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How I Handle Poorly Performing Hubs in a Businesslike Manner
Ever since Google warned us three years ago1 that they would reduce ranking on articles that are not mobile friendly, I focused on modifying all my hubs for mobile users.
HubPages now makes that easy since they eliminated the two-column format that caused some hubs to look terrible on mobile devices, which is close to 80% of our traffic now.
Since the field is constantly changing, with new rules and different traffic sources, it’s important to keep a manageable number of hubs. Otherwise the task of maintenance gets too cumbersome. Therefore we need to decide which to keep and which to let go.
I know many writers complain that they have to make changes all the time, but that is the business we’re in. If you just consider it a hobby and you don’t care to make real money from your endeavor, then there is no need to keep up with the changing landscape.
However, if that’s your decision, then accept the fact that a majority of your articles will remain on HubPages’ home site, where they do not get much traffic and do not make much money from ad revenue.
On the other hand, if you are serious about the business, you can be paid well for your effort. Only worthy hubs get moved to the network niche sites that rank well with search engines. You just have to have a strict business strategy.
The Business of Writing
When I started writing articles on HubPages in 2009, I didn’t consider writing as a business. It was not my focus, even though I’ve been writing most of my career, creating technical journals, product user guides, and even content for business websites.
Now that I’m retired, and writing for the enjoyment of sharing what I know, I figured it would be a waste of time if I didn’t earn money from it. That’s why I treat it as a business.
Based on my business background, I have a good concept of applying business strategies to anything I do that requires a successful outcome.
One strategy that I find useful is to admit when I’m wrong so I can move on—either with making changes for improvement or by eliminating the problem. In the case of hubs, I have to be able to decide if the problem is low quality or something else.
Handling Low-Quality Hubs With a Business Strategy
I have to admit that not all my creations are top notch. Some may be so bad that they don’t attract any organic traffic (visitors from search). I’ve had my share of those, and over a decade I had deleted roughly half of my prior published articles.
As I said, keeping a manageable number of hubs makes things easier. I don’t want to have so many hubs that I can’t keep up with changes when necessary.
My first instinct is to delete those hubs that are not working. But that’s not the best solution either. We first need to be sure they are useless.
You might say, “why not just delete those hubs that are not getting traffic?” It’s more complicated than that. I don’t just go by views. After a year or so, when I see a hub is not getting decent organic traffic, I investigate by reviewing the following steps:
- I look at the search strings Google and Bing are reporting that people used to find my hub. Sometimes I learn from that about content I should elaborate on. Sometimes I discover that I’m getting misguided traffic that’s not related to the subject. Google misguided them because of some overuse of a keyword in my hub that is not related to the subject. That can easily be fixed.
- I research the entire subject online to see if my competition is getting in the way. Maybe they come up before I do in the SERPs. So I rework my article to try to improve the search results.
- I repeat proofreading occasionally. Occasionally I find terrible mistakes I’ve made with hubs I wrote 8 or 9 years ago. I rework them and enhance their quality with the new standards and then watch to see if it brings life back to them. I always improve all my hubs. It’s rare that I let them sit as they were when I first published them. Besides, Google loves it when articles have fresh content added—as long as it’s useful and serves the purpose originally promised by the title.
- I also examine search results. HubPages shows a graph over the lifespan of each hub. You can click on any source and the graph displays the results of only that source, such as Google. When I examine that, sometimes I discover that Google stopped sending traffic in October 2011, for example. It was good until then. Then traffic stopped. That’s useful information. I go to my log of changes that I keep, and I check to see if I did something in October of 2011 with that article that might have messed it up. Keep a log of changes; it pays off later when you need to review what you did.
- I also search for plagiarism. If traffic suddenly slows down on a good hub, it might have been copied. Then I file a takedown notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.2 (That’s the correct way to say it. I see so many people saying they sent a DMCA. That indicates that they don’t know what it really means. Read up on it. The DMCA is your friend.)
Final Determination – Good or Bad
One last thing: Articles need to mature. It takes time for Google to test it by sending a few readers—then a few more—and so on. The Google bots register the view duration and the return-rate of each reader. It takes time for this data to build up, but if the results show positive value, then Google keeps increasing your ranking and eventually sends much more traffic. So patience is a virtue.
It is also possible that a subject that is dead for many years can suddenly spring to life due to something that happened in the world. So consider that before you delete anything.
If all of that fails, and I decide that an article is useless, then I send it to its final resting place and delete it.
© 2015 Glenn Stok