When Google lists your page, it lists a “snippet” — a small excerpt of your content. This snippet will be one of two things:
- Your META description tag. On Squidoo, this is the first 255 characters of the lens introduction.
- OR: an excerpt from your page showing the first instance (usually) of the keyword the Google user searched for.
You can’t predict what people will search for. But you should at least do a command-F when viewing your article to see where your top keywords appear. Do the few words on either side of it make someone feel that your article is useful, relevant, and may possibly answer their questions? Or are they vague, poorly written, and don’t give a good impression of what your page is like?
Also, do this for your business name or blog name. Here’s an example. My main mythology blog, Mythphile, gets enough Google love to receive the special Google table-of-contents treatment. (Search for Mythphile and you’ll see what I mean.)
However, recently I finally clued into the snippet description that was showing in search results. I forgot to take a screenshot, but what it said was:
WHOOPS! That doesn’t tell us a THING about this blog or the content on the page. That’s from the footer at the bottom of the blog. Apparently, I don’t have the blog’s name anywhere on the blog except in the Header and navigation links (e.g. “What Is Mythphile?”), and the snippet tool does NOT excerpt the header, when it’s one word and too short to be a useful snippet.
So I ran to my blog template and added a widget in the upper righthand corner of the sidebar. Now that blurb is what displays in the Google snippet:
What Is Mythphile? Mythphile is a blog exploring the intersection between mythology and modern culture, timeless symbols and current events.
Moral: Make sure that the first instance of your top keyword, username, and brand name/business name/blog name appear in a meaningful sentence, because that’s likely going to be the only data web searchers have to go on when trying to decide whether to click your link in a page of search results.
Yes, this is yet another example of my SEO axiom, “Make Search Results SEXY!”
EDIT: DRAT. I spoke too soon. Google has changed how rel=”author” works, and try as I might, I can no longer get it to recognize authorship with Squidoo pages. Or at least, Google’s snippet validator isn’t recognizing it.
Three notes on rel=”me” and rel=”author,” which I talked about last month.
- It WORKS with an ordinary Google Profile, as opposed to a Google+ profile, if you’re annoyed with Google+ for various reasons. Here’s a screenshot of some Google results showing my author icon, linked to an ordinary Google account not Google Plus. (Alll the way at the bottom, but at least it draws the eye). Ignore the cache on the right… or don’t, because as you see, it’s one more way users may decide whether or not to visit your page:
Notice how the author icon makes my link stand out from other text links on the same page, although perhaps I ought to create and add a “how to” YouTube video as well to see if I can land in that section of Google results.
- Your author icon will not appear next to your claimed content immediately. Over time, more and more content pages are showing my author icon. For search results that do not show my authorship icon, my author name is not listed either. This suggests that the author icon appears next to authored content AFTER it is re-crawled.
Therefore, to get the author icon to show up on your older articles, edit and tweak the content, and PING them (on Squidoo, get SquidUtils’ Workshop Add-on and then click “ping” on the SU link that appears in the “Just published” page. Or just wait. Google re-crawls everything eventually.
Haven’t implemented rel=me on Squidoo yet? Here’s that tutorial again.
- Thirdly, Google has CHANGED the way links are listed on your Google Profile. They’ve now been divided into “Other Profiles,” “Contributor to” and “Recommended Links.” The first one, “Other Profiles,” is obviously where you put your Squidoo, Wizzley, Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts. But what about blogs? I tried moving my blog-links to “Contributor to,” and it dropped rel=”me” and tagged those links with rel=”contributor-to” instead. That doesn’t seem right. I’m still trying to figure out where one files blogs.
I think, perhaps, the best thing to do would be to create an Author Profile page on each blog where you are an author, set the other pages/entries on the site to point to that profile page with rel=”author,” and set up reciprocal rel=”me” links between the author profile and your Google profile. In other words, mimic the rel=”author” and rel=”me” setup that I’ve suggested with Squidoo, which we know works (see screencap above). But I haven’t implemented this yet, so I’m not sure I’m right. Why is it so bally complicated? Well, I’m sure we’ll be doing it with our eyes closed just like basic HTML in a few years.
Thanks to Hubpages’ June 2011 experiment in subdomains as an attempt to get out from under Panda, Squidoo is in the beta testing stage of something similar. Hubpages’ subdomain experiment picked up a lot of buzz when it landed in the Wall Street Journal, and I was one of many who was excited by the possibilities, since I thought it made sense. SearchEngineLand, one of the better SEO journals out there, made cautious noises and checked with Google (see that article for Google’s response).
Based on Google’s responses and Hubpage’s traffic rebound (see below), I thought subdomains couldn’t hurt and might help, and said so. However, after more pondering, I’ve joined the ranks of Squidoo members who are concerned. Apologies for the about-face. Let me explain.
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.
In my my Squidoo Search Optimization tutorial, I mention making search results sexy, including a Google Results Optimizer tool to help you do it.
Here’s an example. Note that this is the secondary keyword phrase it’s optimized for; it’s at spot #2 for its primary keyword phrase.
Sorry about the squinchy screencap, but it mimics what an actual user sees: they are scanning VERY QUICKLY for results, and don’t spend a lot of time reading each entry.
With secondary keyword optimization, it’s even more vital to make sure the blurb stands out from the rest. Note what I’ve got: (more…)
When I started using SEO for Squidoo lenses systematically, I latched onto Webconf’s 15 Minute SEO checklist.
It was the first recommended resource I included on my Squidoo SEO lens in ’07.
Webconfs’ SEO checklist is oversimplified, of course. It was also written 4 years ago, which is eons in web terms; most search engines will have changed and refined their algorithms since that checklist was written.
Nevertheless, looking back at that page, I still agree with most of their suggestions, even if I think some things are more or less important than they do.
Addendum — just because I’m curious — how many Squidoo pages have the different search engines got indexed?
- Google: about 1,340,000 from squidoo.com (This was in JANUARY. In June, it is about 398,000! Mayday! Mayday!)
- Yahoo: Pages (9,671,276)
- Bing: 446,000 results
- Altavista: found 9,660,000 results
- Lycos: 1,107,211 results
- Ask: 222,500 (? — I’m not sure if I figured out how to query Ask properly.)
Again, I don’t think Google’s spiders are less effective than Yahoo’s — no WAY — but it tosses an awful lot of pages into the “suppemental index” if they seem not to give any good info that can’t be found on other pages on the same website. I.E. if you make a lens that’s just like a ton of lenses, don’t expect it to get seen in Google search results!
To figure out if your lens is indexed, use one of the searches above, then add the title of your lens!
People find things on the web by searching. SEO helps you get your page in front of people searching for it. SEO is like throwing fishing hooks into a sea full of hungry fish. The more SEO you know, the better you’ll be able to ensure your hook gets seen by lots of fish.
But a fishing hook isn’t enough to catch a fish. Even if you get to page one of search engine results, you still need your “hook” to stand out from all the rest. What kind of bait should you use to attract a click on your link?
Look at this example:
Something jumps out when you compare these search results.
In SEO Blunders: Very Un-sexy Search Results, I showed off my first Stupid SEO Trick! I’d decided not to worry too much about optimizing this blog, since I don’t want to shell out the money for a second webhost and domain name (a URL is the best spot for keyword optimization after page title). However, I did at least want to optimize well enough that people searching for my blog by title would find it– all the more important since the domain name doesn’t match.
Unfortunately, I forgot one of my favorite tricks: make sure your keyword’s first appearance on your webpage is in a sentence that reads well when Google excerpts it in search results.
I took steps to correct the problem. To some extent, my corrections helped, but I still haven’t got it quite right. So here’s another quick lesson in how to shape your search engine results to make them look sexy– or at least what NOT to do.