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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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Apr
23

Do Url Shorteners hurt SEO?

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urlshorteners

picture courtesy of dev/random

Anyone who regularly posts links to places like Twitter or Facebook, or anywhere really that has a character limit, is well aware of how vital a good url shortener program is.  If you’re just regularly posting pictures of your lunch, well maybe you’re not too concerned about the effect of using these services on your backlinks and SEO.  For bloggers and marketers, on the other hand, it could be hugely significant. I’ve been wondering for a while now about the effects of url shorteners on the links  I post, and while poking around the internet today, I came across a couple of different blog posts about it and this video by Matt Cutts, explaining that url shorteners do not hurt your SEO if the service uses a 301 redirect.  The page rank and anchor text do flow through from the shortened link.

 

 

He says, “If we try to crawl a page, and we see a 301 or permanent redirect, which pretty much all well-behaved URL shorteners, like bit.ly or goo.gl, will do.  If we see that 301 then that will pass PageRank to the final destination.”

“So in general, there really shouldn’t be any harm to using custom URL shorteners in your SEO.  The PageRank will flow through. The anchor text will flow through, and so I wouldn’t necessarily worry about that at all.”

“Now, just to let you know, if you look at, for example, Twitter’s web pages, many of those links have a no-follow link,” he adds. “So those links that are on the webpage, may not necessarily flow PageRank, but we might be able to find out about those links through some other way – maybe a data feed or something like that. But just URL shorteners, as far as how they relate to SEO, are not necessarily a problem at all.”   via webpronews.com

 

I had always pretty much suspected this to be true, because link shorteners have been around for quite a while now, and tons of people use them, if they were affecting SEO and inhibiting people’s backlinks, there would have been some kind of uproar about it by now. It’s great to finally have some confirmation about it.

ARE ALL URL SHORTENERS CREATED EQUAL?

One thing to keep in mind is, while they may not negatively affect your SEO, all url shortening services are not created equal.  Of course, make sure that any service you are using uses a 301 redirect. Most of the most popular ones do.  You’ll also want to consider things like:

1.  Can you track your stats or customize your url?

2.  In the case of affiliate links, can you hide the url to prevent hijacking or bypassing of your affiliate link?

3.  How long is the shortener url itself? When you only have 140 characters and you have a choice between bit.ly (6 characters) or tinyurl.com (11 characters), it makes a difference.

4. Is it compatible with your Twitter client?

5.  How convenient is it to use?  Do you have to go to the site every time, or are there Firefox (or Chrome, or whatever) plug-ins you can use? Cutyfox, for example, is compatible with bit.ly, Goo.gl, is.gd, and mcaf.ee.

Personally,the only services I’ve ever used are bit.ly and tiny.url, and a Firefox add-on (I can’t remember the name of) that is no longer available.

For the most part, from now on, I’ll be using Pretty Link Pro to shorten my urls. I just installed it, so can’t give anyone much info as far as if I recommend it or not, but I will definitely let you know once I’ve had a chance to take it for a spin.

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Apr
19

My First Squidoo Payout Earnings

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Squidoo

Image via Wikipedia

 

I joined Squidoo back in 2009 with the intention of jumping in, making lots of lenses, and making lots of money.  I wish I had actually done that, because by now I’d have lots of lenses making me money already, but, unfortunately, I didn’t.  A couple months ago, February I think it was, I decided to get on the ball and actually do something there.  I have, so far, a total of 18 lenses and this past payday I got my first Squidoo payment from my lenses.  I made a grand total of $7.74.  Okay, so I’m not getting rich here, but I don’t think that’s half bad for not really doing much of anything. I haven’t done much but create them and then update them here and there. Some of them do need a little makeover, but overall I think they are looking okay.  I have plans to do a little article marketing and work on some backlinking in the near future, but as of yet I really haven’t done much in the way of promoting them and I have made a couple sales.  Yesterday, I woke up to find I had made 6 sales on one of them!  That was a sweet surprise! That was the first “big” sale I’ve made so I was pretty excited about it. I will get paid for next payday, and hopefully I will have made some more sales by then.

I have been keeping track of my lens ranks every day and it’s amazing how much they can fluctuate day to day.  I’ve had a few that have gone as high as in the 7,000 range, but then bounced back down, and I can’t figure out the reason since the traffic seems to stay about the same, and even when I haven’t done anything to them they sometimes still get higher ranking, or suddenly drop.

Unfortunately, as happy as it makes me when my lenses climb in Squidoo lens rank, or when I Level Up, or get comments and stuff, none of that is going to help me make any real money. Unless I make a buttload of lenses and get them all into the top 2000, and manage to keep them there, Squidoo payouts are not going to support me. 

The thing that is going to make you money with your Squidoo lenses is to find a great niche, build them with sales in mind, optimize them for SEO and Google traffic, and promote them like crazy.  As much as getting the love and admiration of the Squidoo community for your efforts with comments and visitors is awesome, most other Squidoo lensmasters are not going to be your customers.  They’re trying to make money, too, not spend it. LOL 

The target has to be outside search engine traffic from people looking to buy what you’re promoting, so that’s my goal!

This is my newest lens, and it started out somewhere in the 260,000 range, and after I fleshed it out a bit and added some tags this weekend, and the only other thing I did was Tweet it..it is now at about 160,000..I’ll be working on trying to boost it a bit more over the next week, and then start promoting and see what I can do with it. 

http://www.squidoo.com/singsnap-online-karaoke

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Apr
10

Profit Jackpot Bullsh*t

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I ran across something today that has got me all fired up.  I was on Twitter and someone tweeted a link that said something like “Watch this guy build 10 affiliate sites in 10 minutes” or something like that. I’ve been slowly dipping my toes into the affiliate marketing game recently, so I went to check it out.  I figured it was gonna be some niche site builder/scraper sorta thing, and thought it might be useful, since I’m currently in the planning process of maybe starting some of my own niche sites.  Just as an FYI, I have been interested in affiliate marketing and sort of studying it for a really, really long time, but I’ve never actually jumped in and tried to seriously do it before, and this video I saw today is one of the main reasons why.  I hate this kinda sh*t with a fiery passion! I can’t tell you how much it pisses me off.  I’m all for affiliate marketing and marketing, in general. There’s nothing wrong with helping people who need, or might want, a service or a product, or who have a problem to solve, find what they’re looking for and getting paid for your help. I’m all for that! Free enterprise, Capitalism, rah rah..God Bless America! ..lol.  What I hate is people who try to make money by deceiving someone, liars, and that “Get em to give you their money any way you can” mentality…and what I call “Hype and Air”

This video was by a marketer named Anik Singal.  I don’t know anything about him and have no clue about anything he has done besides this, so I’m not judging him personally, really I’m not, but if this is the kind of thing he offers on a regular basis, I don’t think I want to know much more about him. Here’s the problem.

I went to the sales page where there’s two videos, and Mr. Singal starts talking about dishonest marketers who promise to make you rich overnight and how it’s all crap.  Okay, so he gets points for honesty about that…that’s a good thing. As the video goes on, he does his pitch and sets it all up, and the guy is good. He’s real good. He definitely got into the right game, cuz he almost had me clicking that button to shell out my $47.00, and I don’t buy ANYTHING without lots of research and making sure it’s something that is useful and I really, really  want it.  Then I decided to look a little deeper.  The name of his program is Profit Jackpot, and it’s an article and video scraper/spinner plugin for WP that helps you set up autoblogs.  It, apparently, does something to the code so Google can’t tell it’s duplicate content and he claims if you set up about 25 sites you can make decent money with all your sites on autopilot. Of course, you could set up hundreds, because it’s all automated. Set it and forget it and collect the cash.. All this for the low, low price of $47.00.

Here’s what he doesn’t tell you:

  • For the $47.00 you get a basic software that has a max limit of 25 sites you can build.
  • You don’t get the article spinner, video scraper, or comment scraper for that price.
  • The article spinner turns out unreadable goop, guaranteed to get you slapped.
  • The content it pulls in is not guaranteed to be relevant to your topic.
  • To get the functionality of what he shows you in his video, it will cost you $200 and up, depending on how many of his upsells you  buy into.
  • You can build your sites in 10 minutes..if you already have your domains installed and set up with WordPress, and have all your keywords researched and ready to pop them in, and plug-ins installed and ready to activate.  So, even though he builds them that quickly, your time starting from scratch will be quite a bit more than that.  Not that that is a big issue, once you get to the building stage it’s quick, but it’s still deceptive.
  • The software isn’t compatible with HostGator or GoDaddy.. (where I host and where I buy all my domains, of course). 
  • All of the sites he built using the software in the video have all been taken down. Maybe, since he built them to demonstrate the software, he took them down himself because he knew they were built up and filled too quickly and didn’t want red flags from Google, or maybe not.  In the video he invites people to go look at them, so taking them down wouldn’t be too smart on his part

When I first Googled for information, the results i got were a lot of sites like “Profit Jackpot Review” or “Profit Jackpot Scam”, which I immediately know to avoid like the plague, because they are more than likely affiliates who are promoting the product, and the review style of affiliate marketing is used a lot.  When I want to know the real deal on something, I go someplace like Warrior Forum or Wicked Fire. or somewhere where people will give you the straight dope who don’t have anything to gain.  I got the information for this post from a thread on Warrior Forum, click the link above to read it for yourself.

To be fair, this software isn’t complete crap, because it, apparently, does actually do what it’s meant to do, in a way.  If it came with complete functionality for the $47.00 and not just a 25 site limit, and if you wanted a way to  occasionally drip content to your site automatically, it could be useful.  If you set up sites the right way, keep doing your SEO and posting original content, just use it to add an article here or there to help keep it fresh so you don’t have to be constantly on top of all your sites, it could be fine.   Of course, I wouldn’t depend on the spinner or let it just scrape stuff and never check it, like Amit suggests, and I definitely wouldn’t use the comment scraper, because it, apparently, disables links back to Youtube and that’s against their TOS for using their API.  But there are lots of autoblog plugins out there, if that’s what you’re looking for, and not all of them are marketed by misleading people.

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