Requesting More Time for Non-Giant Squidoo Accounts

This is a suggestion I submitted to Squidoo Headquarters.

“There’s been much confusion over how to fix up the lenses that have been flagged. Many don’t understand that they need to click on the yellow icon.

Some lensmasters who only check their email or their Squidoo accounts infrequently don’t even realize their lenses are about to be deleted.

In the meantime, Squidoo has some performance issues (Amazon modules going blank, lenses opening but then defaulting to the homepage, mysteriously disappearing Zazzle images, non-functioning search, etc.). These make it difficult to update pages as required.

I’ve heard of numerous lensmasters who have personal issues (health, travel, work deadlines, moving, family issues, computer problems) that prevent them from fixing their lenses within the one week deadline.

I think Squidoo would appear more generous if an overall extension were given non-giant accounts. These are not gamers trying to cheat Squidoo, these are hardworking lensmasters who sincerely want to do the right thing.

An extension would be a help, but what I really think best is reverting all “heads up” lenses to WIP with a 2 month countdown. The lens could not come out of WIP without making the corrections required by the filter.

In the meantime, those lenses are off Google’s radar and eventually off Squidoo’s servers if not fixed.”

I didn’t mention giant accounts as I don’t think those have even been scanned yet by the filter. I’m sure there is more I could have included but I wanted to get it sent off in a timely manner. People are really suffering with the current deadline and I hate to see that.

What is your thinking on this?


Deciding to Kill a Lens

The first flurry of blocking by the filter on Squidoo has led to a flurry of activity by lensmasters trying to save their work. Indeed that is the very first thing you should do, save each complete lens to your own computer or to the cloud.  I’ve posted Cathy Rogers video tutorial for saving Squidoo lenses for you to view on What I Learned on Squidoo This Week.

The next thing to do is think through what to do first, second and third. Just having a plan will ease the stress a little. Although the giant accounts have not gone through the filter yet, I made adjustments to my lenses based on what we’ve learned about the new requirements.

First improvements went to the lenses that have money on the dashboard. (when a lens is locked, the money disappears from the dashboard) Then I improved all my tier one and tier two lenses to preserve their earning ability.

Next were my purchased lenses so I wouldn’t lose what I’d invested in buying those. Then I worked on the purple star lenses, followed by personal favorites and family topics. I almost forgot about seasonal lenses (Christmas and Halloween) which will be the earners later on. Get those fixed up.

At this point, you’ll see some lagging topics like lensographies, some quest lenses that never got on their feet, wacky holiday lenses, and angel blessing lenses. Also dragging along behind are the poorly conceived and poorly executed or unfinished lenses. What to do with all of those?

How much energy and time do you have? In my Christmas niche account, of the twelve lenses receiving a Heads Up warning (yellow exclamation mark), I did want to rescue at least six of them.

In looking at the STATS for the other six, I found some that were not worth trying to save. They hadn’t made any money other than a dollar or two during their peak season. Each had only 50 visitors a month at best. The products were inexpensive and I’m guessing most people went to Walmart for those items rather than search online.

They had come to me in a batch of lenses and I’d put minimal effort into dressing them up before the holiday. A great deal of added content and a great deal of deleting of products would be needed to make the filter happy. Too much work for too little reward.

I’m leaving the lenses up until Squidoo removes them. That lets me observe the process and also means I can post them here for your information.

Ball Christmas Ornament

Christmas Lights And Decorations

Animated Christmas Decorations…

Christmas Car Decorations

Blacklisted Links or Too Many Outbound Links

Ah, the filter grabbed me again. While updating my Make a Victorian Fan Christmas Ornament lens, at time to publish, the filter gave me this message:

Whoops! Blacklisted links or too many outbound links to the same domain.

 Making a lens to recommend or sell something is great. To help you focus your lens and not come across as overly promotional, we have a limit to the number of links a lens can have out to the exact same site. You can have hundreds of links on a lens; just not links to the same place over and over again.

This lens has 1 or more links to blacklisted domains, or more than 9 links to a standard domain. Please edit your lens to remove some of these extra links, then you can publish it live to the world.

P.S. If you think you’re seeing this in error, you may dispute the outbound link limit for this lens.

I’m puzzling over the message, as the lens does not have 15 links to Pinterest.

I hosted 1 of my own photos on my blog, then pinned it to Pinterest so I could use their embed feature to place the photos on the lens. Sounds convoluted but I don’t have a very good procedure for scaling down my photos to put them in a text list module or an Amazon module. Squidoo does not give a photo upload for those modules, so an embedded html works instead.

Another photo is my own and I uploaded it directly to Pinterest then embedded it on my lens. I don’t want to remove those photos as they are the finished examples for the craft project and they are my own pictures.

There were 2 other Pinterest images which I did remove. It is iffy whether we can use Pinterest images on our lenses at all.  I scaled those down to thumbnails to force the viewer to go to Pinterest and then to the original site for the content. They are gone now from the lens.

I replaced those with Zazzle images that I’m an affiliate for. The lens published immediately after I removed the 2 Pinterest images.

I don’t think it is giving Pinterest as a blacklisted link as it let me publish with my personal Pinterest links remaining on the lens. It must have been the number of Pinterest links, which all that I could see was 4. I removed 2 and left 2.

Reacting to the New Filter

I’ve just had my first encounter with the new filter on Squidoo. Three lenses in my Christmas niche account triggered it as they were updated and ready to re-publish. Here’s the message it gave me:

Low Quality content
This lens appears to be too commercial, or otherwise low quality

Our system has flagged this lens for being overly commercial, and for being generally lower quality than our community would like to support.

We recommend the following:

• Review your lens for too much duplicate content
• Review our SquidDon’t policy
• This is a big one: If your lens is dedicated entirely to promoting an affiliate program, these are  sometimes called Doorway Pages, and you might be out of luck
• Try to add more real, original, you-written content to the lens. The Squidoo Originality Pact says that by continuing to maintain and publish lenses on Squidoo, you are pledging to craft original, unique, editorially sound lenses. We at Squidoo have pledged in return that we will remove low-quality, aggressively non-original lenses.

What would you like to do?

1 – Go back & edit

I’ve read the above and want to fix my lens!

2 – Delete this lens

I’ll make a lens on something else instead.

3 – Request Greenlighting

I’m staking my reputation that this lens is not even close to violating the SquidDon’t policy and doesn’t violate Squidoo TOS.

I’m actually glad to finally see the monster hiding under the bed, as now I know what I’m dealing with. Here’s how I’ve responded to the first three challenges:

I added more content (personalized sentences in the introduction and in the Amazon modules). More interaction (polls, duels) and non-commercial modules (link list and youtube videos) were added to the lens.

This worked on the first lens and the filter let it publish. The lens, Hot Rod Christmas Cards only had 8 Amazon products on it and the rest were mostly Zazzle so the infusion of text was enough apparently.

On the second lens, the same improvements did not suffice to get the filter to let it republish. The lens is still viewable by the public but the improvements are not showing. It has quite a few Amazon modules showing 5 products in each. I read somewhere that for a rough guideline, that Google wanted to see at least 500 words throughout a page if it had 10 products on it. I’m not willing to write 1,250 words to go with 25 Christmas ornaments, especially where this particular lens had few sales this year anyway. Time to delete this one.

The third lens, also one with Christmas ornaments, was specific enough that I added more text boxes with personal experiences to make it a more solid lens. The filter still did not want to accept it even with those additions and the added interactivity (polls, countdown, etc.) so I submitted it for the greenlight process. Yes, it is still has things for sale on it, but it is a more balanced page now. If it doesn’t go through, then I’ll know that I need to cull this one as well.

What Have I Learned?

My next step is to take my lens list and review the traffic and lifetime earnings for each lens. If its performance has been lackluster over time, then I’m not willing to work hard to save it. Essentially what I’ll create is my own KILL list for my lenses. Then I won’t waste time editing and tweaking a lens that has limited potential.

I’ve already saved all my lenses to my computer. That’s step 1. Now reviewing and deciding what I’m willing to work to salvage is step 2.

This past two weeks I’ve worked steadily to add content to Amazon modules and to tone down/fine tune keywords in introductions. Apparently that will not be enough, since the filter is set to pick up lenses that are “too commercial.”

From listening to the conference call, I feel a straight product page is no longer acceptable. Ideally it needs to have a story line, some personal passion and then sprinkle in some products. That’s how I’m interpreting this.

Following the Transfer Crisis at Squidoo

Lensmasters were dismayed by Squidoo Headquarters’ announcement that lens transfers were suspended. Actually dismay is a euphemism for pissed off. It was most unsettling news. There were dire warnings of locked lenses and even locked accounts. The problem seems to be spun content that moves around Squidoo via the transfer process.

Discussions are fast and furious on the HQ forum and on the Facebook groups devoted to Squidoo. Some perceive it as the end of the world, while others say “it’s just for a month, no big deal.” Well, it is a big deal since there’s been a thriving business in creating and selling lenses. That has come abruptly to a halt. Some top lensmasters are hastily moving their content to another site. Word is filtering around that a major lensmaster had his account locked.

Is buying and selling lenses a bad thing? No, HQ has stated in the forum that it is OK to do that.

What to do? I choose to sit tight and ride it out. What seems to be the trigger for this heavy-handed crackdown? Recent HQ postings and quests place more and more emphasis on quality and lots of personalization for lenses. It appears that “thin” lenses, such as a starter sales lens, may be getting more scrutiny.

My response is to plump up my slimmer sales lenses with polls, talk bubbles, sticky notes, black boxes, text arrows, etc. spaced at intervals to break up long stretches of products. In addition I’m adding more descriptions of the featured products. This is something I try to do with these lenses anyway, but sometimes it is more fun to make a new one than to keep working on existing ones. Now I must buckle down and do the basic improvements that I know they need.

The other hot button is keyword stuffed introductions. Since I’ve bought lenses from a variety of lensmasters, some arrive that way. Cleaning those up requires using some synonyms instead of the main keyword. Try to make it flow in a more natural way like a conversation.

You would never say, “I bought this blue dress because I love blue dresses. The blue dress has short sleeves and the blue dress has a blue dress sweater to match the blue dress.” Don’t write like that either. Make sure your keyword is in the first sentence of the introduction, then sprinkle it another time or two in the following paragraphs.

It’s been fascinating to see the reactions to this and you’ll want to read Squidoo Content and Traffic Woes in SquidLog. Don’t miss GreekGeek’s thoughtful post, Thin Content on Squidoo Is NOT a New Problem; Something Else Is. Take a look at BoutiqueShops’ blog on The Squid Zone. Her topic is Squidoo Rant: It Never Fails–Who Let The Boss In?

For a different angle, check out what Seth Godin has to say in his blog post, All Boats Leak.

Headquarters is asking for feedback on how and why lensmasters need to transfer lenses. Please fill out the form with your reason or reasons and give your suggestions for fixing the problems raised.