Squidoo isn’t just a Web 2.0 site; it’s an experience. With it’s own terminology, point system, and tremendous authority, it’s an Internet force to be reckoned with. Are you interested in taking advantage of the endless opportunities that Squidoo offers?
In this guide, we will teach how you to conceptualize your lens, name it, create it, and promote it. We will teach you how to earn points on Squidoo and how to improve the lensrank of your lenses. Most importantly, we will teach you how to create lenses that RANK well in Google, maximizing Squidoo’s Domain Authority to generate traffic and sales.
1. Keyword Selection is KEY When Optimizing Your Lenses
The keyword terms you target will make or break your lens. If you choose words that are too competitive, your lenses will be buried in Antarctica and won’t have a chance of competing against other, more authoritative domains.
Let’s start by using Google’s keyword tool to identify terms with high volume but low competition. This is where most people end their research, and if you do too, you will fail.
The key is to go beyond basic numbers and perform competitive research. For all of the keywords that you are considering, look at the sites ranking in the top 10. What is their domain and page authority? How many links from unique C classes? What is the domain age?
Also, if the keyword is transactional, it is possible that you will be competing against giants like Amazon, Walmart, Lowes, and Target. If the query is informational, you might have a greater chance for ranking with a Squidoo lens.
By performing detailed competitive research, going even further and analyzing link velocity trends and social share numbers, you will be able to select long-tail terms where you have a genuine chance of ranking.
When choosing keywords, think laterally. Go beyond what’s in front of you in Google’s keyword tool. Step into the shoes of the target audience and think of how those people would search. Then figure out relevant terms to target.
TrafficTravis and MarketSamurai are excellent tools to use for competitive and keyword research.
Now let me give you an example. Let’s say you are promoting a site in the educational niche. Perhaps it’s a university that offers online courses or a career college. Within the educational category, you could search out niches with keywords that have high monthly searches, low competition, and low CPC value.
In this case, I typed in the keyword “Waldorf” and got results that included Montessori, another popular educational approach.
Montessori training has 4,400 searches, but an average CPC of 0.40. When I evaluated the competition, I found many domains with low Domain Authority:
This would be a keyword worth trying to rank for in Squidoo.
If the lens ranks well and gets traffic, I would then build a section into my lenses talking about you early education molds children and prepares them for advanced education. I would then search for and share statistics about Montessori educated children’s performance in higher-level programs. This could create a nice tie in to my theme.
In this case, the objective of this lens would’ve been to create a high-profile, high-traffic pages that would link to your target site. As the traffic is untargeted, you wouldn’t expect high click throughs. It could, however, be a valuable link recognized by Google that helps your university site rank better in Google.
Tip: Go to Twitter.com and look for trending topics. Use those trending topics to come up with new keyword ideas to use with your Squidoo lenses. Use other discovery engines to identify trending topics. You can find more in this list.
2. How to Monetize Your Lenses
What you write, and how you structure it, will be affected by your objective for that lens. There are a few alternatives for monetizing Squidoo lenses:
You can join affiliate programs on Clickbank or Shareasale and write content around products sold in these programs. Link your images and links to these products so you can use Squidoo as a way to generate traffic and leads to your affiliate products and accounts.
Some lenses, such as the one in the example above, can be used to create a powerful inbound link to your site, which in turn helps your site’s SEO and rankings.
Using Squidoo’s modules, link to products on Amazon so you can earn commissions.
Selling Your Own Products
Use Squidoo to target long-tail terms and to write about your products or services. Depending on the sales funnel of your product/service, you can add a link to the product purchase page or use Squidoo as a step in your sales funnel leading them to a landing page on your site. This is great for etsy, shopify, or other stores.
Keep an eye out for trends. Are people talking about a new social network? Do they have an affiliate program? Sign up, create a lens, promote it, and stay ahead of the curve!
Create “Best of” Lists
Identify popular products and topics where people have difficulty selecting one product. Then research long-tail terms related to those products. Create a “best of” list, giving people the best choices and helping them go through the investigation process. They will appreciate your research and buy through your links.
Squidoo pays based on the popularity of their lenses.
How to earn money on Squidoo? Squidoo has a variety of paths you can follow to earn money.
These include eBay, Squidoo’s Amazon, and Cafepress. Here you have an opportunity to earn 50 percent of the commission since Squidoo is an affiliate of Amazon, eBay, and Cafepress.
Squidoo’s Tier Payouts
Squidoo’s payouts are a bit complicated and are limited to lenses in the top tiers. Lenses are paid based on their average performance for the month. The best performing 2,000 lenses receive a payout of up to $80, the next 8,000 lenses earn around $10, and the next 75,000 lenses earn about 50 cents. Payouts are calculated based on ad revenue, so they do fluctuate from month to month.
You can choose to donate your earnings to charity, or you can use Squidoo to earn extra cash for yourself. Payments occur two months after the pay period closes. To be eligible for payout for a given month, the lens must be published for that entire month.
3. Create the Best Possible Lens
Use MindMapping to Develop a Lens Creation Strategy
Create a Squidoo strategy BEFORE you start creating lenses. Go back to your keywords and see how many lenses you can write while staying unique. Then consider creating a strategy where one lens picks up where the other left off.
Use mind-mapping to create a lens creation strategy, so you can maximize the benefits of each and interlink them together without being spammy.
For example, if I were to use squidoo to promote Gryffin Media’s guest blogging services, I would start by creating keyword “buckets,” and then adding terms under each bucket, as seen in the example above.
This would grow exponentially as you dig deeper and discover new keywords to focus on.
Elements for an AMAZING lens
Add your Keyword Phrase to:
- Lens Title
- Lens URL
- Module Titles: These are H2 tags.
- Primary tag
- Text Boxes (at least 3-4 times)
- Link Lists
As you are adding in keywords, remember to use synonyms in order to appear more natural.
- Your intro should be at least 200 characters and include your keywords.
- A great image is worth a million words! Use beautiful, interesting images. Strong images can also be shared on Pinterest and generate social engagement, so spend the extra time to create or find the right images—it’ll be worth it!
- Hyperlink your images, especially if you are promoting an affiliate product. This will improve your clickout.
- Use square images, at least 250 x 250 pixels.
- Make sure the images you choose have the permission to be used commercially. Also, credit them properly.
- Use Squidoo tags. Tags help Squidoo categorize your content. Additionally, your tags can help Squidoo select other relevant lenses to be displayed on the sidebar of your lenses. Picking the right tags also helps your lenses appear on other people’s lenses, giving you greater exposure.
- If your lens is on a new topic, create a new tag for that lens. If you write other lenses, use that tag to support it.
- Place your most relevant tag first as this is considered your “Primary Tag” by Squidoo and will be used to categorize your lens in Squidoo’s search.
- Make sure you add at least 10 tags, and if you can, you may consider adding the maximum amount of 40 tags.
- Use long-tail terms and questions as tags.
- Use Google suggest to find new terms for your tags
Tip: Use the the Squidoo Workshop Add-on from SquidUtils.com to improve how your tags are displayed. It will also help you select and speed up the process of adding new tags.
- Choose the right category. Pick the most relevant category with the fewest sites to compete. If you can get your lens into the top 100 of a category, sub category, or sub sub category, you will gain a valuable link and extra exposure. Here’s a list of Squidoo’s Categories.
- Add a table of content. This helps people navigate your lens and enhances the appearance and readability.
- Add lists to your Lenses. Based on your topic, find a “How To” concept that you can discuss. Then create a list within the lens linking to tutorials on this topic. Here’s an example: http://www.squidoo.com/origamicat.
- Use tables to organize information. It’s important to make the information easy to read. Here’s an example: http://www.squidoo.com/blackhawks.
Writing Your Lenses
- Don’t Copy Content! It’s very important for all of your lenses to be uniquely written.
- Focus on benefits for your visitors. Don’t babble on about features, just figure out the problems your visitors have and how the information found in your lens can help them solve that problem.
- Don’t write boring copy! If you are creating a lens about a boring subject, find a way to make it fun and interesting. Add funny cat images, a video, anything to make your lens more interesting. There’s simply too much content out there for people to read, and they won’t stick around if the content you are presenting is simply dull and uninspiring.
- Be brief. Social media has shortened people’s attention span even further, so keep it short and sweet!
- Be trustworthy! Be truthful in your lenses and don’t be overly “salesy.” People will recognize your honesty. Gaining their trust will increase the potential for engagement.
- Proofread, and then get someone ELSE to proofread your lenses. It’s easy to miss grammar errors. Do your best to write with impeccable grammar, this will help you to appear professional and knowledgeable on the subject matter you are writing about.
Enhancing Your Lenses
- Add at least five modules for each lens. Modules are great for engagement and will help increase the prominence of each lens. The following are powerful modules to add:
- Add an RSS feed widget. If you own a blog that publishes relevant content, connect it to your blog. Otherwise, you can create RSS feeds out of scoop.it curated lists or paper.li curated lists in order to pull in relevant news and content.
- Featured Lens Widget. Link widgets together using the Featured Lens Widget. If you have published other relevant lenses, this is a way to improve the links to each of your lenses, plus to generate more traffic.
- Update your lenses frequently. Updating your lenses gives a “fresh” signal to Squidoo and Google. Even if you do minor tweaks, log in and update regularly. Consider republishing your lenses every few weeks. This will help to keep them fresh.
- Cross-link your lenses and content assets. If you write an article on your blog and have a relevant Squidoo lens, link to it! If you are submitting a guest post, include a link to your relevant lens. Build on other Web 2.0 platforms like Hubpages and cross-promote.
- Use Amazon Spotlight. If you are trying to monetize your lenses, use the Amazon spotlight module, not the regular Amazon module. The spotlight module is favorable for search engines because it is crawled by their bots.
- Use Event Tracking on your links. Once you’ve connected Squidoo with Google Analytics, use event tracking so you can gain an idea of user engagement on your lenses. Here are events you can track:
- Clickouts: clicks on links to other websites
- Lenses: clicks to other lenses
- Social Icons
- Guestbook: comments and guest book loads
- Connect your lenses with Google Analytics for improved data and tracking. Learn how to do this in this lens.
- Connect your Lenses with your Google Plus account. Setting up Google Authorship will give your lens a boost in Google. Additionally, having a picture connected with your URL will improve the clickthrough rate from Google. You will gain additional traffic as more people click on your link.
- Participate in the community. Not only will you earn points, you will also make connections with new people and create reasons for others to engage with your lenses.
- Search through SquidUtils.com and Squidtools.com to find tools to improve your lenses. My favorites SquidUtils.com tools are:
- Lens Health-Check: This tool will analyze your lenses and give you suggestions to improve them.
- Table Generator: Organize your data and display it in Squidoo so it looks more appealing.
4. Anatomy of an Excellent Lens
Study well-ranking lenses with high engagement to gain ideas of how to create your own lenses. Below are examples of fantastic lenses with high rankings and engagement:
For a collection of excellent commercial lenses, visit the following Lensmasters:
Here’s a VERY rough outline of how an informational lens could be formatted.
5. Promote Your Lens
Build Links to Your Lenses
Now that you have created some lenses, you have to build links to each of your lenses. These links will help your lens gain popularity in Google. Ranking well in Google will help your lens gain traffic, engagement and social votes, which will in turn increase the lensrank. Win-win!
When building links to your lenses you have to follow Google’s guidelines and avoid building low-quality links as these can result in penalties. Here are some key elements to consider:
- Don’t use anchor-text over optimization. When linking to your lens, use the following:
- Synonyms of your keyword
- Long Tail variation of your keywords
- Brand Name
- “Empty” terms like “click here”
- Don’t buy links. Google’s Penguin algorithm is focused on identifying and penalizing sites for buying links.
- Don’t include links in Duplicate Content. Make sure all of your links are within content that is 100 percent unique. Submitting one article to 100 article marketing sites, with a link to your lens, will not help your lens rank better.
- Automated Software. You can find any number of sites selling you 5,000 wiki links and 1,000 edu links. RUN THE OTHER WAY! Those links are created by using automated software that leaves a very detectable footprint. Avoid all those links and focus on building manual links based on content.
Now I’ve told you what NOT to do. Below, I will share some safe methods to build links to your lenses.
Places to Submit Your Lens
Vary the Ratios
Try to create a natural looking backlink profile to your lenses. Think of the way content spreads naturally on the Web as you are building links. What would happen if you weren’t actively building but people found your lens and naturally linked to it? How would they link to it?
You would find a variety of follow/nofollow links. You would find links in the body of a page and as a blogroll. People would mention you on their social media profiles.
Think and build natural!
Promote your lenses on all of your social media profiles. Social votes is a great way to gain popularity and traffic. Share every at least on the major social media sites:
- LinkedIn (if it’s business oriented)
- Google Plus
Identify websites in your niche and submit guest blogging requests. If accepted, include a link to your Squidoo lens preferably in the body of the post. If this isn’t allowed, then include the link in your Author Bio.
Repurpose your content! If you create a fabulous lens, make it into a video. Then take the basic points and create a PowerPoint Presentation. Upload your videos and presentations on the sites below:
Add your squidoo lens in your signature, find relevant forums, and join into the conversation! The more you post, the more links you generate.
Don’t focus all of your energy on just one forum. Google includes “Links from Unique C class domains” as part of their algorithm. If all of your links are generated from one site, Google will only give value to that link once.
So join various communities and participate. Since you will be building many lenses, you can keep going back and posting in the same communities, but using a different signature each time.
Here’s a great lens about Using Forum Promotion to build Backlinks and Sales.
Find sites that are discussing topics relevant to your lens. Then jump into the conversation! Include your lens URL as your website when you leave the comment. Please don’t spam blogs with inane “Great post” type comments. Add value to the thread by posting something insightful and relevant. Most importantly, don’t abuse this strategy.
Article Marketing Sites
Tip: Identify a category on Dmoz that doesn’t have many entries. Then create a lens specifically targeted to that category. That valuable DMOZ listing can be a great link to build from.
Here’s an example of a link building strategy for your Lenses.
Create links to each of your lenses from the following:
- Write unique articles and submit to three article marketing sites
- If you have active accounts on WordPress, Blogger, and Tumblr, write unique articles on each and link to your lenses
- Four Guest Posts (long tail as anchors)
- Social Bookmarking to all URL’s
- Ping all URL’s (you can use the SquidUtils.com tool for pinging).
These, plus other links from the section above, will give you a strong link building strategy to build high Page Authority to each of your lenses. Squidoo already has a high Domain Authority, so if your Page Authority is strong, your lenses will stand a great chance of ranking.
6. Improving Your LensRank
Your lensrank determines whether you receive a payout from Squidoo and how your lens performs on the Squidoo site and community.
Lensrank compares the performance of each lens against that of all other lenses. Calculating the lensrank takes into consideration factors such as traffic, sales, freshness, Squidlikes, and Blessings.
To improve your lensrank, you need to gain traffic. You can gain traffic from ranking well in Google, or you can run advertising campaigns to draw in traffic, and engagement, to your lenses.
Once you build traffic, your goal is to encourage engagement. Make it easy for users to participate! Add multiple polls and comment modules to each lens. For example, break your lenses up into sub topics. After each topic, add a poll and a comments section. Quizzes are another fantastic way of increasing your lensrank.
Write compelling content that encourages people to click on your links. Clickouts are a huge factor for improving lensrank. Don’t just link to your own sites. Find helpful relevant resources, fun stuff, and great images and videos to include.
Focus on interesting, easy to read content that generates engagement in the form of clicks, participating in polls, quizzes, and comments, and with the adequate number of visitors, watch your lensrank increase!
7. Going Up the SquidLevels
Using a gaming approach, Squidoo has an experience points system.
The goal is to build community and get people involved in finding quality content and lensmasters. As a lensmaster, you earn points by participating in actions such liking other lenses, taking polls, leaving comments, and more.
Every time you level up, you will gain access to new modules and goodies. Each item you unlock is an opportunity for the growth of your lenses and lensmaster account. You don’t just earn levels, you can also earn trophies, quests, and labels such as Squid Angel.
Here’s a list of ways to earn points:
- Squidlike Lenses
- Comment on other lenses
- Social Vote for lenses you like (Retweet, Like on Facebook, Pin it on Pinterest)
- Take polls and quizzes
- Participate in the Squidoo forum
- Publish lots of lenses!
- Add an intro photo to your lenses
- Using popular modules
- Completing quests
As you earn points you also earn trophies, which in turn gives you bonus points. The amount of points you earn by activity is not consistent and has a very large range. For example, you may earn 100 points after commenting on other lenses one day, and 10 points the next. Squidoo uses algorithmic variety to prevent coordinated attempts at gaming the system.
There are many more that will be revealed once you are familiar with the system. If you make informative lenses, encourage interaction, and interact with others, you will have a winning formula to level up!
Tip: Take lots of quizzes! These will help you earn tons of points, and there are lenses dedicated to sharing quizzes.
What do you gain as you level up?
As you level up you gain tools to improve your presence in the Squidoo platform. New lens themes, quests, and sidebar widgets are just examples of what you gain as you increase. With these tools you can enhance your lenses and increase their potential for popularity and exposure. The highest level attainable is level 82.
Set 82 as your target goal, and stop reading and go like and comment on some lenses (just kidding, don’t stop reading just yet)!
Top 5 Tips from SquidAngel James Bradshaw
1. Don’t Use Copyrighted Images
Only use images you have permission to place on your lens and credit them with a link back to your source. You don’t want to have your lens locked for Copyright Infringement. Plus, this will increase the likelihood of receiving awards like the Lens Of The Day and being Blessed by Squid Angels.
2. Justify Your Text
Using a simple html code <p style=”text-align: justify;”>TEXT HERE </p> will make the text on your lens easier to read and appear much more professional.
3. Be Personal
Explain to your readers why they should buy the products on your lens from your point of view. Why is it truly the “best”? What are the advantages to using this versus the competition? How do you use the product? What are some things you would change? An honest, unbiased article is necessary when you are looking to gain your readers trust.
4. Follow the “Three U’s”
Provide Useful, Updated, and Unique content. Seth Godin, a co-founder of Squidoo, wrote in his Ebook:
“None of these tactics work without the three U’s that are covered in this book”—and this is true with the tips listed here. If you are not writing content that is original and beneficial to the reader and up-to-date, you won’t see very good results.
5. Abide by Squidoo’s TOS
This is, in my opinion, the most important tip of all. Read through the Terms of service and make sure you are following it to a tee. Failure to follow them could result in your whole account being locked and all of your hard work will be for nothing. Some key items are:
- Don’t buy Squidlikes, comments, or traffic.
- Don’t promote spammy products.
- No copying or spinning articles from other sites to use on your lens.
They are a free platform so, while they aren’t too strict, they do have some rules to protect the integrity of their site. Squidoo wants to remain in the good graces of the search engines and rules are how they achieve this goal. These rules protect the lensmasters and the site which is good for everyone.
Now jump in and start leveling up!
If you follow the seven simple steps detailed above, you will have a successful strategy to take advantage of the phenomenal opportunity that Squidoo offers.
With a little bit of time and dedication, you can use Squidoo to pick up on highly targeted traffic at the bottom of the sales funnel, ready to convert. If you choose the right keywords and promote the lenses properly, you can have lenses ranking in Google within weeks or days. What a great way to quickly create revenue sources for yourself while waiting for your primary site to break into the top of Google!
Now go forth and multiply!