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Squidoo Traffic Down? Why?

by PotPieGirl on June 8, 2008 · 11 comments

What happened to the traffic to Squidoo in April? Many lensmasters made mention of how their traffic and rankings had slipped during this time that we just received payment for. So, are these lensmasters imagining things? If not, why did Squidoo lose so much traffic? Read on for my theory…

Squidoo Traffic Down?

This last payment we received was for our lens performance for April 2008. During that month, there was a lot of chatter about Squidoo’s traffic being down. So, was this lack of traffic common for everyone – or just the select few who spoke of it?

Reality is – Yes, Squidoo traffic WAS down in April 2008. It was even a bit further down for the first part of May.

Take a look at this graph from Alexa for the traffic to Squidoo.com in the past three months.

squidoo traffic last 3 months

First off, this graph is from Alexa. Alexa is not THE source for all traffic info, but it sure can give us a good idea… and also gives me a pretty graph to illustrate with =)

First thing we see is that we were rocking along in March…traffic was great… life was good and the lensmasters all lived in joy.

But then look… here comes April and traffic is decreasing. The rumbling begins in the Squidoo forum and across the web, and dare I say there were others proclaiming another ‘Squidoo Slap’. (sheesh)

So, what happened to the traffic to Squidoo in April?

I have to give my disclaimer here first. What I am about to say may annoy some people. I am not trying to point fingers, nor am I attempting to start an uproar. This is simply my personal explanation/theory on what happened. If I am wrong – PLEASE feel free to correct me.

1) I LOVE Squidoo, the people behind it, and the majority of folks I have met through Squidoo.

2) I have the utmost respect for the folks that run this massive website. Do you know how many are behind the scenes? Uh, five. Yes, FIVE. If you put all of us lensmasters in a room (stadium?) with the little group that works for Squidoo, they would be severely out-numbered. As of January 2008, Squidoo had over 150,000 lensmasters to a ratio of five staff members!!!

3) It is important to me that we all keep sight of the fact that Squidoo.com is a FREE website that gives each of us a BIG ‘leg-up’ in the online marketing and internet exposure world. AND, THEY PAY US TO USE THE SITE. PleasePleasePlease don’t go around the web saying, “potpiegirl said…”. If I find any negative talk about Squidoo with my name attached to it, I will be very cranky.

Ok, end disclaimer(s).

My Theory on Squidoo Traffic Decrease

In mid April I was doing some analysis of Squidoo lenses, etc, and I came across something ‘odd’ within the Google index. I kept an eye on it and found that it wasn’t an isolated incident or two, but it was becoming more and more prevalent for a lot of Squidoo pages that were being returned for Google search queries. I knew Squidoo had recently moved to a new server to handle the increased load being placed on the site…. so what was going on?

I finally went and made a fairly un-noticed post on the SquidU forum that talked about what I was finding (I will give links to all relevant pages at the end of the post).

An OctoSquid??

Within the Google index, I came across many, many lenses that were indexed as if the lens sat on a subdomain of Squidoo named ‘octosquid’. For example, my Learn Squidoo lens would be shown in the index as:

http://octosquid.squidoo/learn-squidoo

The lens on the octosquid sub-domain would be returned as usual for its relevant queries and all, BUT, when you clicked on the listing to visit the lens, a log in box would pop up requiring a password to visit the lens. If you didn’t have a password, you couldn’t view the lens.

Access Denied! Rut Roh!

So I made my quiet little post on the Squidoo forum and asked about it. Gil responded informing me that octosquid was a testing sub-domain for the Squidoo site and when they moved servers, Google got in there and crawled/indexed (where previously Google was kept out).

First off, I don’t want anyone to panic and think your lens is being hijacked, or altered, or ANYTHING like that. Having a testing area is SMART. This was a simple “ooops” that would be corrected as Google came through and re-indexed pages.

But here’s the thing… how much damage did the OctoSquid do to the traffic to Squidoo before Google got cleaned up? And Google is NOT ‘all cleaned up” yet… there are still over 800 references to lenses that remain on the octosquid sub-domain.

Think about it….

If each lens had only ONE visit blocked by a password requirement for each day in April – how many visits to Squidoo were lost that month? Hmmmm…. 400,000+ lenses x 1 visit per each for 30 days in April 2008

Ouch.

So, Now What Do We Do?

There isn’t much that can be done… and that is one of the main reasons I didn’t post about this back in April – or even in May. When a website is crawled and indexed incorrectly, it simply takes time to get it all re-crawled and in turn, re-indexed correctly. I also did some random checks on lenses that still show as having an OctoSquid clone. When I take exact text taken right from the lens, put it in quotes, and then Google it, the actual lens shows as a return… and the OctoSquid gets filtered (good). However, Google still sees two identical pages on the same website and thats not so great.

I’ve searched through the OctoSquid Google results and have tried to find one of my lenses that has a clone, or at least a lens of someone I know well enough to ask about their traffic stats the last 3 months. I can’t find one. (Granted, I didn’t pour through ALL the listings). If your lens is still showing with an OctoSquid Clone, I would love to hear from you. I am very interested to know how your traffic was throughout the three months reflected in the graph above.

While a big dip in a traffic graph on your dashboard stats won’t prove anything, it would be interesting to see if there is some correlation.

Why won’t a traffic dip on stats prove anything?

The Google index is a VERY dynamic beast. It changes in many ways many times a day (an hour? a minute?). Just because you see a traffic drop does not mean that it is because of the OctoSquid. Perhaps around that same time period you changed something to your lens that had an effect on your traffic. Perhaps your lens was in a fairly untouched market, that suddenly became more populated with more pages on the web. Perhaps your competition pages made changes to improve their rankings. Perhaps less folks were looking for your information during that time frame. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps…. haha! Please keep all those things in mind before you place blame (or praise) on any ONE thing.

What would be interesting would be a lens that has an OctoSquid Clone that saw steady organic traffic (especially from Google), but saw major dips in this time frame.

Anyway…….

Reality is – this ‘crisis’ is just about over. No need to panic or freak or place blame.

Reality is – those that felt like their organic traffic was way off in that time frame were not imagining things.

Reality is – and this is the best part…..

Just LOOK at the traffic Squidoo.com is getting NOW. It is way better than before!! I am thrilled and I am also so thankful that Squidoo provides me with these opportunities to be FOUND online. When you work online, being FOUND is what it is all about.

Oh, and the pay is sweet, too =)

Thank you for reading all the way through this post. If you have ANY questions, theories, rants, or comments – drop ‘em below or use my contact form found up top.

Here are all the related links to this little theory of mine:

Google Search For Lenses with OctoSquid Clones

(Go ahead and click on one of these OctoSquid listings and see what happens)

My Post on the SquidU Forum regarding OctoSquid

Also, I would love for everyone to read a lens by Gil who is on the Squidoo staff (GilToTheRescue). His lens talks about Building Squidoo. What it took to bring this ‘little’ website to life. It is a WONDERFUL insight into the behind the scenes life of this small staff that works so hard for all of us.

Have a great weekend!



{ 11 comments }

PotPieGirl June 8, 2008 at 6:28 pm

I also want to add a big “Thank You” to the Squidoo staff regarding how the title tag is handled now on Squidoo lenses.

Previously, all lens titles were -

your lens title you chose On Squidoo

Now, the ‘On Squidoo’ part is gone =) Unless it is an OctoSquid Clone…..

Folks, make good use of the title you choose for your lens… it is powerful.

Squidoo staff – THANK YOU for making that change!

Linette June 9, 2008 at 1:29 am

Hmmm, interesting. I always thought the dip in traffic was from the change in lens formats at about that same time. All of my lenses lost major traffic. I experimented with one of my high traffic lense, when I unmaxed it (back to the old format) the traffic went back up after a couple days. I only did one, I wanted to wait and see what happened before I changed 200 lenses:)

I re-maxed that lens in late May, and it’s still trucking along.
I totally agree with you, the Squid staff rocks, I knew they’d work it out whatever the problem was:)

Linettes last blog post..We’re Getting A New Squidoo Dashboard

PotPieGirl June 9, 2008 at 1:46 am

Hi Linette!

Yup.. I heard many thoughts that the drop in traffic was due to the new layout, or the ‘explore related pages’ option on our intro modules, or both =)

I really think the OctoSquid got us for a while – but like I said, this is my theory. I saw these OctoSquid Clones ranking where the authentic lens SHOULD have been listed. I still see them pop up every now and then, but for the most part, these clones seemed to be filtered – or re-crawled and out of the index.

Thankfully, this all seems to be in the past, but I would still love to know just how much organic traffic Squidoo lost due to the attack of the OctoSquid.

Thanks for reading!!!!

Jennifer

SusanVillasLewis June 9, 2008 at 1:01 pm

Jennifer,

Ran through a few pages of the octosquid lenses and found at least one from somene you probably know.

http://www.squidoo.com/Shel_Silverstein – belongs to kab

Found one of mine on there, but it’s not like it had a lot of traffic before so I’m not sure I’d be that helpful. But it went from having an occasional visitor to next-to-nobody.

Doesn’t Squidoo automatically ping Google when you update a lens? So theoretically, those of us who update regularly should be getting reindexed. Course, my last update to my octosquid lens was just a week ago, so maybe not. (Oh, it would be so nice if this was try and all the trash lenses that get created and left would never be found. :-)

SusanVillasLewiss last blog post..Women worth a second look for being first

PotPieGirl June 9, 2008 at 2:15 pm

Hi Susan =)

Yes, I believe that Squidoo DOES ‘ping’ automatically when we update/publish a lens. If you even try to manually ping a newly published lens from another service, you usually will get an error message or a “You’re pinging us too fast” message.

Here’s the thing – the authentic lens and the OctoSquid Clones are seen as two individual web pages. Pinging the authentic lens won’t do anything to the clone lens.

Should we ‘ping’ a clone lens if we have one? This I am not sure about. The theory sounds good – ping it, the SEs go and re-crawl it, they see its a blocked page and then pop it out if the index.

If I found a clone lens of mine, *I* would be tempted to try pinging the OctoSquid, but I won’t do anything like that to a lens that is NOT mine. Another option is to talk about, and link to, a clone lens on a blog. In theory, that should lead Google there and get it re-crawled. There are potential down sides to that theory, too.

I would most likely just do things to protect my authentic lens. I would build some more back links to my real lens to help establish ‘ownership’ of the content in the SEs ‘eyes’. In time, the Clone lens will drop out of the index.

Bottom line is – re-crawling and re-indexing a site of this size takes time… lots and lots of time. Google is slowly getting there. That 800+ clone lenses may look like a lot to y’all right now, but I promise you that at one time, it was a MUCH higher number.

While working on one of my clients sites, I have been (not-so) patiently waiting for Google to reindex NINE pages of this static site. NINE, thats all! It has taken two months. And guess what? That is considered FAST for some webmasters.

Susan, thanks for reading!!!

Jennifer

Chris Lang June 9, 2008 at 4:26 pm

It was spring time, people just started playing golf again and spending time out side, you always take a hit in the spring and the summer.

Fall it comes back with the getting ready for Christmas season, all the way thru to spring again. March is the best month for brick and mortar businesses as spring gets people out from under snow.

You should live in AZ, most golf courses in the US, play all year. The Courses suck though compared to the back east clubs I grew up on. No big trees and flat.

Captain Squid June 10, 2008 at 2:37 am

Personally, I think the new discovery tool is playing a large part in the traffic surge….

Captain Squids last blog post..Squidoo Earnings Report May 2008

PotPieGirl June 10, 2008 at 3:28 am

@Chris – I gotta tell ya, there are a LOT of days that I would be quite happy with no trees on the course! 90% air… ha! Yeah, right!

@ Captain Squid – I think it is helping traffic via page views, too. I also wonder if more folks are using PPC to get traffic to their lenses…. thoughts?

SusanVillasLewis June 10, 2008 at 11:52 am

Good point on the pinging. I’ve submitted my octosquid to Google Ping. We shall see what happens. Remind me to check. :-)

SusanVillasLewiss last blog post..Women worth a second look for being first

Clefty September 5, 2008 at 2:57 am

The Octosquid is now showing 21,000 pages! Has this come back to haunt us?

PotPieGirl September 5, 2008 at 3:34 am

Hiya Clefty -

I’ve been watching that, too. While there seems to be a return of the octosquid, I don’t think it is causing the issues it was before.

I have lenses that have a current clone, and

1 – I don’t see any change in the traffic patterns of those lenses, and

2 – I don’t notice these clones ranking where the authentic lens should rank.

Also, I don’t see these octosquid clones being password protected anymore. However, clicking on one of them takes you to the Squidoo.com home page.

I’m keeping an eye on it =)

Thanks for reading!!

Jennifer

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