SEO review – weight loss lens pulled apart

AJ2008 made this lens in a self professed SEO experiment, and from my later conversation with her (through twitter and e-mail) she asked such good questions that I just had to ask her if I could do this review of her lens about weight loss. She graciously said yes (though I’m sure she’s wondering what the heck my sharp pen is going to come up with). She admits to having trouble grasping the specifics of tags, keywords and SEO… well all the more power to her for wanting to learn. I see a lot of lensmasters out there who don’t even realize that there’s something to learn in that arena.

AJ2008 is one of the best lensmasters on squidoo – in terms of making excellent lenses, befriending everybody and being kind. I especially admire her skill as a master storyteller. Her two lenses of the day underscore her excellence.

But as we all know – making excellent lenses is NOT the same as getting traffic to them. Nor does making excellent lenses automatically mean you get to make sales.

After that long introduction…

Weight loss is a very important topic. People with too many pounds on are the main reason why life expectancy in the USA is going down, instead of up. But dieting is HARD. So there are a lot of people out there desperately wanting to loose weight, but failing at it. It’s a huge market.

On her lens, AJ shares that she checked out the competition on squidoo, before making this lens. That’s a very good first step. She found a lot of competition, but not a lot of good lenses. Most were spammy, had little content and were certainly not personal.

Knowing her strengths AJ decided to make her lens about weight loss personal. It’s certainly great marketing as well. (She got 20 people rating it 5 stars already – which is testimony to both her popularity on squidoo, the importance of the topic and the quality of the lens)

However – none of that is SEO. None of that will get that lens traffic from google or yahoo.

Looking at the lens I see that she is talking about a very specific way to loose weight: ‘Lose weight with a wheat free diet’ – that’s the exact text she has in the title of the introduction module. That would be a perfect text to put in the title of the lens itself (I’ll go into why in a minute).
After all – there is absolutely zero chance of ranking for the phrase ‘lose weight’. Why? The competition outside squidoo.

What AJ apparently forgot to do is go outside her comfort zone. She’s comfortable in squidoo, so she searched squidoo for the competition. But losing weight isn’t only popular on squidoo – there are tons of websites on the subject. I’m sure most of the lenses on the topic were made in part to promote just those websites.

Each lens we make competes not just with other lenses, but with other webpages online as well. If you make a lens just for the fun of it, that’s not important. But if you are making a lens to get traffic, and perhaps sales, you do need to scout out your competition online as well. A simple google search will do.

While we’re at it: if you search for your lens on google, what you see is a list of search results (serps: search engine result pages). One such result might look like this:

serps

The blue part is the link. The text in that link is the title of your lens (or webpage). In AJ’s case she choose to only put ‘loose weight’ there.
Google however puts tremendous weight on what’s in the title. If the title fits what people are looking for precisely, that page has a very high probability of turning up in the search engine results. Since we want her lens to turn up for something like ‘Lose weight with a wheat free diet’ or ‘Losing weight with a wheat free diet’ or ‘wheat free dieting’ (just a few I came up with on the top of my hat), I would recommend she use some variation of that for her title: I’d go for ‘losing weight with a wheat free diet’. And then of course she should reword the text in that introduction module as well – you don’t want to be too repetitive.

I could not stress the importance of the title too much. Be as specific as your lens is in your title. The same goes for the content of the lens. Don’t repeat the words ‘loose weight’ or ‘loosing weight’ too often. Instead go for more specific phrases in the titles of the modules where you can. Like ‘starting on a wheat free diet’ instead of what’s there now ‘First step to lose weight’. That same title might also be a mix of the two: ‘First Step to a wheat free diet’.

Play with it a little. The point is that it is essential to your lens that you are talking about a wheat free diet – so mention that where appropriate. Especially in the titles of your modules.

And to confirm the importance of this: I looked at the serps for ‘wheat free diet’. That would be a terrific phrase to rank for. I don’t have to check my keyword tools to know that. Does AJ stand a chance? Well, maybe. I looked at the top 20 in scroogle (which is a version of google without the personalisation and the localisation) and found only two links there that did not have the three words ‘wheat’ ‘free’ and ‘diet’ in the title. Which underscores the importance of the lens title again.

This means it’s going to be tough. Her likely success is going to come from being even more specific. After all – you don’t need to have 10 million visitors. Just a small percentage of that would do.
So perhaps she should go for ‘Loosing weight with a wheat free diet after having kids’ or ‘Moms loosing weight with a wheat free diet’ Both Moms and ‘after having kids’ are things people might be typing in google.

A simple google search for ‘wheat free diet for moms’ is totally different. NO result with those precise words in the title. If AJ were to use those words in her title, I’m pretty sure she’d come up in that serp.

It’s all about being specific. Now – since about 20% of all adults are moms, and we know weight loss is a huge issue, and allergies are too – I’m going to leave out the part where we check these keywords in the keyword tools. AJ could do that – and it would help her fine tune her titles – but lets let her do that herself.

One more thing. In our twitter conversation AJ shared that she was confused about the difference between keywords and tags. The shortest way I can explain the difference is as follows:

Tags are for INSIDE squidoo
Keywords are for the web as a whole

You want tags that make squidoo know just what other lenses are related to yours. So you want to use tags that are NOT specific to your lens. Instead you want to use tags that other lenses on similar topics are using. It’s no use having a tag that no one else is using on your list of tags. It is however useful to have a unique lens on a unique topic. In fact, I’d highly recommend it.

An example from my own lensmaking. I’m into religion and spirituality as I guess you all know. This means that on most of my lenses the tags ‘religion’ and ‘spirituality’ get used. They are pretty much automatic. They make it likely that my lenses turn up in each others ‘related lenses’ feature.

But I don’t bother trying to optimize for ‘religion’ or ‘spirituality’. I don’t use those words much on any of my lenses – except the module where I link out to my other lenses. Why? They are way too generic. When people are searching for ‘religion’ they will find the hot players in this niche. However glad I am to have 6000 pageviews a day on my website, no way does it turn up in a search for ‘religion and spirituality’. 6000 pageviews a day is peanuts for a site like wikipedia or yahoo or dmoz (just some sites that turned up for just that search).

If you think my lensography is an exception: you’re right. But don’t think it gets a lot of traffic from search engines. It doesn’t.

So with tags you want to go wide. With keywords you want to be specific.

In AJ’s case, she might use words like health, diet, weight loss, loose weight, allergy, mom, moms etc. in her tags. But she should not optimize her text or titles for any of those except the very specific combination(s) she wants to rank for.

I hope that was helpful. I will go EAT my postponed lunch now 🙂

This review has centred on ONpage SEO factors so far. Tomorrow I’ll go into OFFpage factors (aka links).

19 thoughts on “SEO review – weight loss lens pulled apart”

  1. Oh WOW! This is going to help my fuddled brain no end. Thank you Katinka – not only for taking the time to do this but also for being so kind and gentle!

    I will be taking on board everything you have said and now it is time to do my own research as suggested before I change that Lens title! So I think I need to re-visit some of your lenses…..

  2. What an amazing post, and such a great insight into how to improve your search engine rankings and to get more traffic and sales.

    AJ I will really be interested to see what effect the changes you make to the lens have on traffic, and ultimately sales. I would love to see you beat the competition to death and to get some great sales and recognition out of this lens.

    As far as the choice of keywords for the title goes, how about blogging about the lens in several places, giving each blog a different variation of title, so you can play a bigger hand of cards, changing the text of the posts somewhat, but all pointing to the lens. Just a thought…

    Looking forward to seeing how this goes, and Katinka, you really know your stuff. I still have advice from you from several months ago that I need to put to use. The end of the year was very busy for me, I am trying to catch up on many things and to improve my marketing right now.

    Let’s hope that 2009 is a good year for all of us.

  3. Yes – making blogposts with variations on the title might help. But given AJ’s skill at writing, I’d just choose the catchiest version – use variations on those same keywords in the titles of the modules, start building links (the blogposts could be one way of doing that of course) > and then see whether there is any traffic coming up.

  4. Pingback: AJ is Always Juggling » Blog Archive » The Show is over, an Anniversary missed - now back to Squidoo!
  5. Pingback: AJ is Always Juggling » Blog Archive » Putting Spirituality’s advice into practice: Day 1
  6. Pingback: Religion and Spirituality lenses (and more) » Optimizing tags on squidoo lenses
  7. I thought that I knew the purpose of tags, but you just made it crystal clear. Thank you for clarifying this for me.

  8. Thx, thx, thx a lot! Great explanation about tags and keywords. My eyes pretty much popped out with hope and interest at the mention of scroogle – only to be disappointed after having found out that this service is no more.
    Came here after reading your lenses – great and helpful content, thanks!

  9. Thank you Katinka,

    You do such a beautiful job explaining things. I found the distinction you made between tags and keywords to be most helpful. Also, I will put even more care into the choice of title for my lenses.

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