Over the past two+ years I’ve really put a lot of effort into learning SEO and how to produce content that has some hope of success here on HubPages. It was hard work and frustrating at times, but it really paid off. So let me preface this by saying by no means am I dissatisfied with my progress here.
However, I seem to have hit some kind of wall when it comes to my understanding of SEO and on-page optimization. While I am generally pretty happy with my traffic (but of course always working to improve), every now and then it’s like some of my Hubs take a huge step backward in the SERPs. It’s like Google says, “Nope. Not going to let this guy get too out of hand. Better knock him down a peg.”
Usually my traffic recovers within a few weeks, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t lose a little sleep over it. The only thing I can conclude is that there is something basic I am doing wrong, and some signal that G picks up on that tells them to demote my Hubs. In some cases other Hubs here at HP, a few by a Hubber who has very blatantly tried to cop some of my more successful Hubs in a seriously sub-par way, suddenly rise above mine. When that happens it’s not HP, it’s me. Obviously I am missing something.
I spent a good chunk of the weekend reading posts on Moz and Search Engine Land. These are the sites I’ve learned the most from over the years, but as I look at their points on on-page optimization it appears I’ve got most of my bases covered. The only thing I can think of is maybe I could do a little better with image alt text.
So I thought I’d put it to the HP community. I don’t expect anyone to run off and read my Hubs, but instead I thought I’d list what, to me, is smart on-page optimization and maybe someone can tell me where the disconnect is.
When I write a Hub I shoot for:
-A carefully worded summary.
-HP’s minimum of 1250 words, though most of my Hubs end up in the 1500-2000 range.
-Use keywords in title, url, summary, first couple sentences of Hub, and maybe 1-2 times in the rest of the Hub. Otherwise, I just write naturally.
-At least 5 text capsules with on-topic H2 headings.
-At least one image for sales Hubs, and three or more for informational Hubs. I used to use a caption under my images, but I think I’m going to be editing my image alt text in my Hubs to be shorter and more descriptive of the actual image.
-At least one YouTube video from an authority profile, preferably 2-3.
-Often a poll. I usually use the poll at the end of the Hub to measure reader engagement, or to get reader opinions about a product.
-At least 3 relevant links to authority sites about the subject in the text.
-At least 3 relevant links to my own Hubs in the text.
-Three more relevant links to my own Hubs at the bottom of the page.
That’s about it. I do some minor social media stuff. I don’t build links but hope to get them organically. I do use Amazon capsules, but usually only 3-5 in a hub, and always highly relevant to the topic.
This profile isn’t a great example of my best work, but most of the Hubs here conform to that standard. Some are on topics I know are tough to rank for, but I enjoy writing about anyway. A few of my other accounts do much better, and it hurts when they take a hit and I can't figure out why.
Anyway, any advice is appreciated. I’m totally frustrated.
What happens is that search engine users are by-passing your listing on search results pages or are looking at your Hub and then going back to search results to choose another option on the list of results. Google evaluates these searcher responses and shuffles the order of the listings on search results after a few hundred or so views/impressions, and this is an on-going process.
What can you do? Look at your summary and try to make it more of a sales pitch to viewers. Limit it to 160 words (including spaces) minus the date that HP inserts.
Also, when your Hub is new, Google may show it for dozens of keyword terms and then view user response. So, your Hub may show on results for queries which your Hub doesn't really answer. You can look at your Webmaster Tools account to see what queries your Hubs are showing for.
It's unfortunate that HP has no place for designating an Alt Image Tag. Instead, HP uses whatever you put for the caption. Therefore, use captions which are less than 10 words and make them so that they describe the photo instead of relating the photo to the text.
Don't link to webpages which rank for the same keyword phrases your Hubs target. Also, Code all outbound links (including the ones to your Hubs) to open in separate windows. This will increase the viewer's time on the page if he does click on one of your links.
WF, what's your opinion about including relevant links to our own Hubs early in the page text? Like, first 200 words. It always seemed to me it would be sort of distracting to a reader to be given click-out options so immediately, but in the age of short attention spans it could also provide an opportunity to keep a reader who might have otherwise clicked back to the SERPs on-page.
How do you code outbound links? I wish every link opened in a new page on this site.
I suspect you are doing many things right! You have 6 Hub of the Day selections and currently have a Huberscore of 100! Wow!
I wonder if there are some off-page SEO things you could do to boost traffic, like getting your hubs linked from directories, wikipedia, or other blogs/websites? I got a link from MSNBC and it seemed to give me a boost. Good luck!
Thanks Dr. I agree it'd be great to get some of those big sites linking to me, but unfortunately these days there isn't much we can do above-board besides trying to write good stuff and hoping somebody important digs it. Congrats on that MSNBC link though. That's awesome.
Don't despair! I don't think you are doing too much wrong.. It's just that damn Google - that's me losing another few notches in the SERPs again...
The SERPs are like mortgages, the rates go up and down and if you are not careful you can lose everything - unless of course you pay up front to get things fixed!
I have seen my hubs sit in the no.1 position for months, vanish from sight for weeks then suddenly appear back where they were. Sometimes they lose ranking and I can see why the other sites are beating me and I do something about it. Other times there seems to be no explanation at all - but then that's the internet and the game we are playing.. Just don't get too hung up about it all.......
What makes you think you are doing anything wrong? When it comes to hosted content there is a limit to what you should expect unless you have a brilliant niche.
It apears that you have a good number of niche hubs with birds, animals, and nature. I think you might need more hubs to increase that authority thing with volume. I could be wrong but that's what it looks like to me with 35 hubs. Bird hubs might be seasonal, too. I have one that gets very little views.
It's been my experience that birding Hubs are tough to rank. There are too many authority sites, and even some really great birders here at HP producing good content. Those really aren't a good example of the Hubs I'm having trouble with. I just write those because I like birds. :-) I'm more concerned with my content and traffic on some of my other accounts.
Another approach would be to try subjects with a higher search volume. In my experience animal hubs are mostly low and sporadic traffic.
IMHO the main focus of SEO--if you take that approach--should be on keyword research and topic selection. That leans you towards "problem solving" rather than educational hubs.
janshares was on the correct track when she mentioned 'seasonal'. Simply write a few Hubs which are good for the winter, or non-seasonal. That way you will have it covered. The traffic will just come in on different Hubs at different times of the year.
Since you like birds write about things such as feeding birds in winter, migrating, etc.
I have. :-) And I'll probably do more of it, but as I said birding is something I build pages on because I like to take pictures and learn about birds. Usually when I build a page I'm looking for topics that pay off quite a bit better, and while many birding topics seem to command a high CPM they are really tough to rank. For me they have been, anyway. :-)
To my eyes very few of OP's hubs are highly seasonal. Even the few about birds... well bird watching is year round in my opinion. Possibly even higher in the winter when they congregated to feeders. And most of the hubs are about intangibles (no real big foot watching season) or year round hobbies like aquariums. They are just all fairly low traffic and high competition subjects.
When you put links to your relevant hubs at the bottom of the page, do you use the exact same titles? Vary your anchor text. Exact match anchor texts aren't helpful now.
I do, but are you sure that matters? After all, HP themselves use exact titles all over the place when they link our Hubs together, as do most big websites.
I am sure of that. You can look it up on popular SEO sites like MOZ and SearchEngineLand. One time I experienced a significant traffic drop. I removed the links to my related hubs and my traffic came back up again. Not really sure if that was the reason for the jump in traffic; nobody can say for certain. When it comes to anchor text, variety is key.
Are you targeting your audience with topics they want to read. I am not saying that in a negative way but as an author some of my books have done better then others because of the audience it drew in. Even here on hub pages some of my articles are not the highest in traffic because it only pertains to a certain audience. I would not think google would do that because any time I type in my name or hub articles or just the idea of them, they come up. I would say try to see who your audience targets from your articles. What might be informational to some might not be to others. Or what might be interesting to some might not be to others. I really don't take any of it to heart because writing is something that is very hard to market and the only way you can get a good audience is just to keep at it. One hub will take off like wild firs one day and then you can go from there. I do not ever get upset about hub pages because this is my hobby not my job. Maybe you are taking it too seriously and making yourself uptight over something that you could enjoy doing. If my writing ever has to be a job then I don't want to do it. Best of luck to you.
Well I just think its Google playing their silly games again.I was on a roll big time last week, I actually thought I was getting somewhere it was great, now this week? I have lost about 600 readers a day!
You can't go by the daily traffic you have to go by the weekly traffic to your hubs. Daily traffic does not end until the end of the day. I never look at daily traffic to my hubs only weekly and monthly. Like I said when people are searching for certain topics on google it might not be what you have written. You can't take this site as a job. Yes we all put forth effort in writing hubs but if you look at it as a job that you are going to get paid a lot of money on then you are going to be disappointed. Have fun with it not get aggravated over the traffic to your hubs. Think of how you can increase your traffic by posting your articles on facebook, twitter, Pintrest, google, lindken. There are many venues out there that you can post your work on.
I could write an essay about this but I'm going to keep it short as I don't have much time right now.
Aside from some things already suggested, I think you could work on your opening paragraphs and 1st subtitles. Think about how you can hook the reader with "benefits" or highlight things they might do wrong without realising. (I'm looking at your freshwater aquarium hub).
Consider using a bulleted list early on so that visitors know what they're going to get and why it's worth them hanging around.
Also, try to use the exact phrase you want to rank for once or twice but only if it can be included naturally.
I'd also shorten some paragraphs (blocks of text are a no-no), add more subtitles (make them more interesting and hooky too - questions are good) and use some single sentences to break up the flow of text.
Here's a good article on writing reader hooks >> http://www.copyblogger.com/bestselling-writing-hooks/
Hope that helps a bit
EDIT: There's lots of good stuff here too >> http://copyhackers.com
Thanks for the advice and excellent food for thought. I'm intending to systematically update my Hubs over the next few months and I'm going to add these points to my list with everything else. (After I ponder it all for a while.)
I always build an outline before I write a Hub, and I generally shoot for 5-6 text capsules. Maybe that's not enough. Maybe by increasing that number to 10 or 12 I can tighten things up, build a page that's cleaner and easier to scan, and shorter my introductions before getting into the meat of the article. Right now my intros are around 250 words. Maybe 100 very focused words will be more concise and will do a better job of getting readers invested in the page. This is what I'm thinking, anyway.
I was thinking the same thing. From where I'm standing things seem to be going your way EricDockett. Great Hubbs! And Amazing Pictures.
I think the key is creating content that users engage with and that satisfies them.
Susana S comment about working on the first paragraph is good. The idea of hooking the reader is important.
The most fruitful thing I've done recently is I rewrote my top performing Hubs by improving grammar and spelling, removing off topic content and making them read more naturally (reducing repetitive words). It was kind of like giving them a facelift. On some of them, I added photos/illustrations.
The results are really strong.
This is a little different than when you see big swings, but I think it's important to rework Hubs from time to time.
Thanks Paul. More good advice. I've been thinking about revisiting Hubs on a regular basis and coming up with a plan to regularly review them. In fact I made something of a "Hub Checkup" list. This includes things like reassessing the title and summary, rereading for spelling and grammar issues, checking Amazon capsules to make sure they still represent the product, and revisiting links and YouTube videos to make sure they are still relevant, among other things. I'll likely be adding some of Susana S's points to my list.
I've also been thinking a lot about freshness lately, and how much adding new content and updating Hubs helps the performance of a subdomain as a whole. I seem to see a strong correlation on some of my accounts, but it's hard to tell.
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