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FINALLY: Why Squidoo Tags Are Useless

Posted on Oct 12 2008

Finally! My post about Squidoo Tags is ready. There has been a LOT going on in my life since I wrote that last post, but bit by bit I’ve been chipping away at this beast.

So here goes 🙂

Why Squidoo Tags Are Useless

Things change. Goal posts move. And it is our job to keep up with the moves and revaluate what is working and what is not, what brings results and what does not, and what is worth our time and what is not.

Tags used to be marvellous traffic pullers. You could add a bunch of tags to our lenses and Google would discover your lens twice as fast. You could plug into an already ranked network of pages to push your lens into the Google Limelight.

Your lens would get some pagerank leaking over from the high ranking tags pages (high quality by association), and it was the quickest way to get other pages in the Squidoo eco-system to link to you.

In short, it was the lazy way to short term lens success! And there was nothing wrong with the lazy way. Squidoo built it in to the system, and it worked fantastically.

But now it doesn’t. Like I said. Goal posts move.

So, we need new ways to replace what tags previously did for us. Here is why tags are now useless.

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1. Google does not see tags pages anymore.

Squidoo had thousands upon thousands of tags pages ranked in Google. We created them, Google found them. The tags pages connected every single lens to every other lens on the site. Like a giant sitemap, but more specific. Your lens about ‘transformers talking action figures’ would be linked to my lens about the very same thing, just because we both tagged our lenses with the same thing. The entire site was connected. Google recognized this and we got a nice helping hand in the rankings.

But now, Squidoo blocks Google from seeing the tags pages.

Squidoo has added a line to it’s Robots.txt file telling Google not to look at any pages that begin with . Which of course, all tags pages do. So Google faithfully ignores all tags pages. Which means the links in the sidebar of your lens linking your lens to all the tags pages are ignored. Squidoo is effectively saying “Nothing to see here Google! Move along!”

You can see the robots.txt file by going to http://www.squidoo.com/robots.txt

***************

2. Squidoo tags WILL affect how your lens does in Squidoo search results.

You know that little search box in the sidebar of a lens? That’s the Squidoo Search box.

One reason you may think tags are still worth your time is because how you tag your lens will affect how well your lens ranks in Squidoo’s own Search Results.

I am convinced that the only people searching Squidoo using the Squidoo search box are lensmasters. Why? Because who would search Squidoo using it?! You search Google, or Yahoo, or wherever you came from to find Squidoo in the first place.

I honestly don’t think the casual surfer who arrives on a Squidoo lens who doesn’t find what they’re looking for will choose to search the rest of Squidoo instead of just hit ‘back’ from the lens and continue searching Google or Yahoo.

Squidoo HQ must have the stats for these ideas, and they make changes to Squidoo.com based on statistical evidence, so I may be wrong about this.

I really can’t see the casual surfer, who isn’t a lensmaster and who doesn’t participate in other content-publishing communities like HubPages or Gather, searching Squidoo just for the fun of it.

***************

3. Some people have claimed in the comments here that Google still indexes tags pages and that they’ve seen recently indexed tags pages.

Here is a google search results page for all Squidoo tags pages Google has indexed:

A total of 11.

And these are only still being shown because they have yet to drop from the index. It doesn’t give any weight to any tags pages. Squidoo’s Robots.txt ‘disallows’ google from counting them. So any others Google find and records don’t count for anything.

***************

4. The Discovery Tool

The tags you choose will determine which lenses show up in the Discovery tool on your lens. Likewise your tags will determine which lenses your lens will appear on.

The Discovery Tool is a noticeable blue box underneath your introduction containing links to 5 related lenses. You are allowed to choose up to 3 of those lenses.

Some people love the Discovery Tool, other people don’t. I don’t. So I disable it on all of my lenses.

Squidoo implemented the Discovery Tool because they value some lenses more than other lenses. This is right of them to do, of course, because a huge amount of lenses are rubbish. So Squidoo needs a way to get people from rubbish lenses to the good lenses.

But here’s the problem.

If someone arrives at one of my lenses I want them to keep reading. If they like the lens they will read. They will skip over the Discovery Tool and keep reading, they won’t bother with it.

If they land on one of Squidoo’s many rubbish lenses they aren’t likely to think ‘Hey. Let’s explore more rubbish pages like this’. They will just click BACK.

The Discovery Tool is great for linking all lenses together, but I will only start using it if it’s pushed into the sidebar instead of the most ridiculous place Squidoo HQ could find – directly under the introduction!

***************

I still add a good Primary Tag to my lenses and maybe about 5 other relevent tags in case things change in future, but long gone are the days of spending time to perform proper keyword research beyond what I do to make a lens to begin with.

As I said at the start of this post, there are things you can do to replace the effectiveness of the tags pages.

These include:

1. Start a group! Squidoo dissolved the usefulness of groups a while ago when they stopped featuring them in places (like your Lensmaster Profile), but Google still notices group pages and will give weight to lenses featured on your Group Homepage.

2. Bookmark your lenses on sites like digg.com and delicious.com. It’s easy and quick.

3. Build lenses that are related to each other. This gives you a much greater advantage than when compared with someone who builds just one lens on a particular topic. Joe does this brilliantly. Check out his lenses here.

4. Link your related lenses together. Use the Lensroll feature. Use the secret ‘Featured Lenses’ module. Use a Link Plexo module and embed it onto your lenses. Use text links throughout your text. Make a Recommended Resource module and link away!

5. Do more keyword research before you start building your lens. Choose what keywords and phrases you want to rank for, then go after them with relevent text and links and titles.

There are more. Always more. Let’s hear them in the comments.

Now share your thoughts!

Lewis 🙂

www.squidoocool.com

Lewis Smile

Lewis Smile is a Writer, Blogger, Web Geek, and very much a daydreamer. He helps people for a living, and works online. See the Contact Info page to say hi. Find out more about him here.

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39 Comments

  1. charlino says:

    Thank you for posting your insight on this topic. It certainly explains a few things.

  2. Veronica says:

    Why on earth would Squidoo NOT want google to find the lenses?

  3. Tiffany Dow says:

    Whew! Glad someone was able to explain it better than I was. You’re so good at detailing it for us non tech savvy people, Lewis. Thanks! I’m very disappointed in Squidoo for nixing tag pages. Their reasoning wasn’t good enough for me. I put a LOT of work into populating those 40 spaces and it was now time wasted. Grrrr.
    Tiff 😉

  4. Greg says:

    Very informative post and answers my questions about whether or not real people actually use the tag pages.

    I’ll continue to use them, but thanks to your article I won’t put a whole lot of effort into researching tags.

    Thanks for your efforts.

  5. Definitely thanks for the wake-up call. I’ve been wondering why all that tagging I was being so religious about wasn’t making a bit of difference. Taking steps based on your recommendations, and as always, appreciate your ear to the ground.

  6. CCGAL says:

    I am confused about the part where you said Google only had 11 matches for tags – when I clicked on the link you provided, I found 232,000 squidoo tags in Google, and some were only 19 hrs old. I followed some of the tag links and found lenses. So I’m totally not understanding your point that tags are useless. (They may be, but I don’t get it based on what you’ve just told me.)

    Also, #3 on the list of things to do is missing the link to go see what Joe does brilliantly.

  7. Tonya says:

    Hi Lewis,

    I looked over the robots.txt file for Hub Pages, and it seems that they are not blocking out their tag pages – fyi.

    Just as an interesting note, my lenses have been doing much better in the rankings in the last few months that they had been previously. They’re hanging out stably in the google listings and not dropping out, coming back, dropping out, etc.

    I wonder if the removal of the tags had something to do with that? Hmmmm. No idea, but if you have one I’d love to hear it.

  8. jeffryv says:

    Squidoo Search Box is on lenses

  9. Great information! Thanks for detailing it out so clearly. That explains why the tag strategy I learned in an e-book I purchased recently didn’t seem to have any effect! Thankfully it was only $7.00 and a bit of time wasted.

  10. Paul Barton says:

    Hi Lewis – great insight – thank you. The linking of lenses into families works our lenses on Trehalose illustrate the point perfectly. I’d not made the link to groups though and will work on those. What else do you do? We are thinking of moving to the Cardiff-Bristol area for family reason – would be good to see what each other does.
    Paul

  11. While the tag pages themselves are no longer indexed, tags can be useful. For new lenses, the Discovery Tool is a valuable source of internal links from related lenses. Not everyone likes it, but it does help with SEO.

  12. Roo says:

    Very Interesting observations! I do like the idea of moving the ‘discovery tool’ to the sidebar too, otherwise it looks like you are fuly endorsing the first 3 links shown, and have no option to remove them apart from disabling the discovery tool. A place in the sidebar would be great as there is often a lot of wasted space here.

    You mention Joe creates associated lenses and seem to have the link out to the examples.

  13. BigJim says:

    Thanks for this post, Lewis. I have always made lenses for everyone else, not just Squidoo lensmasters. (Of course fellow lensmasters can give you some initial traffic and real good advice.) I’ll look forward to your future thoughts on this subject. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to still do keyword research and integrate them into the text of a lens?

  14. Poddys says:

    Makes a lot of sense, thanks for explaining that.

  15. JaguarJulie says:

    Lewis, surely selecting the appropriate tags for a lens page can’t be for not. I’m going to be the optimist here and go for Google ‘rediscovering’ Squidoo lens pages with the appropriate tags. I’ve had the feeling that Google likes the lenses with relevant tags; tags that are terribly repetitious. And, I’ll agree with you about the discovery module — move that dang thing over to the right NOT as part of the upper part of a lens right smack dab under the intro. To the untrained eye, it can be confusing. Especially, when it’s not showing a ‘related’ lens — but something totally unrelated.

  16. john metso says:

    I will continue to use them,but thinks to your article i wont put a whole lot of effort into researching tags.all of my lens can to see google.

    Thanks for your efforts.

  17. john metso says:

    yes i think lantor(l!a!n!t!o!r)word is better in i.
    thanks

  18. Violeta says:

    Very helpful information! Could you please add the link for the following sentences: “Joe does this brilliantly. Check out his lenses here.”?

  19. This post would be just a tad bit better if it gave credit to the lensmasters who wrote about this before. First of all TheFluffanutta reported this on his blog at least a month ago. I wrote about it myself on my SEO for squidoo lens as well.

    The reason why squidoo doesn’t want tag pages indexed is clear: google made it clear that they don’t want search results indexed. And squidoo wisely decided to obey googles instructions (because not obeying can lead to penalties and we all want to be found in google)

  20. aj2008 says:

    Oh great! And to think I was feeling I was getting to grips with “tagging”. So how does Google find us then? Is it when we post the URL to Google, Yahoo etc? I have at least one lens that gets more Google traffic than Squidoo traffic.

    So what were Squidoo’s reasons for “nixing” tags?

    I am confused – deep sigh!

  21. Thanks ,
    I posted a link to your post on Twitter, for my Squidoo Networking Women Group followers , 40 tags – what a waste of time it was…

    Thanks a lot,

  22. Mike says:

    Thanks for the informative post.

    What reason would squidoo have for doing this? Doesn’t make sense to me???

    Also wondering about how squidoo is set to use nofollow and dofollow. Is it true that they switched several times now, and currently dofollow links on your lenses?

    I believe with hubpages, you earn dofollow by having a certain number of hubs with a certain threshold score on those. Does squidoo do something similar?

    Again, thanks for the tip here!
    Mike

  23. Adrian Lee says:

    Wow! Like Veronica said, Why on earth would Squidoo not want Google to find the lens?
    Just when Squidoo started making sense to me, something else turns up.

    Good post! Thanks.

  24. cchiovitti says:

    It seems like many of my lenses are actually getting quite a bit of traffic via the discovery tool, so I still think about how I can get the most bang for my buck from tags, but for search engines, I just try and keep important keywords at the forefront of my module titles, subtitles, and text (without overdoing it of course).

  25. […] off quite a debate about how Google does not recognise tags on Squidoo anymore on his blog at: SquidooCool. I don’t begin to understand the whys and wherefores about this….deep sigh! But as far […]

  26. bbug says:

    Food for thought, thanks for the information.

  27. daria369 says:

    I’m really glad I read that – thank you so much for explaining it all!

  28. allan says:

    I’ve read reports that used no-follow links with a long nonsense word to a page without the word. The target page did eventually show on search results for that word. Google writes their own rules (and changes them) for how their robots will act; at least at the time of the reports they seemed to follow, but did not weigh.

  29. We all stopped using meta tags at least a year ago (although I still faithfully write them into my HTML pages) but it all seems just a waste of time to add them into Squidoo. As for building lenses that are related to each other, I assumed everyone would do that?

  30. Alethea Spain says:

    Call me old fashioned but the concept of “classified” avertising ie search criteria is that you can find what you want, easily quickly and use it time and time again because it’s trusted ie; quality – why not put specific related tags in,? am I missing something here?

  31. Alethea Spain says:

    and also, maybe the reason Squidoo are doing in this is because they have capitalised on the many people who want to make money from home, online and are planning to take Google on in the future?

  32. jooloo says:

    Oh my, more problems. I just start to get the hang of things and Google or Squidoo changes them. Keeps everyone on their toes.

  33. WApinoy says:

    I have research enough for the keywords I used in my lens about Wealthy Affiliate. I had tweak them several times and even added some more tags. But still, my traffic is still close to zero. And maybe this is the reason why I am still getting a very small traffic to my lens. I am asking the same question on why would Squidoo not want Google to find us? And you are right about the Squidoo Search bar. Viewers would prefer clicking back to Google or Yahoo Search bar instead of using Squidoo’s. What’s in for us now?

  34. Roo says:

    WApinoy, I think the thing that you are up against here is the sheer number of people promoting WA, if you just search squidoo you will find hundreds of (not very good) lenses on the subject. Also, if you don;t have any backlinks you’re not going to get any traffic for this subject, no matter what Tags or Keywords you use.

  35. Bill says:

    If Hubpages is allowing its tags to be crawled while Squidoo isn’t, that totally explains why my Hubpages rank high in Google so quickly (and stay there) while my lenses languish. I have had no success with lenses so far getting ranked!

    • MrLewisSmile says:

      I will update this post to say… Squidoo has changed their policy on this in some ways!

      There is a later post on this. I’ll link them together.

  36. Alex Zorach says:

    This article is dated; Squidoo’s robots.txt page has changed back, and now allows indexing of tag pages. And I did a quick search and found what looks like about 2 million search results on squidoo’s sites, of tag pages. (There aren’t anywhere near that many tags, but keep in mind, there are many pages for a given tag, and there may be other ways duplicate results are showing up).

    I’ve personally found that tagging influences a page’s visibility in google. In general, I’ve found that without good tagging, squidoo lenses rarely rank well in google at all. Good tagging doesn’t guarantee it but it opens up the door to it.

    Also, don’t downplay the benefit of having other lensmasters discover your lenses…this can help you get squidlikes, and links to your lenses. Often, when building a lens, I like to see what’s out there. In fact, I think, per-view, views from other lensmasters are more important than views from internet users at large. Keep in mind that many lensmasters are also bloggers or webmasters, so reaching this audience can be a key part of networking if you want to connect with others who are in a position to share your own works!

  37. Thanks so much. Wow, are you a great resource.

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