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How I Handle Poorly Performing Hubs in a Businesslike Manner

Updated on March 26, 2018
Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn was voted the “Most Helpful Hubber” with the Hubbie Award in 2017. His articles on HubPages have also been read over a million times.

My HubPages Profile displayed on a Mobile Device.
My HubPages Profile displayed on a Mobile Device.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Reference

  1. Finding more mobile-friendly search results (February 26, 2015). Google Webmaster Central Blog
  2. Digital Millennium Copyright Act — Wikipedia

© 2015 Glenn Stok

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    • Glenn Stok profile image
      Author

      Glenn Stok 7 days ago from Long Island, NY

      Natalie, Good question. Maybe I should write a tutorial on that, but here it is in a nutshell:

      I keep two files. One is simply a note file listing the hubs that I make changes to. Every entry includes the date, the title, and a description of the changes I made. For example, I make a note of what I did, such as:

      Changed title

      Added new content

      Corrected spellings

      Removed callout capsules

      Added keywords suggested by Google.

      Moved capsule content from x to top.

      Later, I can review this log and compare to the traffic changes to discover what worked and what failed.

      The second file is an excel spreadsheet of all hubs, including hub score, word count, publish date, last change date, when moved to niche. It also includes check marks to indicate if shared in Pinterest and/or Flipboard.

      You can create the initial excel file by clicking “export cvs” and downloading it from your statistics page. I only did that once, and then add to it every time I make changes or publish another hub.

      This may sound like a lot of work, but the information accumulated from this effort is a goldmine. I find the time spent is worth it based on the increase revenue for the work. I put as much time into this as I do writing new hubs. I’m updating hubs almost every day. I’m always learning something new, that a Google reacts to, from this activity that benefits all other hubs.

      Glenn

    • Natalie Frank profile image

      Natalie Frank 8 days ago from Chicago, IL

      Glen, I just reread this as I'm trying to find things I can do to increase views and ranking. You mention keeping a log of changes you make. Could you please explain a bit about how you do this? It seems pretty labor intensive if you regularly update articles and have written a number of them. Yet it also seems like invaluable info to have. Thanks!

    • Glenn Stok profile image
      Author

      Glenn Stok 8 days ago from Long Island, NY

      Peggy - It's definitely worth the time. I've been spending more time enhancing older hubs than I spend writing new ones. Google reacts positively to articles that are maintained and updated.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 8 days ago from Houston, Texas

      Thanks for all of your advice Glenn. I am finding that the more attention I give to some of my older articles the greater the chance that they are moved to niche sites. It is a process but well worth the time and effort!

    • Glenn Stok profile image
      Author

      Glenn Stok 2 months ago from Long Island, NY

      Thanks Natalie. I actually put more attention to older hubs than I do writing new ones. I find that it pays off well to keep old hubs fresh. Sometimes all I do is make a title change based on Google suggestions. It’s worth putting attention to this.

      I have other hubs with tips too. They’re in my profile spotlight.

    • Natalie Frank profile image

      Natalie Frank 2 months ago from Chicago, IL

      Great article, Glenn. Even though I try to keep up with changes and keep my hubs updated like everyone else, it's easy to sometimes let it slip to focus on new articles. The reminder is timely and helpful, what with the Maven buyout and whatever changes that might mean in the future. It certainly is something we will all need to keep in mind in coming months to ensure we remain visible and our articles are presented in the best way possible to continue earning. Thanks for keeping us aware of so many important points to keep our hubs strong and our earnings tap turned on.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 2 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      A very useful article. Thanks for sharing, Glenn.

    • Anita Hasch profile image

      Anita Hasch 2 months ago from Port Elizabeth

      Keeping a log of changes seems a good idea. Will do that.

    • Glenn Stok profile image
      Author

      Glenn Stok 3 months ago from Long Island, NY

      Thelma Alberts - There is no need to check it in mobile view anymore since as of February 5th it the same on desktop view.

      All you need to do is make sure you have the capsules, that were once floating right, in the correct position and that you refer to the content correctly. Such as saying “see image below” instead of saying “see image at right”.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 3 months ago from Germany

      I think I have changed all my hubs to mobile friendly already. I will still check them out in my mobile. Thanks for the heads up. This is very informative hub Glenn. Well done.

    • Glenn Stok profile image
      Author

      Glenn Stok 13 months ago from Long Island, NY

      Kathleen Cochran - You're ahead of most others just because you are paying attention. Make sure to review my 20-step check list too. That should help.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 13 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Glenn: Thank you for your tutorials. I'm still way behind the power curve with the changes here at HubPages, but your articles at least give me a fighting chance to catch up.

    • Glenn Stok profile image
      Author

      Glenn Stok 3 years ago from Long Island, NY

      Country-Sunshine - That's great that you have an author site too. I tried to find it but you don't include it in your links on your HP profile. If you use it as a reference to your articles like I do, then you may want to include it as your main point of contact. Thanks for the positive remarks about this hub.

    • Country-Sunshine profile image

      Country Sunshine 3 years ago from Texas

      I have checked my author site, and knew it needed a lot of work. It didn't occur to me to check Analytics for my Hubs. Thanks for the great information... I imagine all of us will benefit from your article!

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