Hey travel brands, do you Squidoo? You should!

NB: This article is a viewpoint from Austin Gambino, of the Cruise Web team.

Sure you know Facebook. And its photo sharing acquisition Instagram, then of course there is popular platform of Twitter, but do you Squidoo?

Squidoo is a social media platform you may not have started using, or even heard of. It is a social network that was created in 2005 by a small team including marketing guru Seth Godin.

Squidoo works as a platform where users create a free account and build an array of pages (which are called ‘lenses’ on the site) about any topic in the world, as a showcase of that topic. These ‘lenses’ include text, pictures, polls and games as a way to engage users.

So, how can travel companies benefit from Squidoo?

Why Travel Companies Should Use It

Showcase your product. In an industry where many companies offer the same destinations, itineraries, or mode of transport, Squidoo gives users the opportunity to make it fun. Big pictures are a must. Exciting verbal duels, polls, and caption contests are suggested. We even created a Pandora feature in our Tahiti Cruise lens that allows users to play island music while browsing the page.

Interact with the consumer on a personal level. Instead of reaching out and barraging the consumer with e-mails, calls, and more, this social platform allows those truly interested in your lens to engage with your brand without even knowing they are interacting with a company.

You can disseminate information, ‘suggest’ certain products, and showcase a special, all without coming across like you are selling anything, and then when the moment is right, offer them your personal assistance or company support.

The Cruise Web’s Experience

We first approached Squidoo by creating “Why You Should Use a Travel Agent to Book Your Cruise” in late December.

Since then we’ve seen:

  • Since late December, this page has been visited 374 times, from sources all over the web, including Google, Facebook, and linkedin.com.
  • This lens has been ‘liked’ on Facebook 58 times, tweeted 3 times, ‘Squid-liked’ 116 times (in-site ‘liking’ mechanism).
  • Our poll received 47 responses, our duel module received 13 opinions, and our guestbook received 17 comments.

Then in February we decided to create our second lens called “Exotic Cruise Destinations: Tahiti.”

  • Since early February, this lens has had 173 visits again from diverse sources like Facebook, Google, Twitter, and mail sources.
  • This lens has been ‘liked’ on Facebook 15 times, tweeted 3 times, ‘Squid-liked’ 84 times, and shared via Google+ 3 times.
  • Our duel module received 11 opinions, and our guestbook received 19 comments.

Best Practices for Success

In December, when our marketing team first discovered this social platform, we were still learning the platform and getting used to all the “modules” and applications to add to that page. That’s why we haven’t seen a significant amount of direct traffic to our website from the two Squidoo lenses we created (although our on-site interaction has been superb).

We have had only 12 direct visits (usually around the time of our lens updates) since our first lens was created in late December. That being said, we have been in contact with the extremely responsive and helpful Squidoo officials, and are learning the Squidoo’s and don’ts as we go.

Here are a few key takeaways we have learned over time.

Creation

A mistake we’ve made early on was creating an entire lens, posting it, and then struggling to update smaller things to maintain fresh content and pictures.

  • Do start off with a few modules (intro, pictures, poll, guestbook, etc.), and update with chunks of information to stay extra relevant.
  • Do place your links high on the page, suggested by the Squidoo official we’ve been in contact with.
  • Do use lots of crisp and clear pictures.
  • Do tell the reader what to do—‘in the next section, take our poll about…’—to increase engagement.

And one of the most important tips, one that is hashed and re-hashed over and over in the Squidoo community:

  • Don’t cover a large or general topic. Focus your lens to a specific point, destination, or service, and showcase it as thoroughly as possible.

Maintenance

  • Do let the consumer come to you for more information—don’t post a bunch of prices and specials, let them ask you for more information, so your page is comfortable and non-salesy. Don’t force your product or service on them, create an interesting enough lens that they will come to you.
  • Don’t weigh down the lens with content—include pictures, polls, caption contests and such to break up the content.
  • Do ask for help, use the forum, and reach out to officials—most people on this platform are responsive and very helpful.

Measuring success

This section can be interpreted differently by each company, depending on the industry, product/service, or demographic. Success for some may be gaining a link on a prominent domain authority. Going forward, we’d like to see double the direct visits in the next two months, maintained on-site interaction, and hopefully some conversion.

For Squidoo beginners, we suggest tracking the comments you receive, social sharing, lens visits, and lens interaction using the Squidoo statistics center (which is available for each lens you create). Squidoo shows you visits by day/month (graph), lens traffic (stats and graph), traffic sources (pie graph, statistics), and clickouts. On your end, check your analytics to make sure the link has been recognized as a follow link, and track how many visits you receive from Squidoo.

If you’d like to see what a lens looks, check out our lens regarding Tahiti cruises.

Do you think this is a marketing tactic your company could use? Tell us what you think in the comments below!

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Nick Vivion

About the Writer :: Nick Vivion

Nick helps brands blog better at Ghost Works, a boutique blog management service. Nick was previously the Director of Content for tnooz, where he oversaw the editorial and commercial content as well as producing/hosting tnoozLIVE.

 

Comments

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  1. Mark Hodson

    @Matthew Barker and @Brandon Dennis are correct. Squidoo has almost no value (these days). I built a Squidoo page back in 2009 and it generated a grand total of 3 visits to my site in the 12 months before I took it down.

    Squidoo was widely reported to have been hammered by Google’s Panda update, and last week it announced it will add “nofollow” tags to all outbound links, http://hq.squidoo.com/squid-news/changing-link-status-on-squidoo/, presumably in an attempt to get back in Google’s good books. So even if you believe that the links had a SEO value, they certainly don’t now.

    Will adding “nofollow” tags to outbound links restore Google’s faith in Squidoo. I would say that’s unlikely, given the vast amounts of low-quality content on the site. Attempts by other sites hit by Panda to restore their credibility have – as far as I’m aware – not been successful. Look at Suite 101, for example.

    Squidoo is probably dead in the water, I’m afraid. You’re much better off building quality content on your own domain.

     
    • Austin G

      Mark,

      It was very upsetting to see that article regarding the nofollow links being put into effect. That being said, I would like to point out that while you may not have had a worthwhile experience, in our first few months we have had 15 visits from Squidoo (5 times the visits in 1/4 of the time). There are tactics that need to be used to drive traffic from a lens to your website.

      In addition, our company’s use was not primarily based on using Squidoo to climb the search ranks. Our focus was reaching a different community in an engaging fashion and driving traffic to our website. As you can see in the article above, we have had many visits to our page (whether they be from Google, social media, or internal sources) and these are the people we are attempting to drive to our website.

      That being said, the nofollow attribute will call for a re-assessment of time-benefit based on how many visits we receive in the upcoming months.

      Austin

       
  2. Matthew Barker

    This is generally quite bad advice. Squidoo as an inbound/SEO marketing tool has been pretty much nixed, not least by Squidoo themselves who took deliberate steps post-Panda to change the way their platform is used. For a start you can forget about re-purposing content for Squidoo pages or vice-versa: http://www.squidoo.com/originalitypact

    If you’re going to invest in content as part of an inbound marketing strategy it’s usually best to put it on your own domain, or at least a publisher that is well aligned to your niche, rather than farming it out to article directories, even fancy-looking ones like Squidoo.

    IMO, as far as content farms go Squidoo is pretty good and probably still serves a legit purpose for individual self-publishers, niche affiliate marketers and the like, but for serious travel brands? As Anil says, we’ve moved on since 2008.

     
    • David Urmann

      Probably to Facebook since its so much more effective 🙂 I think this is a legitimate strategy as part of a much broader SEO campaign.

       
  3. Anil Varghese

    Reminded me of the good ol’ days of 2008-10, when article marketing sites were the rage. And, then Google waved their magic wand and made them all history. Squidoo had it’s share of limelight, but doesn’t seem to have that influence today.

     
  4. Brandon Dennis

    Great article, thanks for sharing! I have a bit of experience with Squidoo. I started using it back in 2010 when I worked for a gaming company that published games to Facebook. I wrote guides to our games and published them to Squidoo.

    Squidoo is a much less effective marketing tool today, thanks to Google Panda. Google discovered that websites like HubPages, Ezine Articles and yes, Squidoo, were ranking very well for a range of diverse topics thanks to the domain authority of their websites.

    It went like this: Google saw that thousands of people were linking to content on Squidoo, and so they gave Squidoo a high page rank and high domain authority, allowing them to rank highly for many different subjects. But these backlinks were coming from Squidoo authors trying to promote their own content, not from readers who found the content useful. Thus, Google was starting to get flooded with ‘SEO Bait’ published to sites like Squidoo with the sole purpose of ranking well as a means to direct authors to their ‘money site’. It was also used as a way for authors who did not know how to make websites to write content quickly, ranking it high fast, and then get residual income from every article by turning on adwords for their articles. These kinds of authors made more money the more articles they wrote, so they wrote poor quality articles properly SEOd as fast as they could.

    Thus, Google made an update to their algorithm specifically designed to target websites like these, and de-ranked them. Now, websites that rely on user generated content like Squidoo and Mahalo do not rank well on Google. It is still possible to find them ranking for a few (usually obscure) keywords, but this is rare.

    So Nick, to answer your question, brands should publish content to their own websites or blog, and market those. Squidoo is only useful if it has its own community of repeat visitors that consume content on Squidoo. If that is the case (and Austin may know better than me, since I haven’t visited Squidoo in a while) then Squidoo may be a great opportunity for referral traffic. But it is not a good tool for search engine traffic.

     
    • Austin G

      Brandon,

      Thanks for your insight! It seems like you have used Squidoo for a bit longer than we have. Do you have any sources to verify your stance on the de-ranking of websites that link from Squidoo?

       
      • Brandon Dennis

        Oh no! You misunderstand, I’m not saying that websites who use Squidoo to post articles will be de-ranked. I’m just saying that the article on Squidoo itself will no longer rank very well. It won’t hurt your website in anyway, it just won;t gain much organic search traffic.

         
        • Austin G

          Brandon,

          Ah, I see. Yes, much harder to rank your squidoo pages on the search engines in today’s SEO world.

           
  5. Nick Vivion

    Nick Vivion

    Definitely a valid point. Here’s how I see it:

    1) There’s an in-built network of users that you can tap into on Squidoo that may be unfamiliar with your product or expertise.

    2) It’s not always easy for some to create a blog on a dedicated URL – this is easy to start doing immediately.

    3) Squidoo itself has value as fas as search engine authority, and can offer some solid backlinking to your primary domain.

    4) Participation in a 3rd-party community may be seen as lending more legitimacy to the authority/topic than something off a branded URL.

    Also, there’s the possibility to re-purpose content as well, so you could use the base (obviously without copy/paste) for both sites.

    What do you think about this, Austin?

     
  6. Martino @ The Travel Magazine

    Not at all familiar with Squidoo, but just had a quick look and am wondering: would it not make more sense to use a blog/CMS on a custom domain and create content/value/SEO for your own domain instead of writing for Squidoo? Sorry for the naive question, but what am I missing here?

     
    • Austin G

      Martino,

      Thanks for the comment/question. We actually have had our own blog for a number of years, and are always looking for new and innovative platforms to engage on. In addition, Squidoo already has a built-in audience and support system which facilitates engagement. As you can see from the article, we are still learning as well. This is something that you can add your hopefully already diverse portfolio of social media and engagement mediums.
      Hopefully this answers your question.

       
      • Nick Vivion

        Nick Vivion

        Austin, do you re-purpose any of the content in the Squidoo lenses onto your own branded blog?

         
        • Austin G

          Also a good question. So far, not really, but our blog has been in existence since around 2009 whereas Squidoo has been in our repertoire for about 6 months. As we continue to expand our portfolio of lenses, we will most likely be able to use some of that content in our blog.

          That being said, original content is king in today’s content-driven world of SEO. Writing original content about different topics on each form of social media/blog helps to diversify your audience, keep them interested, and hopefully increase engagement.

           
 
 

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