Is Squidoo Still a Valuable Marketing Tool? I Think So.

Laptop with Squidoo on Screen
Squidoo was a really great tool for bringing in traffic not so long ago, until Google started penalizing anything that came from the site, due to so many spammers taking advantage of it, but it’s been a while, so I’ve decided to take another look at it.

It looks like Squidoo has taken the steps necessary to get rid of most of the people spamming their system and have made their content much more relevant. This, it seems has gotten rid of the penalties that they have incurred before. An example would be a search for “Michelangelo’s David.” A Squidoo page, or “Lens” as they call it, about the famous statue ranks on the first page of MSN, Yahoo, and Google. There’s a reason for this though. That page actually contains a lot of good information that can be very helpful to anybody interested in that particular topic.

After doing some research into many of the top “Lenses” on Squidoo, I’ve gathered some of the things that you should think about if you want to create a lens that will rank well. Here are some ideas for stories:

– Funny Stuff
– Tutorials / Lessons (ex. how to make fairy wings, parrot taming, make money by …, basic HTML for noobs, etc.)
– Ideas (holiday themes, different types of cakes, 20 best alcoholic drinks for Christmas)
– Informational (Japanese tattoos, bird rescue, Multiple Sclerosis, the 80’s)
– Reviews (ex. tech, software, toys, services)
– “Top 10” Style Lists (ex. top animated movies of 2007, 12 Christmas ideas, top 10 toys for kids)

Now, after you’ve decided on a topic for your “lens,” you need to think about everything that you can put on there to make people want to rate it, comment, email it, etc. There should be a wide variety of information available and here are some ideas that you can think about when creating content for your “lenses.”

YouTube Videos
Photographs
Books
Online Tools
News
History
Music
Poems
Criticisms

Keep in mind that this can be a very time consuming process, but can also provide some good links in to your site. You’ll probably want to try not to look like a spammer and refrain from coming across too “salesy” for the most part, but maybe after the lens has ranked well, you can go back and sneak in a few relevant links to your site here and there. Hey, you deserve something for the time spent on creating all of that good content, right?

Google Video Sitemap Introduced

If you own your own site, you’ve likely had the great fortune of keeping a sitemap.xml up to date. Well, now you have the great fortune of keeping a video sitemap up-to-date. Sorry for the sarcasm, it’s just been a tedious process for me in the past, especially when I come from an SEO agency in which I had to manage more than 70 clients at a time.

A video sitemap is actually a great idea.

Hopefully, most likely actually, all of the other search engines out there will follow suit and will begin to adopt this new feature. We’ll all still have to submit our videos to sites like YouTube, but now we can really get some visibility for the stuff the search engines can’t usually find.

Learn more about creating a video sitemap from Google’s Webmaster Central Blog.

Google Maps Gets Even Better

Google has been making so many great updates to their services, it’s hard to keep up, but of course, they’ve done it again. The service of interest this time is Google Maps.

Google has now added some new functionality to their already awesome app, Google Maps. If you do a search, you may find the results showing Google Book search results, photos from Panaramio (if they have been geo-tagged), and even videos from YouTube. I’ve also noticed photos being pulled from credit.net which is owned by InfoUSA, so if you don’t already have a listing with InfoUSA, which you should, I definitely recommend you do that right away.

If you want an example of the photos from Panoramio, go to Google and make sure you are zoomed way out so that they don’t make the results localized. Then do a search for “Irelands biggest waterfall”. I pulled in a result for Irelands biggest waterfall.

Photo Results in Google Maps

If you want to see how they are using video, do a search for “sky diving in Greensboro”. If you watch this video, you also get an awesome bonus song that is sure to put you in a happy mood.

YouTube videos in Google Maps

On a post on the Google Lat Long Blog, they mentioned that you can find book results by searching for “Christmas books in Jerusalem”.

Book Results in Google Maps

As you can see, the photo results and video results need a little work, but it is brand new, so you can expect Google to fiddle around a bit before they get it to a more usable state. With options like saving your own maps with custom locations, sending maps to your phone, the ability to change the marker of your business to the exact location, “Street View”, traffic info, and now these new abilities, I just can’t imagine how much more Google will pack into this great service in the future.

Google Adding New Feature to Adwords

Google Adwords PlusBox
When you are searching the natural listings in Google, have you ever noticed a PlusBox under the listing? These are normally used for either a Google Map or a YouTube video.

It’s a pretty cool function actually.

Google has decided to include this feature in their Adwords system. If you choose to have this PlusBox show with your ads, you can choose to show your geographical information, which includes a map, address, driving instructions, and phone number. You aren’t charged anything extra either.

If you are using local business ads already, this feature is already enabled. This is a great idea, except for one thing. The only way to get the PlusBox to show up is if you have the top listing. So, if you are in a very competitive industry, good luck. Looks like Google has created another way to try to get people to spend more money. The feature is being added as we speak so expect to see it in your account soon.

Google Making Street View Anonymous

In an attempt to protect the privacy of those who have been captured on Google Street View doing something embarrassing, Google has announced that they will be blurring out all faces in the service, along with license plate numbers. This will start when the Street View service launches in Europe and they have stated that they are thinking about doing the same with the U.S. version.

Google Street View Gif

That will take the fun out of sites like Street View Hotties. I guess I can make that kind of comment until I’m caught doing something embarrassing. What am I saying? I don’t do anything that could get me in trouble. Heh.