Day 11 — Creating a Squidoo Lens

Squidoo LogoOver the years, Squidoo has developed into a very popular site for anyone to create a lens and become an expert in a particular topic.

What is a Squidoo lens?

A lens is one person’s view on a topic that matters to her. It’s an easy-to-build, single web page that can point to blogs, favorite links, RSS feeds, Flickr photos, Google maps, your eBay auctions, CafePress designs, Amazon books or music, and oh so much more. That way, when someone is looking for recommended information, fast, your lens gets him started and sends him off in the right direction. Hooray for you!

Misuse of Squidoo

Because links from Squidoo are dofollow (no nofollow), as expected, it becomes a platform for web site spammers to grow. If you searched for something in Google in previous years, you might notice that Squidoo lenses appeared in the top 10 spots quite often. That means only one thing: authority.

If you had a web site, you might create your own lens, put your links in there pointing back to your site and got as many backlinks and link juice back to your site as you wished.

Even for the so called bum marketers, they might create lenses around a product, got found for the search for the product name and cashed in on the highly qualified visitors by using their affiliate links.

People who search for a product name are usually more qualified than people who are just looking around for information related to the product. For instance, if people are looking for gardening tools, they may not want to purchase yet, but once they search for a particular brand of gardening tools, perhaps they are looking for reviews, prices and other things.

This makes them very close to the buying decision, so the conversion is far better than generic terms.

In other words, affiliate marketers who created Squidoo lens may be able to promote an affiliate products and stole commissions from other marketers if the readers chose to click on the link from the lens.

While there is nothing wrong with this, lensmasters often built lenses without focusing on quality. The content was nothing but sales pitch to buy a product. That is like spamming the search engine index with marketing messages.

The Squidoo Slap Thing

Around July 2007, Google slapped Squidoo. Basically that means a lot of Squidoo lenses have lost their rankings in Google. Lenses have dropped from the top 10 or 20 to no where to be found in the top 100.

This was mainly because of the degrading quality of the lenses. For instance, Squidoo was prone to abuse using redirection. Even if one lens contained solid information, and the viewers expected to see G-rated subject, they might end up in a porn site because of this.

Because of the acts of a small group of spammer, many lensmasters lost traffic and potential revenue. Fortunately, Squidoo was quick in embarking a proactive approach to combat the spam.

Different Types of Spam in Squidoo

Squidoo was prone to several spam related attacks:

  • Group spam. Spammer might create bogus groups or join other groups. The “Ban Lensmaster” feature allows group owner to block the spammer from joining the group ever again.
  • Guestbook spam. Guestbook is a way to drive traffic to your lens. It was created for people to leave useful comments and enrich the content, but spammers used it to leave useless comments. Often they didn’t spend the time to read anything in the lens at all.
  • Quick lens creation. Now Squidoo requires every lens to have at least 3 modules besides the introduction before it could be published.
  • Iframes. This is a big one, because spammers can put any code within the iframe, including redirecting lens surfers to porn sites. Although Squidoo implements G/R/X rating system, spammers don’t respect it.

Getting the Most Out of Squidoo

It is important that you don’t get involved in any sort of spam. Squidoo now implements Bayesian spam filter, editorial review, IP-based tracking and other technologies to help nailing down spammers.

Lens surfers can now report spam much easier. The best way to get the most out of Squidoo is to comply.

While the ability to include affiliate links in the lens is still an arguable subject, quality of the overall site has increased. As a lensmaster, I wish Squidoo to come back as strong, if not stronger, than before.

As part of the Thirty Day Challenge, Squidoo is one of the places to help you expose your blog and get quality backlinks. How should you create a lens? Browse around the top 100 lenses and find it out for yourself.

A lens is supposed to be a one-stop place to get information related to certain topic, and it was designed to be updated frequently. Great lenses are more likely to be linked to, hence increasing the authority. That affects the lens rank as well.

The nofollow Squidoo Link

When you create a Squidoo Lens, your link may appear as no follow. This is nothing to worry about. Due to how Squidoo works, it presumes that fresh lens are still being actively worked on.

Just to avoid following links to spam sites, Squidoo add nofollow attribute first. Once you add more modules, edit and add content a few times, you will soon find out that Squidoo changes your link to do follow soon.

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