How can I get more traffic to my hubs on Hubpages? What is the best way to drive pageviews?
I've been on hubpages for a little while now and I've picked up a couple of tricks. And I've learned even more from other people's suggestions and tips for getting traffic so I thought I'd share a summary of them here.
First of all, I'm only interested in the whitest of white hat traffic strategies. I rely on my Google accounts for my whole online life so it would be crippling if they were disabled (read the scary tale of what happened to shazwellyn). Basically, I'm not do anything that might annoy the big G.
And now that hubpages will publish our best hubs on their niche topic sites - which is great for organic search traffic - that's yet another route for more pageviews for our hubs.
No one knows exactly how Google and the other search engines rank pages apart from the companies themselves. But remember what the search engines are trying to do: find the best most relevant content. And one clue that helps them do that is how "fresh" it is, i.e. how recently updated it is.
It's worth keeping hubs up to date, especially those that are based on data that changes as time goes on. Just think, when you are searching the web, you wouldn't stay on a page that hadn't been updated since 2003 unless it's the kind of information that never goes out of date.
So keep your hubs fresh.
How to get more traffic - the big picture
Where does traffic come from? It comes from other websites (and other hubs). Mostly (but not only) through search engines (like Google, Bing and Yahoo Search). That means you need to be linked to from lots of other websites and to feature near the top of the search rankings.
So how do we do this?
1. Write quality content.
If you do people will link to you because what you've written is useful to them and their readers and you will get traffic that way. Also the search engines try to take this into account as well (in an algorithmic way, so it's not perfect).
An important part of this is making sure your work is well structured, with a clear informative title, helpful article summary and useful sidebars where that is relevant.
But of course the better content you have the more high quality backlinks you are likely to get and search engines love backlinks. So the next tip is...
2. Get lots of high quality backlinks.
Backlinks (links from other pages to your page) are one of the key things that determine where you come in the search engines rankings (like Google's PageRank). If these are from relevant, highly ranked sites they count for more - these are high quality backlinks. Links from spammy sites might even hurt your ranking.
Getting backlinks doesn't mean getting them yourself! If people like your content (see point 1 above!) they will link to you. I generally hear bad things about paying for backlinks and I think Google disapprove of people gaming their system like that so I would definitely avoid it. But it is possible to get high quality backlinks without paying - but it will mean some work. We'll look at some tips for that below.
Technical point: If a link is marked as "no-follow" in the underlying code then Google won't count it, although other search engines might. Wordpress uses no-follow comments by default (but that can be switched off).
3. Use keywords properly.
When search engines are deciding where to list pages for a particular search they will look at how the search words appear in the page, how often they appear and in what context, as well as the general ranking of that page. Therefore if you can write in such a way that the search engine will realise that your content is relevant to the search you will appear high up in the listing for that search.
We're not trying to break the system here - but it's too everyone's advantage if the relevant content that you have written gets matched up with that search. You get traffic that is interested in your content and will stay and read it and maybe click on an ad. The search engine has a happy customer. And the searcher has found some useful content. Everyone is happy. It's win-win-win.
I'll look in more detail at some keyword and web writing tips below.
White hat vs Black hat SEO
This brilliant blog post on SEOMoz sets out the white hat creed. Building real long term useful content is better than spam tactics, definitely in the long term and sometimes in the short term too.
Go read it, it's better than anything I could say about it.
Tips specific to Hubpages
When writing on hubpages there are a few tools hubpages provides to help you get even more views.
1. Make sure you write a summary
The summary is the second hook, after the title that will draw readers in. The summary will often appear in web search results as well. Make sure it is punchy and tells readers exactly what your article offers.
2. Put similar articles in groups
That way hubpages can automatically suggest similar articles to readers based on the article they are currently reading. That means you could get two views for the price of one!
3. Add a picture or two
Hubpages is very keen on pictures. It improves the look and feel of an articles. They will promote articles with pictures over those without. You can get creative commons licensed images by searching at search.creativecommons.org/ or by searching Flickr with the "creative commons" filter on.
Find a niche
Writing lots of hubs on lots of subjects isn't a bad thing. But if you find a niche or two then each hub you write reinforces the others. You can add links from one hub to another naturally and use the powerful "group" feature in hubpages to group related hubs together.
Make sure you stay featured!
Hubpages has now introduced a new system for hubs. Hubs will either be "featured" or "idle" (or "pending" while you wait to find out).
Featured hubs will be included in the index for Google. Idle hubs won't. Idle hubs will still be visible on hupages if people go there directly, so you can still earn from them. But they won't be on Google (which is where most of my traffic comes from).
Even if your hubs are featured they can become idle over time. So it's worth checking back and refreshing any hubs that have become idle to make sure that they are up to date and as useful to readers as they can possibly be.
So while it can be frustrating if your favourite old hubs become "idle", it does make you improve them. It's a great prompt that your newly idle hub should be updated - if nothing else a spelling and grammar check - to make the hub better. And fresher. And search engines love great and fresh content. So it can only improve your hub portfolio.
And, just based on what I've seen, overall traffic has increased after this change.
Poll: Your tip for hupages traffic
What is the most important tip for driving traffic to your hubs?
Tips for writing quality content
Like I said above I'm new to hubpages so I don't pretend to be an expert. Here are some of the tips I've picked up reading about writing for the web and for hubpages in particular. Please do share any of your suggestions in the comments.
1. Write concisely. Make your point and move on. Don't pad your articles out or readers will get frustrated and not bother reading to the end.
2. Write something useful - answer a question or solve a problem for your readers. Try to make sure your answers are correct and helpful.
3. Make sure you're spelling and grammar are correct. Not necessarily "English teacher" correct. But clear and easy to read. That matters more than a bunch of rules in Strunk and White (excellent though that book is).
4. Structure your articles so it's easy for readers to find what they want. They may only need one fact or they might want to read the whole thing. Make it easy for them whatever. Then they'll keep coming back - and maybe even give you the backlinks that will boost your traffic.
Engage in the conversation
Get involved with the community and get backlinks by commenting naturally not spammily. Hubpages comments automatically lin to your profile and you usually set up comments on other sites to link back to your profile.
Tips for getting lots of natural high quality backlinks
I think the trick with backlinks is to avoid tricks! And not to try and game the system - because you will eventually be caught out. A lot of people were caught out by Google's Panda update. But if you just behave naturally and try and get people to link to your content because it is useful and relevant I don't see how you can go wrong.
The tricky bit is trying to get people to know your content is there in the first place.
Comment on other hubs. Participate on relevant forums and comment on relevant blogs. It may make people curious about you and your content. Sometimes it will even give you the chance to naturally link back to your content (if the blag allows Name/URL commenting for example). But do it naturally. Be part of the converstaion or you'll be blocked as a spammer.
2. Be generous
Both with your time and your links to other people's content. If you see something useful, link to it (assuming the owner is happy for you to). Don't always think about what you're getting out of it. If you behave generously people will want to interact with you and will start linking to your content because they want to, not because you have tricked them into it.
3. Get social
Everyone is focusing more and more on social networking. If you can build a network of people who are interested in your topics that is an automatic readership, and, if they like it, they will share your content with their networks, and so on and so on. Use Twitter, Google+, pinterest and other places to spread the word about your content. Don't be spammy. Just let people know it's there, if they want it.
Tips for writing for search engines as well as people.
1. Whatever you do, don't write just for the search engines. They are getting smarter all the time and will eventually find you out. Write for people. That's what the search engines want, even if they are sometimes fooled by spammers and other internet tricksters.
2. Do use tags and keywords naturally. If you include keywords too often or put them in unnatural places the search engines will notice and mark you down. On the other hand it helps if you can specifically use any variants that people searching for your topic might use. For example if you are writing about insuring your vehicle you might also mention insuring cars, insurance for your truck so that people searching have more chance of finding your article.
3. Make sure you have a summary on your hub. This will be shown in the search listings for some search engines and will be part of what decides people to click through to your article. So make it snappy and descriptive - it's like the back of the book cover blurb for your article.
4. Use tags from schema.org.
This is the future - but I don't think we can use it on hubpages yet. Schema tags allow you to tell search engines exactly the context of your article. Eg if you are writing about Apple the computer company you can tag it as a computer company so you won't get search results for Apple the record company or apples the fruit. Although this sounds like it gets you less traffic - it will get you more in the long run as users can find what they want and they will actually stay on your article rather than clicking back immediately. That's good for your search engine ranking and good for ad clicks if that's something you care about.
UPDATE: Keep at it
The longer you keep at hubbing the more views you get. That is my experience.
As time goes by you gain backlinks (from your own hard work and from others), Google also rewards long serving, updated content. Slowly the views from search engine traffic build up.
This, together with you adding more and more content that links to each other organically means your traffic can compound over time.
Two years in particular seems a key milestone. My traffic has spiked up just after I was on here for two years.
I don't write much here, but I still get decent traffic. So can you.
Don't try and game the search engines. They will eventually win as they are bigger and cleverer than any of us can be individually. Behave naturally. Write great content and spread the word about it and the search engine hits will come.
This might be harder work than trying some SEO hacking but it will be more rewarding in the long run both in terms of your writing skills and in your bank balance.
Do remember to add any tips in the comments and point out anything I've forgotten or that you disagree with!
Have fun hubbing!