After the updates to the Squidoo TOS, it seems as if a lot of people out there are wondering if Squidoo is even worth it anymore. I am seeing both seasoned Squidoo users and newbies who haven’t even got started with Squidoo wondering the same thing. So, what has gotten everyone’s panties in a bunch?
- some Squidoo lenses are getting locked
- some entire Squidoo accounts are getting locked
- Squidoo is threatening to do more of the same
- some people are complaining of lower traffic and sales
- Squidoo is testing “features” that seem to be destined to hurt them with Google
As someone who makes quite a nice amount of money from Squidoo, I have been watching this all fold out with the utmost of interest. And you should too, if you are interested in making bank from Squidoo. So, let’s address these issues and determine if we should be worried, or not.
Lenses and Accounts Getting Locked?
Is it happening? As Sarah Palin would say – you betcha! You really only have to do a search and visit a few message boards/Facebook groups to find the evidence. The first person that I heard this happen to was Thomas Carlson, who is responsible for the super awesome Easy Product Displays Tool. His lenses were not breaking TOS, so it seems that the poor guy just got thrown under the bus. I do hope that he manages to create a new lensmaster profile and get back in an incognito kinda way.
Here are some of the others that I have come across:
- this lensmasters entire account (wayback machine link) was locked for “spun content” which in Squidoo terms seems to mean thin content with tons of your own affiliate links. It is easy to see how thin the content is on this one.
- no idea what the account looked like for this one (Squidoo HQ forum link) since she didn’t disclose it.
- a friend who started an account after they stopped allowing lens transfers got his account locked for no reason.
- another friend who got an account locked that was fairly new but before all this drama started.
Risk of My Squidoo Accounts Getting Locked
Personally, I have 7 different Squidoo accounts and several of those I just use for testing out different things. Some of those testing accounts have super thin lenses. They have not been locked yet, but I won’t be surprised if they do end up locked. It won’t hurt me financially since those are not my money making accounts.
If my main earning account gets locked, that will definitely be quite the blow. I don’t see any legit reason for that happening though since I do not write thin lenses and I do not over stuff lenses with my own affiliate links. But, time will tell, I guess.
In the meantime, I have been taking the necessary precautions.
- I’m making niche sites based around my most $$$ successful lenses (they are already making sales too)
- Creating an entirely new Squidoo account that basically replicates the lenses of my main earning account (I’m just getting started on this one)
The reality is that since they are automating the process, any of us could get caught in the snares. I know that is a possibility, even though I’ve done nothing wrong. And that is why I’m taking precautions. I suggest you do the same, even if it is incredibly time consuming.
Lower Traffic and Sales On Lenses
This seems to be a common theme no matter where I go and people are talking about Squidoo. And I think that without even looking at the stats, it is easy to see that SOMETHING had to have happened for Squidoo to be bringing the hammer down like this. There’s also the fact that the tier payouts this month were, well, piddly. That shows that traffic, as a whole, is in the crapper.
However, this does not mean that all lensmasters are suffering. This is especially true for long tail keyword targeting. And seasonal targeting.
In the past few weeks, I was furiously making St. Patrick’s Day and Easter lenses. And, since I have time, I’m going to throw up some more Easter ones. What I’ve been seeing is sales from these lenses the day after I make them.
Traffic is down on some lenses and up on others. The same goes for sales. Here’s a look at traffic for my top lens for the past 30 days:
And, since it’s creation in May of 2012:
So, you can see that traffic for this particular lens peaked in November of 2012 but started to recover slightly in February of 2013. And, when you look at the past 30 days stats above, it appears to be on the rise a wee bit.
This particular lens is still (as of today) ranking for it’s highly competitive keyword phrase at #1 in the SERPs.
As for sales, we are at the midpoint in the month and I am looking at around $600 in Amazon commissions as of right now, which is a little below average but nothing to complain about. And, I have four lenses sitting in tier one for the month (at least so far, cause that could change).
Assuming the other half of the month is no different, this is going to be around a $1400 month for me. Like I said, that is a little on the low side, which proves that sales are down a wee bit. And I think I have 146 lenses right now, which puts me at just under $10 per lens, which is the real shame. However, I have several new seasonal lenses in that count.
But remember, I have kind of cancelled out some of my losses with my new niche sites that are also making sales. Sure, it’s not Squidoo sales, but it is sales that I would not have had without knowing that the keywords worked on Squidoo.
New Squidoo Site Features – Bad or Good
By far the worst thing that Squidoo has done in the past few weeks is that black discovery bar at the bottom of the page. You can’t remove it either, which is the worst part for lensmasters. What Squidoo doesn’t know, and I tried to tell them, is that this little discovery bar looks like spam to Google raters.
You see, one of the things that Google raters look for when judging page quality is if the page content is blocked from view by ads. If so, that means that the page offers a poor user experience and is classified as lowest quality, or spam. Some Google raters view the pages on iPhones. You see even less of the Squidoo page on a mobile device than a computer.
So, if Google raters are getting Squidoo pages that are not showing any content, then they are getting flagged as spam. This is what happened to all the Demand Media properties a while back when they got hit by Google.
Hopefully Squidoo will remove the bar or workout some kind of backend deal with Google to prevent the site from getting flagged as spam.
That being said – I’m still making money from Squidoo so I’m not stopping with them. They are still a viable income option. And, I’m paying my tax bill next month with my Squidoo payout.