AJ, Bev, and I are currently updating Learn Squidoo: Step by Step, which is a free ebook on how to get the most out of your Squidoo membership. What prompted this current update was some confusion by readers on information in the book that had become outdated in the last 6 months to a year.
As everyone knows, technology is always improving, changing, and growing, and that causes a lot of change on the internet. Some of the change is caused by the new filters put into place by Google’s Search Engine team, in order to weed out spam, and duplicate plagiarized content. Unfortunately, there are always going to be people that want to earn a fast buck, and they are willing to step on other people’s hard word to do so.
With the new filters that Google has introduced in the last year or so, nicknamed Panda and Penguin, Google’s team of engineers is trying to reward high quality content, and downgrade or get rid of low quality content. However, Google’s definition of high quality content is probably quite different from your definition or mine. In Google’s mind, high quality content is what their users are looking for, not necessarily well written prose. In addition, we need to keep in mind that Google is a business, and they are driven by what their customers, advertisers, and stock owners want. Therefore, our job is to keep up with the changes as best we can, and use the information to promote our own work in the most effective manner.
As Bev, AJ, and I can all attest, Squidoo is still considered to be quality content by Google. This is always a struggle, to keep the best content on Squidoo at the forefront, and to battle to wipe out the spammers who try to fill Squidoo with poor content. At this time though, Squidoo still ranks quite well if you learn to use it properly.
One of the recent changes by Google has been to institute personalized search. That means that it is really no longer possible to see where you are in Google’s search because you will always get personalized results. This is true of your readers as well. You can still get a sense of your Google rankings in search by using tools like Market Samurai, but there are no more absolutes, because each reader gets different answers. This just means that you need to work hard to emphasize the keywords in your Squidoo lens that you want to be found for. You will know if it is working by checking your statistics on Squidoo for an individual lens, and seeing what keywords searchers type in to get to your lens.
The biggest question is what has happened to the value of backlinking. AJ, Bev, and I mostly agree on this topic, but not completely. What we agree on is that the days of massive backlinking of duplicated and spun articles to promote a site or page is over. Google has decimated the sites that promoted this by deindexing them. That means that they are invisible to Google search engine users. Since Google is the biggest search engine, that is a very big blow.
So, what do we do about backlinking going forward? It used to be very valuable to drop the link to your lens on as many sites as possible. Bookmarking sites, article sites, whether they had any relevance to your lens topic at all was encouraged. The more backlinks you had to a lens, the better. However, backlinking in massive quantities is no longer a good thing. Google is looking for artificial linking patterns. It is still okay to promote your own work a little bit. For each lens you write, it is okay to create 5 to 10 backlinks initially to get the word out more quickly, however, it is not okay to just spam every site you use with link after link to your lens. You need to pick and choose, and link more sparingly.
In my opinion, bookmarking, and writing short empty articles or blurbs in directories is much less valuable than in the past. I would not bother doing this in more than 5 places for each lens. While it won’t bring your lens down if you do this 5 times, it may not help it either. My belief is that you should interlink any blog posts, lenses, articles, or products (that you have created) together. Within Squidoo, you should add text links, and the discovery feature on your lens to push traffic to other lenses. Text links are seen by Google, and the discovery feature is seen by people. Both are beneficial to your lenses.
The next step, in my opinion, is to create related articles on blogs, as guest posts, or on other high quality content sites like Wizzley, Zujava, and Freelance Writer Network. The reason is that these sites control their content. It is no longer good enough to just write 200 words as a backlinking article. In my opinion, you should write the bare minimum of 300 words. I prefer to see articles of 400 to 500 words for each individual link. Articles can also be enhanced by adding pictures or videos to add value to your content. Over time, you will get natural backlinks as well. Natural backlinks are developed when readers like your content and send their friends or clients to your content via a link in their site or blog. You can add natural backlinks as well, when you write more content that is related to the first article. Over time your content forms a network of links that send both people and Google from article to article.
And although the internet is constantly changing, your older and more established articles will actually act as anchors to your newer ones, as you write more and more. There is no question that the Google algorithm pays attention to the authority of the author online, how much content you generate, and gives an experienced, known author more weight, then a new author. However, that does not mean that a new author cannot have success. They just won’t have older content to help drive their new content.
So, in summary, since the new Panda and Penguin filter have come out, backlinks do not have the weight that they did before. But that does not mean to erase them or neglect them. Backlinks still show that your article is liked, and should still be used. But now, empty backlinks are worth very little value. It is better to create content to backlink to your main article or site.