SEO optimizing a page on Squidoo is a bit of a double-edged sword. On one hand, we Squidoo lensmasters want to create a Squidoo lens that is an awesome experience for our visitors. After all, THAT is what Squidoo is all about, right? On the other hand, if we don’t use some solid Squidoo SEO practices, ain’t no search engine gonna send any visitors TO our Squidoo lens to admire our work! While creating fantastic Squidoo pages built around your passion is admirable, the bottom line is this – if you don’t SEO optimize your work, no one will see it. You will be cheating yourself of visitors to your lens, and the Squidoo site will lose out on valuable traffic. SEO optimization of a Squidoo lens is a win/win.
Today we will learn the delicate balance of how to SEO Optimize Your Passion.
Squidoo Lens Review and Analysis
I received an email today from one of my favorite bloggers, lensmasters, students, and people… Ms Jackie Lee. I adore Jackie. She is an enthusiastic work-at-home-mom with an inspiring drive and an admirable faith in things working out (Yes, Jackie… I read your blog…lol). I admire her spirit and I love how her spirit transfers into her lens-making on Squidoo. Sadly, todays email from Jackie was a frustrated distress call. She has a lens that Google refuses to love.
“I have read Squidoo Profits System, and I encourage my blog readers to read it too. I have found it very helpful in building lenses. I’m just not sure where I’m going wrong with this one lens. I’m sure you get asked this all the time. 🙂 I have a lens that is getting traffic from all the search engines but google. I’ve tweaked and changed some things and just can’t get any google love. Could you review my lens? You are welcome to tear it apart and use it for a blog post or even a report to sell. I would really appreciate it. You won’t hurt my feelings, I just really want to see the little google triangle come up on my traffic stats. 🙂
Jackie Lee 🙂 “
Do I do Squidoo lens reviews? Yes! Allllll the time. I also do web site reviews…all the time. Heck, I analyze web sites and Squidoo lenses for FUN! I love it. I’m so addicted to web site analysis that I actually go into sites that recruit freelancers for SEO work. I read the needs and problems of someone requesting SEO help…and then go check out their site. Usually, within a few minutes, I can make a list of 10-20 things a site owner can do to improve the search engine rankings of that site. And yes, I do this FOR FUN. Go ahead…laugh. I have turned into some sort of geek…lol
HOWEVER, I have never done an analysis/review publicly here on my blog. I do them for fun and for practice as I finish up my professional SEO certification…and I do plenty of SEO analysis reviews for clients. But Jackie’s email with suggestion of using this as a blog post seemed like a GREAT idea to me (thank you, Jackie!). Besides, now many of you will see how I analyze a niche…and folks, it goes way beyond keyword research.
A quick disclaimer before we get started: It is truly hard to “know” someone online. Knowing how true that is, I would like to mention that I don’t have a cruel bone in my body. I, like others online, can tend to take my Squidoo lenses personally and would not appreciate harsh criticism. Any commentary or suggestions I give are from an objective, want-to-help viewpoint. The learning curve in this “make money online” business is STEEP and I have the utmost respect for anyone who at least tries. I KNOW how hard it can be. I’ve been there…and I run into that wall with NEW things to learn daily. I will be gentle, yet I will be honest with my input.
Ok – ’nuff said… let’s get to work!
Cloth Diaper Squidoo Lens Review
Jackie has a lot of great lenses. The lens that is giving her issues is her cloth diaper lens. (If you’re like me, the first thing you notice is Jackie’s adorable baby!)
Jackie’s main concern is that while she gets traffic to her lens from Yahoo! and other search engines, she isn’t seeing traffic from Google. So, the first thing I do is check Google and see if her lens is indexed. Yes, it is. Google has it and it also was recently cached on 2/12/2008. Ok, that’s good.
From Jackie’s <title> tag on her lens title, I can see she is optimizing for the keyword cloth diaper. So, again, I check Google to see what I can find out when I search for cloth diaper on Google. I see 216,000 results/competitors in Google’s SERPs (search engine result pages). This brings me back to earlier when I said that niche analysis goes beyond basic keyword research.
Why Low Competition in the SERPs Does Not ALWAYS Mean a Good Niche Market
Cloth Diaper only has 216,000 results in Google. One would think (even without looking at search volume for this keyword) that this would be an ‘easy’ niche keyword to optimize for. But let’s look further. The first thing I notice when looking at the Google returns is how many advertisers there are (the PPC AdWords ads)…and boy, there are a ton. This tells me that this is a competitive niche keyword. Quite simply put, why would advertisers spend money on a keyword that is not making them money? The amount of PPC advertisements also tells me that there IS a market for this niche (which is good), but the quantity of advertisements based on low search returns makes me a bit nervous. I’ll come back to this point later.
As I search on Google thru all returns for the ‘cloth diaper’ query, I am looking for Jackie’s Squidoo lens. I can’t find it. I narrow my search even more and query: “cloth diaper resource” (The exact, in quotes, title of Jackie’s lens). What I found intrigued me. I found 2 Squidoo lenses at #24 and #25 for this search..and neither were Jackie’s lens! Neither of these two other lenses even had ‘cloth diaper resource’ in the title (tho both lenses have a link to Jackie’s lens in their lensroll sidebar). Looks like Google is picking two lenses from Squidoo to rank for this keyphrase… and Jackie’s lens isn’t being picked. Worse yet, even when a Squidoo lens (or two) IS ranked in Google for this keyword, neither are ranking high.
Squidoo Lens – Google Traffic TroubleShooting
First step in this situation is to go back to Squidoo and see what is going on within the Squidoo site with this niche. Some quick checks show me 95 lenses within Squidoo that are using this tag. Out of these 95 lenses, Google is only choosing two. We need Jackie’s cloth diaper lens to be one of those two.
Now, Keep in mind that when Google “picks” two pages from Squidoo to return for a search query, Google could care less about lensrank, so let’s get all those ideas out of our minds. Google is choosing between web PAGES from a site based on a keyword query. Google seems to have already “picked” two lenses, and I will call them lens A and lens B for sake of this post. Neither lensmaster has requested a review, so I will not do an unsolicited review of their lenses (out of politeness, not selfishness…lol).
Now we have to examine Lens A and Lens B and see what Google sees that could possibly be effecting her search engine ranking.
Note: You may, or may not, have noticed that so far, I have done very little trouble-shooting from Jackie’s lens. I have looked at it, I noted her <title> tag, then I went to Google to start my analysis. While we WILL come back to Jackie’s lens with a list of recommendations, I want you all to remember that sometimes…ok, A LOT of times, you have to leave your web page to get a picture of what’s going on. If you don’t know what the outside issues are, how can you know what to “fix”?
Right now, I don’t need to look at Jackie’s page. I need to know what cloth diaper sites Google DOES “like” and see what they are doing. I need to see what these other web pages (Jackie’s competition) are NOT doing that Jackie CAN do. I already know the SEO basics of a Squidoo lens..I want to know her search engine competition.
In SEO…. Always “Know Thy Competition”!
Looks like I will need to break this post up into 2 or 3 parts. I am completely unable to type brief little 200 word posts! Beyond my “prolific” nature, this topic deserves a thorough analysis and complete explanation. That way, the next time YOU have a site or Squidoo lens that isn’t seeing traffic from Google, you will know how to trouble-shoot the issue.