- HubPages Tutorials and Community
Writing Tip: Methods to Keep Readers Involved and Improve Search Traffic
Here are several methods I use with my writing to keep readers involved and to improve search engine traffic.
One of the most important things you want to consider is how your reader responds to your writing.
- Do they find it useful?
- Does it provide the answer they were expecting?
- Did you deliver on your promise based on your title?
- Does it hold their attention all the way through by staying focused on what the title says?
If readers go away real quick, then Google will think the information you presented is of no value and they will rank your article lower.
The ranking is important because that controls how many people are sent to your Hub when they do a search for the subject.
Many things can affect how well your readers respond to your hubs. Once you've accomplished grabbing attention, you need to keep working with quality and focus all the way through.
How to Keep Your Reader's Attention
In order to attract your reader's attention you need to let him or her immediately know what to expect. If they see that it's what they want they will keep reading, but only up to a point. There's more to consider with keeping them hooked.
What happens next can make or break your relationship with your reader. You need to hold your reader's attention throughout the entire article.
It's useless if people fall on your page and immediately go away. That means only one thing to the search engines -- that your article had nothing of value. This will hurt your SEO ranking.
Your article may very well have great value. However, value is based on an algorithm that search engines use to determine if it's providing information that the reader is looking for.
Readers who are looking for something else and accidentally fall on your page are not the kind of traffic you want. It's important to understand what kind of traffic you want.
You only want readers who are specifically searching for your subject. It only has value to them.
Don't Attract the Wrong Readers
It's important to avoid keywords or tags that may be too general. That will only attract people who were searching for something else that's not related because they used one or more of your keywords in their search.
Once they hit your page and see that it's not what they want, they leave in a hurry. If too many people click away real quick, search engines take this to mean that your article is useless.
Search engines monitor how long visitors stay on a web page. The longer they stay, presumably reading, the more appropriate the page must be to the search that was requested.
The search engines use that information to improve their response to keyword queries. This affects your ranking.
If readers stay for a long time, then your content must obviously be useful and meaningful. Therefore, you get some extra points in your ranking. The more of those, the higher you go and eventually you will discover more traffic being sent your way.
Keep Paragraphs Short
Short paragraphs are easier to comprehend. Make sure your page that does not look intimidating. Leave some white space and don’t crowd the text. They notice that before they even start reading. By leaving white space, people will have less stress on their eyes and this will make it easier to read.
There is also another side-effect of having your paragraphs too cluttered. If a reader sees no spaces between paragraphs, they tend to feel that there is too much to read and they click away without even starting to read.
Separate thoughts into blocks of text in such a way that it becomes easier for the reader to grasp the meaning. Use helpful headings for sections. You might find it helpful to separate various thoughts into numbered or bulleted paragraphs like I did here.
Proper Use of Images
A main image that represents your subject provides a quick way to show the reader they have found something related to the subject matter they are interested in. An image will be noticed before they start reading.
When selecting images to use, it's important that they are related to the subject. You want something that helps the reader understand the subject. If it's not useful, then it's better to leave it out.
HubPages used to have two columns, but all tight column capsules are merged in one column on mobile devices, which account for over 65% of traffic (and growing).
Since images are inline with the text, they should not be too long vertically because that causes the reader to have to scroll past the image to continue reading.
Don’t use images from the web that may be copyrighted. You need to carefully check the license rights. Images from "Google Images" may be copyrighted, so follow those to the actual source and check.
If you use images that are in the Public Domain or have a Creative Commons License, then give the proper credit. Creative Commons has rules. Many times they ask that you display a credit to the originator.
Many image sites indicate how you need to include a credit reference. You can enter that information in the proper text fields of the image capsules when you include them in your Hub.
Proper Spelling is Important
Other things that affect your success are poorly constructed sentences, poor grammar, and misspellings. One common error I see is the incorrect spelling of "alot" instead of correctly typing two words as "a lot".
There is no such word in English. I see that a lot. And I bet if you allot more time to spell checking, you’ll do better with ranking. Ahh, did you catch that? The word “allot” with two L's is a valid word with a totally different meaning.
I also often see improper use of “there” and “their” and “they’re.” There are times when they're not paying attention to their spelling.
Use a spell checker before you publish, and proofread several times. The text capsules in HubPages have a built in spell check that you click on to run a check on that capsule's text.
I have found the most profound mistakes I’ve made when proofreading after I thought I was finished. We all make mistakes and we need to be professional about it and check our own work before considering it worthy for the public.
When I proofread, I also keep the reader in mind. I think about how it might be interpreted.
Sometimes when I read something I wrote, I realize it could be misinterpreted. Worse yet, it could be confusing. An author's work is never done. I find myself refining and rewriting many of my published articles at a later date.
Why Proofreading Needs to be Repeated
When we proofread our own material, we tend to see what we thought rather than what we typed. I always find that amazing, but it goes to show how important it is to have someone else proof it for us.
I find it works better to proofread our own hubs many months later. I guess that works because we forgot what we were focusing on and we see the actual words better, as if we’re reading it for the first time.
That's when I catch my typos, months later. I like to go back and check on old hubs every so often. I put more time towards that than I put towards writing new hubs.
I find that to be a powerful but simple task that many writers don’t make use of. I see in forum comments many times how people say they don’t want to be bothered with reviewing their older hubs.
I find it pays off well since old hubs can be improved repeatedly, getting better all the time.
Provide Useful Content that Answers Questions
Useful and easy-to-read content are important. Give the reader something in return for visiting, either information, tips, ideas, anything to provide a return for visiting your page.
As a visitor reads, they realize they are getting something and they want more, so they will stick around and keep reading. When you complete a blog, hub, business web page, or whatever, go back and read it completely from start to finish.
Pay attention to your writing from a reader’s point of view. Are you rambling on? Are you going off on tangents? Are you unclear with things? Are you failing to make your point? Any of these things can cause a reader to become frustrated and go away. You want to focus on keeping their attention. That's what I've been trying to do here. How am I doing?
Get Visitors To Come Back
When you get Repeat Visitors, this is an indication of the usefulness of your article. Search engines rank by repeat traffic. Google Analytics reports show how many hits are unique and how many are repeat visitors. So I'm sure they are using that info to determine how useful your article is.
If people are coming back, it's an indication that you have content that they found helpful and that they may need to review again. So the search engines bump up your ranking and this causes you to get more organic traffic.
You need to be patient. Keep a close eye on the extensive information you get from those Google Analytics reports, and learn from it. Try to discover what's working that keeps your readers attention and what brings them back. Then continue to do whatever works.
Check the Mobile Preview
I use the mobile preview in edit mode to see what a hub looks like on a smartphone. It's important to do this, especially if you use capsules in sidebars (left and right side by side).
The problem that many people don't realize is that the right column capsules get embedded in a single column on mobile devices. This can cause capsules to be out of sequence.
When I preview and see a problem, I simply reposition the right column capsules so that they work both ways: two columns as well as one column.
When viewed on a mobile device, you need to make sure that the subtitles are over the intended section, including the merged capsules. Remember that on a smartphone only one column is used and the right-hand column will be merged into the left column.
If you don't take mobile view into consideration when putting your hub capsules together, then some subtitles may end up under the merged capsule and it won't make sense to the reader.
Use the Information in Your Google Analytics Reports
Your Google Analytics Reports show you where visitors came from, what keywords they used to find you, how long they stayed and where they went next.
The Analytics Reports can keep you busy in a worthwhile way. You'll discover if your readers clicked to another of your hubs, or if they just left after reading one. This shows you if you need to change something to keep them around.
You need to sign up for Google Analytics to get a tracking code. If you haven't already included your Google Analytics code in your HubPages account, you should do that right away. Then let it track for a few weeks to accumulate useful information for your reports.
Where Are Your Analytics Reports?
- Click on the "My Account" tab on HubPages
- Click on "Affiliate Settings"
- Click on "Check Your Analytics Statistics"
- Login to your Analytics Account.
- Click on "View Report" for HubPages.
Then select any report you want...Dashboard, Intelligence, Visitors, Traffic Sources, Content, AdSense, or Goals.
Each report lets you dig deeper into the data. So give yourself time to learn all of it. If you get lost, you can always click back to the Google Analytics Dashboard.
Three Bonus Tips
The following are a few things I found that help improve poorly performing older hubs. I have no idea if these are the reasons for why it worked, but it can't hurt.
- I routinely scan comments in hubs that don't add value. Google includes comments in their ranking. When people say things like "nice hub" or "good work" I delete those. I do appreciate them, but they are not meant for the general public. Readers who browse comments are looking for information that is meaningful to the subject.
- I sometimes spend a little time watching people reading my hubs in Google Analytics Real-time View. That shows me when people actually stay on a hub (possibly reading), if they drop off, or if they move on to another hub of mine. Watching this real-time activity helps me decide on needed modifications to hubs.
- I review the stats on old hubs from time to time and look for problems such as short view duration. If I see a correlation with poor traffic, I try to improve those hubs.
Getting and holding web traffic is based on hard work beyond just writing articles. It's a way to let the search engines learn if you are worthy of the traffic. If they determine that you are, they will be glad to send more people your way. That takes time, so you need to be patient and stay on top of things. Good Luck!
© 2009 Glenn Stok