HubPages GIANT Guide To Gaining Traffic And Making Money
I decided to write this guide because I wanted to share some of what I've learned that has worked for me. When I first joined HubPages, it was with some background in Squidoo, a similar platform, and I knew from my experience there, that this format would be a very legitimate way to create some extra passive income for myself.
Although I hadn't put a lot of time and energy into my work on Squidoo, and perhaps largely because of this, I had a real certainty about the type of opportunity offered by HubPages, and I wanted to get off to a very solid start. In my initial few weeks on HubPages, I had spent literally hundreds of hours learning about the strategies and techniques that people used to make money, both specifically on this platform and with online content publishing in general.
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Having done this insane level of initial research and investigation, I know first-hand there is a lot of "noise" out there, and a lot of contradictory information. My research is, in fact, ongoing, but I have learned some important things which have helped me increase my earnings here on HubPages and helped me to achieve higher levels of traffic than what I started with.
My goal in writing this guide is tell you what I've done that I have actively seen pay off, so you can try it for yourself. I hope that by sharing what I've learned with both new and veteran publishers here on HubPages, we can all benefit from the increase in knowledge. I'd also like to receive feedback, and have this guide evolve overtime. We probably don't need a disclaimer here, but I want to emphasize that these techniques and tools have proven results for me, and those which did not have not been included, which is not to say that they do not necessarily work.
Ultimately, having waded through "information overload", I came to realize the only logical way to vet the tips and strategies I came across was to try them for myself, and keep doing what worked, while disregarding what seemed to be ineffective or irrelevant. I realize a lot of people do not have the option or will to invest the amount of time I did in this project, and that's why I'd like to offer my personal experiences, and hopefully you'll find these tips to be valuable for you, as well. Before you judge them, please evaluate them for yourself. Once you have, or if you've used these strategies previously, share your own experiences with them.
This guide is not comprehensive. If it were, it would probably take another hundred hours to write it. The reality is, there are many aspects to increasing traffic on a site and raising your AdSense or affiliate earnings. But, a truly comprehensive guide isn't necessary to start increasing your results today. I've learned very quickly that the single most important aspect to making money with HubPages is actually making the hubs! This probably seems obvious, but the fact is, even though HubPages offers a great, free way to start earning a passive income, the process for establishing it isn't passive at all! You need to actively work on producing content, so with that in mind, let's guide to the guide itself, cover some basic strategies and techniques and then focus on applying those.
The Importance of Choosing a Traffic-friendly Title
Every hub starts with the process of choosing a title. HubPages itself emphasizes the importance of choosing a title claiming it to be the single most important factor. Indeed it is. The reason for this importance, is that the title has a lot to do with how your hub will rank in search engines such as Google, for specific search terms.
If you've wondered exactly how you should be choosing a title, I'm going to do you a big favor and give you a very specific process that I now use. This is a sort of "title choosing formula" I follow, and it has done wonders for my traffic.
How To Choose Your HubPages Title
Choose the title based on "long tail" keywords!
Yes, it's actually that simple.
Please note that this assumes you have already chosen a topic that appeals to you on some level, and are ready now to select a specific title for that topic.
That's the trick, but we need to look at the "how". First, I want to make sure we're all speaking the same language here, so I'm going to quickly explain what I mean by that. If you're not familiar with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) terminology, which I know most of you are likely not, you don't need to worry. I'm going to explain any unusual words I use in this guide, because I want it to be a user-friendly as possible.
What is Long Tail?
Long tail is a term coined by Chris Anderson, and I don't want to get too complex here, so if you just understand it to be a search term that is generally at least 3 or 4 words long, that's probably good enough, although the actual definition does not depend upon number of words, a long tail search term will always have more words than it's "head". It's actual meaning relates to the appearance of graphed traffic for search terms.
An example to help you understand long tail, would be considering a term like "apple pie", which would have a large amount of traffic on the search engines. That would be considered a "head". This would be in contrast to long tail terms like "how to bake an apple pie" and "sugar-free apple pie recipes". As the terms become more specific, and less general, the traffic drops off, but the interesting thing about the long tail is that the combined traffic within the tail itself can be greater than the traffic in the head.
As it would be very difficult to "rank for" (get on Google's first page results) a term like "apple pie", due to heavy competition from more established sites, focusing on long tail keywords is a very popular strategy and it can greatly increase your odds of receiving large numbers of traffic to your hubs.
Why Is Being on Google's First Page Important?
The reason that I interpret "rank for" to mean be on the first page of Google is because that's really where the majority of the traffic lies. While you certainly can achieve some level of traffic from a different search engine or from Google's 99th page search results (I know because I have), it's going to pale in comparison to what is available on the first page.
Statistically, we know that the vast majority of users do not go beyond the first page and in fact, most click one of the top results. If they do not find what they are looking for, overwhelmingly, they will change their search term, rather than look on pages 2, 3 and beyond.
To drive a massive amount of traffic to your hubs, you want to aim for a search term that you believe you are able to achieve a first page result with. If you are able to get the #1 position for a certain search term, you can estimate that you will receive about 40% of the total number of searches for that phrase.
What is a Keyword?
In this context, keyword is referring to the actual search term or word used by the user through Google or some other search engine. For example, "apple pie" could be a "keyword phrase" or "keyword term", with both "apple" and "pie" being keywords.
The HubPages Topic Choosing Formula
Let's look at how to write a topic and optimize it to gain larger amounts of traffic. This is a multi-step process, which consists of:
- Choose a broad general topic of interest
- Input the topic into the Google Keyword Search Tool
- Refine the topic into a more specific idea
- Identify long tail search terms
- Choose the most interesting and attractive long tail
- Incorporate related terms into the body of the hub
1. Choose a broad general topic of interest
This could be anything. Let's say it's "motorcycles", since I'm a fan, and I gave you guys apple pies earlier, so we need something a bit more manly, right? You can choose whatever topics you want. This guide isn't going to tell you the secret to getting traffic and making money on HubPages is to write about celebrities or television. In fact, nearly any topic can work.
Some factors to consider when deciding upon a topic are:
- Does the topic interest you personally?
- Do you have useful information to provide on the topic?
- Will researching the topic benefit you, in addition to readers?
- Is this topic a fad or is it "ever-green"?
- Have your previous hubs on this topic performed well or been largely ignored?
2. Input the topic into the Google Keyword Search Tool
Yes, there are a number of other tools you could use for this process, and a lot of them come with pretty hefty price tags, as well as nice affiliate bonuses for people to promote them all over the internet. They also all pull their data from the Google Keyword Search Tool, which is completely free, and not difficult to use. You need to sign up for an AdWords account to use this tool, but if you already have a Google account for any other service, it's pretty much click and go. This is vital, so if you're not going to do this, you might as well stop reading the guide here, because what follows can not be done without access to this tool.
There's some tweaking we need to do with the tool to make it useful for us.
- Put the term in. In this case, motorcycles. You will enter this on the top left where it says "Find keywords". Do not yet search. Just go ahead and type it in.
- Click the box underneath that says "Only show ideas closely related to my search terms". This will filter out the noise that you will otherwise get.
- Ensure your settings are on Locations: United States. This will be used for the "Local Monthly Searches", and we will use United States regardless of your actual location, because the U.S. is the primary market for us.
- Click the "Columns" button on the bottom right and activate "Approximate CPC". CPC means "Cost-Per-Click", and this shows us the general amount that advertisers are willing to pay for the search term. This is an important indicator of the commercial value of a term, regardless of the fact we are not using it for it's original purpose.
There's one finally configuration step, but we can't do it unless a search is already in progress, so go ahead and click that search button now. Once you've started the search, scroll down and on the left under "Match Types", click "[Exact]" and uncheck "Broad". Broad has terribly distorted data, and is completely misleading and useless for our purposes here. We want to see the exact numbers for the terms, not an inflated value.
Ok, so there we go. With those configuration steps complete and our search now appearing accurately, we're ready to move on.
3. Refine the topic into a more specific idea
Click on the "Local Monthly Searches Column" and the results will organize accordingly. We want to see the highest number of searches at the top. Now scan through the results, and pick something that looks interesting to you. "Used motorcycles" jumps out at me as a good topic for a hub, so I'm going to take that, and if you're following along the example for yourself, go ahead and use that one.
4. Identify long tail search terms
Now we've got "used motorcycles" as a topic of interest, but we don't want to use just that in our titles, because there's way too many competing sites for "used motorcycles". We can confirm this fact by going to Google and doing a search for "used motorcycles" and surveying the first page. Very big well-established sites are dominating the results. We want to get our hub on the first page ideally, and we're unlikely to be able to do that without using a long tail with this.
So, here's what we'll do. Where we have "motorcycles" in the search box for the Keyword Tool, we're going to put "used motorcycles" and see what long tails we can find. To do this, we can enter "used+motorcycles" as our search term for the cleanest results or simply "used motorcycles" with the space. The quotations are not necessary.
Now, you want to take two things into account as general guidelines. You want to look at traffic and you want to look at CPC. The CPC is going to give you some idea of how much you will make when the AdSense ads on this hub are clicked. It's not a totally accurate estimate, but you'll likely get around 60% of the listed value (the other 40% is Google's cut). So, we would prefer a high CPC amount.
I personally aim for traffic between 1000-3000 Local Monthly Searches, because I've found that's a nice balance between competition and traffic. If you really want to go into depth on this process, you can perform the Google search for the term yourself and check the PageRank of the sites on the first page. PageRank is a general indicator of how tough a website will be to beat for the top spots. I target terms where the first page results have sites at 0-2 PageRank. If I'm losing you here, you don't need to worry about this. Choose a long tail that has a decent CPC and around 1000 Local and you can be pretty certain that you will rank well.
5. Choose the most interesting and attractive long tail
Go ahead and choose your long tail. Given the options here, I'm liking "used motorcycles in dallas", which is in the middle of page 3. It has 1300 Local and .81 cents CPC. Before I totally commit to it, though, I'm going to check PageRanks. This step isn't entirely necessary, but I like to do it just to get an idea of what competition I will face. I use a free browser plugin called SEOQuake that makes checking sites PageRank very quick. I would recommend that you get this plugin and take a quick glimpse at your competitors PageRank.
Often I just check the last result on the first page, and in this case the site had a PageRank of n/a, which is lower than 0, so I'm very satisfied.
6. Incorporate related terms into the body of the hub
I want to use my chosen long tail "used motorcycles in dallas" in my title. I also want to identify some related terms to use in the body of the hub. So I go ahead and plug in "used+motorcycles+dallas" and do a search. Now I will select a few good, natural sounding options from there to include in the body. And our keyword selection poccess is at an end.
Additional Notes About Your Title
You should note that I used the long tail keyword term I select via the above formula in the title, but I do not use it as the title. You want to incorporate the term into your title not use it as the sole title, itself. In the case of "used motorcycles in dallas", I might do something like "Get the cheapest used motorcycles in Dallas" or "How to find used motorcycles in Dallas".
Always make sure the title matches your hub's content. Never choose a title based on thinking it is contains a good search term if you do not have the interest and ability to write useful, creative content for it. As important as it is to select keyword terms that will draw traffic, it's even more important to deliver to those searches the content they are looking for. If you fail to do that, you will not be able to achieve a high ranking in a search engine and maintain that ranking, which is what we want to do to generate stable passive income with HubPages.
Set Up Your Affiliate and Reporting Settings
You won't make any money at all on HubPages if you do not input your correct affiliate details. HubPages offers AdSense, Amazon, eBay and the HubPages Ad Program. Enable those you are able to, by signing up for any accounts you need and providing the relevant information under your account settings.
The Reporting settings will allow you to track your page views via Google Analytics, and is very useful for measuring the performance of your hubs as far as traffic.
Let Your Stats Guide You
This is one of the most important things I've learned about writing successful hubs. Take a look at the traffic for your hubs, and see which topics have generated the most interest. That is a clear indicator of what people would like to see more of. Focus on producing more of the hubs which have worked for you. This becomes easier to do once you get a decent number of hubs on your account. If you haven't yet built up enough hubs to gauge this, keep making hubs on a variety of different topics, so you'll have a nicely built base and pay attention to which soar and which flop.
Even if you have narrowed down some specific areas that do well, it's still worthwhile to experiment with new topics and ideas, because you can't evaluate how well a different theme will do for you until you give it a try. The more you work on creating content, the better you will measure which content provides the best returns, and you can focus your efforts accordingly, but I like to not get locked into a particular field, either way, since I'm always looking for higher producing areas to discover.
Use The Incoming Search Terms As A Guide
Follow closely what terms searchers are using to find your hubs. These are a priceless indicator of what people are looking for. Use these to either update your hub and make it stronger, or build new hubs.
The question you should always be asking yourself is "Did the searcher find what they were looking for?". If they didn't, take quick action to include that within your hub, because this will reduce your "bounce rate", and grow your hub into a more successful one, which ultimately will secure it against a drop in it's Google ranking.
If you're receiving traffic on terms that are not related at all to your hub, take a look and rewrite those words that are catching that traffic. It's not just a matter of getting traffic, it's a matter of getting traffic and providing a positive user experience. If users are finding your hubs based on some small reference that is actually not relevant to the hub itself, you can imagine that their user experience with your hub is likely not very positive.
Some people think that stuffing as many keywords as possible into their hubs is a great way to boost traffic. As a result, users bounce from these hubs instantly, have a negative impression of the user and the site itself, and the hub will fall to the bottom of page 1534 of the Google results and effectively disappear from the search engine. Don't get greedy and try to catch as many users as you can. Focus on getting quality traffic that you earn by delivering relevant, quality content, and you will be successful.
Use those search terms as inspiration for future hubs or to expand current ones, and it will be win-win for the user and for you, as well as the entire community.
HubPages offers a number of useful modules for you to use to build your hubs. You want to make your hub visually appealing to readers by using a number of graphic to illustrate your points, and by breaking up the content into sections with appropriate headings.
A giant wall of text can make your hub look cluttered and daunting to readers. Most of the visitors to your hub are going to evaluate it within seconds and decide whether or not to even scan through it, let alone read all the content you spend your time writing for them. Focus on a clean, visually stimulating look for your hub's layout, and it's not only that less people will bounce (leave instantly), but much more likely they will read your content and engage you on it, which will boost your chances of writing a hub that "goes viral" and becomes often-linked to and talked about by others in the community.
Engage the Community on HubPages
Following other users and engage with them in the comments on your hubs and theirs is vital to building a good foundation for your account. An important factor to remember is that traffic isn't just some obscure resource that we're looking to mine. That traffic you see coming to your hubs is actually comprised of real people like you and me, who are looking for something.
HubPages is a very social platform and new users will find that nearly all of their traffic will be coming right here from the HubPages community until they've got the attention of search engines and start receiving visits from outside, as well.
Take the time to "hop some hubs" yourself. Leave constructive comments, and let people know what you appreciate about their contributions. Don't be afraid to leave suggestions or advice, as well, but always do it in a manner that you yourself would appreciate. Made connections on here, because if you do, not only will your hubs get a lot more traffic, but in the process, you'll be building the reputation and PageRank for your HubPages account and the hubs connected to it.
Each time you follow a fellow user who you are interested in, a link is placed to your profile from theirs. Every time you leave fan mail, or a comment, once again, a link is placed. I'm not saying you should go on some spamming spree and follow everyone you possibly can or leave comments like "good hub" everywhere. That sort of thing will harm, not help you. What I am pointing out is that the HubPages team has built a platform that rewards community participation and interaction. Isn't it great that you can help keep other people inspired and motivated to keep making hubs, and they in turn, will do the same for you? And isn't it nice that while you're doing this, you're also promoting yourself and your hubs through those links that are created?
Take advantage of the more social aspects on HubPages, because for other users to care about you or what you're saying, you have to demonstrate an ability to care about them and what they are saying. This is the quickest way to build your traffic up steadily as a new user, and it lays a very good foundation for when you're depending on the search engines to provide the majority of visits. Your rankings in the search engines will be enhanced by these internal links provided.
Promote Your Hubs
It's sometimes easy to forget that just making an incredible hub isn't always enough for it to be successful. If people do not find your hub, they can't see how useful and awesome it actually is. So, how can you help people to find your hubs?
Well, following the recommendations in this guide on keyword research will go a long way to gaining relevant traffic for your hubs, but the other vital component is some type of external promotion.
If you use Facebook, go ahead and share your hub with your Facebook friends. If you have a Twitter account, tweet your hub. Use Digg or SumbleUpon, or a variety of other social sites. If you are a blogger, mention your hub is a post. Not only does this help create interest in your hubs from those who are following you or the subject you're hub is on, but it provides links, which are very important for raising your PageRank and therefore your ranking on Google. These links are referred to as "backlinks", and in this case would more specifically be "external backlinks" since they are coming from a different web site. The links you receive from comments and follows are also known as "backlinks", but would be "internal backlinks".
External backlinks are particularly important because if you are using the strategy recommended above to chose your keywords, you will be able to achieve high rankings via Google very easily with even a handful of good backlinks. So do not under-estimate the value of promoting your hub off-site, as well as within the domain.
One method that I have used and have seen a lot of success with is utilizing Twitter's hashtags or trending topics (when it actually fits the topic of my hub), and promoting my hub that way. In fact, I have a hub on my account now whose total traffic was 50% from a single tweet, so this is something you should consider making a part of your promotion strategy.
There's a number of ways to promote your hubs. Whatever social networking sites you use can be be very helpful in gaining traffic and those backlinks we talked about. The important thing to realize about promoting your hubs is that is does have a direct impact upon how well your hub will rank, and subsequently a direct impact upon how much traffic you will get, which will determine your income from it, as well. Promoting your hub can often by quick and painless, remember to do it, because a little bit of time can pay off in big results. This is a way to leverage your content, and help get "the biggest bang for your buck".
Avoid Publishing An Incomplete Hub
Although it can be tempting to go ahead and publish a hub before it's actually done so you get a head start on the stat collection, don't do it. As soon as you publish your hub it goes live, and will be found by those on the site, especially the people who are using the "hop some hubs" feature. An incomplete hub will have a much higher chance of being voted down, so doing this not only creates a situation where viewers find an unfinished hub, but also negatively impacts your hubs rating right out of the gate. It's just not a good idea.
It's one thing to publish a hub with the intention of adding to it later. That's totally fine, but publishing a hub that is, in your estimation, not finished yet at all, so that the stat collection can begin before you have added your graphics or finished the formatting is a bad practice to develop.
If you'd like to check out how your hub will look before it's been finished, you can save the hub and view it unpublished. You can also use the preview feature. Make sure once your hub has gone live, it's actually ready to be seen.
Add a RSS Capsule
Set up an RSS capsule for you hub with a relevant feed that is well suited to it's topic, and updates regularly. This will look like an update for your hub to the search engines when they crawl it to check for changes. It will keep your hub being well ranked. It also provides some new content for past readers of your hub, when they return on subsequent visits.
Let the Social Monkee Work For You
Social Monkee is a great, free tool that you can use to gain better Google rankings and higher traffic for your hubs. It allows you to receive 25 backlinks each day. They do offer a premium account which you can either pay for or earn through referrals. The premium service allows you to gain more than 25 links a day, but frankly 25 a day is probably good enough for most people's purposes. I highly recommend trying this out, as it's much faster than getting external backlinks by commenting on people's blog posts or from forums, which are two other popular strategies. If you sign up through the above link it will also get me one step closer to earning the premium account, which would be nice, because I do use this tool myself daily to promote my hubs.
Link to your Other Hubs
Be sure to link to any related hubs you have in the hub you are writing. Use "anchor text" when you do this. Anchor text refers to the specific words that are used to make your link. You want to use terms that are related to your hub. For example, if I wanted to link to my hub about choosing topics on HubPages, I could do something like that. You want to use relevant anchor text rather than links that say simply "click here", for example.
Including the links to your other hubs provides your readers an easy way to move from one hub to the next, thereby increasing the amount of hubs (and ads) they will see in a given trip. And relevant anchor text is important because the terms you use in the text can boost your hubs rank on Google for those words.
Focus On A Niche
Selecting a niche to focus on can really help to sustain and grow your traffic. Rather than dispersing your attention on a wide variety of topics, choose one or two topics to make the main focus of your hubs. This will encourage a higher level of participation and engagement from readers who have an interest in that niche.
If your hubs seem to be completely random in their topics, the only thing in common will be the author. While this might be enough to interest the users on the site who know you and your work, this will hamper your ability to draw the users who have strong interests in one particular area you cover.
Initially you might find it helpful to cover a variety of topics and see which ones achieve the best results, but longterm, you can benefit from a focused direction for your account. This will develop your account as an authority on that particular topic, much in the same way that a blog with a particular well-stated purpose will have a higher subscriber base, than a blog which seems to be just a random collection of posts on different issues altogether.
This also provides an added benefit for you in that it makes it much easier to internally link your hubs, which is very good practice. You'll be able to seamlessly integrate your internal links if your hub has a specific focus.
If you truly prefer to not be limited and want to write on a wide variety of different topics, you might benefit from using multiple accounts and breaking up those area of interest to provide a more directed feel. This will allow your fan base to develop in a manner which makes your hubs highly relevant to those who follow them, which will not only create more traffic and interest, but will result in higher conversions for AdSense.
More To Come...
There's a lot more to come, but in the meantime, I'd like to hear from you.
What are the essential elements to making a high-traffic, high-earning hub?