Thursday, July 26, 2012

RSS Feeds to Earn Extra Money

Are you using your RSS feeds to earn extra money on Squidoo?   I'll put my hand up to say no, I hadn't thought about it, but a recent comment on Squidu made me bang my head on the desk and think - why aren't I doing this!

Basically if you're an Amazon affiliate you can use their affiliate feeds in the Squidoo RSS modules - I think this would be ideal for the sidebar which means I have a lot of work to do next week.

There appears to be a couple of ways of getting this feed and the easiest way (in my opinion anyways) is to get some tag-based feeds which is done like this -


Now to translate this feed you need to understand the different parts of the url which are these -

tag - this is your affiliate code which should end in 20
books - this is the tag you want to use - it could be blu-ray, shoes, anything that is relevant to your lens.
the part in green - this relates to how you want to sort the results ie new is as it suggests products tagged with (in my example) books for the very first time.   Popular is the most popular products with that tag.

Another way of sorting out an RSS feed is by using the bestseller feeds and this looks pretty easy as well, but instead of typing it all in here I'm going to give you a link to Squidoography as they have got their url bar captures to show you exactly where to find the numbers you'll need.

This is definitely going on my to do list for next week as I think (especially in the lead up to the holiday season) this could be an absolute windfall in sales.   

If you're already doing this let me know how you've found it and if not I hope you'll join me to try and maximize our Squidoo returns.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Get Traffic With Images

As I'm undertaking a lot of updating in recent weeks I'm coming across a lot of my older lenses that aren't primed for Google image search - are yours?

When I first started writing I assumed that Google saw images the same way as we do, but they don't.   Search engines see what are called alt-tags, alt-tags are basically words that describe the image and are another way to get keywords onto your lens.

There are two ways in which you can add alt-tags on Squidoo and they depend on how you upload your photographs.

The first way is when you upload your image from your computer into a Text Module, Text Module with Big Picture or a Polaroid Module - when you're uploading it the box will look like this -

The first box is where you choose your file from the computer to upload, the second box is called Label this photo and the third box is the option to link the file to a url.   The label this photo is where you add your alt text.

This alt-text should include some keywords in it, but if my image uploads in a big enough version to read it (I haven't done a screen print on blogger since the changes) then you'll see that I didn't use the words Lady Gaga Tattoos on this photo despite that fact that it's on my Lady Gaga Tattoo lens and there's a reason for this.   You need to vary the keywords used on your images the same as you do in your text or Google will think you're keyword stuffing.

I did a lens over a year ago now and had just been reminded about the importance of alt-tags so I went through and updated all of the products with the same title - my main keywords.   It did not work and despite the fact that lots of people were searching for these exact keywords and I actually promoted the lens a bit it was getting nowhere.   I recently reviewed the lens wondering what to do and I noticed the alt-tags and banged my head on the desk - what was I thinking???   Needless to say I have altered them know so that it doesn't look like such a spammy page in Google's eyes - to read it you actually don't see a lot of keywords, because you see the images as images, but to Google it would've reeked of spam (I should have known better).

The second way of adding alt-tags is when you're using images via HTML either because you're hosting them elsewhere or because you're using products with an affiliate link like Zazzle or Shareasale.   When using affiliate links they will sometimes contain alt-tags already, but they may not be the tags you want to use so it's easy to change them.

<a href=""><img src="" alt="gothic count costume" width="190" /></a>

The alt-tag is showed in red from an affiliate code I got from Shareasale - the first part of the code is the linking part shown inside the <a> tags and then you have the part which shows the image - immediately after the image url (which is always inside "") you simply put the alt tags like above.

Now I actually altered the words inside of the alt tag in this code as I was doing a blog post on Gothic Costumes and wanted to use the words Gothic and Costume in there for more keyword juice.   I notice especially with Zazzle that the alt tags aren't always the best for your particular lens so feel free to change them to something that fits better.

Changing alt-tags - now it is easy to change your alt-tags at anytime, simply alter the HTML if that's how you've uploaded the image or go in to edit the module and change the Label this Photo box.   Now when you change the label you must remember to hit upload again or the change will not happen.   You will get an error message, but just ignore this (it seems to happen whenever you don't change the image itself, but just change the alt tag or the url) it will still update.

Now I have a feeling that you're not going to be able to view the screen print I uploaded very well, so I'm going to tell you what it says for the alt tag - born this way tattoo.   Now why did I use this?   When I first uploaded the image a lot of people were searching for images of her born this way tattoo and Google was directing some of the traffic to me because I talked about it although I didn't have an image I could use initially (lots of illegal ones doing the rounds mind you, but that's a whole new blog post!) - because most people were circulating an identical image that actually wasn't a very good one I wanted to dominate the traffic with this one.    This is a valuable lesson - using your own stats and add keywords from them (if applicable) onto your lens OR make another lens on that topic which you can link to from your existing lens (if that's more appropriate).

It really is amazing how much traffic images can bring to your lenses so it's well worth checking out if you've optimized (but not over-optimized!) your images when you're updating your lenses.   Remember also that sometimes you'll need to change your alt-tags depending on changes in what people are searching for at that time.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Are Lensographies Still Valuable?

With all the Google changes during the last couple of years are lensographies still relevant?   I believe they are, however we need to be aware that the type of lensography you have will make a huge difference.   The mere list of lenses style of lensography really isn't effective any more, however lensographies with content are invaluable.

I like the fact that I can keep all of my 'like lenses' in one place for organizational purposes, but lensographies do more than that.   How many of you have lenses that have dropped into WIP?   

If you've answered yes then did you know a lensography can help that lens?   When a lens falls into WIP it means that Squidoo no longer features it on the Related Lenses feature, or on tag pages.   With a loss of internal links it's important that it still has some in Google's eyes which is where interlinking your work helps.   There are lots of ways of letting Google know that your page is still there and one of the easiest ways is by setting up a lensography which features the lens.

I have a few lenses that live part of their life way down in the ranks and with the increasing number of lenses on Squidoo a number of them have fallen into WIP over the past year.   These are lenses that are very specific to different seasons and although they are barely visited at some parts of the year the sales they make at other parts of the year make them valuable pieces of online real estate.    This means I link to them from various places like other sites such as Wizzley or Hubpages, on blogs and with a lensography.

I've actually been amazed at how well some of my lensographies have ranked in the past as well.

With this in mind I realized that although I have a Christmas ornament lensography (which ranks really well in the lead up to the holidays), I didn't have a more general Christmas page and as I'd just made a few more Christmas lenses I decided I should start up a new one called - The Christmas Page.

This page is far from perfect yet, I didn't do any keyword research, I basically wrote a page where I could encompass my Christmas lenses.   What I have done is added some content and I also decided to keep it in the Happy Snowman magazine to see if that gives me any traffic.   I will be going in and customizing my bio on the lens and will also be examining my traffic and adjusting the content depending on what keywords show up in my stats (if any).

When I first published this lensography two of my lenses featured were in WIP, they're still not in a paying tier, but they are featured and are getting traffic.

As I mentioned on a previous post you should be working on Halloween and Christmas lenses at the moment and one of the things I worked on this week was updating my Costume lensography which had just been a list of my costume lenses.   I've added extra content including a few costumes on this page and customized my bio as well.   I'll continue to add content to it, but what's interesting is that it's now comfortably in tier 3 which I was not expecting.

Shameless Plug

If you're looking for some products to promote on your Christmas lenses check out these throw pillows and cake picks from my Christmas Zazzle Store -

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Squidoo and Zazzle

The tax year in Australia (where I live) runs from July 1st to June 30th, now you might wonder why I'm telling you this.   The answer is because I'm busy preparing my tax return and I've discovered that Zazzle was my third highest income earner for the year which is great - what does Zazzle have to do with Squidoo?   One word - referrals.

At the beginning of the year I re-assessed my income streams and I realized that Zazzle was becoming a bigger part of my income and yet when I looked at where I was making my Zazzle income it was quite an eye-opener - 15% royalties, 85% referrals.

My biggest method of getting referral earnings is through Squidoo - for some reason Squidoo and Zazzle combined just work.   There's a lot of people complaining about lack of referrals through Squidoo both on the Squidu forum and on the Zazzle forum, but I have to say that my income shows the two still work well together.

Now my last post was about taking advantage of the Flickr module demise and increasing clickouts on your lenses and a recent post by Greekgeek on her blog has given some more really interesting food for thought that concerns Zazzle and Squidoo.   Ellen's blog is a really good one to subscribe to by the way, anyway she says that on one of her lenses she includes posters -
....whose spoof punchlines are a little too small to read, so visitors tend to click on them to view the posters on Zazzle. 
Now she goes on to say that she doesn't sell many, but this is definitely something to think about when looking at increasing the click through rate.

I mentioned a lens in my last post that was getting a lot of traffic, but only had a 1% click through rate well that lens was my 10 Delicious Blue Curacao Cocktails and I increased the clickout rate to 3% after adding the recipes on Google Docs and then linking to the document as a printable version.   The traffic has also increased (as it does in the lead up to and throughout summer) and this lens is now firmly in tier 2 and even seems to be knocking on the tier 1 door.    It has never been this close to tier one in it's life!

What did I do?   I added some Zazzle products to the lens only a couple of days ago.   There's a Zazzler called the Martini Diva who makes cocktail recipe cards so I found 6 recipe cards that included blue curacao and popped them into a text module adjusting the size so that if people want to actually see the recipe they will have to click on the product as well!

Another great thing about joining Zazzle and adding the products to your lenses is that there are a number of licensed products that Zazzle make including Disney, Marvel and Harry Potter.   The referral rate is 15% so selling some of their posters, mugs, iphone cases etc can really add up.

If you're working on your Christmas lenses then why not add a few Zazzle products to them like these -