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Is Squidoo Optimized Well for Search Engines?

I’ve played around with Squidoo today and started a couple of lenses just to test them out. My first one is one by the same name as this blog – ProBlogger – Helping Bloggers Earn Money.

My initial impression of Squidoo is mixed. I can see a few applications for it but am not too sure I’ll be using it too heavily.

One of the things I’ve been wondering about it is how well it will do in terms of SEO. Will the pages there rank highly in search engines?

While SE traffic might not be the prime goal of Squidoo I suspect it’s owners wouldn’t mind if their pages rank well. So how well is it optimized for Google and Yahoo!?

The first thing I always do when looking at SEO of a site is to check out the page’s title. Look at the top of the browser you’re using to see this.

In the case of my page the title of it is:

‘Squidoo : Lenses : ProBlogger – Helping Bloggers Earn Money’

Title tags are of real importance with SEO and if I were to judge Squidoo on their choice I’d give them a 5 out of 10. It passes but only just.

I’ve given them a pass because the page I’ve created does have it’s keywords in the title but this is only because I’ve chosen a page title with keywords in it. If I’d decided to be a bit more obscure with my page title it would have gone without in terms of keywords.

This is a bit of a lesson for Squidoo users – make sure you choose your title carefully. Similarly you’ll want to choose a URL extension carefully also as this impacts SEO also.

So how could Squidoo improve their SEO from a title perspective?

Probably the most obvious fault from this perspective is that the first words in the title are ‘Squidoo’ and ‘Lenses’. The first words in a title are generally thought to be the most powerful words in terms of SEO. While I understand ‘Squidoo’ and ‘Lenses’ are there for branding purposes (and who am I to tell Seth Godin how to do branding!) they don’t help the pages created there at all in terms of climbing the SEO rankings.

If branding were not a consideration I’d leave out those two words completely and just use the title chosen by the lens-master to be the title. A compromise would be to put the ‘Squidoo’ and ‘Lenses’ at the end of the title.

In terms of other SEO principles there is probably a lot that can and will be said about Squidoo. Here are a few brief observations:

  • metatags – while most people don’t believe they have any impact there is no harm in optimizing them. Their description tag uses the first few of the introduction text you write so SEO will be dependent upon the luck or skill of the lens-master. The keyword metatags are the 5 ‘related tags’ that lens-masters select in setting up their blog. This is a good idea. Probably the main benefit of metatags in Squidoo is actually in Adsense optimization as it’s thought that they have impact upon ad relevancy.
  • tags – one of the hints that lens-masters give about the topic of their lens that perhaps that could be used more in the SEO of pages is the ‘Related Tags’. Lens masters can choose any tags at all. While these tags do appear at the top of the right column they actually feature quite low on the page’s source code. Perhaps one way to help search engine bots to take more notice of them would be to have them feature in more than one place on the page and higher in the code.
  • Interlinking – another suggestion that comes to mind is for them to have more prominent interlinking to other related sections of Squidoo. at present there is an ‘explore related lenses’ link but it doesn’t link directly to any other pages on Squidoo except for a search results page. If instead they automatically linked to a number of other related lenses this would not only encourage people to be visiting more than one lens in a visit to Squidoo but it would also help with SEO as SE bots love interlinked sites. While there are lots of links to deeper within Squidoo from the banner and footers which the SE bots will love there is little relevant interlinking directly to and from lenses unless lens-masters take this initiative.
  • Fresh Content – Search Engines love freshly updated content. As I’ve surfed around Squidoo this afternoon I’ve visited some lenses that seem reasonably updated but also quite a few that are not. One good thing in Squidoo’s advantage here is their RSS module. I would suspect that lenses that utilize it could benefit from doing so as it is one ever changing element of the page. Of course you’ll want to carefully choose what RSS feed to select to ensure keywords and content are relevant. Another suggestion I’ve seen some make about fresh content is to add comments modules which can add a freshness to the page also. Of course comments sections bring many other challenges with them.
  • Domain Name - This is similar to the title tags situation. One of the downsides of having a shared domain with many pages is that the term ‘squidoo’ appearing in it won’t really help with keyword profile. Smart lens-masters will choose a keyword or two as the extension to the domain.
  • Domain Name Registration – Earlier in the year information became public that indicated that Google now look at domain name registration length as an SEO factor. Domains registered for long periods were ranked more highly than short ones. Squidoo lucks out here as they are only registered at this point until 06-01-2006. It’s not a biggie but everything counts in this game.
  • Inbound Links – While there are distinct disadvantages of having a shared domain there are also some advantages. The cumulative impact of having having many sites with many inbound links from other sites is one of these advantages. My ProBlogger Lens might not get a lot of inbound links but other popular lenses inbound links could benefit me.

There are many other SEO factors that we could judge Squidoo on but I’ll leave it at that to this point.

As I mention above – there are other factors to consider also. SEO shouldn’t happen at the expense of a site’s other goals and it might be that at this point SEO of factors like title tags are secondary to building a brand. This is probably true in other areas I’ve mentioned above.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Aj says:

    Darren,

    The actual generated HTML could do with cleaning up by removing the TAB indenting and putting the java scrips in to a separate file, although this could be said for many auto generated Web Pages/Blogs.

  2. I’ve setup a few lenses including webcomics, board games and tutorials. While I’m pleased with the URLs and have lots of ideas for making these useful pages — I agree the page title isn’t very good for search engines and would like to see the Squidoo : Lenses : xxxxxxxxxx structure changed.

  3. It is my belief that meta-tags are absolutely useless in SEO.

    Keywords are all but ignored, and description tags “might” show in your site’s description in the SERPS, but that really has nothing to do with SEO, it is more of a HEO (human engine optimization).

  4. Liam Daly says:

    If they’re successful in branding then they will be able to drop the word ‘lenses’ from the Title and leave just Squido together with the Lens name. And if it become a truly popular portal sytems for research then people will search by including the word ‘Squidoo’ with their terms – much as they do with Wiki to see if there might be an entry in Wikipedia.

    Ultimately their success in optimizing their pages will be determined by the popularity of the project – and if it does become huge then they will get away with much SEO sins that those of us with much smaller sites wouldn’t.

    I think we all have a lot to learn as to what role Lenses might play – maybe very little, or perhaps as Squidoo would like we’ll have successful lenses about lenses.

  5. Julieanne says:

    Hi Darren, I’ve been setting up a few lenses especially for Scuba Diving. I wanted to be first to get “decent names”. I noticed they are allowing numbers in the domain name which doesn’t seem right to me. Those with numbers are getting a lower ranking within Squidoo too.

    It seems they still have some work to do, so perhaps they’ll see your post here and take your advice. It will be interesting to see how the lenses work out.

  6. Ignat says:

    Darren,

    John Battelle sums it up the best:

    “…it’s built to attract search crawlers and to rank well in search, increasing the value of Adsense and other monetization schemes (there’s that word again) such as affiliate networks.”

    You can check out his post here. You can see in his “UPDATE” that he enjoys Squidoo and so do I :)

  7. Andy Merrett says:

    AJ, do you really consider ‘tidying up’ code to be about removing tabs? You’re not a Microsoft programmer, are you?

    I spent a long time on one of my blogs ensuring that the code is properly indented, because believe me, it’s too complicated to spend ages working out where the DIV tag or some other piece of code should go if it’s not well formatted. SEs shouldn’t really care too much about either the formatting or of Javascript.

  8. colbert says:

    I’ve opened a few too. not too sure if it does well for now. time will tell

  9. Aj says:

    “AJ, do you really consider ‘tidying up’ code to be about removing tabs? You’re not a Microsoft programmer, are you?”

    Andy, Yes. I am a developer first and formost so all my websites have been hand coded just because that is what I am used to. I initialy started indenting HTML but soon realised it was just a waste of bandwidth.

    Not only does removing ALL whitespace characters mean the search engine bots have to read through less, so does your visitors browser (i.e. quicker page loading) and you also reduce your bandwith costs.

    Most bots have enough data to wade through to find the actual page content you want indexing without adding more unecessary bytes that just get ignored.

    Of course whitespace is only the start and simplest to remove.

    Finally a tip for you Andy…
    You can get the pages working with indented HTML, then save a copy and on the original do a simple search and replace to remove the tabs.

  10. Spammy stuff in the long run will not work for the search engines as it becomes more smarter each day. Better be safe than sorry…

  11. scott says:

    Great pointers.

    An update on the “title tag” since this article was written… it seems Sqidoo has moved the lensmaster’s keywords to the front (which is good, probably, for SEO).

    So a lensmaster’s site might now read: “keyword or keyword phrase on Squidoo” (rather than “Squido being up front).

  12. cher says:

    I think Squidoo gives higher imporatnce to the title and the url. We should target by using keyword phrases.

  13. PotPieGirl says:

    Darren -

    It sure is nice to see the improvements made by Squidoo since the time of your blog post.

    Just the change in the title structure alone is a big SEO boost.

    When someone makes a lens with hope that it will rank well in the search engines, there are most definitely certain Squidoo SEO techniques that need to be paid attention to.

    Search engine ranking of a Squidoo lens is not just luck and is far from all about how fresh your content is or how ‘pretty’ your lens looks =)

    What happens OFF your Squidoo lens is a very important factor…very. (hint)

    Thanks for the great blog! It is a joy to read !

Trackbacks

  1. [...] How many of you have opened Squidoo lens ? It’s quite a handy website that lets you create mini websites that’s akin to social bookmarking and Blogger rolled into one. Darren Rowse (Problogger) wonders if its well optimized for search engines. Frankly, I feel Squidoo will do as a personal bookmark site for the mean time and not be commercially viable yet. One of the things I’ve been wondering about it is how well it will do in terms of SEO. Will the pages there rank highly in search engines? While SE traffic might not be the prime goal of Squidoo I suspect it’s owners wouldn’t mind if their pages rank well. So how well is it optimized for Google and Yahoo!? [...]

  2. [...] I’ve been playing with Squidoo – I’d read about it when Seth Godin first announced it, but didn’t check it out fully until I read about Darren Rowes’ experimentations with it. [...]

  3. [...] Is Squidoo Optimized Well for Search Engines?: Blog Tips at ProBlogger (tags: squidoo Kyzen blog) [...]

  4. [...] I’m still unsure about Squidoo. My initial concerns over it’s poor SEO tactics still remain (although they’ve made a few changes including removing the word ‘Lenses’ from the lens title tags as I suggested) and I do see a bit of spammy stuff going on there, but overall I guess I have to say based on my own experience that the jury is still out somewhat. [...]