- HubPages Tutorials and Community
Common Newbie Squidoo Mistakes
Avoiding the Squidoo Pitfalls
Making a Squidoo lens is easy. Making a good Squidoo lens, well, that's another story. A lot of Squidoo newbies ask veterans to critique their lenses, and most of these lenses are not nearly as good as they could be. (There are exceptions!)
Hopefully this lens will help new lensmasters avoid some of the more common Squidoo pitfalls.
My Experience as a Lensmaster
I have a confession to make: My first lenses sucked. They had all the marks of a newbie's efforts: Few modules, no pictures, and not very much content. Blech.
I know how to make good lenses now, and I've even had one lens chosen as a Lens of the Day. But to reach that point, I had to study other lenses and read tips from more experienced "squids."
If you want to learn how to make the best lenses possible, I'd recommend doing the same.
Mistake #1: Not Enough Modules
Your lens needs to have at least three modules (not counting the guestbook or introduction) to be featured, that is, to show up in Squidoo search results.
Some new lensmasters create lots of content for their lenses, but they make the mistake of dumping it all in one or two modules. I once saw a lens that had nothing more than an exceptionally long introduction module.
Bust up your content into different modules. Make each module zero-in on a specific topic like a magnifying glass. Not only will this help your lensrank, it will make your lens easier for people to read.
Mistake #2: Not Enough Content
Sometimes a lens just doesn't have enough content to be interesting or useful. It's possible to have a lens with lots of modules and very little substance.
Without good content, your lens will suffer. There's a lot of stuff to see and do on the internet, and if your lens doesn't offer anything of value, your visitors will go elsewhere.
Mistake #3: Few or No Pictures
You Need to Add Pictures to Your Squidoo Lens
"And what is the use of a book," thought Alice, "without pictures or conversation?"
Just as Alice appreciates a book with pictures, people appreciate a Squidoo lens jazzed up with pictures. Humans like visual aids. I guess that's why they invented pie charts.
Try to include at least one picture in every text module, preferably more if it's a long one.
Mistake #4: Not Using Tags to the Best Advantage
How Tags Help
For some time, it was thought that adding as many relevant tags as possible to your lens would help it get indexed and rated higher by Google. This may have been true at one time, and many lensmasters diligently followed this practice. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case. In fact, adding too many redundant tags may even hurt your lens.
Tags matter a lot, though. Ever notice that section below the introduction module that encourages you to explore related pages? Squidoo sniffs out the lenses with the most relevant tags to display there.
If you have a series of related lenses, and you make sure they all have the same tags, odds are good that YOUR lenses will keep showing up in the "explore related pages" section of each lens.
Mistake #5: Not Having a Bio or Personal Picture
Who are You?
People pay attention to that little corner where your name and profile appears. They want to find out who you are and why you made this lens. You don't want them to see this: "This is my bio. I can edit it later!"
When you add a picture of yourself or an avatar you like, eventually people will start recognizing you. They'll say, "Oh, that's Jim_Bob, he always does such great lenses about tractors. I wonder what else he's been doing lately?"
This is all part of branding. Use it well.
Mistake #6: More Ads than Content
It's fine to fill your Squidoo lenses with Amazon modules, but please, balance it out with good content! If you have Amazon modules and little else, you just come across as someone who's trying to make a quick buck. You're not giving value to your readers.
Entertain us, inform us, knock our socks off! Then maybe we'll think about buying something.
Mistake #7: Poor Writing
Some people go into "professional-business-guru" mode when they write for the web. They may ramble, load their paragraphs with buzzwords, use stilted language, and bury their key points in verbosity. They're trying to sound professional, but that kind of writing style doesn't hook readers.
Some folks are way on the other end of the spectrum: Their writing is filled with misspellings, poor grammar, misused punctuation, and muddled sentences.
You should write clearly, but you should also let some personality shine through. In other words, try to write the way you wish you talked.
Also, be sure to break up your writing into smaller paragraphs. When people see a large block of text, they may not bother reading it.
Mistake #8: Unrelated Content
If your lens is about gardening, why have a module promoting Tommy Hilfiger clothes? That's an extreme example, but this kind of situation comes up a lot.
Everything on your lens should tie straight into your topic. If the connection isn't obvious, you'll need to explain it to your readers.
For example, on my lens How to Prevent Lost Luggage, I promote Toy Story 2 DVDs. When I was working as a baggage agent, I always wanted to tell people to watch this movie. The airport scene gives you a pretty good idea of what happens to your bag once you check it in!
But I couldn't just slap an Amazon module there and expect people to figure that out. I had to explain the connection.
Mistake #9: Not Changing Default Text
If you add a guestbook to your lens, please remember to replace the default "New Guestbook" title with something else. If you add an Amazon module, replace "Great Stuff on Amazon" with your own caption. And so on.
If you don't, your lens won't be as professional as it could be. People will notice and think, "This person must be a noob." Even if you are a Squidoo newbie, you definitely don't want them to think that!
Mistake #10: Never Updating the Lens
It's best to think of each lens as a work in progress. Try to go back and add something new to each lens you make. Keep it fresh.
Updating your lens gives people a reason to come back, and it helps keep your lens from sinking in lensrank. Oh, and Google likes sites that update periodically.
Mistake #11: Not Allowing Contact
What if someone wants to tell you how much they appreciate your lens? What if someone wants to ask you a question? Don't hide from your readers by not allowing them to contact you.
You don't have to worry about spam when you allow contact on Squidoo, because no one actually sees your email. There's a nice little form between you and your readers. It comes complete with an "anti-spam" tool that stops bots from contacting you.
Mistake #12: Expecting Overnight Success
Some new lensmasters create one or two lenses and expect to make money or drive traffic to their website right away. Although this happens sometimes, this is not the norm. When it does happen, it's usually a result of picking just the right popular niche and going all-out to make a darn good lens.
Even if you have a fantastic Squidoo lens about a popular topic, it will probably need a little time, updating, and promotion before it gives you satisfying results.
Mistake #13: Thinking Your Lens is Perfect
This is dangerous thinking for any lensmaster, but it's especially harmful for someone who's just starting out. Unfortunately, almost all of us have a way of tying our fragile egos into everything we make.
Sure, maybe you worked hard on your lens. Maybe you spent hours on it. But that doesn't mean your lens is perfect. You may need a cold, impartial eye to give you a verdict.
If you make a lens and ask for critiques in the SquidU forum, don't do it if you're just looking for praise. Do it because you want honest feedback.
Mistake #14: Stealing Content
Google Penalizes Duplicate Content Anyway...
Copying someone else's article, pasting it into your lens, and passing it off as your own is bad, bad, bad. Just because you found it online does not mean you're free to republish it as your own!
Copying content from multiple sources, cobbling them together, and changing a few words is also a big no-no. You're still not creating original content.
If you must use someone else's content, at least ask for permission and give them credit for their work. However, it's far better to write your own stuff or hire a ghostwriter to do it for you.
Besides, Google devalues duplicate content. If Google recognizes your content from elsewhere, they could penalize your lens.
Mistake #15: Going Crazy With HTML
Most new lensmasters don't know much if any HTML, so Squidoo mistakes involving CSS and HTML are actually not very common. However, the ones who know just enough HTML to be dangerous will sometimes do things like display their text in bright, funky colors. Or change the background color of their text modules to lemon yellow. Or change the font to Comic Sans MS.
Sadly, these faux pas are almost as old as HTML itself. Tutti-frutti text colors didn't look good ten years ago, and it doesn't look any better today. It's hard on the eyes and kind of a turn-off. Please avoid doing this.
Mistake #16: Spamming Guestbooks
The last thing you want to do is make a bad impression. Leaving vacuous, self-serving comments on other people's guestbooks just to promote your own lenses is bad manners. Such comments frequently get deleted.
You should leave thoughtful, intelligent comments that show you actually took the time to read the lens. People appreciate that. If you sound interesting enough, someone might click on your name to see what kind of lenses you've made.
If you do include a link back to one of your lenses, it should be RELEVANT, and it should add to the discussion. Even then, think twice. Many lensmasters deal with so much guestbook spam that they disable the ability to include HTML links in comments.
What do you know of some other common lensmaster mistakes? Want to leave some feedback? Feel free to sign the guestbook!
Note: If you need help with the technical aspects of building lenses, your best bet is to ask questions at the SquidU discussion forum; it's an active community filled with many helpful lensmasters. If you're experiencing a bug, report it to Squidoo.