Wednesday 29 September 2010

Took The Cat To The Vet Today

moss cat pet happy senior tortoiseshell-white
Just got back from the vet with the cat. She promptly lay down on the driveway and demanded food (more or less in that order!). She's been on my mind a bit these last couple of days, hence the amount of writing about her I am doing. She's my dependent :D And I vastly prefer her over both a kitten and a child (the first is crunchy, the second gets you in legal trouble if you cook it).

This is the third time in her life that she's ever been to the vets - once as a kitten for the uterine-excavation-operation-of-doom, once a few years back for flea allergies and then again to the same vet today. She's thirteen (minus an estimated month). So it was a rare and special occasion for both of us.

Ah, and here she comes. Mewing and chirruping. Because, obviously, she ran out of food. And my bag is in her spot on the bed, so she's standing there and calling me over to pay attention to her, and fix it damn it, these bones need a comfy spot!

She's got some kind of intestinal bleeding, which leads to extremely smelly stools, black with digested blood. Which led to panic in the flat on their discovery in the litterbox, and I got to research various gross things on the internet (and poor Arkillian was driven away from the couch by the smell). So now I have to sneak antibiotics and stomach-lining stuff down her throat everyday for the next week... and to try and persuade her that outdoors is so much nicer than the litterbox. Really. Even when it's wet and cold and has stray cats nearly as big as her.

Got some supplements (Seaflex) for her arthritic joints, so she can stop limping and being miserable everytime it rains. And growling at me when I pick her up, that's important too... as it can lead to biting. Luckily she thinks they're cat treats.

Otherwise she's very healthy, weighs 4.44 kg (she lost nearly a whole kilogram when she was sick!) and happily shed all over me. The cat brush was buried under the pile of computers from the LAN Diablo 2 character creating event in the sitting room... I had to dig it out and drag another handful out of her fur when we got back.

She's funny - I don't know if all cats do this, but when she's in the carrier in the car she meows very pitifully - these long, moaning, wails, sort of 'whyyyyyy?'. She's very well behaved - and we actually let her out on the way back (it was Mum's idea. I'm not quite sure what she was thinking, but I was greatly entertained, so I don't regret it. The cat was loose in the car on the ride up from Hamilton ten years ago, so there was precedent...)

The cat promptly ran and stood up on the side door, looking out the window, then came through the seats into the front, and I diverted her onto the passenger side. She sat on my lap awhile, and wanted to climb onto the dashboard and shed profusely in vengeance at being denied. Then she went in the back and stood against the door, watching dreary Auckland roads go by, then climbed up and lay on the back dashboard area. At which point we decided that she should probably go back in the box.

Then she climbed down and lay on the seat, looking between the front seats at the view, and then she realised there was another side door that she hadn't looked out of, so she went to do that, and managed to stand on the automatic window button. Which led to great panic, and probably great interest on her part, as the window went down... and we promptly pulled over and poured her back into her carrier, and she "MAOOOOOOOW"ed her way home. Where she commenced to be quite happy and most demanding as soon as she was let out.

Edit: Hey, cool - vet follow-up. Just got a phonecall from the vet, with more care tips (bland diet and so on) for the next week, in case she did poison or injure herself. Cat spent the entire phonecall headbutting me in the knees and mewing for attention.

Breaking News: Three Kittens Created From Cat Fur

....well, no. Not really. But only because I didn't have the patience to create them. Summer arrived over the weekend here in New Zealand and my cat took that as a sign to shed her entire undercoat in a day. I come innocently home from visiting my parents over the weekend, pick up the cat brush (the really awesome FURminator) to bond and get rid of any stray loose fur. Sweep it through, watch in surprise at the large clumps of puffing fur at the end of the first stroke...

And an entire kitten emerges.

cat fur carpet furminator shedding undercoat soft

I swear, I got three kittens worth of fur out of her. I made balls out of them, and even squashed down, they each filled my hand. I threw the first one away (after showing it off), took pictures of the second lot (she was a very obliging model), then discovered still more later. Then the cat got grumpy :D
moss old cat senior brush groom fur pile furminator

Now I have to decide. What shall I do with all this fur? I could make a kitten, but they tend to be a nuisance. I could make fake beards and wigs to sell. But a lot of people are allergic to cat fur (and I don't know how to make a fake beard). On the other hand, it's the skin and dander that people are actually allergic too - maybe I can microwave it, rub my face in it and see if it makes me sneeze.

I could stuff a pillow, or sell it to birds to make their nests. Or line my increasingly holey shoes!

Banned Books Week is nearly over...

So I thought I'd throw you some reading...

Some pretty good news coverage and blogging

And a fun little video with sinister undertones (the robot! it's ALIVE!)

It ran from September 25th to October the 2nd this year, so there's a couple of days left. My contribution was to put together a A List of the Best Gay and Lesbian Themed Children's Picture Books. Come buy one - I bet you don't own any!

Liiga: Another Clever And Astonishing Fantasy Artist

Liiga creates clever, graceful paintings that trick the eye as you overlook the obvious, while other works are simply balanced and enchanting.

This Dryad poster for example... where's the dryad? She's incredibly, cheekily, obvious when you spot her, but until you do it's just a lovely landscape of tree branches poking randomly across the view of the island.
Dryad print
Dryad by Liiga
Browse all the other artwork at Zazzle

I love the green of this. It feels both ethereal and science-y. It's also very definitely a Picture With A Story.
Angel Painting print

This one's a dramatic angel, with great white sweeping wings, poised and posed on a mountain crag. Her face and hairstyle seems Egyptian in profile. I like the soft, cold grey themes and the silken folds of the dress. And the wings, of course!

Almost every fantasy artist needs a dragon or two in their gallery of course, and Liiga is no exception - why, there's two right here! Two Worlds - two very different dragons, one traditionally bat-winged and golden, the other feathered and glowing blue-white. This reminds me of the heraldic Lion and the Unicorn image!

The lion and the unicorn Were fighting for the crown The lion beat the unicorn All around the town

She also has several colourful, elemental looking dragons... (Air Drake, Earth Drake, Fire and Water). The golden Earth Drake on the flowers is my favourite. The wingless fire drake is a bit odd and overly serpentine to me - I think it's the legs and arms on a snakey body - but I do love the colours.

Air Drake printEarth Drake printFire Drake print

Some of her DeviantART work is even more amazing - clearly her old Zazzle account is slightly abandoned!

Drama Llama liiga fantasy black dramatic fantasy blue blood deviantart mascot

Ada Lovelace, Echantress of Numbers

I recently found a splendid lens from LadyLovelace introduced me to the intriguing character of Ada Lovelace - and better, to this awesome comic about Ada Lovelace's adventures in crime and mathematics.

She was apparently Lord Byron-the-lovelorn-and-infamous' only legitimate daughter, raised by her mother, who tried to purge the evil of poetry from her with the power of MATHS. She ended up working with Charles Babbage, creating formulas for the Difference Engine and laying the groundwork for the modern computer. I love her already. She was born in 1815, and died in 1852 of uterine cancer - and of course, the bloodletting that was used to treat it.

Ada Lovelace black and white steampunk detective mathematics science comic lord byron

Babbage wrote of her:
Forget this world and all its troubles and if
possible its multitudinous Charlatans — every thing in short but the Enchantress of Numbers.

Sunday 19 September 2010

Silly Captioned Zazzle T-Shirts

I have a weird sense of humour... occasionally I succumb and make random t-shirts (and stuff) instead of updating my store with my artwork like a good artist should.

Especially when it comes to unicorns. Unicorns are FUNNY. I restrained myself after four, though... if you've got a better caption, care to share? (And if you really want your idea on one of the t-shirts below, they should all be customisable, so just replace the text)

A Unicorn is a horse that... T-Shirt shirtUnicorns Don't Need Camouflage T-Shirt shirt
A Unicorn is Just a Pointy Horse T-Shirt shirtWho Needs Camouflage? Unicorn T-Shirt shirt

Then there's the silly-to-me but probably not to other people ones...

Then there's the political/argumentative ones...
I Can Change Your Opinion With My MIND shirt

On Losing An Eyeball, Women's Suffrage and Other Links

Here's a quick lists of dos and don'ts for when you lose an eye, tooth, or finger. Or an eyetooth.

Plus a bit of promotion for an Auckland friend who's trying to take over local politics from the inside. Specifically, he's running for the 'Albert-Eden-Roskill Maungawhau subdivision Local Board election'
He's a good guy; educated, very into the environment (and lives it), more transport, that sort of thing. A bit idealistic (my disagreements with his Grand Plots usually centre around "yeah, but people are idiots and won't let you") and despite his education has still been attacked by the dread Alot. Once. And I don't think I'll tell him where *cackles*

And he seriously lucked out on his last name - I mean, imagine the puns and slogans! Goode Enough, Goode For Auckland, Goode for You, The Goode Guy, ... they just weren't Goode enough *zing* His blog covers general Auckland issues and analyses the actual campaign (which is a relief - now I don't have to do it!)
...also, he made me find an excuse to buy a Lego cannon today.

(and going to find his links, I found he'd posted about Women's Suffrage Day - today in 1893 women got the right to vote in New Zealand, so I better do it too!)

And weirdly, my unicorn painting from a couple of posts back is ranking quite highly in Google images for "unicorn shark". I have no idea why!

Catty Blessings and the FURminator

Cat-related Squidoo lenses that I've blessed in my September flight as a Squidoo Angel.


This list of FatBat's Demands, from Kylyssa is a perfect example of the idiosyncratic, rightfully Centrex-of-the-world cat and fun to read.

Egyptian Mau - Cats of the World by Vladi (a lensmaster slightly more catty than me!) is a lovely lens about the very lovely Egyptian Mau. My mother has one of these - she's undersized and very nervous and very friendly. We adopted her from the SPCA and spent months arguing over whether she's a Silver Spotted Tabby or an Egyptian Mau - turns out they're often the same thing. It seems to depend which side of the ocean you're standing on - different cat breeds and histories...

[Subtly segues into talking about 'OUR' cat!]
There's two versions: the original Egyptian one and the ones that are actually/probably Silver Spotted Tabbies in the UK (varies hugely by cat book, breediing club, country.... ). One version bred from Siamese cats to mimic the old Egyptian cats - and you can tell from their affection (*coughneedinesscough*), build, piercing yowl, the fact that they often wag their tail when happy and come when you whistle. (It's the high pitch - Megan goes crazy for bad singing!)

Also typical - very wary of loud noises and strange people. She's a very jittery cat!

Vladi is also responsible for The Cats of Rome which talks about the many strays in Rome, along with a lot of photographs.

Top 10 Cat Toys - Voted by Cats is a very helpful and accurate lens! GroovyFinds mixes freebies with recommendations for shop-bought toys - and this is where (I think) I originally read about the FURminator. (And I can confirm that my cat also comes running for it). The only things missing are my cat's favourites - passing feet and toilet rolls!

And this :D

Oh, and some self-promotion: my cat got to show off (which she did, happily) for a video, which I then built a lens around, about the FURminator brush/comb. Which is awesome. I just got another handful (full handful, unless squashed, as it's very soft and fluffy) of fur off her, so I was reminded to post this...

I'm Writing This With Tears In My Eyes (Was Your Gmail Hacked Yet?)

I'm writing this with tears in my eyes,my family and I came down here to London, United Kingdom for a short vacation.unfortunately,we were mugged at the park of the hotel where we stayed,all cash and credit card were stolen off us but luckily for us we still have our passports with us.

We've been to the Embassy and the Police here but they're not helping issues at all and our flight leaves in few hours from now but we're having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won't let us leave until we settle the bills. Well I really need your financially assistance..Please, let me know if you can help us out?

Am freaked out at the moment!!

[My name].

Does this look familiar? I hope not, but an increasing number of people are getting this email from friends and family, colleagues and that random guy in high school who you really should take off your contacts. If someone you know uses Gmail, you may get this message.

I was told this story at work last week - a friend of one of my colleagues had this happen to them; they still haven't gotten back into their account.

And a couple of days ago it happened to GreekGeek, who (naturally, being a Squidooer) wrote a very good lens about their hacked Gmail

What happens next? They change the password locking you out, and all the backup options and secondary emails and send a message out to your entire guestbook - that message above. Should somebody care enough about you to reply, they'll be asked to send money. For much better explanations and what you can do about this (...there's very little), make sure to read "My Plight" - My Gmail Was Hacked, And I'm Not Alone!

Tuesday 14 September 2010

For Science. A Poem.

[I just spent an hour on this... I do have a life! But sadly I forgot to make a save point. How many quotes/misquotes can you spot? Critiques are welcome! You can also try and answer the quiz about the quotes on this page: For Science: The Geekiest Poem Ever]

I live my life free of compromise
So I am wary of Google
Because its answers weigh less
Than its operating manual..

I find the world inconceivable
I aim to misbehave for science
And promote people to the level
Of their incompetence

Noah's ark is a problem.
The lies are inside my head
And I'm all out of gum
So bring out your dead

For science.

But Han shot first so the cube could live
Now when I offer cake
It is actually some sort of delicious biscuit
So please don't panic.

The world needs hope right now but
This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face.
Gunpowder treason has been forgot
And fear is the little-death that condemns this place

It's dangerous out there, so
If I know kung-fu, I don't have to dodge bullets.
Watch how I soar, and step into the shadows
Without complaint or regrets.

For science.

There is no Earthly way of knowing
If the cake is truly inconceivable
Or if winter is really coming
Or where your towel is right now

It's dangerous to go alone!
Together we need to go deeper
We're going to need a bigger boat
And let the harvest hope for the reaper

Where the fear has gone there will be nothing
So we must put our differences behind us
Take up hokey religions and ancient weapons
Learn the air-speed velocity and use the force

For science.

Our existence deforms the universe
So one of us should say goodbye
And it shouldn't be me because
I am just too pretty to die

I will not go gently into that good night
It is pitch black and the road
Goes ever on and on, until i am out of sight
In a maze of twisty passages, all alike.

I must live long and prosper
And be a leaf on the wind, not be eaten by a grue
You may have killed my father
So don't go to sleep or the kittens will eat you

For science.

I curse your sudden
But inevitable betrayal
But you gained nothing
the princess is in another castle!

You have sent a machine
To do a human's job
In against a Sicilian
When death is on the line!

I have beaten your artificial intelligence
With real stupidity
Luckily on the subject of kneecaps
The Bible is somewhat fuzzy

I have owned all your bases
And in the darkness bound them
I really must apologise
For the inconvenience.

For science.

I said "I may be dead but I'm still pretty,
Which is more than I can say for you."
This has made a lot of people very angry
And has been widely regarded as a bad move

Most people want things like a candle-flame
But you don't have to be a gun
Although Vera is a hokey name
I'm never gonna give you up

My baggage doesn't try and kill me every five minutes
Although the pattering of hundreds of little feet
Still makes me nervous and
If your life had a face, I would punch it.

For science.

It is very cold in space, I fear
And my god, it's full of stars
I can see your house from up here
Just me and the world. And Mars.

The existence of life is
A highly overrated phenomenon.
For three years I had roses
And apologized to no one.

Practice the art of spannungsbogen
And arrive precisely when you mean to
Until you get to nine thousand and one.
Then divide by cheese error and reboot

For science.

Thursday 9 September 2010

Blessing GreekGeek: SEO and HTML

Right, time to start my attempt at actually blogging about some of the lenses I've blessed! I decided to start with GreekGeek because I keep blessing their lenses!

There's the old classics, like "Is Squidoo a Scam? An Honest Answer" which is a good introductory lens explaining how to get started on Squidoo and what you can earn.

And GreekGeeks Squidoo Tips: How To Get Your Lens Found is a useful lens explaining how to set up a good lens that deserves visits.

More recently, the Flapping Photo Gallery of DOOM is a fun way of pointing out just HOW ANNOYING the Photo Gallery module can be. I'd actually kept meaning to write a lens about this, because I use this module a lot, but I've procrastinated for months :D (And I have list of... well, dozens of things I'd like to write about)

And finally, Getting The Most Out of Squidoo's Traffic Stats explains how to interpret the dashboard, and what to do with that information.

Belatedly, that wretched person keeps writing more good lenses, thoroughly unbalancing my list of blessed lenses (eh, I'm behind anyway).

So more recently, I've blessed:

Library Pirate Hat Day: Wednesday 15th September

Turns out that Pirate Hat Day has been declared for your library next Wednesday!

Post the news on Twitter using #piratehatsWednesday and join the Flickr group if you dare!

More info and other participants:

Monsters and Points: Squidoo Just Got Fun

Finally today (well, yesterday now - my internet crashed halfway through this post and I gave up and went to bed) the new Squidoo points system arrived. I've had the joy of being a beta tester for the last couple of weeks and was amused to see the predicted outbreak in the forums. Luckily most people enjoy them. Sadly, the huge rush of people playing around (I woke up to over a dozen lovely comments where I usually might get one) seems to have broken it for now, and no points are being (apparently) recorded. So I tore myself away and came to write about my new toy instead!

How does it work?
The new system adds a behind-the-scenes additional feedback and earning system. It's primarily aimed at increasing community engagement, teaching new lensmasters (and I think it will do this very well) and rewarding 'good' lenses. It does this by granting points as you make lenses and interact on Squidoo. You can also read an introduction from Megan here

What do you get points for?
Initially, you get points for pretty much everything. The amounts can be random, and they start to become rarer as you get higher.

You get points for leaving comments, voting in polls, 'liking' a lens, adding various modules (e.g. first time Amazon module), adding an introduction image, publishing a lens, publishing a certain number of lenses, publishing a certain type of lens (for the first time), rating a certain number of lenses or leaving a lot of comments, and when people rate, comment and vote on your lenses, as well as when you are blessed by an angel, you share on Facebook... pretty much 'proceed as normal and explore any options you don't normally take'.

Getting points for different modules, the first, or random, time you add them (or most times in the case of things like the intro photo, I think) encourages people to explore and learn. It also makes the occasionally tedious process of putting a lens together a bit more interesting. You can add and delete modules to get the points, but you generally stop getting them anyway after a certain number of uses.

Everytime you get points for something, it turns up in your notifications. And they can be entirely passive (other people commenting, liking), or wholly generated by you!

As a comparison, poll votes tend to be 2 points, comments about 5 points, modules around 25 points and new lenses in the region of a hundred. Angel Blessings are 20 points (and no, the Angel doesn't get any!) You also get more points from 'higher' Squids (e.g. Giants, official HQ people) liking your lenses (around 10 or 50).

Squidoo is constantly tweaking this as they figure out what works and what doesn't - in October 2010 they brought in points (and therefore a notification) for sales!

As you get more points, you level up. Giants started at level 20, Giant 100's at level 25 and everyone else at level 10. Any new people start from scratch. There's an explanatory lens from HQ here.

You unlock and are awarded various things as you go - these turn up in the My Items tab. All existing lensmasters get to keep everything they already had, however, the notices still appear automatically.

For example, different themes (which I always forget to explore properly!), an awesome Lensrank Turbo boost (one lens gets a nice jump) at level 21 and 26. Also, Quests (further down for talking about these)

Levels are initially quite fast to gain - once you've made a couple of lenses you should probably have upgraded a couple of times (guessing here ^_^ ). A lot of the stuff that's unlocked at higher levels isn't actually very far out of reach - by the time most new people have a handle on Squidoo and are ready to explore further options (such as themes and forums and LOTD and yet more confusing modules!) they've probably levelled up enough that those things are being pointed out to them and unlocked anyway.

You will probably (unless you get a ridiculous number of visits from people) level up fastest simply by making more lenses. They get harder to achieve as you get higher - much like any levelling game, it will all be a big rush initially, then slow down as you get used to it and 'the next level is just too far away to worry about right now'.

How do I keep track of my points?
You get a new points tab and a My items tab in your dashboard, which keep track of your history. You also get three little tiny tabs on the top right, which stay there as you browse - your current points, your current level, and your trophies. When you hover over them, you get a little drop down box which tells you how many points to the next level, what you recently got points for, and what your latest trophies are.

You also get notifications popping up in the right hand corner, which you should be able to close easily and keep working - if this doesn't happen, you've got a bug on your hands.


These turn up in the Items tab as well, as you unlock them. Mostly they're pretty simple - find so many lenses on these topics, refer a new lensmaster, add links and submit... and get points.

I'm still a little uncertain over these - not sure if I should go back and fill them in retroactively as they're designed to encourage new lenses, new discoveries, that sort of thing.

One flaw right now is that you have to fill them out in one go - there's no 'save' option. You can come back to them, easily - and compile a list elsewhere to copy and paste - that's just a bit annoying and slightly daunting.

Currently the answers are being hand-checked, while they're new, but Squidoo lans to switch to auto-approval.


For regular events and special occasions, we get trophies displayed on our profile - like the
weird Squiddy guy on the left, he's for making it to Giant Squid (I thought the little S was a $ sign
initially!). They're quite distinctive, and are awarded for timeline events (e.g. six months or a year on Squidoo); publishing certain numbers of lenses; special statuses and achievements (such as Giant Squid, Lens of the Day). I've also got a Beta Tester one and a Pioneer (i.e. here from the beginning of the new system) trophy. There's already at least one lens collecting them.

As you 'level up' your trophy badge upgrades as well, so you don't have a clutter of different badges chronicling the fact you have 1, 2, 5, 10 and 100 lenses!

They're part of a new consistent 'monster' theme. Apparently they are cute *edges away*

Pros: It's nice to get little badges, and it's easy to lose track of things like anniversaries. It's also a nice quick, visual, way of summing up a bit about a lensmaster.

Cons: They're going to get quite gaudy! And some people do dislike the designs. They may seem a bit amateurish. The old Squid was just as cartoonish though, so I reckon it's partly what people are used to.

What about spam?

Anything that rewards interaction will attract spammers. This is a given. Allowing comments of any kind means that people will comment simply to be noticed, or to leave links. This will still happen, and obviously a few people will go on 'point harvesting frenzies'.

But. Out of the rush of comments I got, only one - ONE - in the last day was not interesting, genuine, and talking about my lens. And that one was an attempt at spreading a self-serving link, and that would have happened anyway.

People will be more likely to comment. This is a good thing. If you don't like comments, why do you even have a guestbook?

And the points are only awarded when the comment is approved. If it's meaningless, or spam, by your guidelines, delete it or don't approve it as you would have done anyway.

On gaining points through likes, voting in polls and so forth: these are all good for your lenses. You get interaction and you both (may) get points.

And it means more visits to your lenses. And frankly? it isn't worth trying to level up through 'likes'. The point payoff is simply too small.

How can I opt out of the Squidoo points system?
You can and you can't. You can turn it off in your profile settings (broken initially, because we never beta tested NOT beta testing it! but they'll fix it soon)
You're still part of Squidoo, so the points are still 'there' and people still get them for doing things to your lenses, but you're not constantly bothered by notifications and so forth.

Gaming Settings

Rockstar Mode

Rockstar Mode: Keep Rockstar Mode turned ON if you want to see alert bubbles when you earn points for doing something awesome! If you turn Rockstar Mode OFF, you will see points in your Squidoo toolbar only, party pooper. (Milestone achievements like trophies will still appear as special alerts).

Hide Trophies

Set this to on to hide any trophies on your bio page.

Finally, your name is attached to your actions. At last we can do hit-and-run likes and the lensmaster knows about it (and I would be notorious for this... if anyone actually knew I'd visited!) . People can vote in polls, and you know it's happened without having to constantly check the lens. We're getting points for everything right now, because it's the first time we've performed a lot of actions under the new system - they'll slow down, get more reasonable, less predictable. The 'might get points' and 'nearly levelled up' motivations can be very powerful.
And best of all, it's a brilliant teaching tool, which can only be good for improving the site! As someone who keeps trying to refer people, only to have most of them get bored and wander off... well, I'm much happier about trying to get them started again now.

And I recognise the way it feels - it's just like a lot of games, and it works for the same reasons they do.

Also, the current top 40 most active accounts show up here

More lenses from people:

(heh. Just realised what the monsters look like to me. Finger puppets.)

Wednesday 8 September 2010

Awesome Linkage: Lesbian Unicorns, Shark Cancer and Digital Comics

purple magic unicorn grassThis really makes me want to draw a lesbian unicorn. And wish that my fingers didn't keep writing 'unicron'. I did paint a unicorn last week though... and it's purple. The colour of being bisexual. I've decided that retroactively counts. Zazzle appears to have gone down, so I can't make amusing captions. Pity. I seem to compulsively consider unicorns a fit target for mocking captions. We could have had such fun...

Hat tip : ArchMage

Also, those stories and that big industry about the Magic of Cancer-Curing (s)Chark Cartilage? Debunked, as in kicked off the top bunk in the night as they rolled over on their pile of money. Sharks certainly do, probably, get cancer, and there's no reliable science to say otherwise.

An interesting read about the recalcitrance of publishing companies to seriously embrace digital media for its own sake: Please, Just Kiss Digital Comics On The Mouth Already ...and while we're on that topic, I've been sorting out my top webcomics page, so I've got pages for each update day (Monday, Tuesday... you can probably predict the rest!)

Monday 6 September 2010

Is Image SEO Good For Traffic? How to use it on Squidoo Lenses

A lot of you probably know that you should SEO the hell out of your images, but you may not bother to do it much! I'm here to share a few facts that just might motivate you...

My top Squidoo lenses are (with a couple of exceptions) surviving on image traffic. By which I mean they're in the very top results and pulling in more image searches than normal ones. Most people looking for pictures then click out to the original. Clickout ready visitors = <3 style="font-weight: bold;">Examples:
The Disney Femslash lens... is starting to pull in 'normal' disney related searches, and if you search for Disney Femslash, 'my' images dominate the first couple of PAGES. (17/21 on the first page; 16/21 on the second and so on for a fair bit :D )
In the past week, my visits were:
Referral 926
Direct 170
Google 22
Yahoo 2
Bing 2

Of the referrals, 700 were image searches. (incidentally? this lens is insane. The visits have just been going up, I had over 200 unique visitors yesterday. And yes, they were mostly image searches)

For my Chell (from Portal) lens:
Referral 146
Direct 16
Google 3

100 from image searches.

Mermaid posters lens
Referral 81
Google 26
Direct 11
Ask 1
Yahoo 1

About 70 from image searches

Even my little Invisible Cupcakes lens is pulling in a few (though I wonder what they're looking at!)
Source Visits
Referral 43
Google 7
Direct 4
Bing 1

(about half the referrals are image searches)
*heh, this lens is on the second page of Google for "cupcake decoration"

What I Do
1. Rename the file I'm uploading/adding where that is an option to a bunch of (relevant) descriptive keywords
- separate the name with hyphens like this : red-artrage-lady-digital-painting (completely conjecture on my part; it just makes sense that as that is the best format for URLs because of how Google will see them, it should be for images as well)
- try and get very specific with the description (extra keywords = good, keyword stuffing = bad)

2. Always, always ALWAYS add an alt="words here" into the code (or use the title field of Squidoo images when uploading). You can do this with any image you're adding yourself - affiliate poster codes from Zazzle, your own art...

3. Sometimes, if it's not too repetitive or I can be bothered - or it's not obvious what people will be clicking on - I add a title="description" as well. I'm a bit lazy there though...

If you want to know the HTML: awesome picture of me

<a href=""><img src="" alt="awesome picture of me" title="sneaky caption shows up when people hover over it" /></a>

*note; Google also looks at words written next to the picture/on the same page, so the words attached to the picture aren't everything. But they seem to be a lot.

The search referrals from images are a pain, but you CAN break them down. Right+click and copy them into notepad.

This search result, for example, landed on the second page for the search term "the last unicorn almathea" and clicked on this image (it was next to the word 'Almathea')
I'm actually doing the artists a bigger favour than I ever expected to, as they're getting found! (Of course, without them, I wouldn't have much of a page, so it's a mutual favour) ...that sounded rather egotistical. Heh.,r:28,s:345&tx=88&ty=57&biw=1406&bih=770

Useful image-related Squidoo pages: