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


Image Hosting on Your Own Domain

I’ve used ICDSoft as my web host for 8 years now, long before Web 2.0 burst onto the scene. I’ve hosted various personal websites on it and used it as file storage space for online communities where I was an admin or member.

On Squidoo, I continue to find it extremely useful for image hosting. First, it’s fast, and I’m not dependent on Squidoo’s servers. Second, I have ICDsoft’s own traffic stats data, which records longterm trends like keyword searches that brought people to those images. I’ve got eight years of keyword data to mull through when pondering what people search for — I really need to spend more time digging through the records to help me brainstorm for lens topic ideas! Third, ICDSoft lets me block hotlinking.

Most importantly, having images hosted off-Squidoo lets me store the images for each lens in folders whose names reinforce SEO. For example, all my images for my volcano lens are stored in a folder named [blah blah]/volcanoes/[filename].jpg.  This means every single image reinforces the relevance of that lens for the keyword “volcanoes.” You could use this technique on image hosting sites like Picasa and Photobucket as well, provided they let you name image folders, and those names are incorporated into the image URL.

On a side note… Where can you find information on which of your lens graphics is generating search traffic?

  1. Check Stats for that lens.
  2. Click the traffic tab.
  3. Scroll down to “Referrers” below the pie chart.
  4. Under “Referrers,” click Google. For some reason Squidoo treats Google image search as a referrer, not a search engine.
  5. Look for referrals beginning with these words: /imgresimgurl. Shortly after that will be the URL of the image. That means someone did a Google Image search, saw your graphic in the results of the image search, clicked on that graphic and came to your lens.
  6. It’s a little hard to decipher, but if you right click and copy that “referrer” URL into a spare document, then search for %3Fq%3D (which is a weird way of saying &q=, computerese for “query equals…”), everything after that is the actual search term someone typed in to find the graphic. %2B is computerese for a blank space. So for example, I see a referral with this gobbledygook:,r:8,s:18&biw=1259&bih=599

That means that someone found my lens by doing an image search for mount pinatubo. I’m really not sure how, since other images turn up ahead of mine in Google image search, but they did, so there you are. :)

Normally you’ll never need to dig that deeply into your stats, but just in case, that’s how. Don’t ask me what all that other gobbledygook is, though.

2011 Squidoo Goals — So Far So Good!

This year I decided to put Squidoo front and center. At the start of 2011, Squidoo HQ challenged us with a quest to make a “2011 goals” lens.

I don’t usually make lensography or “about me” lenses, because quite frankly, their conversion sucks. They seldom even stay in tier three. But it seemed like a good way to focus. So for once I did a quest and made my Five Goals of 2011, where I’m posting weekly progress reports, plus a 2011 lensography for my Greekgeek account.

I was ambitious. Probably too ambitious. I’m still waiting for Zeus to come down and smite me. (Look, I put  Zeus on a T-shirt!)

So far, however, it’s going well, despite my being ghastly sick from January 3-25, with several days of lying in bed unable to spell “phlegm.”

So far I’ve made 24 lenses, 10 Zazzle products, and 3 in-depth posts on my professional mythology blog, Mythphile, which is now for sale on Kindle. Which reminds me, I need to write a tutorial on publishing for Kindle! Once I start getting subscribers, that is.

Also, last week, my niche account quietly passed 50 lenses. There’s a couple lenses I published in it that need a little work before I can submit it for Giant, but phew! Finally. I started that account in ’07.

Anyway, I’m still a long, LONG way from that $2000/month goal. But I’m seeing it’s possible, even when I’ve got a sinus infection putting me in bed for most of a couple weeks.

Here’s why I’m succeeding — so far:

  • Having broad goals, then breaking it down to “how much do I have to do per week?”
  • Allowing myself to do simpler lenses that aren’t the Mona Lisa
  • Spreadsheet time. Gah. I’m starting to resemble my rocket scientist dad!

Speaking of spreadsheets, here. This is the Excel template I’ve created to track my progress. It’s probably far more than you’d ever want to use, but you can always fiddle with/edit it.

My Tier One Challenge Lens: FAIL! But also success

First Tier One Payout for a one-year-old lens

Soooo. My Tier One Challenge lens reached Tier One on Nov. 11, dipped DOWN to lensrank 2119 on Nov 29, and is back up to 1624 today due to an Amazon sale. That fails the challenge to keep it in tier one a month, but I don’t mind, as its average for November is 1800, early its very first tier one payout! Not bad for a lens which averaged in the 100,000+ range for all but 2 months Nov ’09 to Sep ’10.

It’s still not a tippy-top lens, but I’m noticing a few trends that we can learn from, maybe.

So let’s take a tour of Dashboard Stats. First of all:

Vital Squidoo Statistics (12/2/10)

  • #1,624 overall
  • #49 in People Note: I am sneaky! Its content also fit in How to & Education, but “People” had less competition, and Athena is a person…well, sort of. ALSO it’s a SquidQuiz. Optimization gave it a chance to get to the front page of the People category AND the SquidQuiz co-brand, both of which are “top of the hierarchy” pages which should have good pagerank.
  • Highest rank achieved: #918 overall
  • Days on the Top 100 list: 0


My Tier One challenge lens is puttering along…

Well, my Athena Greek mythology quiz is still puttering along. I love looking at this graph on the dashboard:Tier One Challenge Lens Stats

Its traffic is only 15-25 a day, and I’m still not sure how much of its lensrank is due to likes (although they’ve slowed down — everyone who’d like it has Liked it.)  I am also wondering if the number of different referrers sending it traffic helps. I’ve always wondered what exactly they mean in the Squidoo FAQ by:

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.

Source Visits
Referral 93
Google 28
Direct 13
Ask 2
Yahoo 1

Every single visitor who arrived through search came with a slightly different search query. That’s the on-page SEO, optimizing for related searches, and content-rich approach at work. The referrals are visits from 18 different domains, half of them image searches or Google in other countries.

As for outbound links, I’ve got that covered: 66 clickouts in a month, 28 clicks on 18 different links in the last week, clickthrough rate of 8%. I’m sure this is part of why a low-traffic (for tier 1) lens performs well. What I don’t know is whether the lensrank algorithm counts any kind of user intereaction — comments or taking a quiz — as significant.

As for the whole group of 10 lenses (the challenge lens and its siblings), they’ve all prospered since this challenge began. All were in the 100K range with almost zero visitors and likes before. Now:

In other news, I’ve had 10 steady top tier lenses all month and a few more playing musical tiers with the bottom end of the tier (i.e. they’re tier 1 some days but not enough to average above it. )

Tier One Challenge: Week One Report

Status Report: Lensrank 3,497 on Oct 18, up from 84,121 on Oct 10

Weekly traffic: 137, up from 27. (Prior to about Oct 6, it was usually around LR 100K with 10-15 visits a week).

Summary: slow and steady progress.

It doesn’t have enough traffic or clickouts to get above tier 2 yet, and it’s not doing that great in the SERPs. I see some potential for growth there, but it’s going to be tough.

Here’s my in-depth stats breakdown for traffic sources, SERPs and more.


My Squidoo Lensrank Has Dropped: and That’s a Good Thing!

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 Purple Stars and Other Squidoo Awards

Wow! Where are these purple stars coming from! This is a HUGE huge huge thank you to everyone who has nominated my lenses for purple stars, Lens of the Day, and other Squidoo awards.

I also feel like bragging, although I am actually a little surprised at one of the purple stars I just found in my inbox. It’s not my best lens. I suppose it’s unique content, though!

So here are all my Purple Stars and other Squidoo awards, plus a few personal benchmarks for which I am proud.


Profile of a Successful Squidoo Lensmaster

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!

The Squidoo Dashboard: What Lens Stats Tell Us

Welcome back to the third and final segment of my “Lensrank secrets” study. In Part I we squeezed the Squidoo FAQ for every scrap of information it could tell us about lensrank. In Part II, we tackled the Squidoo Dashboard stats, on the theory that most of those factor into lensrank (the FAQ showed that many do). Whether or not they are all lensrank factors, they certainly give us a lot of clues about how to improve and promote our Squidoo lenses.

Now I’m going to finish up with an in-depth look at the “individual lens stats” part of the Squidoo Dashboard.


Lensrank Secrets Right Under Your Nose

In my last post I dissected the Squidoo FAQ to squeeze out every bit of official information about lensrank.

There’s another possible source of official lensrank information right under our noses: the Squidoo Dashboard. I submit, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, that Squidoo is not expending great gobs of computing and hosting power calculating and storing lens stats for our sole benefit. Most of these stats measure factors alluded to in the FAQ. I suspect that most if not all of our Squidoo Dashboard stats are lensrank factors. We don’t know which carry the most weight, and the lensrank algorithm changes from time to time, but dashboard stats tell us a lot about what Squidoo, at least, thinks is important for an effective webpage.

So let’s dig deeper and see what the Squidoo Dashboard has to tell us.