If a hub makes lots of money from Amazon sales and is top of the list in searches, why snip links? Is it just for the good of the site?
How can it be good for the site? Many of us came here to earn and I imagine this site also wants to make money.
I remember awhile back when we almost lost this site because writers were putting so many ads on their hubs that it was ridiculous! Google nailed us, and it has taken the team a really long time, a lot of expense and a lot of work to repair the damage. I can't blame them for being careful. This is how they earn their living, and they need to protect the site any way they can.
On the other hand, I think sometimes that the moderators go too far...such as in Marisa's case. Just as writers need to be careful about ads, so should moderators be careful about what they snip.
It has been my personal practice when a moderator does something like this to send an email to the team explaining my position. In most cases, we are able to resolve the issue in my favor. Those times when this doesn't happen, I see the moderator's point and am satisfied.
It's a give and take, however, I do think that people whose Amazon earnings start dropping are likely to leave the site. That would not be good. I hope the team will address this issue so that everybody can earn and the site remains solvent.
We have a strict policy for products for a few reasons. First, we believe that using affiliate links in a way that acts like a doorway page (shuttles users quickly through a link) puts the entire network at risk, second, we aim to be a high quality community that puts the reader before monetization. Again, we think this is good for the long term.
We know Amazon is effective, but we prefer it to be used with great precision so that it benefits everyone. Misuse benefits no one.
But, Paul, how does that explain the current practice of removing links which are totally relevant to the Hub and helpful to the reader? Because that is what is happening and I've seen several examples mentioned on the forums recently.
It just happened to me again last week. I've just written to the editor asking them to move my Hub back to the main site so that I can keep the Amazon product because I feel it's so essential to the Hub.
For me, the big problem is that those that moderate the hubs don't always understand the subject and take off links because of it. For instance, you can't crochet without yarn and a crochet hook. If you need a special yarn to crochet the patterns provided, a link to that yarn is helpful. The right size crochet hook can be also.
I can't help wondering if a reader who has the inclination to go elsewhere, namely to buy a product which is being advertised (or not) is getting exactly what they want. There are always two sides to the story and the other side is that not all writers here write for self-gratification most need to earn from their writing too We are of course only talking about one advert per article usually. The days of multiple irrelevant products on a hub are long gone and so too has e-Bay we accept that. Somehow we need to get the balance right so that writers feel that they too are reaping the rewards.
Every Amazon ad is a risk and they need to be used with care. It is hard to say much without knowing which ads are involved.
In my case, I wrote a Hub about learning to dance a Spanish folk dance. I provide several resources to help learn, but a person could not learn the dance accurately from the Hub alone (that would be impossible). So I provide a link to the only DVD available which teaches, in detail, how to dance it. There is no other content on that DVD - it teaches that dance and nothing else, so it's completely relevant.
I don't provide a detailed review of that DVD because it would be pointless - there is no alternative resource, so there's no point telling the reader the good points and bad points. If they want to learn the dance and can't find a teacher, it's the only option they've got. And I say that in the Hub. Yet that ad gets snipped. And like I said, I know I'm not the only one this has happened to.
If the page is 'Flamenco—Learn Sevillanas Paso a Paso', it has an Amazon ad leading to a video, so I can't see the problem.
That's because I just added the capsule back in, after it had been snipped for the fourth time!
I can see your point, but I would not have used an Amazon ad on that page. I reckon they should only be used on pages where readers expect to see them. And where other search results will carry those kinds of 'buy now' ads.
If someone searches for 'best vacuum cleaners for pet hairs' they are certainly looking to buy a product and Amazon ads are fine. If someone searches for 'dvd to learn spanish folk dance', they are certainly looking for a product, too.
If they search for 'how to learn spanish folk dance', that is one step removed.
I have a page on 'films about childhood' with 20 reviewed films. I decided against any Amazon ads partly because none of the search results for that term turned up pages with Amazon ads, and partly because I never really expected enough traffic to get enough ad clicks to justify their inclusion.
edit: apologies for long, breathless sentence, lol.
In the past, I often added amazon ads, mostly for books that offered further information on a topic. When I start looking for any information I like to start off with general info, like an article online, then move on to a book. But when HP began to frown on amazon ads, I just took them all off. Every time I removed the ads from an article, its traffic increased. Now that may be just because the article was edited, but....
Supposedly, Google doesn't like ad heavy articles. That being said, whenever I look something up, I find the top articles are more ad than content. I can't understand but try to go with the flow.
I would just try to have confidence that the Team has a long term strategy for these things. Not much else we can all do but try to conform to guidelines for now. I'm sure it does kinda bite for those of you who were cleaning up on Amazon.
On the whole, I have been extremely pleased with the way editors have handled Amazon links. I know I've changed my approach to using them over the last couple of years. I use far fewer, and my income from them has gone up, not down. Used correctly, as Paul says, they are very effective. Misused, they can be trouble for your pages, and the whole HP network.
That said, while this rarely happens there have certainly been times (once recently) where I felt an editor didn't understand what I was trying to do with my links. This is very frustrating, and there is nothing I can do about it. I send an email, but I'm met with a very impersonal response that tells me I'm spammy and my Hub would be removed from a network site if I don't comply.
It has been said many times that this is supposed to be a collaboration between editors and writers. It would be really nice to be able to have a dialog with the editor before they drop the axe, and some respect for our opinions.
There have been many times when an editor snipped a link and I thought, "Meh, maybe they have a point," and I let it go to see what happens. But there are other times, again rarely, when I know they are wrong, and have made my page worse with their decision. And by "worse" I mean less useful to the reader.
It would be nice to have some recourse in those cases.
I think they had to do it. Some of that was super spammy looking, especially paired with substandard writings.
I totally sympathize. I think most of us have had the experience of having what we consider to be a very useful and appropriate Amazon capsule snipped. I know I have.
I have seen many people complain in the forums about particular snipped products, some of which do not sound all that essential to me. If a member of the staff stops by to explain, they are barraged with questions about why a particular product was snipped.
The problem is that HP can't always trust the writer's judgement on what is appropriate, and they err on the side of caution. We all think our case is is the exception but if the staff has to arbitrate every snip with the writer, they won't have time to do anything else.
I'd rather have the experts snipping things that don't agree with Google's algorithm because in the end, traffic is our greatest ally on a platform like HubPages. I think the reason they snip some Amazon capsules, even if they're well performing, is for the overall health of the Hubpages network. They want ALL articles on Hubpages to fare well in Google, and sometimes Google penalizes websites that are heavy in ads. That's just my theory, anyway.
@Marisa, we are reviewing these policies and have seen a few occasions where we think the author is making a good editorial decision for the reader that we want to encourage. Authors can mention products without linking if they think the item is essential to the information, but I realize links help in situations like that.
At the same time, we know that the community and us put too many and irrelevant affiliate links in that caused site wide issues. We may be too conservative today, but we would rather be on that side than the other.
@sallybea We see some authors have a great knack for writing content that is extremely useful and monetizes exceptionally well. Eric mentioned he's done well with surgical product placement. Maybe he will chime in faith more tips, but you can also read his articles.
Thanks, Paul I will check our Eric's pages.
For myself, I will have to stick to writing about felting, I don't think surgical products are my forte:)
It might be an interesting exercise for HubPages to run a writing competition to reward a writer whose product placement achieves exceptional sales over a three month period! That way we could all have a go at improving our own earnings even if we can't all win.
Thanks Paul. I'm trying to think of what tips I can give here. I guess I feel I have had success with affiliate links when I do these three things:
1. Write about topics I know well. This means I either own a product, or I know a lot about the subject and can make trustworthy recommendations to a reader. In the past have tried writing about products and topics I think would do well but I'm not super familiar with, and I've failed miserably. Sticking to fields where I know I can give reliable advice has been best for me, and no doubt for the reader as well.
2. Understand reader intent. Is the reader coming to my Hub expecting to see products? If not, I shouldn't include them. I know what a reader is thinking by their search query. Therefore, I try to only use products in Hubs with titles that target those terms where someone would reasonably expect to be looking for products.
3. Provide information first. Even if the intent of my Hub is to help a reader make a decision on a product, I need to make sure they get something out of it even if they don't click a link. I shoot for 1500-2000 words in my Hubs, and I try to be as thorough as I can. My hope is that a reader leaves my Hub satisfied that they learned something.
As for the number of capsules in my Hubs, there was a time a few years ago when I think all of my Hubs had a least one ad capsule. Today, most of those that had one now have none. Most that had 2-4 now have only one. Those that had 5-10 now have maybe three. Some ad-heavy Hubs I've deleted entirely because they were so bad. And my sales have definitely improved.
I said I try to go these things. Sometimes I do fail. And I do have some Hubs, especially on this account, that aren't quite up to par with my current philosophies.
@EricDockett, I took a look at some of your writing and looked at the ad placement. It sure makes me want to have another go at writing a product hub, which I have not done in a long time. My most successful hub to date is one so I figure I can do it successfully again:) I stick to only one product link these days and the product is are always one which is required to complete a tutorial. Perhaps that is not enough! I need to take care to enlarge on why that particular product will work better for the purpose. I do agree with all the tips you have so generously given, thank you.
Thanks for the kind words, Sally. You are obviously an expert in felting, something I admit I know pretty much nothing about. Are there different tools people need for it? Can you give advice on choosing needles, or whatever? Felting kits of beginners? (I have no idea.) As a proven expert, you are the kind of person who beginner and intermediate hobbyists can turn to for advice on these things.
First, ask yourself what kinds of purchases felting people need help with. Then ask yourself which search terms they would use to look for advice on those purchases. Do some keyword research. Use tools like AnswerThePublic and ubersuggest. Google's own auto-suggest tool and "people also ask" suggestions are also great for clarifying what people are looking for.
Then, write the awesomest Hubs you can that answer all of their questions better than anything else on the web, and point them in the right direction based on your expert knowledge. Keep your affiliate capsules down to 3 or under, and of course only add products you directly recommend in the Hub.
I bet you'll do fantastic!
You are very welcome Eric, I have the perfect item to review. I love it and I know that I could do a great product hub on it. I just needed to test it over a long period to honestly rate it and I am now ready to do so.
Thanks for the thumbs up:)
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