One Million Views - One Million Thanks
This week someone, somewhere in the world chose to press a keyboard key and access one of my pages at the HubPages website. And in so doing, they unwittingly contributed the one millionth click on my articles. That's a milestone which I've been anticipating for some time with a huge amount of delight, and also with a healthy dose of realism about its significance. This page is a brief reflection on the milestone, my history at HubPages, and the people who have provided those one million clicks. For each click, I owe one thank you.
N.B: Please note, all of my articles are best read on desktops and laptops
Before we go Any Further - Let's Keep Things in Perspective
We'll start with the dose of realism - just to get that out of the way before it spoils the party! One million views sounds pretty impressive, but we all know that a page of celebrity gossip, or a YouTube video showing a cute animal or a stupid human, or even a 140 character tweet by someone with a 'name', could get a million views in a teeny length of time. One million hits on all my articles put together, in nearly seven years of writing, is pretty unimpressive by comparison.
What's more, traffic on any scale is not necessarily indicative of quality. Knowing how to use Google effectively, and writing on subjects which catch the public mood, are more important. Mere click numbers do not determine worth. What determines worth is whether that traffic lingers more than a few minutes, reads and enjoys an entire article, and perhaps goes on to read other pieces by the same author. There are of course ways of deciphering some of that information via the Google Analytics tool, but I've never really learned how.
Traffic to my 'Hubs'
Leaving aside the question of merit, where did that one million figure come from? It came after 6 years and 7 months on the HubPages site, and it came from 159 articles or 'hubs' published during that time. My postings haven't exactly been very consistent in their frequency, and the success of those articles (measured only by the traffic to them) has been even more wildly varying. The most popular article which contributes almost one fifth of the million total is a page of quotes about aging - nice, but I must say it is a source of some frustration that my most popular hub of all consists almost entirely of other peoples' clever quotes, rather than my own original work! The next most popular subjects have been music pages about Christmas carols and the folk song Greensleeves, articles about electronic colour creation in computers and TVs, and some very short stories, all with substantially more than 25,000 hits. I've also written with modest returns on travel, astronomy, politics, and a whole host of other subjects - whatever takes my fancy.
But at the other end of the spectrum are many hubs which still haven't achieved their one thousandth click. Very poor performing work may be 'unfeatured' by HubPages staff so that it doesn't show up in Google searches - thankfully only seven of my pages have so far suffered that fate, and ironically six of those are hubs which focus specifically on the benefits of the HubPages experience. The reason is simple - no one outside of the HubPages community is interested in introspective articles about the community. For that reason, I suspect this page about my millionth site visit also isn't going to be hugely successful. It's not exactly going to be the talking point of people in households in the remotest corners of the world ..... or in the least remote ..... or for that matter in my next door neighbour's home. Shame, but true :)
Anyway, it is clear that the mere scale of traffic across the board or on specific pages, does not tell one much about anything. But there is nevertheless a symbolic significance to that one million figure, and I won't ever have another chance to celebrate it, so forgive me my gross self-indulgence. I have to do it now!
Who, Where and Why?
Where have all those views come from? Well I've already established that I'm not the best when it comes to interpreting website statistics, but there are some things I've figured out. It seems that exactly one third of my traffic has come from the main American-based, Google search engine, and nearly a tenth has come from Google UK. The importance of Google worldwide is highlighted in the table below. Other search engines have also contributed significant traffic, as well as social media sites such as Letterpile, Facebook and Pinterest.
Major Sources of More Than 10,000 Views
Google.co.uk (United Kingdom)
The Internet is truly global and even though HubPages is an U.S based site, we should never forget the potential worldwide audience. In addition to the regional search engines listed above, people as far afield as South Africa, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and China and many other countries have visited and read more than a thousand times. So that's who and where. But why do they visit? Most of my hubs are factual in nature, so I guess it comes down to anyone who wants to find information and does a keyword search, and then just happens upon me.
But one other figure in that table above needs to be considered - 65,000 views have come directly from fellow members of HubPages - people who whilst on the site see an article and decide to read it. And most of all those members who have done me the honour of becoming 'followers'. So the HubPages experience, and my followers, must be the subject of the next two sections.
The HubPages Experience
HubPages is a content creation site where the members can post articles on pretty much any subject they wish, and also communicate with each other via a question and answer facility, and on various topic forums. That means that there is a strong social network element to it, albeit with the primary goal of publishing creative or informational content. There are some 'cons' to writing here - limited ranges of fonts, layouts etc - but the 'pros' are more significant. It's just so easy to write here as no site building know-how is required, whilst the community atmosphere gives advice and encouragement. All of my key Internet articles are published here.
Highlights of HubPages
Since starting here at the beginning of 2011, the HubPages experience has for the most part been very rewarding. Merely to have one's work published for all to see is a great feeling, but during that time, there have been some specific highlights. In the past, HubPages has run various competitions and awarded various accolades including the 'Hub of the Day', of which I received four. Those were undoubtedly highlights for me. Sadly in recent years, some of these social elements have been discontinued, largely due to the time-pressure constraints on staff who had to administer them - a distraction when their main task is obviously to concentrate on managing the site to make it as competitive as possible in Internet search engines.
In any case even though these awards are nice, it is personal contacts which have meant the most, including e-mails from people associated with causes, institutions or places about which I have written, and also some notable Twitter followings which I've received as a result of promoting my pages there. Sadly these have not yet translated into greater HubPage traffic - but maybe one day.
Of course, any time I experience a traffic surge also gives pleasure. I've never yet had a hub go truly viral, though I did have a Tug-of-War article promoted by the world governing body's website, and it then received a few thousand clicks over the course of just two or three days. Given that some pages on the web get millions of views, I guess that particular 'viral' experience was more of a mild sniffle than a full blown epidemic, but nonetheless it was exciting while it lasted!
Finally, when it comes to highlights, I must return to all those people who have visited and read the pages, and particularly those who have followed my writings and who have most helped me to reach that one million landmark.
Followers and Comments
Ever since Day One, other HubPage members have been an invaluable source of support. In the early days, people who took the time to read and comment on my pages gave a fledgling writer like me the encouragement to continue, lifting me up the first few rungs of the writing ladder and giving me the self-confidence to try to climb higher still. Since then, they have remained crucial to me and to many other members. 771 at the present time, have become 'followers' which means that they receive regular updates about the hubs I publish. Many of those have looked at a lot of my pages, and many have given me good feedback. Feedback which seems heartfelt and constructive tells us that someone has taken the trouble to read, and that they have taken enough from the article to feel motivated to contribute. And if the feedback is also complimentary, well, that provides a greater joy than almost any other which can routinely be experienced. Income received from writing here is small, so it is positive comments which really makes the effort worthwhile.
With that in mind, I did think of compiling a long list of those people here to whom I owe the greatest thanks. But I won't name names - it would be unfair to single some out, introduce an arbitrary cut-off point, and inevitably miss others out. But I do hope those who have helped me with their visits and comments know who they are, and they will accept my gratitude in this way.
The important point on which to conclude this section is this - there is no point in writing webpages if no one ever reads what is written. For me, the knowledge that people have taken the time to read them, and the hope that they may have gained something worthwhile from the experience, is the most important thing of all. Hence the second part of the title at the top of this page 'One Million Thanks' - one for everyone who has taken the time.
It took me almost exactly four years to reach half a milliion views, and another two and a half to reach the million. So two million views is the next target? I hope so.
The future is unseeable. There are a few issues, including some differences of opinion with HubPages policy which concern me, but hopefully those will not prove insurmountable. Also it remains an ambition to open a website of my own one day and maybe some of my future articles will find a more appropriate home there.
However, it also remains very much my intention to keep the bulk of my work on HubPages. The site has enabled me to put together a large body of work. It's also given me a platform on which to express my opinions on a whole host of subjects which matter to me. And it's given me a chance to interact with some quality writers and a helpful community. To all of them and to all who have read my pages at any time in the past 6 years and 7 months - thanks a million :)
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