Squidoo Featured Lens Module or Squidtools Featured Lenses Tool?

Recently it has come to light that the contents of Squidoo Featured Lens Module do not get recognized by Google, therefore missing out on a great opportunity to obtain backlinks to lenses that are within a Featured Lens Module.

The reason for this is that the Squidoo Featured Lens Module uses technology called “Lazy Loading”, which means that the contents of the module are loaded in the background after the lens is displayed to the visitor.

Squidoo created the Featured Lens Module this way, and it’s a fairly standard way of loading images and videos, because if you clicked on a link to display a Squidoo lens and everything had to be loaded before the page displayed, it might take some time, often more time than visitors would be prepared to wait.

Using Lazy Loading techniques, the main content of a web page is loaded (the outline, CSS formatting, text etc) and at that point the page can be displayed to the visitor.  Meantime, any images and videos are loading in the background and will pop onto the screen as soon as they have finished downloading.  Maybe you have noticed this when you have been working with a slow internet connection, but most of the time it’s not noticeable.

Since the Squidoo Featured Lenses Module has to visit each of the lenses in the list and pull the intro text and image from each, this can take some time, hence the reason that it is written this way.

So what is all this discussion about Squidtools and a replacement for the Featured Lenses Module?

Squidtools is a web site that has some very handy tools for use with your Squidoo lenses.  I won’t go into the details now, but if you you click on the link you can see for yourself how useful these tools are.

One of the tools is a Featured Lens Module builder, which allows you to specify a list of lenses, for which it will generate HTML Code that you can paste into a Text Module, the result looking very similar to the Squidoo Featured Lens Module, but which being fixed links will be seen by Google.

In theory this is a great idea, however all is not perfect, and there are some Pros and Cons to using the Squidtools Featured Lens builder instead of using the Squidoo Featured Lens Module.

PROS:

  • Links are recognized by Google
  • You can manipulate the look of the module (needs HTML/CSS knowledge)

CONS:

  • Lens may take longer to load
  • Links limit is around 15 lenses
  • Adding more links requires code tweaking
  • The links do not open in a new Tab

The fact that Google recognizes the links in your hand crafted module is proof enough to many people that this is the better way of creating a list of featured lenses.

However, since the code that is generated has to be copied/pasted into a Squidoo text Module, and this has a limit of 10,000 characters, that does mean there is a limit of around 15 lenses that you can add, without blowing the limit.

In addition, the code that is generated inserts some spacer HTML in between the lenses in the list.  If you add another lens to the module, you need to manually copy the spacer code from between previous lenses in the module, and without a bit of HTML knowledge this could be a bit tricky.  I am sure the creator of Squidtools will find a way around this at some point.

The code that is generated does not open the lenses in a new tab/window, which is preferrable if you want the visitor to remain on your lens. The option to do this could be added to the code, but then it could make the code even longer and reduce the maximum number of lenses that would fit into 10,000 characters.

Now many people don’t need to make lists of Featured Lenses that have more than 15 links, and so this limit of 10,000 characters is not a problem, however it is something that anyone who does want to use this utility needs to be aware of.

There is one feature that both the Squidoo Featured Lens Module and the Squidtools Featured Lenses Builder have in common, and that is sorting of lenses.  For example, if you have 5 lenses and want to add a 6th, but in the middle not at the end, this is really awkward with the Squidoo module.

The solution I use with the Squidoo module is to add the new lens, then add the ones that I want to appear below it again, then finally I uncheck the original versions of those lenses and save the changes.  The new lens appears in the correct place (hopefully!).

The Squidtools Featured Lens Builder has a nice feature that allows you to sort the lenses.  So, if you wanted to add a new lens and re-sequence the list, it’s easier to just add the lenses all again, copying the links from the existing module, re-sequence them, generated the HTML Code, and copy/paste over the existing code.

I hope this helps, and if you have any other tips/ideas on the Featured Lens module, please leave a comment.

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