most Dashboard stats are used to calculate Lensrank, although we have no idea how they’re weighted. Otherwise, why is Squidoo taking up huge gobs of server time and space to crunch those numbers for hundreds of thousands of lenses each day?
I have been away for a while, and just noticed a third stat added to the Traffic stats for a lens:
Total visits: 174 visits Total pageviews: 256 pageviews Pages/visit: 1.47
O-ho. Squidoo’s decided pages/visit is important!
EDIT: Oh, but what IS pages/visit? No, it’s not how many times your visitor comes back to the page, as I had thought. Fluffanutta explains: each lens now has sub-pages aka “Module pages,” so this gives you an idea how often visitors are going to those pages as well as the main lens.
Lakeeerieartist has a great lens explaining Module Pages and what they’re good for.
Yep, back in the saddle. Dissertation is keeping me busy! However, I’ve hit a few modest SEO tips in the course of updating and making some new lenses.
First up: CLONE YOUR VISITOR.
This is an idea I’m trying, not yet proven, but it makes sense to me.
Situation: A series of lenses, a sequence of lenses that are all linked up, like different pages of an article.
Query: Which of them should you give the best keyword phrase to for the URL/title?
In the past, I’ve given it to the first page, the gateway lens, so to speak. But that’s linear thinking.
Guess what? My lenses aren’t all original. Of COURSE not!
My “How to Get Your Lens Found” tutorial includes some tips I learned from PotPieGirl and Spirituality and Fluffanutta, and I used to cite Mr Lewissmile, before I decided I disagreed with some of his tricks and changed my recommendations. My CSS Codes Tutorial includes something I call CSS Kung Fu, which I learned from Glen. On baseball lenses, I’ve got links to forum discussions on MLB boards.
And ya know what? I thank these people for their help, and pay them by sending them traffic. It’s only fair!
On a pragmatic level, those links represent a large part of the clickthroughs for my lens. Repeat after me, squids: clickthroughs boost lensrank; lensrank determines payout tier.
There are several other ways that being honest about your sources can actually benefit your bottom line. (more…)
Here’s two easy steps I do as a quick “freshness boost” for a lens about to slip past the bottom of its tier. It’s no substitute for adding new, updated, exciting content, but it’s a quick fix.
- In traffic stats, I change the window to 30-day-traffic and add any keyword phrase to my Squidoo Tags that’s been searched 4-5 times, if I haven’t got it already. This won’t help much with Google, which doesn’t put much stock in Squidoo tags, but it may help with MSN and Yahoo (once Yahoo rediscovers Squidoo). Don’t forget you need to PUBLISH a lens again after adding tags!
- I make note of my chosen keywords and the top 2-3 searches for my lens. I then add each as alt-tags to one image on my lens, in a module talking about that topic, or a graphic that illustrates it. I may even delete an image, change its filename on my computer to a better keyword (use hyphens to separate words, e.g. picture-of-stork.jpg), upload it again and change the HTML to point to the new filename. Both these methods are using images to attract search engine traffic.
Voilá! Publish, and you’ve just updated your lens, which can give it a small ranking boost. Again, you can’t always cheat like this — sometimes you need to add new content! — but we can’t be rewriting all our lenses every day.
Hey, it happens to all of us. You wake up, check the dashboard, and– eek! Traffic on lens X is going down, and lens Y is now in a lower lensrank tier than it was yesterday. I want to throw a question out to my readers: what steps do YOU take, reflexively, to combat lensrank and traffic bleed?
I’m not talking about the best steps, in theory. I’m talking about what you do, for good or ill. And consider why you do them, and whether you know they work, or you’re just hopin’ or have “heard it works”, which a lot of us SEO journeymen do too often.
Confesssion time: here’s my “flail at traffic and lensrank” list. Some of these are good ideas, some of them “here’s hopin’.”
This is a tweaked version of a post I made at SquidU today answering the question.