The Final Blog Post

Well, here we are. The time has come. This is the end of the line.

Today’s the day when lenses start being transferred over to, leaving behind an empty shell that will only serve to redirect visitors to new URLs. Some Lensmasters may have opted to take their content elsewhere, while some will have abandoned their lenses long ago.

The end of Squidoo also means the end of SquidUtils, which has served Lensmasters since 2007. As all things Squidoo gradually winds down and servers get put out to pasture, here’s a quick overview of what’s going to happen here:

Lens Dashboard – your list of lenses is frozen as of September 1st, and will remain archived for a while even after Squidooo disappears for good. You can also get a list in RSS, text or HTML format on the Export page.

Bonus – SquidUtils will continue monitoring your old lenses, and detect when they get redirected. The exported lists above will then point directly to the new hubs, especially useful if you happened to submit your RSS feed to other websites.

Amazon – Unfortunately, HubPages won’t allowed the HTML code that SquidUtils provided for lenses, so those are probably going to disappear during the transfer. The Amazon capsule is the recommended way to add products to a hub, and the HubPages Amazon Program will give the highest rate of commission for most users.

SquidUtils will continue serving the images and the links for as long as they are needed, but it won’t be possible to create new ones. Amazon RSS feeds will also continue to be served, if HubPages includes them in the transfer.

eBay Feeds – if any feeds make it to HubPages then they will continue to be served, but it’s recommend that these are replaced with official  eBay capsules as soon as possible.

Other Lens Optimisation and Workshop tools will also be deprecated, as they no longer serve purpose. HubPages has some very tools built in to their site, for example the Table capsule is excellent. This means the end of the Toolbar or Workshop Addon too.

And that is pretty much, as they say, “it”. I’d like to say a big Thank You to everyone who has supported the site over the years, and I wish you all success wherever the future takes you.

“May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face”



Google Analytics comes to Squidoo!

Here is some news that is sure to delight all you stats junkies: Squidoo integrates Google Analytics for Lensmasters. By this I mean properly integrated, with all that yummy Javascript goodness that we haven’t had until now. Why is this so exciting? Well, for two main reasons:

  1. There’s a single place on set it up, and it automatically appears on all lenses (as well as your profile, trophies and other pages).
  2. You get the full set of available statistics, much more than with the old image based trackers, including: search engines, keywords, referrers, bounce rates, length of visit, click events and much much more.

For more information about this, read How to Track Lenses with Google Analytics. There is also some additional tips on how to get the most out of GA, and how to interpret the results.

Now for some specific advice for Lensmasters looking to transition their stats:

Continue reading “Google Analytics comes to Squidoo!”


New Lens Workshop and New Addon

This week Squidoo have updated the lens workshop. You probably won’t notice it looking any different, but it is now much quicker when editing and publishing lenses.

This means that the Workshop Addon for Firefox and Chrome has also been updated to keep up with the changes. This is also an opportunity to include some new features, such as filtering the points to see just sales or blessings.
If you are an existing user, you will need to update to the latest version.

Also this week, Squidoo HQ have unveiled their new official news portal. This will become the central place to get the latest official news and announcements, include Status Updates, Lens of the Day and Morning coffee. They have also opened up the commenting on the site, so that you can join in the conversation.

Be sure to follow @Squidoo on twitter, SquidooHQ on Facebook
or subscribe to the RSS feeds or sign up for email updates.

Here’s a quick round up of some other, older news:

  • Squidom lens directory is now run by SquidUtils. All Lensmasters are invited to create accounts and submit their best lenses. Don’t forget to visit other peoples lenses and vote for the good ones.
  • Another good lens directory to join is LensLike, run by DeeGator.
  • Amazon Poster Ads are proving very popular amongst many Lensmasters, and are working really well for them. If you’re an Amazon Associate and have tried them yet, read this post.
  • The Squidoo Toolbar has been updated, and should now work on Firefox 4 and Google Chrome.

That is all for now. Happy Squidding!



Saying Goodbye to ClearSpring Widgets

To those Lensmasters who were around last year, you may remember a platform called “ClearSpring”, which allowed Lensmasters to add their own funky widgets to their Squidoo lenses. Popular examples include Amazon widgets, opt in forms and music players.

Sadly, in December last year, Clearspring announced that they were discontinuing the platform after acquiring AddThis. A little while later, Squidoo also announced that they were phasing out Clearspring modules. Squidoo are unlikely to support the new AddThis platform instead due to security concerns.

Since then, we have not been able to add new widgets, but any existing ones have continued to work: “existing widget installations will continue to be served through January 1st, 2011 with their last known configurations.”

However, there are some alternatives for some specific types of widgets:

- for Lensmasters: Love This Lens (now an official module)
- for Bookmarking: AddThis Bookmark Widget (now an official module)
- for Amazon Associates: Product Links and Ads (including a Carousel-like widget)
- for ClickBank Affiliates: HopAds via RSS
- for Music Publishers: Yahoo! Media Player
- for Google Analytics: Track your lenses
- for Lensmasters: FanClub Counter
- for Twitter: ReTweet Button

If you have a particular widget you wish to keep using, let me know and I’ll see if there’s another way to do it.


SquidUtils Directory – Showcasing YOUR Lenses

Featuring lenses from SquidooNestled at the back of is a lens directory, which features lenses in a hierarchy of categories and tags. What makes this directory different from others is that is grows automatically, including new lenses that it finds. Today it has a little over 23,000 lenses.

How does it work? Well, the key is in the Primary Tag. Whenever SquidUtils finds a group of lenses in the same category and with the same primary tag, it creates a page in the directory. For example, Harry Potter in Books.

A lot of lenses (over 90%) are not featured, often because they use the lens title as their primary tag but no other lenses do. Get your lenses featured by either picking a primary tag that is already featured, or by picking a new unique tag and adding it to 3 or more of your lenses.

To help you figure out the best primary tag to use, the Advanced Dashboard has a new feature – login and look up in the top right corner, and you’ll see a link that lets you sort by Primary Tag. You’ll be able to quickly see which lenses use the same tag, and which of those tags are featured in the directory.

Continue reading “SquidUtils Directory – Showcasing YOUR Lenses”


New Tools for Amazon Associates

I’ve writen about the advantages of being an Amazon Associate on Squidoo before, and it is still my favourite affiliate program for making money from lenses. If you’ve not seen the tools I’ve created for Amazon, then check out that post to catch up.

For Lensmasters that do already put affiliate links on their lens, here are two new tools to help improve click-through rates and sales. First up, is the large “poster style” banner ad for any product you want to promote, with a bold call-to-action:

Meatball Sundae: Is Your Marketing out of Sync?

- Automatically generated from Amazon ASIN codes
- Automatically updated daily (to comply with Amazon’s rules)
- Display’s product image, rating, price, % savings, and free shipping *
- Ready-to-Copy HTML and free hosting of images
- Track all your impressions and clicks (optional)

Continue reading “New Tools for Amazon Associates”


Updated Lens Workshop Addon

Many of you are familiar with the Squidoo Lens Workshop Addon for Firefox and Chrome – if not, click the link for more information. Anyway, today I have released a new version: v1.4. This is mainly to provide increased support for Google Chrome, but it has also been slightly improved for Firefox users too. I’ve fixed the mess with the dashboard banner (sorry), and removed the now defunct support for Groups.

Firefox Users: If you already have Greasemonkey installed, then all you need to do is install the script again (step 2).

Google Chrome Users: The latest version of Chrome (4.0) has built-in support for Extensions, so all you need to do is install it.

Don’t forget, the Cleaner SquidU script still works on Firefox and Chrome.

If you have any questions, problems or ideas for new features, please let me know.


Disclaimer: this is a 3rd-party addon for Lensmasters, and is not supported by Squidoo.


Adding “ReTweet” Buttons To Your Lens

The TweetMeme retweet button is for website and blog publishers who want to encourage their audience to tweet their content on Twitter. The button shows a live count of the number of times your webpage or blog post has been tweeted. You may have already seen buttons like this one appearing on this and other blogs all over the ‘net:

retweet « Here’s a working example. Give it a try…

Now, you can have it on your Squidoo lens too. Best of all, you don’t even need an account on Twitter, but you can help your visitors spread the word about your lens for you. This looks great in either the Guestbook module, or the Lens Love widget, or anywhere else you like.

And here’s the code you need (edit as required):

<a href=" of lens&source=username" target="_blank" title="retweet"><img src=" of lens" alt="retweet" width="51" height="61" align="left" /></a>


  • You must put in complete URL of your lens, for example: Don’t forget to put in both places, once for the link and again for the image.
  • If you have a twitter account, then put your username after &source=, so that you get credit when others do a retweet. Otherwise, leave it blank.
  • The code above will display the button on the left, with any following content wrapping around it. You can change it to be align=”right” if you prefer, or remove the alignment altogether.
  • If you get a big question mark after adding it to your lens, you should double-check your code. Make sure there aren’t any spaces or blank lines were there shouldn’t be.
  • Login to with your Twitter account, and see stats for all of your the lenses that have been tweeted.
  • Don’t feel you have to add this to every single lens you own – start with just the few that get decent traffic and a semi-technical audience.

Improved Tag Pages at Squidoo


Recently, Squidoo updated their tag pages to be more useful to visitors and search engines.

If you’re not familiar with tag pages, these are pages that list lenses that use a particular tag. Have a look at the Lensography tag page for an example. There are hundreds of thousands of tags on Squidoo, providing an additional method of navigating and linking between related lenses.

Here’s a summary of the main improvements:

  • 20 lenses are displayed (it used to be only 10), with snippets from the Introductions. This will make the tag pages a lot more ‘content rich’, which the search engines will appreciate. The title of the page is also improved.
  • Priority is given to the lenses that use the tag as their primary tag, so that those lenses will be listed first, followed by the other lenses that use that tag. This means it’s more important than ever to pick a good Primary Tag.
  • Tag pages link to other related tag pages, based on the lenses that use them. This provides the perfect system for navigating through the tags to find the right ones to add to your lens. But, remember: less is more when it comes to tags, so choose your tags wisely – limit yourself to just 10 – 15.
  • Finally, in stark contrast to my sensational post this time last year, tag pages are once again indexable by search engines. As a result, your lenses will get a share of the PageRank and search traffic that these pages get. With any luck, this will also boost the overall authority and traffic to Squidoo.

In other news: Continue reading “Improved Tag Pages at Squidoo”


How To Pick Your Primary Tags

Originally posted on SquidU Forum as The Importance of Primary Tags.
This post was published on April 21st, 2008 and updated on July 23rd, 2009.

The Primary Tag is the first tag you are asked to define when creating your new lens, and it is an often misunderstood and poorly utilised by many Lensmasters. Admittedly, it doesn’t seem do a whole lot, but there are some important points you should know.

Over half of the lenses on Squidoo have poorly chosen Primary Tags!

It is important for Lensmasters to choose good keywords for their Primary Tag, as it can have a significant effect on the ranking of the lens. Every appearance of the Primary Tag on your lens adds weight to that key phrase on your lens, as well as creating a relevant link from the tag page.

More importantly (and relatively recently), the tag page gives priority to lenses that use that tag as their Primary Tag, listing them before all of the other lenses. This means that for one well chosen tag, your lens will get the prime spot on the tag page.

There is also the lens directory here at SquidUtils, which automatically collates lenses by Primary Tag. Only those tags that have 3 or more good lenses under them will be featured, so there’s another reason to pick yours carefully.

Here are some tips to help you pick the right keywords:

Continue reading “How To Pick Your Primary Tags”