Since Squidoo’s removal of favorites, Squidcasts, fanclubs, page breaks, bio box content, lensrolls and so many other changes, it’s impossible to tell which are the contributing factors in lensrank changes. A slight drop in Google traffic muddies the waters further.
But now that we’re past the flurry of updates precipitated by these changes, and Squidoo is starting to stabilize, I see that this is not simply a temporary lensrank churn. I’m down to 5-7 regular tier one lenses from 10-12 before these changes. That represents a loss of over $150 a month. I’ve got tier 2 lenses with 500+ visitors. All together, about 30 lenses have tumbled down into the “dud” range, making nearly a third of my lenses non-earning. (See my Squidoo Stats.) Sales are down slightly too, although some of that is seasonal.
I had guessed, but was never sure, that number of fans was a minor lensrank factor. My lensrank drop across the board seems to confirm it. If so, that’s good news for newbies. But I can’t be sure that’s the cause. Many lenses which dropped were page break lenses and/or received visitors from Squidcasts, since I used to use them to share Squidoo tips or interesting news related to the topics of my lenses. And all these changes have shaved about 2000 weekly visitor total from my lens portfolio. Therefore I’m left guessing: too many factors, no way to know which is the cause.
On Squidoo, the cause doesn’t always lie in your lenses, but in everybody else’s: lensrank is a comparison between all lenses on the site. Many members had to do a tremendous amount of updating as a result of Squidoo’s recent changes, and all those updates mean different content, which Google will have noticed. There may be other Google factors, too: Google may have reacted to the changed structure of Squidoo brought about by the loss of lensrolls, navigation links in bio boxes, the extra Adsense above the fold, or other changes.
And just because many of us have experienced drops does not mean there haven’t been gains elsewhere. Quantcast.com’s Squidoo traffic measurements suggest no more than typical seasonal variation. So I don’t think it’s just Google traffic. Other members may have good lenses that were overlooked under Squidoo’s old system. I’m not seeing any more spam or junk lenses than usual at the top levels of Squidoo. Just stiff competition.
So now what? My personal goal to have Squidoo earning me $1500 by the end of this year has been set back by all these changes: I’m still not through fixing all my page break lenses, and I have created almost no new lenses apart from repotted page breaks. Some are getting traffic, and may in the long run be successful, but for now they are struggling to get onto Google’s radar; it still has some of them filed under their old page breaks. I was hoping to get my niche account up to Giant status this month, since it was rejected in April, but I’m still working on page break repairs there, too, and will probably miss the June deadline.
Beyond Squidoo, I’ve been seeking other baskets for my eggs, but each requires a learning curve that’s difficult to climb while at the same time doing Squidoo triage. Wizzley.com is a possibility. I see Hubpages as a sleeper opportunity: Squidoo got hit hard by a Google slap 2007, got written off by many, and came back stronger. Print-on-Demand sites like Zazzle continue to have untapped potential. Self-hosted blogs or sites are probably the most viable long-term option. The closure of Amazon Associate programs in many states is worrying me: it may make the only monetization of my main blog obsolete. Longterm, the answer for me is to get my first novel published, but I was hoping to use Squidoo and other online earnings to provide a base income while I buried myself in writing.
In short, this is a rough time for all of us. I don’t have the answers, and in fact I can’t post many Squidoo tips right now, since the strategies that used to work for me seem to be sputtering. I just wanted to share my own experiences, to let others know that you’re not alone: even experienced Squids hit rough patches. Like any job, the test is to persevere, find and identify what you can work on, and look for and test alternatives.
It is certainly a hard time for me now. :/
My lensranks have plummeted, sales are slow, and traffic is disappearing. I really miss having fanclubs too.
Silver lining: the increase in tier payouts has made this my best year yet on Squidoo. I’ve already earned more than 2007, 2008 or 2009, and I’m way up from this time last year.
(You need to join Wizzley! It’s shiny and new… and small, so they are very attentive.)
Thanks for the nice summary of all the changes. My traffic has actually gone up a bit, with the distribution more even than before. Like you said though, too many changes were implemented at once to know what caused what. My guess is that you and others with squidoo-related lenses suffered the most, which is a bummer because you are one of the biggest contributors to the community.
Ellen, I think the point you make about lenses being updated due to all the recent changes is a very important factor in lensrank dropping for some. I think those of us who have always updated their lenses regularly are seeing the results of other “sleeper” lenses being given makeovers due to the removal of HTML from the Bio.
Many of us were making use of the Bio as being a prime place to put banners and of course any change that hits income potential will wake people up and have them working on lenses that were just being left to “simmer”.
I am hearing from a senior hubpages publisher that because of the way they handled their Google Slap they have managed to upset a lot of their top publishers and they are responding by not being as active and going in to “wait and see mode”. There’s rumors it may be sold and the time when it will become obvious if it is going to happen will be after the summer.
Some are moving their content. I have never been prolific at Hubpages but I have moved two non-performing hubs to Wizzley, which along with Christene, I can highly recommend. It is run by people I know and trust and they are very aware of the value of the owners maintaining close contact with the members. Publishing standards are also high in order to maintain the quality of the site.
Also, the learning curve at Wizzley is not huge and making and publishing pages is a lot faster – give it a try, I think you will like it.
Like you, although my Squidoo income is gradually increasing, my Squidoo goals have taken a knock and reaching them will take longer. But my long term goal is to earn the bulk of my income from sites I own – the happenings at Squidoo and Hubpages have shown me that we will always be vulnerable all the time we publish on sites owned by others and subject to the decisions of others – I also have a theory about sites owned by younger people as opposed to those who have more experience of life in general, but that would make a whole blog post in itself – perhaps I should write it
I would agree with your assessment of removing different lens sharing aspects on Squidoo. For me, it started way back when they removed groups.
One you didn’t mention is the changes they made to the Discovery module allowing lensmasters to monopolize all six spots which relagates it to a featured lens module and doesn’t generate the traffic it use to.
I agree with AJ and Christene, if you haven’t tried Wizzley, you should. Although, if you live in one of those non affiliate Amazon states, the sales potential isn’t as great.
I have seen a slight increase in traffic and sales, but not enough to have any significance. I HAVE been updating lenses more since recent changes (bio mainly), and because I have learned some more valuable information that has helped me with onpage SEO a bit more.
I have days when I am completely discouraged, and I know that the ultimate plan is to have my own sites, but money is non-existent and I cannot justify the cost at this point. In addition, I do not feel confident enough to strike out on my own and blogging is something that I struggle with (cant find a subject I would want to write about regularly enough), so Squidoo (and soon Wizzley.com) are my only means at this point. Although I signed up for Hubpages I have yet to make any pages there. I signed up around the same time as they got slapped, and so it didnt seem like the right time to do anything there.
I am still hopeful about the future (at least on most days), but in addition to all these changes, YouTube has just banned Making Money Online topics and deleted videos with such titles, including ones made by reputable people. I read of this on Tiffany Dow’s blog, as she related of all her videos being deleted.
I do not know what the future holds, and it seems that Google has far too much control over what happens to our chances of making an honest income online. I realise they are not the only Search Engine, but let’s face it, they are the one that seem to be most obvious to searchers.
Sorry to hear your income is down as a result of all these changes. Living in CA is grossly inflated, so every dollar counts. Hopefully you will come back stronger and better and this will turn out to be just another bump in the road.
Thanks, Ellen, for yet another thought-provoking and informative post. This blog is one that I get a lot of pleasure out of reading, and am following with great interest.
Ellen, First of all, I “feel ya.” :-/
I’m not sure if my lensrank woes are merely seasonal or a combination of recent changes. Summer is typically slower for me. (Makes sense with a primarily education niche.)
Lensrank is AMAZINGLY competitive. It’s so bad for some lenses that I’ve even considered deleting them. I haven’t, but it’s bad for morale to see a lens with 180,000 LR. My worst performers are former groups. I sort of wish I’d just deleted them when they were converted to lenses. The vast majority have not been high performers –ever.
One thing that still seems to have strong but temporary effect is angel blessing. But without squidcasts, I’m seeing fewer of those.
I’ve joined Wizzley. It’s a good platform, for sure. But there’s no direct payout. It’s all through adsense or other affiliates. Squidoo is really a better money maker on that hand because I don’t write on profitable adsense topics.
I am really curious about Hubpages. I know some writers are migrating their articles from HP to Wizzley. I don’t know what to do with my HP. They don’t give me nearly as much return as my lenses. Sometimes I wonder if diversification is worth it. Squidoo works. Why change? But everyone says I should diversify. So based on their wisdom, I’m branching out. But so far, I’m not seeing much promise ($ly I mean). I know it takes time, so I’m trying to wait. I guess I can always transfer content if necessary.