The Basic HubPages Rules - What You Really Need to Know
Like any writing site, HubPages has rules, and it can be confusing to work it all out. The Learning Centre is vast! In a nutshell, though, most of that information is advisory not compulsory. So you can start writing once you've grasped these golden rules:
The Only HubPages Rules You Really Need to Know
- There's a maximum of one Amazon product (including books) per 300 words of text (so, a 600 word Hub can have 2 products). In reality, you'll use less than that, because of the next two rules:
- The product must be mentioned in your text.
- Products MUST be directly related to the TITLE of your Hub. If they're even slightly off-topic, your Hub may be unpublished. For instance, a sewing machine on a Hub about sewing a quilt is not sufficiently related, unless you need a specific machine for sewing quilts. Likewise, if you have a Hub about George Washington and you add a paragraph about Abraham Lincoln, you can't add a book about Lincoln. The product must relate to your main topic, not to a sentence or even a paragraph.
- You must explain why you're recommending that particular product. HubPages says you should select only products you have personal experience of: in practice, they will not ask you to prove it! The key is to make your recommendation personal ("I like this ... because", "For my money, this book is the best ...", etc).
Links to Other Hubs, Websites or Blogs
- You can have only TWO links to the same domain in a Hub. If you have more, you'll get a warning that the Hub is "overly promotional" and it will be unpublished!
- Links MUST be directly related to the MAIN topic of your Hub - if you have unrelated links, your Hub may be unpublished. So, no links to other Hubs on different topics, your profile, social networking links, or your blog (unless you can link to a post that's directly related to the topic). Also, no links to other subjects you might mention in passing.
This rule has one unfortunate consequence - it limits your ability to cite sources. Say you're writing an article about youth violence in a city and you make a statement about rising unemployment being the cause, you probably want to link to an article supporting your statement. But now you can't, because your main topic is violence, not unemployment!
The answer is to cite your sources the old-fashioned way, by giving information on where to find the article but not hyperlinking to it. The neatest way to do that is to add a text capsule at the end of your Hub, title it Sources or References and list your sources there.
- Hubs are likely to fail the QAP (Quality Assessment Process) if they're too short. Don't bother publishing anything under 400 words, unless you have a LOT of images and/or videos.
- A Hub must be not currently published anywhere else on the internet (see below in the Duplicate Content section for more details).
- You must not write about prohibited subjects (based on Google's "Prohibited Content"). HubPages applies these rules more strictly than Google, because Adsense is absolutely critical to the site's earning capacity, and they can't afford to take chances!
- Do not use HTML affiliate code, including Zazzle links. Most HTML code includes two or more URL's, so they can break the two-links rule. Instead, extract the URL you need from the HTML code and create your own hyperlink.
Photos and Images
Many people reduce the size of images before posting them on a website to save server space and reduce load times. Don't do that on HubPages - images on HubPages must be clear, not fuzzy, even if the reader decides to click to view them full-size. If you are using photos from photo websites, make sure you 're using them legally, and also make sure you use the download button to get the best quality photo you can.
The Duplicate Content Penalty
How to Avoid the Duplicate Content Penalty
HubPages hates duplicate content. When you publish a Hub, an automated checker looks to see whether the text exists anywhere else. If it does, your Hub will be unpublished.
The HubPages duplicate checker works by checking Google, and a page doesn't disappear from Google the minute it's deleted from a site. That's because Google isn't instant - you have to wait until Google's robots go back and crawl that site again, and discover the page has gone. When that happens is unpredictable - it could be a few hours or it could be a month.
What does that mean for you?
If you're transferring an article from another site, simply wait a week or so before publishing it on HubPages. The neatest way to do that is to create the Hubs, and save them unpublished for a week before you publish them.
Guidelines are NOT Rules!
Most of the other "rules" are actually just guidelines - how you lay out a Hub, what headings to use etc etc. It's important to understand that they are NOT rules and you don't need to feel bad if you don't follow them.
The most important guidelines to follow are the "Stellar Hub" guidelines. HubPages has analysed the most successful Hubs and encapsulated their features in the Stellar guidelines. You'll see the the group of check boxes in the top right hand corner when you're making a Hub. As you meet the various criteria, those boxes will be checked - but they are just suggestions.
The thing is, not every subject lends itself to all the features. HubPages is not asking you to artificially inflate your Hub with useless information, just to reach the "Stellar" word count. They don't expect you to include irrelevant videos just to get that box ticked, and they don't insist on a poll if there isn't a relevant question you can ask. The closer your Hub gets to reaching those "Stellar" goals, the higher your HubScore will be - but that's another thing about HubPages. Scores are meaningless.
Why Hubs are unFeatured
Hubs can be Featured or UnFeatured. It's important to understand what that means, because an UnFeatured Hub, though it's still published, is effectively invisible.
Hubs can be unFeatured for one of two reasons.
The first is that it breaks one of the rules listed above ("quality"). If that's the case, then you can get it Featured again by identifying and fixing the problem, and saving the Hub. It will go back through QAP and if you've fixed the problem correctly, it will become Featured.
The second is that it isn't getting enough traffic from Google. If that's the case, you can get it Featured again by editing the Hub and changing just a few words - but it's only a short term fix. Unless you can work out why Google doesn't like it, it will become unFeatured again in a few weeks.
This Hub explains in more detail why and how that happens, and how to decide what to do about it.
The Niche Sites
HubPages now has several specialist websites, each one focussing on a small group of subjects. These "niche" sites are the future of HubPages and have much better earnings potential than the main site, so it's worth striving to get your Hubs accepted for those sites.
The niche sites don't have any extra rules, but they do apply them to a higher standard. So for instance, they are even more strict about the quality of photos and the relevance of products or links. They are also fussy about quality of writing, length, and clarity of structure (making sure it's easy for the reader to find their way around the Hub using sub-headings etc).
HubScore and HubberScore
You'll notice that every Hub has a score and every Hubber has a Hubber Score on their profile image.
Both scores are, pretty much, meaningless. Scores are not used by HubPages to make ANY decisions about Hubs or Hubbers, except for one - if your HubberScore drops too low, links in your Hubs will become "no follow". That doesn't matter to most people: all it means is that if you're writing a Hub to promote a website or blog, you lose the value of that link. It doesn't hurt the Hub itself.
HubScore is not a reflection of quality. It includes the QAP score and how close you've got to the "stellar Hub" criteria, but there are so many other factors that you can't make any meaningful judgment from it.
HubScores have absolutely NO impact on a Hub's ability to get traffic, or to make money. They are an internal measure, intended to motivate Hubbers (although some of us feel that, because they're impossible to interpret, they do more upsetting than motivating).
There are no other rules. You'll see lots of people on the forums offering advice on what you are and aren't allowed to do - but anything they suggest is just their opinion, not a rule! So don't exhaust yourself trying to follow a host of rules that don't really apply!
There are so many more tips I could offer, but there's also only so much a person can absorb at one time - so I'm going to stop there. Joining a new site is a learning curve and you'll learn more gradually as you go along. You'll find more tips about HubPages on the slider on my profile if you're interested.
Good luck and welcome to HubPages!