Non-Giants have been frantically reporting a page break problem for a few weeks: our multi-page lenses suddenly had their page breaks destroyed, so they’re all piled together on one long page that nobody could read. In many cases, the conflation of too many video, eBay, and/or Amazon modules on one page has caused loading problems.
Well, now we know why. In a misleadingly-titled announcement, “For Giants: A special note about the Page Break Module,” we’re told that the page break module “experiment” will be going away for Giants in a week. Apparently SquidHQ forgot that this module was released to ALL members of Squidoo, and they didn’t see the bug reports.
On the one hand, the page break module was not very well implemented. We had to create own page-to-page navigation at the top and bottom of the page via a navigation menu or the “Big Arrow Link” module. On the other hand, some of us had mastered Page Breaks and found them to be powerful and useful.
The Page Break allowed us to write a multi-page article such as my How Google’s Panda Update Impacted Hubpages and Squidoo, which needs to be that long to cover the topic adequately, but does better broken into pages like a standard news or expert article (think WIRED magazine). The page break also allowed us to create a themed lens on a big topic, like my Volcanoes lens, which was originally a single-page lens, later divided into subtopics. I used my lens traffic stats to guide me on what sub-topics to focus on in more depth, addressing common visitors’ queries and using the keywords they used most often to title the sub-pages. Traffic increased exponentially as a result of my responding to my readers’ wants. I’ve done the same with some of my other most successful lenses, resulting in my best Squidoo traffic and 2 top tier lenses.
In my non-Giant niche account, I used the Page Break to create a holiday buyer’s guide to an entire line of collectibles. There’s no way to do this on one lens, since there were too many products. Instead, I divided them up into the sets in which they were released, groups of six to eight, with personal reviews, photos, Amazon and eBay modules on each item in the set. It took so many weeks to build that I only caught the end of the holiday season, but it’s my top seller in my niche account — or was, until the loss of page breaks killed it.
So, RIP, page break. How do we recover this lost functionality?
Page Break Recovery Plan…
Some lenses may work just fine all as one page, but of course, if it’s too long, people won’t read it. In some cases, sadly, it may be best to trim and remove content.
Try to preserve the page break modules, which will soon be converted to text modules. Squidoo will be redirecting traffic from your old page break pages to these converted page break modules (I hope), so you want to leave them intact, even if you have to retitle them and change their content.
Move the Lens Off Squidoo
Another possibility is to recreate the lens on your own blog or as a mini-blog. Long term, I may be doing this with my buyer’s guide, once I’ve investigated the eBay Partner program. Unfortunately, the eBay partner program vets applicants and doesn’t accept everyone. It’s much easier to join and use Amazon Associates and Google Adsense. All of this is a royal pain, since the lens was successful. But on the other hand, Squidoo’s unannounced surprises are reminding us of why we don’t want to keep all our eggs in the Squidoo basket.
Create Multiple Lenses
I suspect that most of you, like me, are going to have to divide page break lenses into multiple lenses, losing lots of traffic and backlinks in the short-term. Long-term, hopefully, most of this traffic should return, although the total traffic may result in a group of tier three lenses rather than one tier one or tier two lens.
Things to consider:
GRAB YOUR URLS
Unfortunately, many of us capitalized on the strengths of the page break by stemming long-tail keywords off our main lens keyword, letting us target the main keyword and many variants built off of it. Most of these long-tail keywords will probably be available, but you’d better grab them quick.
INTER-PAGE NAVIGATION (The #1 issue):
If you’re a Giant, jot down an outline of your lens structure right now (what’s on each page, how they link together), so that you can replicate it. If you’re not a Giant, go into your lens workshop and search for “Page Break” — quick, before they all turn to Text Modules! That will show you where the breaks used to be in your lens.
You will need to make a navigation menu at the bottom of each page linking to the others. There are several ways to do this:
- A standard Featured Lenses module
- A “My Lenses” module (give all the lenses in the set a unique and strange tag, then use that tag in the “My Lenses” module)
- BIG ARROW LINK module: I used this to direct visitors from one page to the next on multi-page articles. It’s big and bold and tempting to click on, so it helped minimize traffic fall-off between pages.
- A hand-coded navigation menu (use one of the templates from my Table of Contents tutorial; the Page Break navigation template will still work even if the URLs point to different lenses)
- See this sneaky “How to feature lenses or lensmasters” trick I borrowed from the Monsterboards
Navigation between pages is a must at the BOTTOM of multi-page lenses; you may also want to have something in the introduction module or just below alerting visitors to the fact that it’s multiple pages, so that they know what to expect (or, if it’s a bunch of subtopics, they’ll be able to zero in on the facet they’re looking for).
BACKLINKS TO SUB-PAGES
It’s possible that people have made backlinks to your sub-pages. You’ll need to get them to change those links (this will help Google find your new pages). But how do you find those backlinks? There is unfortunately no direct way, but if you go to the traffic stats for a lens, and set the time range to a month, you’ll be able to get a list of ALL the backlinks (referrers) pointing to your site. I suggest doing this now and saving the information. You may not have time to go through your backlinks now, but later, you’ll be able to check those referrers and make sure their links still work. Ignore referrals from Google and Squidoo; just look for referrals from blogs and other individual domains.
(Sneaky backlinks tip: If they’re any good, I Digg and/or Stumble referral pages by other people pointing to my lenses. It’s a way of saying thank you, and it avoids self-promotion penalties on bookmarking sites.)
AMAZON AND EBAY ISSUES
Hopefully you won’t run into this problem, but it’s why some of us are really screwed: right before Christmas, Squidoo limited the number of Amazon and eBay modules. They’ve raised the Amazon limit back up to 20, which should be enough, but that 5-eBay-modules limit is a killer. (And ironic: my buyer’s guide lens which has 12 eBay modules on some pages loaded just fine until the page breaks disappeared; the only problem it had before was that the lens workshop gave me an error message when I published it– even though it published just fine.)
You’ll have to chop product lenses into several lenses, remove the eBay modules, or– here’s something that may save many of us– use SquidUtil’s eBay RSS feed in an RSS module. Note that this ONLY works on Squidoo lenses. I am feeling rather grim about Squidoo’s “surprises” lately, so I can’t help wondering if this option will be available down the road. But at least that’s a stopgap.
AND a FINAL WORD TO THE WISE
Fluff mentioned that Squidcasts may be disappearing soon: this is totally unconfirmed. But if it’s true, it means we’ll have to get all our work on page break lenses done so that we can Squidcast and announce the URLs of the moved pages BEFORE Squidcasts are removed. If this really happens, hopefully SquidHQ will give us adequate warning, so we’ll have time to back up our Squidcasts.
I didn’t want to build any new lenses for the next month anyway, did I?