SquidUtils Directory – Showcasing YOUR Lenses

Featuring lenses from SquidooNestled at the back of SquidUtils.com 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.

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SquidUtils: The Story So far

Once upon a time, probably during April of 2007, I started making a few tools for Squidoo Lensmasters. I don’t know the exact date, but I figure that “2 years ago” is close enough.

The very first tool was the Lensmaster RSS Feed. I remember requesting this on the forum, but a month later I had given up waiting and built my own solution instead. Shortly afterwards, I shared this with other Lensmasters so that they too could get a feed of all their lenses – perfect for syndicating on a blog or directory.

Since then, the RSS Feed has been improved and made more widely available, and is now served directly from Squidoo HQ. Find out how you can make use of yours by reading How to Use Your Lensmaster Feed.

That was just the beginning…

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New Tools for Squidoo Lensmasters

If you don’t already know, the prime purpose of SquidUtils is to provide tools and utilities for Lensmasters. You can get a summary of what’s on offer here by reading the post Welcome to SquidUtils, and then come back here to catch up with what’s new.

In recent weeks, I have been building some new tools, and they range from the useful, through kinda nifty, to simply awesome. It wasn’t until today I realised how many I had ‘sitting on the shelf’, so I thought I should get them out for Lensmasters to try.

Health-Check: This was mentioned at the end of my previous post, where I talked about large percentage of lenses that were not optimised for their keywords. The Lens Health-Check Tool will automatically assess your lens, and give advice on where you could improve it. It is still technically in Beta, and there is some functionality yet to be programmed into to it, but I wanted people to be able to benefit from it.

Amazon RSS Feeds: This is actually an old tool, which is was a little tricky to use unless you’re already an expert with Amazon’s affiliate program. It basically allows you to dynamically embed Amazon products directly into your lens, selected by Category, Listmania or ASIN. Finding the ‘browse node’ ids for a particular category was never easy, but the Amazon Feed Generator now has an integral node browser, that lets you drill down to the one you need.

But that’s not all of them – there’s more…
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4 Out Of 5 Lenses Have Poor Health!

I have analysed almost 70 thousand lenses at Squidoo by 2,250 Lensmasters, and I’ve identified a number of issues that common to a staggering 80% of these lenses. Some of these issues are preventing the lenses from ranking well in the Search Engines, and many Lensmasters have posted to the forums complaining about a lack of traffic.

Here is an overview of the issues I have found, and how Lensmasters can fix them.

Issues with 80% of Squidoo Lenses

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