Does Quality Really Matter on HubPages?
I'm going to start off with a little bit of total transparency! I started on HubPages to make money from home and create backlinks to my other sites. In fact, that's still a factor for me. So, don't think I'm getting self-righteous with what follows. In the short time I've been here, I've learned a lot. I've seen what works well and what doesn't, and I did the research necessary to make sense of why that's the case.
My first hubs here were pretty low-quality. In fact, I ended up unpublishing 4 of them. I'd like to believe nobody will remember those hubs, but I'll tell you that one was insurance related and the other 3 were about home improvement. These were hubs that weren't a whole lot better than the ones we'll be talking about. They weren't terrible, though, and a few of them did have high ratings, but what they didn't have was comments or a decent amount of page views, or anything of real value to offer my readers. I came to realize that not only were these hubs unsuccessful, but they were actually dragging down my traffic and the opportunity to gain new followers. Upon unpublishing them and rebranding my account, I noticed a huge boost in traffic and interest for my hubs.
That experiment taught me something. It taught me that quality mattered and that reputation mattered, and so I began to investigate just how much quality factors in. I'm not ashamed to say that I experimented with a lot of strategies and different focuses on HubPages. That's really the best way to learn, and I did learn. I'd like to share some of what I found to be the case for me, in the hope it might help other authors, especially those who are looking to increase their traffic and income on the site.
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Using HubPages for Backlinks
Many people, in the past, have gravitated to sites like HubPages and Squidoo for primarily one purpose: Backlinks. That's not to say that the majority of authors fall into this category, but a quick glance at hubs found using the "hop some hubs" feature, reveals that it is widespread. A dead giveaway of these hubs is that they will always have 2 (or more) external links using anchor text to the same website. These hubs almost never contain pictures or video and consist of around 500 words of very boring text on subjects like insurance or appliances. They often are stuffed full of keywords and have a very low-level of readability.
The thinking among this camp is that the quality of the hubs is irrelevant, so long as they can maintain their Hub Score above 75 to get the dofollow backlinks. Often the attraction to HubPages and other similar sites is the high PageRank that the sites possess. What these guys do not take into account, however, is that the PageRank of the site will not carry over to their hubs. PageRank is calculated per page not per site.
It's a self-defeating strategy, because these hubs will never gain a PageRank high enough to make those links worth even the minimal time you would invest in building them.
Using HubPages for AdSense
Some authors are interested in AdSense and they want to utilize the site to make money. That's totally understandable, but where they can go wrong is building a hub solely around trying to get clicks on their ads, and building them as quickly as possible, with the poorest level of passable quality they can. There's actually some authors who believe producing higher quality hubs makes it less likely for users to click the ads, so they purposely avoid adding images or any links, or any content of real value, with the intention of just bouncing the user onto an ad as quickly as possible.
This strategy is very flawed. Not only will a low quality hub not receive the engagement level that can convert to money-making clicks, readers will bounce from it so quickly that they won't even see those ads to begin with. The back button is a very well-known tool, and people use it almost on instinct as soon as they don't like what they see.
Even if this strategy did work, HubPages would be the wrong place to implement it. Making a "gateway site" that solely acts as a middleman for ads can actually make people money when it's done right. Google doesn't particularly like it, visitors don't like it much, either, and they won't be coming back, but it can get clicks. However, on HubPages, you're not going to receive 100% of your page views, and using this strategy doesn't make sense from even a purely business perspective. The advantage of HubPages is it's platform. If you're not using a publishing strategy that utilizes what the site has to offer (primarily community), you're throwing away your page views for nothing, and you'd be better off on Blogger, if you really don't want to invest in your own domain.
The Negative Impact of Low Quality Hubs
Low quality hubs destroy your brand on HubPages. When I say "brand", I mean your personal reputation with the HubPages community. It makes it clear that you're using the site as a dumping ground for poorly spun, rewritten or just totally unremarkable content that is regurgitated on a thousand other sites across the internet. It gives you a reputation as a spammer, and it guarantees that only other spammers are going to follow you or leave fan mail, and you can bet they won't be reading your hubs or clicking your ads along the way, either.
It also has a negative impact on the entire domain. In fact, not only does it give people a bad impression of the site and it's users, but can impact upon an entire domain. This was the factor involved in the giant plunge in traffic with Google's Panda update, which targeted low quality content by punishing entire sites for the actions of their users. Thankfully, HubPages has introduced subdomains to counter this, which is yet more reason to avoid creating low quality hubs. Google will now be able to downgrade or de-index specific users by targeting their subdomain.
Strategies that Work
HubPages is a social platform. That means that to take advantage of what it offers, and not just try and use it to capture some Google traffic or get a backlinks, you need to engage with others. You also need to produce engaging content.
Focus on building relationships with users on HubPages and providing hubs that are unique, either in their approach or in their purpose. Give people something useful that they will enjoy, and you will slowly build a following that not only reads your hubs when you publish them, but promotes them and adds to the conversations that you begin.
Incorporate graphics and video where appropriate to your hub to avoid it looking like a wall of text and set it apart from the 2 backlinks and 500 words crowd. That's not the camp you want to be in.
You can build valuable, relevant backlinks to your site by producing valuable, relevant hubs. It might take more time and effort, but the payoff is much bigger, over the longterm. You'll also be making something you can be proud of, instead of just dumping some text into a hub and hoping to earn a couple of cents off of it.
AdSense and the HubPages Ad Program are great! Take advantage of them, for sure. You can focus a hub around a product, so long as it's not overly promotional and really adds value. And you'll find you will be much more successful doing this when you've built trust. The same type of techniques that will build trust with the community, will build trust with even a random user who stumbled across your hub through Google.
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Try the Experiment
Quality does matter. If you'd like to prove it for yourself, conduct your own experiment. Go ahead and post a 30 minute unresearched hub about a subject of your choice, and then create a similar one on that same topic, but spend 90 minutes on it, and really make it something to be proud of. Check your results even after a few days, and you will see you're already going to notice more than 3 times the level of engagement with that hub. It's not only more efficient and time-effective to produce a hub of higher quality, it's a lot more profitable, as well.
And this small experiment doesn't take into account the most significant benefit of producing high quality content on a regular basis: you will build a high quality follower base. That is what is going to explode your traffic and your earnings, and give you sustainable passive income for as long as you choose.
Know Your Platform
It's important to know your platform, and how to leverage it for the best results. HubPages isn't going to do all it can for you if you're using it just to get a couple backlinks. If you want quick backlinks, go after some PageRank 3-4 pages (not sites) on blogs or forums.
If AdSense is your thing, but you want to build a low-quality gateway page where people just click an ad and never come back, pay $8 and buy your own domain from NameCheap, then find some inexpensive (or free) hosting services. They do exist. HubPages isn't the place for that strategy.
If you want to make money and gain traffic on HubPages, you need to know what it's strengths are, and you need to capitalize on those. Connect with the community, build your reputation, produce trusted, high quality content and do so regularly and with persistence, and you will earn the traffic and the income you want.
What Do You Think?
Do you believe quality is important to achieving your goals on HubPages?
What advice do you have for building better quality hubs?