Google’s Penguin update back in April caused a scramble in the SEO world as everyone reevaluated the tools and channels that they use to build ranking in the SERPs. Since Penguin primarily targeted SEO spam tactics and shady link portfolios, link building methods came under particular scrutiny.
For the most part, none of the rules had really changed. Compelling content on authoritative websites with relevant links back to your site is still considered good link building. However, website authority was being questioned more rigorously. There is also an unwritten rule of SEO: links that you must work harder to build are more valuable (which is why quality link building programs often turn into full-time jobs for some companies). With those two ideas, critical eyes turned on Squidoo.
Squidoo is a quasi-popular content site. Although it doesn’t get the same level of buzz as Tumblr or Facebook, it does get millions of hits and its articles (called “lenses” on the site) can rank highly in search results. Squidoo allows users to create content-rich multimedia pages on virtually any subject. Ordinarily, this makes it a great channel for building links. However, there is no barrier to entry — anyone can make a Squidoo account and start posting content. In light of the Penguin update, SEO experts speculated that Squidoo was a gaggle of spammers reposting or repurposing scraped content to score some links. In other words, Squidoo had no authority and was a quick way to get some easy links — low-value SEO in every way. Since many websites that were penalized by Penguin had Squidoo links in their portfolio, it was a compelling argument. But is that really the case?
Links and lenses are only granted visibility on the site for a limited time. After a lens goes live, Squidoo may soon change it into a “Work-In-Progress (WIP) lens. Lenses are given a WIP status when they lack visitors or haven’t been updated with new content after a period of time. Although the URL for the lens is still valid and users can reach the page via a direct link, WIP lenses don’t appear in Squidoo search results or outside search engines. In other words, once a lens becomes WIP, all of its link value is lost.
Currently, there’s no way to tell to what degree Penguin has devalued links from Squidoo. However, with the frequency Squidoo assigns WIP status, it’s doubtful that links from the site have any negative impact since they only come from active lenses. From a link building perspective, WIP lenses are a double edge sword. On one hand, would be spammers aren’t able to derive much benefit. On the other hand, real link builders might get more work than they bargained for. Building a successful lens requires a combination of design aesthetic, compelling copy and an interesting theme. Keeping that great lens from becoming WIP requires fresh content and updates, plus promotion on blogs and social media to keep visitors coming.
Then again, good link building is supposed to be challenging. Squidoo or otherwise, if you create original content through a variety of channels, your link building efforts will be successful.