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I haven’t posted in a while, I’ve been a busy, busy girl, but recently I’ve seen quite a few people in my travels around the interwebs asking about pinging, what is it, and how do you do it?

That really kinda surprised me, because I guess I just assumed everyone knows what pinging is. It’s sort of blogging 101, really, but since there are a lot of people who don’t know, I’m doing this post and a quick tutorial about pinging and what you need to do.

 

 

Ignore me talking to Daisy in the middle of the video..LOL

 

What is Pinging?

If you have a blog, or even a website, Hubpage or Squidoo lens, and you want to bring traffic to it so people actually see it and read all your awesome content, you have to have some sort of way to let the world know about it. You need the search engines to crawl it and index it, and you need as many people as possible shouting out to the world “Hey! Look, I’ve got some great stuff over here!” That’s what pinging is all about. There are blog directories, like Technorati, that will index your posts and services, like Pingomatic and Pingoat that will notify a few different sites, as well as Google and the other search engines that you have just posted something new to your blog so they will come crawl it and people will then be able to find it.

How does pinging happen? 

WordPress, by default, comes with a link to pingomatic, a site that will ping many different directories and the search engines all at once every time you post. You don’t have to do anything to make this happen but hit the Publish button. The problem is, it  will ping the service every time you hit the publish button, even if you’re just editing or updating a post, and  over pinging is bad. Unfortunately, nobody is really sure how much pinging is too much. To stop WordPress from pinging too often, you should have a plugin installed on your blog called Cb net ping optimizer.  It’s a free plugin that lets you control how often WordPress will send out a ping.

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Jun
28

Wanna Be a Giant Squid..

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Giant Squid Logo 2008

Image by BigGirlBlue via Flickr

This week Squidoo announced some big changes in their Giant Squid program. Up til now, a lensmaster had to have created 50 “quality lenses” to be eligible to apply to be a Giant Squid.

What’s a Giant Squid?

A Giant Squid is a sort of club for lensmasters who have created at least (now) 25 quality lenses. 

The Giant Squid title comes with some pretty desirable perks, including no daily lens limit, greenlighting of your lenses so you don’t get stopped by the spam filters, the ability to create lens templates and save them, and elimination of the “no more than 9 links per domain” limit. That last one will be HUGE for me.  I like pictures on my lenses.  If you’re not a Giant Squid and you have more than 9 pictures hosted at the same domain you can’t publish your lens. You have to split them up somehow and host them at different places.  What a HUGE pain in the butt that is!  It’s there for good reason, I suppose, but they should have some exceptions, like Photobucket and Flickr. Oh well, now all you need is 25 lenses to apply and that’s no longer an issue!  Awesome!  Each level of Gianthood above 25 gets a few extra little perks, like getting to be able to hand out Purple Stars at 250.

There are now actually 5 levels of Giant Squid-ness.  The levels are 25, 50, 100, 250, or 500, and even though the number of lenses required to apply is lowered, they say the standards of what qualifies as a “quality lens” have been raised. They also did away with the quarterly admission deadlines. Prior to the change, there were certain times every quarter you could apply.  Now, no more waiting for the end of the quarter or trying to rush and get enough lenses made in time to make the next deadline. If you have 25 quality lenses are are ready to apply GO FOR IT!  But if you’re denied, you do have to wait for 30 days to reapply.

To learn more about the Giant Squid program and all the details and requirements, visit the Giant Squid info page.. Already a lensmaster with 25 fabulous lenses and want to apply? Giant Squid application

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May
29

Squidoo Workshop Makeover and 3 New Themes

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Image representing Squidoo as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

 

 

 

This week, the Squidoo team announced there were going to be some changes made to the look of lenses and upgrades to the workshop. They rolled out the new designs on Thursday.  The makeover stripped off some extraneous and under-utilized tools, and made the lenses more content focused, making the content areas of the lens more prominent.  Some of the features that are now gone are the Favorites button and the Fan Club, also Squidcasts went bye-bye, and they stripped some of the available HTML codes out of the author bio area, so that it is no longer possible to put graphics and affiliate ads in the space below your bio, or add your Google analytics codes, etc to that space.  Also gone is the lensroll option. They added a Twitter button and the Facebook “Like” button is now a Facebook “share” button.  Most of the changes have been met with pretty positive responses, though a lot of people are really not happy about losing that bio space. I’m not happy about that myself, because I hadn’t had a chance to use it yet, but I knew it was there and had plans to.  Oh well, change happens, and we all must adapt accordingly I suppose.

Personally, I didn’t have many fans or friends, because I’m still pretty new, and haven’t had much time to connect with a lot of people, so I never had any use for the Squidcasts, but I’m sad to see the fan clubs go, because that was a good way to find people’s lenses to check out. I’ll miss the favorites, too, because that’s how I bookmarked lenses I wanted to return to.  Many people voiced the exact same concerns I have, but the consensus seems to be that overall the changes are good.  I guess we’ll just have to bookmark our lenses in our browsers like everything else, but we don’t have to like it! lol   Well, actually I’m thinking of making a lens of my favorites, then I’ll have them all there on a lens when I want them, and I can share them with other people.  It’s an idea. We’ll see.

Overall, I’m really loving the new look with the bigger content area, it’s makes everything pop. They say they’re going to be working on some more social oriented features to replace those that have gone away, in the hopes they will work better than the features that they felt just weren’t doing what they were intended to do.  I hope they can find a way to make it easier to connect to people, maybe by adding a “friend request” system, like they have on sites like Redgage and Gather.  I’m really happy with the new themes we’ve got to play with, too.

Algae – This one is really pretty and great for crafty, arty, home decor type lenses..or any general lens, really.  I used it on this lens Vintage Paris Travel Posters.   I LOVE this one..it’s my new fav!

Algae1

Blueprint – Really cool for How-To and technical lenses

Blueprint

Big Squid – Designed to call serious attention to the lens title — see how the eyeball looks right at the title?

Squidoo

 

 

Technorati Tags:  Squidoo, Workshop, Makeover, new features, no more Favorites, no more Fan Club, no more Squidcasts, HTML, Redgage, Gather, Algae, newThemes,

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May
07

Should You Buy Squidoo Lenses?

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Image representing Squidoo as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

 

When I first decided to get off the fence and actually start making lenses on Squidoo, I went there and looked around, and sat, and thought, and made lists of the million things I could make lenses about, and then..  I did nothing.  I just didn’t know where to start.  I knew making a lens wouldn’t be difficult, I am pretty good with the HTML and have been blogging and doing various other types of writing online for quite a few years now, but I just didn’t know what I wanted to do first.  Then I found someone who was offering a whole bunch of lenses for sale. She had a bunch of lenses, all in niches that I was interested in, and I could buy them all for a pretty reasonable price.  There really wasn’t much there in the way of actual original content on most of them, but they were started, they were established with  decent rank and some backlinks, so I decided to buy them.  Once I got them, and was able to get in there and play around and actually see how the lenses go together, I was kinda regretting my decision, because most of them were pretty barebones, and I realized that the stuff that was there I could have done myself pretty easily.  But, at the time I didn’t know, and the more I think about it, the more I think I made the right decision, because it got me off the fence and made me start doing something. I did probably pay a little more than I should have for them, but not so much that I feel I got ripped off.

Two of them, actually, were pretty fleshed out, and 1 of those is making me sales.  The time I saved in being able to just jump in with a few well-done lenses and a group of niche lenses all tied together and backlinked with some rank was worth what I paid. Could I have done it myself if I wanted to put the time and effort in? yeah, sure..easily..but buying them all put together, interlinked, and established with backlinks in place was a lot easier.

So, I guess the issue is, are the lenses you’re purchasing worth what you’re paying for the amount of work that went in to them…or the amount of time you’d be saving by not having to do it from scratch?  How much effort and time would you have to put in to be able to get them to the point they are at on your own?   Do they have backlinks and a decent lens rank?  are they getting traffic?  are they already making sales? Is the url well thought out and targeted to the keywords you’re aiming for?

A few days ago, for example, I just happened to be in the SquidU Forums and someone was selling a few lenses, and the price was definitely right.  One of them caught my fancy, it fit with some of my other lenses I already owned, and it had a bunch of likes and some backlinks already.  Having built a couple very similar lenses myself, I know what kind of time likely went in to gathering the information and setting it up, so I know I more than got my money’s worth for it!  Time is money, after all, and creating a quality lens can take a whole day..maybe even a few days depending on the topic. If you can spend $4 or $5 ..or even $10..to get a good, quality, well-done lens by someone experienced in making them and already getting traffic and backlinked, it’s well worth scooping it up.

I have, on the other hand, seen some people who are selling lenses for $30, $40..even $100!  Unless a lens is already ranking at or near #1 in Google, has decent traffic, backlinks, and is already bringing in steady sales, I would never pay that much for a lens.  Whatever they did, you can do the same thing on your own with a little effort.  To be fair, making lenses is time-consuming, and you are buying something with the potential to make you money in the future, so I’m not saying that they didn’t put the time and effort into the lens to make charging that kind of money reasonable, I’m just saying that you can do it yourself if you’re willing to put in the time and effort, so why pay that kind of money without some reasonable expectation and proof that you’ll likely earn that money back.

If you’re not sure if you should buy one, you can check the estimated value of the lens by entering the lens url in the SquidUtils valuation estimator.

Bottom line: If you can do it yourself and do it for free, that’s usually the best thing to do.  But if you can buy an established lens/lenses, the price is right, and they fit with your areas of interest and with other lenses you either already own or are planning to build, go ahead and buy them. You can always resell them in the future if you decide to change your focus or just change your mind.

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