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.