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.

22 thoughts on “Reacting to the New Filter

  1. Nancy Hardin March 21, 2013 / 4:47 pm

    I’m with you Virginia. It depends on how much work a lens needs to be viable for the filters. I will not waste my time on things that are not worth it, but will do my best to keep those things I believe are good. You really put it in perspective here! Thanks.

  2. AJ March 21, 2013 / 5:24 pm

    Thank you for sharing this with us Virginai – it is very helpful 🙂

  3. Paula Atwell March 21, 2013 / 5:34 pm

    This is an excellent post and helps us all get a look at what Squidoo wants from us. I like the idea that you have the choice of what to do about it and your three examples show us that part of it is the ratio of words to products. This gives us the opportunity to improve, update or delete lenses or even divide them into shorter lenses. Thanks for sharing.

  4. annie angel March 21, 2013 / 6:17 pm

    thanks for sharing this Virginia – I’ve posted in on my facebook page too –

  5. Jenna Harley March 21, 2013 / 6:49 pm

    Do you think that this filter is the same one as the one scanning our lenses? Clearly it would make sense that the same factors would be filtered for…but somehow I have a bad feeling that the scan might be more aggressive.

    • Virginia Allain March 21, 2013 / 6:55 pm

      I’m thinking there is one filter, but the message varies depending on what triggers the filter. In the case of my three lenses it was “too commercial” or “low quality content.” Other people might get a different notice, possibly for “duplicate content” or whatever problem their lens might have.

  6. Holly Day March 21, 2013 / 7:43 pm

    Thanks a bunch Vallain, for making this post! It’s really interesting…

    So, lenses that sell and that bring money to Squidoo are now Squidon’ts… Good… My best money makers are thus about to get flagged by their filter and it’s just like if Squidoo would steal my money… Ok, I’ll move the lenses to my own domains…

    I dedicated too much time to Squidoo and don’t have time to waste adding content to lenses that don’t really need content 😦

    • Virginia Allain March 21, 2013 / 9:01 pm

      With the words “low quality” and “too commercial” coming up together, I’m getting the feeling that product lenses will have to change hugely to remain on Squidoo.

    • Kirsty March 22, 2013 / 5:00 am

      I would love to see Squidoo make a whole new category for straight sales lenses. Because a lot of the lenses with masses of products are very helpful for people in a lot of cases.

      The products can be very nicely displayed, as we already see on lenses.

      Make it clear to the visitor at the top of the page that they are browsing in a “shopping” category.

      • Virginia Allain March 22, 2013 / 12:25 pm

        Kirsty, I think that’s a marvelous idea. I’m going to submit it to Bonnie for their consideration.

  7. Margaret Brown March 21, 2013 / 8:13 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Virginia. It was very helpful and enlightening to me!

  8. Loretta Oliver March 21, 2013 / 8:35 pm

    Thank you so much for outlining what happened when you bumped into the filter! I’ve been wondering how it was appearing for those lenses that just needed a little tweak here and there. Doesn’t seem like too scary of a monster to deal with.

    • Virginia Allain March 21, 2013 / 8:59 pm

      Well, I tweaked and tweaked and could not get two out of three republished. That’s scary enough for me. I’m anticipating deleting possibly 100 lenses.

  9. Carolyn (Alleycatlane) March 21, 2013 / 9:35 pm

    Thanks for sharing this, Virginia. If you got this, then I am sure I will be seeing it too eventually. I have saved all my lenses, and am steadily trying to beef up the best ones. I may end up deleting a few myself. Here’s hoping you won’t see anymore of these messages.

  10. kathymcgraw March 21, 2013 / 10:30 pm

    This was very helpful, and gives me an idea of what to expect. If it weren’t so much trouble I would say that the content can be reused on something else that was on a lens you delted. Good thing you have them all saved.

    • Virginia Allain March 21, 2013 / 11:06 pm

      Maybe later on I’ll reuse the deleted lens topic in a different way. For now, I have no time to mess with new lenses when my whole lens library is at risk.

  11. Ann Hinds March 21, 2013 / 11:43 pm

    Thanks for the info. I am afraid to look but I guess I will go and do it now. You make very good points and if they won’t republish, I will delete them too.

  12. Shelley Kuhn March 23, 2013 / 4:34 pm

    Thanks for all the great info. you’ve shared it explains things really well!

  13. Gale March 29, 2013 / 3:19 am

    Don’t delete yet! Before you do, you should know that if wordpress is like blogger you can highlight and copypaste each module to your blog. No need to loose that work! (Though you will have to go through and change all the amazon code to your own affiliate code).

  14. Marsha Cooper March 29, 2013 / 9:28 pm

    Am I right that the filter isn’t picking things up UNTIL you try to update? That is why I’ve been so afraid to even start trying to do some updating.
    I have updated a few with no problems, but do have a concern that once they get to the giants a lot of my lenses will be flagged.
    I don’t have any lenses that are strictly for sales and nothing personal—but I do have my Jerky Direct lens. There are personal words in it, of course, but the majority of it is me telling about the business with hopes of getting others to sign up (which I have gotten several sign ups) I would sure hate to have to lose that lens!
    I have not been keeping up with squidoo like I should for a couple of months now and get most of my “news” through the feed in the facebook groups.

    I do not want to delete any of my lenses!!

    • Virginia Allain March 29, 2013 / 10:04 pm

      Next week, the giant lenses get filtered. I’ve tried re-publishing several thin & too commercial lenses that should have tripped the filter. They did not. Giants can safely update and clean up those lenses until the filtering starts.
      Even a lens that has commercial content will pass the filter if there is a balance of personal wording and enough other non-selling modules (polls, my lenses module, talk bubbles, text module with pictures).

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