Challenge Lens Status: LR 5648 today, Oct 14. Started at 84,121 on Oct. 10.
Many factors must sustain a Tier One Lens: a combination of traffic, clickthroughs, community ratings, sales, frequency of updates, and factors Squidoo keeps under its hat. (My guess: visitors interacting with polls, duels, etc; and maybe Squidoo counts it somehow if you’re getting traffic from more different referrers.)
Different types of lenses find a winning formula in different ways, depending on the topic and the working style of the lensmaster.
For example, Jollyvillechick’s 40+ Things My Husband Does Right will probably not be sustained by search engine traffic, unless her mention of battery testers or other specific products in the “he fixes stuff” section catches search engines’ fancy. However, it’s a well-written human interest lens, so it may succeed through social media promotion and word of mouth.
Other people’s lenses succeed through sales and/or extensive social promotion and linkbuilding. Mine succeed primarily through a combination of traffic and clicks, a trickle of Squidoo community ratings, and the rare sale. I also re-publish every 60 days, but I only see a small 3-4 lensrank spike from it, so I don’t rely on update frequency.
Therefore, I need to tackle each of the first four factors.
Let’s talk traffic.
In mapping out a strategy, you need to know how your lenses tend to perform and why, in order to be able to break down what’s needed to duplicate that performance.
For my own lenses, a few of my tier 2s have traffic of at least ~50 unique visits a week, and most have 100+ a week with a few other factors. My tier 1 lenses range from about 150 a week (steady Squidoo community ratings) to 300-600 (rare ratings, significant clickthroughs). Therefore I need to aim for ~500 visits week.
That’s daunting, especially because the traffic I’m getting now is mostly what I call “temporary” traffic through the challenge or social media promotion.
Looking back, I see that before the challenge, from 14th July until October 9, I had 0-4 visits a day and was averaging 12.3 a week. Huzzah!
I’ve only got a few days’ worth of data since the challenge started, but I see I have my work cut out for me.
On Oct 10, I took a screenshot of everything. Sure enough, I had 12 visits from Google, and another 13 from other sources — primarily related to the challenge, but also 7 visits from the other quiz lenses. That traffic will be key.
Today, I have:
|SUSTAINABLE TRAFFIC||TEMPORARY TRAFFIC|
|Yahoo||1||Tier 1 Challenge Lens||5|
|Google image search||2|
I’ve marked in red the traffic sources which I think can be improved.
I see that it will take work in 3 key areas: on-page optimization (although I expect that to improve, since search engines are only now discovering recent updates), linkbuilding, image search, and traffic through cross-links from other lenses. This last source may push it over the top. It is also the most time-consuming, since it means optimizing all those lenses as I’m doing this one! There’s 9 in the series.
So the job for today is to boost the other lenses in the series. In particular, two are still unimproved: they have the quiz module and little else. Again, the quiz module’s contents are not indexed by search engines. So they need additional content and images to attract search traffic.
Some promotion of the others couldn’t hurt, but I can’t do too much social promotion of the other lenses. For example, I can’t Tweet every lens in the series; it would annoy followers. So I must reserve most social promotion for the challenge lens or the “starting point” lens of the series (“Take the Easy Greek Mythology Quiz“).
I can do what I call “passive promotion” of the other lenses, e.g. bookmarking them on Del.ici.ous, but I only have so much time. It would also be a good idea to submit their RSS feeds to Feedburner, at least, as a form of linkbuilding.
The Big Picture
This is a lot of work for one simple Lensrank Challenge, but I’m jumping on it because it will elevate MANY of my lenses: every other quiz in the series, and the Ancient Greece Odyssey series which I originally built these quizzes to promote. It could get most of them to tier 2, and maybe a couple could establish a permanent foothold in tier 1 alongside the original Odyssey lens.
Try daily updates on your top twenty lenses for a few weeks and see what happens! Mine rose… then the top one got to 130 and started going back down. Just call me confused (as to why) but I think overall the daily updates were a good idea.
I still think off-page backlinking from reputable on-topic sites is the best strategy.
Interesting. As for the daily updates, I shy away from anything that requires daily maintenance; I’m not just being lazy, but want to kill two birds with one stone so that any time I’m working on my lenses, I’m building content and SEO, so that I don’t have to do the same thing again tomorrow. Short-term it’s a slower approach, but long-term, it’s like compound interest.
Off-page backlinks from good sites are indeed one powerful tool in the SEO toolbox, but not the only one. It’s just that since lots of people sink most of their time into linkbuilding, that’s what seems to be giving them traffic. Google “SEO Myths and the Power of Repetition” for an illuminating article on the subject by an industry expert who’s been doing controlled testing of ranking factors for many years.
I’ve gotten some lenses to the top 5 spots on Google (or even the top spot on Google) with only a backlink from the not-very-SEO-worthy Lensography page on Squidbits to help search engines find it.