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Are Squidoo Tag Pages Dead, Or Just Different?

Katinka has raised some important interlinking questions about how recent changes at Squidoo are impacting SEO of our lenses. We don’t have all the answers — are these changes temporary or permanent? — but I’ve been pondering interlinking alternatives.

One important method of interlinking on Squidoo is, or was, Squidoo tags.

Fluff explained how Squidoo tag pages work on his SquidUtils blog back in ’09. Squidoo tags sit in our lens sidebar and point to a tags page. For example, here’s Squidoo’s lenses on pirate costumes. That tags page lists all the lenses sharing that tag, including a brief excerpt of the introduction of each lens. If all the lenses are relevant to a topic, and their introduction text reinforces that topic, then, presumably, the tags page acts as a relevant backlink.  But if it’s an orphaned tag shared by few or no other lenses, then the tag page may not matter much: it looks really empty, and I don’t see much relevant link juice.

In the past, I’ve occasionally seen Squidoo tag pages appear in Google search results.

But now…


Woo Hoo, Another “Squidoo Surprise”!

Hopefully this is a bug and not a feature.

Katinka / Spirituality reports in a SquidU post that the My Lenses / Featured Lenses modules which many of us use to inter-link our lenses are no longer indexed by Google. This would prevent duplicate content from showing up — namely, the 150 character excerpt of each lens’ introduction — but also severs cross-links, hampering SEO.

You can verify the missing modules for yourself, as I just did, by Googling the following on a lens with a Featured Lenses module:


replacing the URL above with a lens URL. This will show you exactly what part of the page Google has indexed and knows about. At the moment, the Featured Lenses module just isn’t there.

We don’t yet know whether this is a deliberate Squidoo design change or a bug introduced during recent upgrades. Katinka’s passed this news onto Fluff, who isn’t a Squidoo employee, but sometimes works with Squidoo on a volunteer basis to bug hunt.

So for now, we sit tight.

The reason this matters is that Featured Lenses / My Lenses modules were easy ways to cross-link lenses, allowing search engines to find new pages on Squidoo very quickly through links on existing pages. These cross-links were backlinks, hopefully backlinks from related content to related content, if you used them to point to lenses in the same niche / topic.

IF — big if — this is a new, permanent “feature,” it means we’ll have to do yet another workaround, hand-coding cross links to other related content so that we don’t lose backlinks. The basic HTML code for doing this, which most of you know, is:

<a href="">Clickable text goes here</a>

I will also shameless plug some handy tutorials I’ve written, my old Make a Fancy Table of Contents tutorial for making compact, elegant-looking navigation bars and menus, and the Fancy Featured Lenses module trick I’ve ben using lately for lensographies such as my  index of all my graphics tutorials.

Or… once, long ago, when the Featured Lenses Module only let us enter 5 modules and displayed its contents in a random order rather than letting us pick the order of lenses, I figured out how to mimic the Featured Lenses Module’s appearance precisely in a text module.

So there’s several alternatives for cross-linking purposes. And as Katinka noted, cross-linking through Squidoo tags still works.

Let’s sit tight for a few days until we know for sure whether this change is permanent, before we revamp all our lenses to address the problem.

The Most Powerful Way to Get Clickouts

I’ve had a lens that’s been driving me nuts. My Aligning Images tutorial was getting 500, 600, now 700-800 visitors a week, but it was always tier 2. Why?

Simple. People read tutorials, and then they leave. No clickouts means no tier one for you. I had included links to a free HTML editor and various other resources, and still, the fish weren’t biting.

I changed one graphic which I had created for my How to Get More Clicks, Sales tutorial. I didn’t really expect it to make that much of a difference.

Kapow. Tier one, baby. You can offer people freebies, useful resources, and printables on a silver platter, but they may not click. You need good clip art to get the clicks. (My favorite two are OpenClipart and

That, or everyone is too curious when they see a random URL of a YouTube video not to check it out.

I’d think that’s a joke, except that I’ve seen a similar “What’s in the box? I have to poke it!” effect when I use the Amazon module in thumbnail mode. Normally, people are less likely to click on small images than large ones. But if it’s a “what the heck IS that thing?!” type graphic, they click, because they want a closer look. Sometimes they buy it. More often they buy something else. Or, maybe, they don’t buy, but at least you scored a clickout!

I’ve seen a similar phenomenon on bizarre images with humorous captions that are slightly too small to read. Demotivational posters on Zazzle are very effective for clicks.

But of course, the most powerful way to get clickouts isn’t a killer, you’ve-just-got-to-click graphic.

The key is that you have to link to the Extreme Shepherding video.

The Snowflake Method of SEO

Challenge Lens Status: 3,983 on Oct 17, up from 84,121 on Oct 10

I’d like to talk about the Snowflake Method of lensbuilding, based on the Snowflake Method of fiction-writing (which is a good lesson on how to write content). Your lens topic is the kernel of a snowflake. Like the grain of dust a snowflake forms around, that core idea, its focus, will determine the shape of what’s to come, along with weather and moisture (competition and search popularity) and other external factors.

You can’t control external factors. But you can control what’s inside.

A healthy lens needs six things:

  • Focused, useful, interesting content.
  • Organization and a logical flow from one section to the next.
  • Graphics and visual appeal (CSS, varying text with visual elements).
  • Strong writing: good grammar and spelling; compelling, crisp text.
  • Avenues for conversion: links to click, things to buy, or another action you’re directing your visitors towards.


Which Backlinks Count for SEO?

This is  a huge question. Different tools find different backlinks. For example, checking my Free Web Graphics — How to Get Them (Legally!) lens on SquidUtils’ Backlink Checker, I get this:

This URL has 1000+ links from 6 domains.

  • 1
  • 20
  • 1
  • 25
  • 952
  • 1

(Once again demonstrating the  limitations of social media for SEO, since the links from StumbleUpon, Del.ici.ous. Tagfoot and others don’t show up.)

1000+ backlinks is pretty good, right? Well, yeah, assuming (a) all search engines see the same backlinks as Yahoo Site Explorer (the database SquidUtils uses), and (b) all search engines count those links as relevant. But of course, they don’t.


How Your Squidoo Bio Builds Backlinks

Ooo! Everyone’s always wondering where to get backlinks. One thing people often forget about is that inter-linking counts. That is, links from the same domain as your page count as a backlink! That’s why Squidoo cross-links lenses in so many ways.

There is a powerful backlink source hidden right in plain sight: your Squidoo lensmaster bio.


SquidQuiz — A Great Way to Build Relevant Backlinks

SquidQuiz is a fun, quick kind of Squidoo lens. Create a trivia quiz on a topic you love, add a Featured Lenses module to your other quizzes, and you only need one more content module to get the lens featured. For those of us who tend to make long, involved lenses on topics, this is a great way to force us to be brief.


But WAIT! Back up. See what I said back there? Add a Featured Lenses module to your other quizzes. Or any sort of links to your lenses on related topics!

I think this could be very powerful for SEO. I didn’t figure out the system until lens #3, but I soon realized there’s an SEO trick staring us in the face.


Which Social Media Sites Benefit SEO?

When a newbie asks how to build web traffic, one of the first pieces of advice they’ll hear is to submit their URL to StumbleUpon, Digg, Del.ici.ous, and other social media sites.

I got the same advice. I bought into it. But does social media/social networking really benefit SEO (search engine optimization)?

Hey, let me be social and ask you, the readers!

[poll id=”2″]

Now, let me give you my answer…


Images and Videos as Linkbait!

I often use Flickr and YouTube for hosting my lens images and video and as a way to drive traffic.  I prefer hosting my best-looking photos on Flickr as opposed to Photobucket or even my own website, because I can add something in the description field like “This is an illustration for Ancient Greece Odyssey: My Tour of Delphi” which gets keywords into the link. Having tagged my photos carefully for things like Greece and Delphi and Greek Art, I get a lot of traffic from people searching for those iamges on Flickr.

These are the kind of visitors you want most: a targeted audience who will be more likely to click your links, or even your sales modules, because they’re interested in what your lens is about.


Links and Copyright: How to Solve Copyright Issues on the Web

As a writer and sometime teacher, I care a great deal about copyright and vigorously reject plagiarism. At the same time I appreciate that the web lets people combine material, collaborate and build on each other’s work in ways that were not possible before information and content were available instantly and on a large scale. These “mashups” can provide value and unique content that were not foreseen by the original authors. How can we preserve authors’ rights while encouraging the potential of this new medium? This essay suggests a possible solution.