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Squidoo Lens Update Ideas
How do you keep your lens updated with unique and useful content?
Lens freshness. The bane of many lensmasters' existence, it's a very important factor in lensrank. How do you continue to edit and update a lens to keep it fresh without bludgeoning it to death with a never-ending barrage of half-baked content that you are continually struggling to curate and generate?
Your lens updates should improve your lenses - not just "push food around on your plate" like a child pretending to eat their brussel sprouts. But lens updates can feel about as tedious. Use this handy list of tips, tricks, and ideas to go back over you existing lenses and polish them up, make them shine, and boost their lensrank - without just rehashing the same old content over and over.
Original image courtesy of QZAP on Flickr, edited with PicMonkey.
Finding Images and Choosing the Best Ones to Use
Images make your lens more visually appealing and engaging, and images that link to related content increase clicks which improves lensrank. Images also serve to break up large blocks of text that might otherwise make the reader start to zone out and skim your content instead of actively reading it.
- Whenever possible, use your own images. Taking great photos can be tricky, and it does take practice but I'll let you in on a secret: it doesn't require a fancy top-of-the-line camera. Pick up a copy of ; it's a great basic photography guide and it's geared specifically towards pictures that grab your audience's attention and gets them in a frame of mind to buy. Even if your lens isn't sales-oriented, subtly putting your reader into this receptive state makes your lens more appealing and engaging - and more shareable on social media. Taking Great Pictures for eBay Auctions and Online Selling
- When it's not practical to use your own image, use one that can make you money. Use images from Zazzle, Amazon, or AllPosters and be sure link the image back to the site using your affiliate code.
- Another great option is public domain images. There are so many ways of finding these images, also known as royalty-free stock, that I won't go into them all here. Public domain images are often (but not always) vintage - use your best judgement to determine is that will suit your content well or if it will distract from the writing; your lens subject doesn't have to have a vintage component to work well with vintage images, but lenses about the newest products and latest trends are particularly poorly suited to vintage imagery.
- The best lenses have a mix of all three, in my experience. Each kind has their pros and cons. (Personal photos are unique to your page, but can be time consuming; public domain images are easy to find, but are used by many other people often in wildly varying contexts.) But try to have a balanced blend of sources; nothing is more jarring than a lens full of engaging personal photos that draw on the writer's personal experience that is suddenly interrupted with a cluster of slick promotional shots from the manufacturer. Always blend your content to a creamy consistency - you don't want lumps! ;)
- Bonus tip: make one image go farther by using a free online photo editing tool to frame it and put it into different settings. That's what I've done with this lens; I took an image of the iconic Squidoo squid and put it through various editors I found by searching for "fun photo editor" to get the right effect for each section.
Updating Photos and Images in Your Lens - These little tweaks can make a big impact on your lens' SEO
- Update your intro picture to be the best it can be. Make sure it is square and ideally 250 pixels on each side - this will ensure that the thumbnail shown next to your lens will be as clear and attention-grabbing as possible. Don't think the thumbnail matters? Some places it shows up: Squidoo site searches (these are especially common when HQ issues one of the frequent Like-A-Lens style quests), on your Squidoo bio page, and in the Related Lenses Module / Sidebar Widget. It's also very likely to be shown anywhere readers share your lens on social media such and Facebook or Pinterest.
- Make sure your file names contain relevant keywords, so that your image will show up on Google Image searches and so you get more keywords into your page without spamming.
- Make use of the alt tag. This is either an attribute in the img code if you're writing the HTML yourself, or the "describe your photo" box if you are using the Text with a BIG Picture or other modules. This the text that will display when you hover over the text, and helps the search engines understand what you image is about, along with the file name. So like you filename, your alt text should be descriptive and make good use of you most important keywords.
SOCIAL MEDIA ALERT: the text you use here is what Pinterest will use as a description by default if a reader uses their Pin It bookmarklet to pin a particular image on your lens. Keep this in mind when writing your descriptive alt tag text.
Improving Your Writing Style - Learn how to write so that your readers are engaged and interested
A lot of readers may not consciously know why they are skimming an article, and as the writer it can be just as difficult to figure out why people are clicking away without staying long or buying anything, but a big part of this puzzle is polished writing. Aim to make your writing friendly and conversational, yet still written with a professional polish to it so that the reader isn't tripping over formatting inconsistencies or spelling errors.
- Be consistent with verb tenses. If one module title says "Updating your images" the next one should not read "Improve your writing style". I know you want to capture all the search traffic you can by including every permutation of every relevant verb you can think of - and that's a good thing - but keep in mind that you are writing not just for the search engines but equally as much for the readers. Find other ways to include multiple tenses for the best SEO impact. For example, phrase your subtitles with a different verb tense than your titles, or use the variations in your lens tags.
- Similarly, be consistent in how you capitalize words in your titles and subtitles. There are various schools of thought on the best way to do this, but above all else pick one approach and stick with it at least within each lens and preferably throughout every lens you write to keep your writing style polished and distinctive.
- Try to keep most paragraphs short, no more than 5-6 sentences. Any longer and people tend to get the Wall-Of-Text hypnosis - similar to trying to drive in a snowstorm. Even if they want to keep reading, too much text without a visual break makes they eyes glaze over and it gets hard to focus.
Optimizing Your Lens for Social Media - Make sure you get the most out of social sharing activity on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and more
- Use the Bookmark Widget module. I like to use it at the top or bottom of the page, or sometimes both if it's a really long lens. Anywhere else in the lens and I feel like it gets lost - but this is just personal preference, I have no real reason to think it's any less effective there. Be sure to change the default title, even it just to make it blank; default titles look junky.
If you plan to have the first module in your lens be a short Text Module, you can use the Bookmark Widget instead and the row of social media icons will show up below your text.
- Add a Pin It On Pinterest button to your lens, or even a few of them throughout. Don't go overboard, but feel free to sprinkle this in next to the best photos on your lens. Pinterest has a page where you can generate the HTML code to add a "Pin It" image to your lens, and you can customize exactly what the pin text is. The Pinner can edit it, but it's a great foot-in-the-door technique to try to make sure your image gets pinned with great keywords to go with it. This will help other Pinterest users find the Pin, even if they don't follow the user who Pinned it.
Bonus hint: since you can specify what image is getting pinned, you can use a bigger version of your Intro Image, which is pretty small by Pinterest standards.
- Edit your intro image to include the name of your lens (i.e. Squidoo Writing Prompts); this can help with social media such as Pinterest. Don't crowd your image, or overwhelm it with too many words - think of it as more of a caption to your photo. This tip is best used for subjects popular of visual-heavy social media. Browse thru the popular trending pins on Pinterest to get a feel for what gets pinned a lot.
Using Squidoo Modules Effectively - Make the most of Squidoo's many modules to create rich lenses with great content
- Use a social module - in fact, use a few if you can. This is one suggestion Squidoo HQ makes over and over and that I've struggled with a lot. Sometimes I feel a lens doesn't really call for comments. As a result I've been experimenting wih polls. Polls are great; they let you get insight from your readers which can be invaluable in figuring out fresh new content to add - plus, it gives you a chance to get good keyword mojo for a question. A surprising amount of people phrase their searches as a question. (i.e. "How do I update a Squidoo lens that's finished?") Plus, every time some one interacts with your social modules you get a few points, woohoo!
- Another favorite of mine is the YouTube module. You may think there are no videos on your niche topic - and you might be right, though you might also be surprised if you take a look - but I also find this module really useful when used kind of like a footnote or an aside... a little "oh by the way, here's some more info if you want it". For example, in my lens How To Make Steampunk Clothing there is a module near the top where I show off some cool examples of steampunk buttons. And just in case the reader doesn't know how to sew on a button, I found a rad video about it and tucked it into the lens if they need it. Don't go crazy with this, but used sparingly this can add valuable content to your lens as well as break things up if you are using the same type of module over and over.
- Create a thank you list. As lensmaster MiaMusement suggested in my guestbook below, you can keep your lens fresh by adding a Featured Lensmasters module where you feature fellow lensmasters who have blessed your lens, or those who have contributed great suggestions. Not only is it great karma and a nice way to say thank you, it gives you another ongoing source of new things to add to the lens over time.
Please let me know if you have any more tips and ideas. I'm always learning more about Squidoo - because there is ALWAYS more to be learned!
Anything I can add to my collection of ways to update a lens - without getting that brussel sprout feeling about "Oh gosh, I should really update that lens... AGAIN..." - is very much appreciated. I will add more to the lens as I think of them or learn new ones, and if I use your tip I'll be sure to include proper credit. Thanks!