Lens Launch: Jet Age Review and Fantasy Football Trophies

Two new lenses launched from the harbor in time to catch the last tide of 2011.

Buy at Art.comThe first is a book review of Jet Age: The Comet, the 707 and the Race to Shrink the World. The book covers the true story of the race to start flying jet powered airliners after World War II. It’s a great overview of the history of commercial aviation up to the early part of the Jet Age.

For readers who want to learn more, the lens includes some cool old videos I found featuring the Comet and 707, the two main aircraft in the book.

This season I won my second fantasy football championship! Unfortunately, that league doesn’t give its winner a trophy. For fantasy leagues that do, I put together a selection of fantasy football trophies. There are even some funny gag trophies for the losingest team.

These two bring my total to 96 featured lenses. I’m slowly getting to 100.

Have a happy New Year!

Benefits of Writing Good Content: It Gets Shared

One benefit of writing good content is that your readers may want to share it. They’ll email it, like it on Facebook, Tweet it, or post a link to it somewhere. This has happened to several of my lenses and I’m always thrilled to see a new site show up in my Referrer stats. Usually, it’s from a forum or personal blog.

Other people sharing a link to your lens is good. It can generate traffic and helps you build credibility with the search engines. It’s even better when the link comes from a well known site.

This week I was surprised to find visitors coming to my how to play fantasy football lens from the NY Times website! It was an article on their Education blog about using fantasy football to teach quantitative analysis. They mentioned my lens as a good site for students to learn the basics of fantasy football. How cool is that?

That lens is nearly 6 years old and is one of my better lenses (my only LOTD). I invested a lot of time developing and writing the original content for it. And I continue to update it regularly. It’s cool to see that other people consider it helpful and worth sharing.

My lens building philosophy has long been to “build good quality lenses that interest you and that readers will find helpful and/or entertaining.” If a lens doesn’t inform, help or entertain a visitor, there’s no reason for them to share it.

So write good stuff.

Lens Launch: Fantasy Football Auction Draft Tips

More action. More fun. More strategy. More fair. More challenging.

Those are the reasons why many fantasy football leagues are giving auction drafts a try.

One of my leagues made the switch to an auction draft last year. The auction format lived up to the hype plus I drafted a good team. My successes and mistakes in that first draft taught me a lot about auction draft strategy.

So while preparing for this season’s draft, I put those lessons into a fantasy football auction draft strategy tutorial. It’s a good guide to help first time auction drafters avoid rookie mistakes and draft a competitive fantasy team.

Impact of the NFL Lockout on Fantasy Football Lenses

When the NFL lockout started in March, one of my first thoughts was, “great, there goes traffic to my fantasy football lenses.”  Fantasy football advice and info is one of my lens niches.  No NFL season means no fantasy football season.  That means no one’s looking for fantasy draft advice or how to play fantasy football.

Thankfully, the lockout ended on July 25, and the football seasons (real and fantasy) can start on time. But what about the four months of uncertainty that kept fantasy players on the web search sidelines?  What was the real impact to my fantasy lenses?

To answer that, I compared this year’s lens stats with last year’s for April through July.  To make a fair comparison, I only looked at fantasy football lenses that were published before March, 2010, and had stats for the full sample periods.

Traffic Impact
Most of these lenses lost traffic compared to 2010 but the amount varied widely.  One lens was down 56% while another surprisingly almost doubled its traffic during the 4 months. Several lenses had single month traffic drops of 50-60%. The worst for a single month was a 76% drop. Ouch.

As a group, traffic was down 6% for April through July. That was less than I expected but does include the last week of July when traffic spiked for all of these lenses after the lockout ended.  Looking at only April through June, the total traffic was down 24%.

LensRank Impact
Nearly all of these lenses had worse monthly average lens ranks in at least 3 of the 4 months analyzed.  The one exception had improved lens rank all 4 months (but not enough to bump it into a higher tier).  Most lenses had worse lensrank in all months.

Pay Tier Impact
The impact on tiers wasn’t too bad.  Several lenses were in a worse tier than at the same time last year. That means a potential ad pool earnings loss.  None did better than last year.

It’s tough to say how much of the lensrank drain was directly due to traffic loss.  I looked at the data multiple ways and didn’t find a consistent correlation.  That’s not surprising since traffic’s only one input to Squidoo’s lensrank algorithm and there are more good lenses competing for rankings than a year ago.  I’m sure losing traffic didn’t help the lensranks.

So what’s the lesson here?
Recognize that events beyond your control could adversely impact demand for your niche topic and prepare accordingly.

The risk of this happening varies by subject.  Fantasy football is based on a real business that can have labor issues.  That makes it a riskier subject than something like Valentine’s Day.  I doubt there will be a Valentine’s Day lockout anytime soon so those lenses should be safe if you have them.

I dodged a bullet.  If the NFL owners and players had waited another week (or longer) to reach a deal, the July stats would have been worse and probably caused more lenses to end up in lower tiers than last year.