Monday, March 14, 2011

eHow Sweeps

On Friday, March 4th, I received email saying there would be a big change at eHow. I was to expect a phone call on Monday, March 7th, explaining the changes. Honestly, I was hoping that they were opening the WCP, or writers compensation program, back up. No such luck. Instead I was told there would be more eHow sweeps of our articles.

It seems Google has changed their algorithm recently to increasingly favor unique content. This is indeed true, as I have heard this announcement from Megan at Squidoo also. You can learn more about this at the official Google blog. Anyway, because of the changes, eHow needed to eliminate duplicate content on their site to prevent being penalized.

The obvious question to ask eHow representatives was this, "How do you decide which article will be deleted?" The answer was the article with fewer views. Now, we've all known for some a while that articles on eHow are duplicated. They are duplicated by other eHow WCP writers. They are duplicated by Demand Studios writers. It is actually the nature of writing web content and the difficulty in proving plagiarism that makes duplicate content such a problem online.

I'd have preferred to have been told that the first published article would be saved. However, I was told the article with the most views would be maintained. I can see that from eHow's perspective, you would wish to keep the article with the most traffic. It is a smart business decision for their website. However, ethically the article with the oldest date seems to be the right one to maintain.

I expressed this to eHow and this was their official response: "Usually, the true original does best with Google." In other words, Google already sorts unique content for us. I've heard SEO experts indicate this and I would say to some extent it is true. However, you can not deny that backlinking plays a big part in article performance and I am certain that eHow contributor articles have been more efficiently backlinked within the eHow site than user articles.

I wish now that I'd worked harder backlinking my eHow articles. Hindsight is 20/20.

Finally, I'd like to say that despite the recent eHow sweeps, my own earnings haven't suffered! In fact, I lost 5 articles, but my earnings for March 2011 are higher than usual. It's worth mentioning that what is good for the site is good for all eHow WCP writers. Carry on eHow! I still love your site!

What are your thoughts on the latest eHow sweeps?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Squidoo Healthcheck: Check the Health of Your Lenses

I've spent the last few days running health checks on my Squidoo lenses. The "healthcheck" feature was once built into the website tools on the lensmaster dashboard. At some point, the Squidoo site quit sponsoring the healthcheck feature. One of Squidoo's top lensmasters "TheFluffaNutta" has the tool available on his site:

The healthcheck feature can make a huge difference in your lens performance. Running the check and correcting the problems brought my average lensrank up 40,000 points. For those of you that actively write for Squidoo, you know lensrank is everything! It determines your tier and how much you are paid each month.

By running the healthcheck on each of my lenses, I learned which mistakes I was making. These mistakes were interfering with my traffic. Here are the most common problems I uncovered when running my health checks and sprucing up my lenses:

1. Your primary tag (the first one entered) should be limited to three words.
2. Have at least 20 relevant tags. If you have less, keep thinking. A lens without enough tags doesn't have the keyword density it needs to be found.
When running the healthcheck having too few tags will make your title, subtitle, etc light up as needing corrected. It will say they aren't relevant to the tags, but the problem isn't the titles, it's too few tags. It can easily be corrected by ensuring you have 20 relevant ones.
3. Ensure photos in your intro paragraph have at least two words from your primary tag.

That's the lesson of a Squidoo healthcheck. Save yourself some time by keeping these things in mind and you won't have to go back and edit your lenses later, like I did.

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