Sunday, December 26, 2010

Amazon Spotlights & Starting All Over!

Well I did promise to let you in on something new with this post, but I was computer-less for a few days with a nasty virus and then this pesky thing called Christmas means that I can't spend as much time on the computer!   Speaking of which I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas, ours was pretty quiet this year and very wet.

I decided to open a brand new account with Squidoo, when I first started I really didn't realize how important creating a niche was so I wrote about all sorts of things under my one account.   Watching an episode of How Things Are Made with my hubby inspired me to write about Lego.   I was thinking about what I could write about and with a piece of paper was able to come up with 39 ideas for Lego lenses, that was without doing any research into what sets were now available!!   Because I had a clear objective I decided to set up a second account that I could keep as a very niche account - would I recommend it?   I'll let you know.

With the monsters things have changed and it was quite an eye opener to see what people first starting out had to work with - no Amazon Spotlight modules to start with, they only come in at Level 4.   Now it really doesn't take long to get to Level 4, but if you're writing your first lens and when you read recommendations you're told to use the spotlight module it would probably get a little confusing.

My plan for my first lens included -

  • Amazon Spotlight modules - Denied!
  • Blackbox module - Denied!
  • Talk Bubble - Denied!

Time to go back to the drawing board!   I decided that I would have to use my own Amazon associate links and I used the Text with Big Picture module to display them.   For the blackbox module I just used html to add a colored background.   The result was Lego Architecture Series .

I then decided to start my lensography lens right at the beginning.   I had lots of information about Lego that I wanted to convey and then add my other lenses in the appropriate place as I went.    Featured Lens - Level 11 - not there yet!

By the time I had written my second lens I was able to use the Amazon Spotlight and the result was Lego City Police Sets.   I have since realized that I'm going to have to change some of my plans - I wanted to create lenses about different themed sets etc which means adding all of the sets in a particular series available and writing about them.   Sometimes this might be more than 10 items and this became a problem just before Christmas.

Squidoo Changed The Rules!

Now it's Squidoo's playground so if they want to change the rules it's up to them, but what can we do?   Well I was actually thinking about telling you all how I was going to be changing over some of my lenses so that I had less Amazon modules and more of my own associate links.   One of my best lenses made over $200 in Amazon sales (through Squidoo) a few months ago, which I thought was great, but another lens which was similar, but had affiliate links made me $200 in commissions through an affiliate as well as royalties through Squidoo!   I had far less sales on the second lens so I know how much better I could do without using the modules.   With the restrictions that Squidoo are enforcing I personally think they will lose money, but hopefully we'll all make more :)

Back to Lego!

Now I've already got some visits from Google on my new a/c, but I haven't started promoting them yet.   I will start promoting them more in the New Year and I'll be devoting a blog post a week to keep you updated on everything I've done as well as the results.   I thought that by starting with a new account it would be good for non-giants as well as giants to get an idea about how to earn on Squidoo.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Titles Are Important - Make Them Count

I often think of pithy newspaper type of headline that would suit my lenses, but I don't use them!   Well maybe on some of my older ones that I really should change, but it is the one small change that you can often make to your lenses in order to rank better.

Since I have started to take more care of all of my titles, not just the main one, I have found that it's far easier to rank well in Google.   Of course not just titles are going to do the job, but if you have a lens which seems pretty good for content and yet it's getting no traffic because it's just not ranking well then revisiting the titles may be a great idea.

Look at your keywords or keyword phrase - is it highlighted in your titles?   Now obviously you can't always have your main keywords in the title of each section especially if your keywords are something like The Lego Architecture Series and so you want your different titles to reflect each of the sets in the series such as The White House and Fallingwater, what you can do is add Lego Architecture Series to the sub-heading.

The biggest mistake people use is with their Guestbooks - we all know not to leave the generic New Guestbook as the title, but what do we put instead?   Use your keywords in the title in the form of a question.   Why, well two reasons really -

  • It adds your keywords into your title easily.
  • It makes it more likely that you'll get commenters to use keywords in their comments.
If you're thinking, but I like pithy headlines - you can still use them if you want to, but as sub-headings.   Make the main title one of your keywords and have your subheading as something fun.   If you're not sure what I mean then check out Funky Chic and Cool Laptop Bags - this lens has been in the Top 100 for as long as I've been on Squidoo.   Kate highlights the bag she's reviewing in the title because that's one of her keywords ie - The Allie Laptop Tote Bag by Rainbrooke - and then adds a pithy sub-title ie - Get in touch with your inner Elle Woods.   

Now stay tuned for next time as I've started a new project which I'll be revealing to you and hopefully it'll be a really interesting journey that we can take together.   Also as the year is coming to a close I'll be looking back and updating you on some of the experiments we've tried this year.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Plexos - More Easy Backlinks for Squidoo Lenses

Now there's always a big discussion about the value of backlinks - do follow versus no follow etc. Now I seriously believe that organic backlinks from reputable sites on the same subject as your lens are the best ones to get, but they don't just appear. The right people have to 'find' your lens in order to link to it and how can they do this?
Obviously if you manage your on page optimization well and get ranked on the front page of google they will be able to find you easily - this is how I've managed to get a number of my organic backlinks, but what if you're not on the front page of google - is there any hope?

This is why I think there is a value in any backlink you can get so if there's a way of obtaining quick and easy backlinks then I say why not. We discussed Squidoo directories on a previous post as one way of getting backlinks, but plexos are good as well.

I used to love coming across plexos when looking at lenses and I would eagerly add my lens, but I used to think to myself how can I find which lenses have plexos that I can add to without just visiting them when someone posts a link on Squidu??   Well spammers always seem to find these plexo and I found out a black hat seo trick for us to use for good instead of spam!!

Now I'm going to assume that you're all writing in a niche now?   This means that you'll have a keyword  or keyphrase that you're targeting so here's what you do.

  • Go to google
  • Type in KEYWORD + + "0 points"
  • Press enter and visit the lenses that show up
This gives you all of the lenses with a plexo that covers your keyword or keyphrase, now the only drawback is it doesn't distinguish between amazon plexos and link plexos, but it's surprisingly quick to scroll through these lenses.

It's a great idea to check out these lenses as well because they are your competition so see what you like about the lens, are they worth linking to or lensrolling with your lenses?   I'm very gradually going through my niches and adding links to plexos with keywords or phrases that I'm targeting.

Now you're probably thinking, but are they worth anything?   All I can say is I look upon backlinks as breadcrumbs that can lead people to your lens.   You don't know who is going to see your lens on a plexo, in a squidoo directory, from a tweet and think hey that's really good before favoriting it for their one million facebook friends!   We can't always predict where our traffic is going to come from, but with enough enticing breadcrumbs we can hope that it comes.

About 18 months ago one of my seasonal lenses started to get a lot of hits......but it was the wrong season!   It went from a handful of hits weekly to hundreds.   I looked at the stats and found that a single blog had linked to me highlighting one module of that lens - turns out that the heading on that lens was what they had typed into google and I actually ranked for that long tail keyword phrase without realizing it.   The person was obviously a successful blogger and liked my lens - she's linked to it twice since.   The reason for this story is that you never know who is going to find your lens and link to it - it could be through google, plexos, squidoo directories, xomba, best reviewer or just about anywhere.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Who Do You Write For? What's Your Niche?

This blog is all about increasing our income through Squidoo so it's good to stop and ask yourself the question - who do you write for? - as this can help you to refocus. I enjoy the flexibility of being able to write about anything I like on Squidoo and I still do! When I want to look at making money however I have to look at how I write. The lenses that make me money aren't ever going to win a pulitzer prize or be something I showcase to my mum, but they do their job.

This lens - Disney Princess Christmas Ornaments - is a lens that has made it into tier one with only one like. This is because it wasn't written for the Squidoo community it was written for one purpose alone - to sell Disney Princess Christmas Ornaments! It has also served another purpose as it adds some backlinks to hubpages where I have a number of Disney Princess hubs.

At this point of time this lens has the third highest amount of sales sitting on my dashboard, and that's only the ones showing from the module as I have also made some sales directly through Amazon. The one that is sitting in second spot has actually just got lucky with sales sprees, but this one has got there on it's own merit.

The majority of traffic to this lens comes from google although I do get some through my Christmas ornament lensography - Unique Christmas Ornaments. Until mid November every sale through this lens had been for something on the lens. What that tells me is that it's a niche lens and people are already thinking of buying before they land on my lens.

It's the most success that I've seen using the page break module on a lens and this has actually helped me to get on the front page of google for other keywords ie Cinderella Christmas Ornaments and also for keywords such as Sleeping Beauty Xmas Ornaments. Now I never usually use the word Xmas, but the title for each page break limits the number of characters you can use and guess what? The general public do put xmas into google!

Since the middle of November I have managed to catch a couple of sales sprees, but these have included one of the products on my page. So if you're looking at writing a sales lens do it and don't worry about garnering support from the Squidoo community instead work on your seo and get google to fall in love with it.

This also shows that page break lenses can be sales lenses, although I must admit this is the only one that I've had success with in terms of converting sales really well.

Another thing that this lens shows us is that it is important to write about a niche. If I had just written about Christmas ornaments I probably wouldn't have ranked well at all, in fact I think it's too broad to just have Disney Princess, but with the page break it's managed to break the lens into a more niche niche market ie Cinderella Christmas ornaments.

The other question in the title is What's Your Niche? Now I do have a number of one offlenses, but the most profitable of my lenses have been written around a niche. Using the lens above as an example I wrote my Unique Christmas Ornaments lens first and then have added more niche lenses to it. The Disney Princes lens is on this lensography as well as on the lens Christmas Ornaments for Children.

When you come across something that you love, think of other products that are similar and make lenses on them too interlinking them all. A fellow lensmaster and reader of this blog is Rhonda aka Pukeko she recently did a lens on penguins and before you know it she's produced lenses about Penguin iphone cases, penguin jewelry etc. This is how you develop a niche and it will be interesting to hear from Rhonda next Christmas to see how successful it's become. The other great thing that Rhonda did was to create a lensography - The Best Penguin Gifts Ever - which gives them all free backlinks and another thing that she could do is make sure that this lensography is included on each of her penguin lenses - she's already on the front page of google for penguin gifts.

Which niches have you developed and have they been successful? Let us know in the comment section. While you're doing that have a good think about who you're writing for.

The penguin picure is here thanks to Lord Biro.