Greekgeek's Online Odyssey - Hubpages and Online Article Writing Tips


Tier Three Lens Update Marathon: Ready, Set, Go!

In a SquidU post, Timewarp asks if Tier Three lenses, with their piddling 20 cents a month income, are really worth it. My short answer is that (a) yes, they’re worth it, because if ten Squidoo lenses are earning you $2 a month, you’re $12 wealthier at years’ end, and (b) yes, it would be better if tier one was capped at $25 (or $20) and the excess distributed to lensrank tiers two and three.

However, that got me to thinking. If tier three lenses really are worth something — and they are to me, since my 100 tier three lenses are earning me over $200 a year — then I should kick those lenses below tier three into tier 3!

To my dismay, I discovered that out of 159 lenses in my main account, I now have OVER FORTY LENSES below Tier Three. Inconceivable! Intolerable!

Some lenses are duds. They just aren’t going to earn payouts. Our time is better spent improving our GOOD lenses, the ones that are successful, rather than wasting time on duds. But still. I look at my dashboard and see many lenses with less than 10 visitors a week, no sales, and few clickouts in tier 3. Surely I can get half of those 40 dud lenses up to tier 3 with one day of improvements. At least, I’m going to try. So here’s what I’m doing to improve each lens.


How I Got an Old Squidoo Lens from Lensrank 100,000+ to 2000

After nearly a year of lensrank 100,000+, my Tier One Challenge Lens has climbed to lensrank 1,872 today,

a month and a day after I entered it in the Tier One Challenge. Of course, getting there is step one. Holding it there for a month is the actual challenge. But I’m encouraged by the fact that it’s been hanging around in the 2000 range for over a week now, and has not dipped below 3900 in 3 weeks.

Here’s a quick overview of the before-and-after stats, and the chief things I did to improve it.


Thad Has a Thought

(Yes, I am Thad)

I’ve avoided posting this because I’m afraid it might set off a kerfluffle.

But ostrich mode is boring, so.

It has always been true that a lens published mid-month will probably not earn until the next month, because however strong its launch, its average lensrank for all the days it didn’t exist should be estimated as…what…? two million?  Lower than any lens that had a single visitor However, I think it was once possible to get a payout for a lens’ first month of existence, if it did phenomenally well.

However, if I’m understanding Fluffanutta right — and he knows Squidoo’s guts as well as anybody — a lens now earns nothing from the Ad Pool during its first partial month of existence, full stop. (It is eligible for affiliate sales through modules like Amazon from day one.)

This raises a question.


Great Ideas from the Tier One Challenge Thread

Since LindaJM started the Tier One Challenge on Oct 10, the challenge thread has grown to 15 pages. Way back at the start, Fluffanutta said:

People in this challenge need to think about how they are going to get their lenses to the top.
It won’t be enough to simply drop a link in the forum – you need to work on the content of the lens: update it and add some fresh quality text. Add plenty of clickout opportunities and sale modules where relevant. Also, check the tags and build some new links from other related and authoritative websites.

That is an excellent, succinct summary of lens improvement and promotion. Take about 30 seconds to ponder it!

Besides that nugget of distilled wisdom, the thread has become a compendium of brief or not-so-brief notes on techniques we’re using to improve and promote lenses. Here’s a quick survey / summary of tips from all fifteen pages of the thread so far:

  • Write on-topic blog posts featuring a link to the lens.
  • Linda asked us to consider Three Key Questions in tweaking our lens.
  • Work on Keyword research, SEO, and Squidoo tags.
  • Add more interactivity (Polls, Duels, Plexos).
  • Add Amazon Spotlights, Zazzle, eBay, etc. (See my “Selling Stuff” Module list for which are commission-earning, and which simply invite clickthroughs).
  • Cross-link with one’s other lenses via Featured Lenses module, Squidoo tags, or links in the body of the lens. Links from Squidoo’s co-brand may be treated as backlinks from a different domain.
  • Post article on your topic, with link to lens, on Hubpages, Gather, Ezine, or other article submission sites.
  • Alex is pinging “reader services” with (I assume) the RSS feeds of lenses, and I need to know what he means by a “bookmark drip” (perhaps bookmarking on places like del.ici.ous and Tagfoot?)

Another Fluffanugget:

Send a SquidCast. Write a good paragraph or two telling people what the lens is about, and why it they might be interested in it. Something juicy that grabs them. If you’ve syndicated your SquidCast feed properly, then this message will go out across the blogosphere and social networks giving your lens more exposure and backlinks.

  • Promote lens with social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc). [Remember: social media is usually more effective as a way to reach people, not search engines.]
  • Look for places to post backlinks (comments on related blogs, but be careful to be a good contributor not a spammer), related subject directories.
  • Hard-core backlink building.
  • Modify module subtitles to target keywords, or alternate keywords (related searches).
  • Utilize Sidebar Widgets, especially Amazon Spotlight.
  • Tidy/tweak appearance, graphics, content!
  • See Jollyvillechick’s Lens Promotion Followup Checklist and a whole slew of good ideas and another slew.
  • Join a discussion forum related to topic, participate meaningfully, include link in profile.
  • Add outbound links from the lens to excellent, relevant blog posts, or lensroll related lenses (says Fluff: these links add keyword-rich anchor text AND invite clickouts).
  • Twitter Search module to get updated, related content on lens (NOT Twitter Follow, which is not indexed by search engines).
  • Use to promote across all your social media accounts quickly.
  • Break lens into multiple, more focused pages using Page Break Module.
  • Add more clickable, specifically-named images for clickouts and image search traffic.

Finally, CCGAL has created a lensography for the challenge featuring all the challenge lenses.

And in fact, this post was GOING to be a survey of all those lenses, but I got distracted. So stay tuned!

Responding to Traffic Stats and Visitor Searches

LisaAuch asked a good question in SquidU on how we update lenses (which could apply to any kind of webpage). My answer got longwinded, so I’m posting it here!

95% of the time, I confess, I assume I made a good page and don’t update much. I’ll just skim titles and images to see if anything jumps out at me that I could tweak. I’ll trim a word or two since I tend to be longwinded. Then I hit publish.

During the 5% of the time when I decide to make a significant update, it’s for one of four reasons:

  1. I have new content to add
  2. I’ve decided to improve the graphics and appearance,
  3. I’ve decided to improve the on-page optimization to increase traffic, or
  4. I want to add things people are more likely to want to click on (which boosts lensrank).

With 3, it’s often because I’ve learned a new SEO method I didn’t know before. For example, using words and phrases from searches related to my main keyword, rewriting titles so that the most significant keywords are at the start, or reviewing images to make sure their filenames and alt-names are concrete words and phrases like “pictures of the statue of liberty” that people are more likely to search for (as opposed to, “liberty”).

One time consuming but powerful method is to

use traffic stats as clues on how to improve a lens


Getting a Lens to Tier One: Action Plan

Not every lens has content that can achieve Squidoo tier one. I have some lenses that aren’t going to get above tier 3, or if they do, it would take tons of social promotion, and they’d drop back down as soon as I stopped.

So when I selected a lens to submit to the Tier One Challenge, I looked carefully for one with the potential to do better. I needed a lens where I knew why it wasn’t succeeding, so I knew how to improve it.

Why it wasn’t succeeding: quiz module content is not indexed by search engines, and it had little else besides pictures, so it was getting no search traffic.

Why it might succeed: Its topic satisfies 5 separate, overlapping searches/audiences: mythology, trivia quizzes, Athena, pictures, and paganism. The topic had the potential for clickthroughs and interaction, and maybe the odd sale. Also, it’s in my primary niche. I have other lenses, blogs, a messy collection of sites and nodes I’ve scattered across the web that can be tapped for traffic and promotion.

Squidoo ratings and social promotion are great, but they are not enough to keep a lens in tier 1. A lens must be self-sustaining.

So now comes work. LOTS OF WORK. What have I done so far to improve my test lens’ chances?


Old Squidoo Lens Rises from Lensrank 100K to 10K in 7 Days

This is why SquidQuizzes need extra content.

Take a look at what happens to the lensrank of an old SquidQuiz when I supplement it with new content for search engines to pick up. A little promotion doesn’t hurt either.

Average Lensrank –  Nov ’09 to Sep ’10: 105,197

Lensrank – Oct 5 2010: 101,282

Lensrank – Oct 12 2010: 13,824

Ten months in the life of a Squidquiz:

Squidquiz Lensrank by MonthBreakdown from SquidUtils:

Date Lensrank Visits
November 2009 127,995 1
December 2009 93,938 36
January 2010 103,854 66
February 2010 121,585 47
March 2010 110,926 53
April 2010 80,809 51
May 2010 118,422 48
June 2010 89,571 35
July 2010 122,344 43
August 2010 106,551 49
September 2010 103,974 52

Lensrank Last Seven Days:

Squidquiz Lensrank By Day

Breakdown from SquidUtils:

Date Lensrank Visits
30 September 2010 104,110 0
1 October 2010 108,284 0
2 October 2010 109,855 4
3 October 2010 106,819 4
4 October 2010 103,502 6
5 October 2010 101,282 4
6 October 2010 69,496 3
7 October 2010 75,158 1
8 October 2010 80,357 3
9 October 2010 84,138 4
10 October 2010 84,121 6
11 October 2010 25,125 18

So far so good, although most of this is not sustainable since it derives from SquidLikes which wear off in a few weeks.

However, as outlined in the first post for the Tier One Challenge, I’ve been laying the foundations for longterm improvements; the Squidoo social stuff is a side effect and not what I’m targeting. I see single search traffic results from Yahoo, Google, and Ask targeting the new lens content, and a couple visits from the LJ* post I made yesterday.

Today I’m going to work on syndication of Squidcasts and RSS feeds.

I already have a syndicated PR2 Livejournal blog that’s several years old where I announce updates to Ancient Greece Odyssey, so I just announced the quizzes there, and I’ll announce it on as well, a PR3 site that’s 2.5 years old.

I’m also going to finish updating related lenses, the other Squidquizzes in the series. I did most of them last week, but there’s two still awaiting my attention. They all cross-link to each other, so they need uniform look-and-feel plus good content on all of them, which will attract traffic and drive some to the test quiz.

*(I’m both surprised and relieved that Livejournal, forerunner of MySpace and Facebook, has never registered on SEO / Social Media radar; it’s only a huge social blogging community that’s been around since the 90s! But it’s not designed in an SEO-friendly manner like modern blogging software and sites.)

Five Lens Boost Tips: Beginning of the Month

Okay, I admit it. I like my lenses to be in the best payout tier they can be, and I like traffic, two related but separate goals.

So at the beginning of the month, I find myself reviewing my dashboard. In particular, I look for lenses that are starting out near a tier cutoff. I look for lenses with over a hundred visitors per week, yet they’re tier 3. And I look for lenses whose fortunes have recently improved, like, say, my Squidquizzes which you all suddenly discovered last month even though I made them over a year ago. ;)

How can I help them begin the month on good footing, or, much more importantly, help them stay where they are now and not drop?


Updating Squidoo Lenses: Staying Fresh

After 60 (?) days, a lens loses lensrank because it’s not fresh.

Also, Google rewards frequently updated content.

These are two separate things, but they go together.

What are your techniques for keeping lenses fresh?

Here’s some of mine.

Quick Fix — do one of the following

  • While watching TV, I’ll sort my dashboard by date (click the date column at top), then edit and re-publish. Don’t do all of them on the same day — stagger them so you’re doing 10 or so on different days.
  • (more…)

Quickly Check Your Webpage for Broken Links

Here’s a handy tip! Squidoo lensmaster carriewhite asked in the SquidU forums for a feature to check for dead links on lenses, and thefluffanutta of SquidUtils said there’s a number of free online tools for that.

I tried the W3 Link Checker as Fluff suggested, but its interface is a little intimidating and hard to understand for Jane Average Web User.

After poking around, I would like to recommend the following free tool: iwebtool’s Broken Link Checker.

It limits you to 5 checks an hour unless you’re a paid subscriber. That seems fair enough! The interface is simple: a check means a link is working, a red x means it’s broken.