We've been engaging with some outside help on helping bring more traffic to HubPages. It's going to be an iterative process where we take recommendations, test them out on the site, and adjust.
The first round of changes we have been working on is the topic hierarchy. If you think about a curve of how a user navigates HubPages, our previous layout was very flat in nature. This design has more of a peak that emphasizes Popular top categories and then flows through the site.
It may take a little getting used to, but I'm sure folks will figure it out with a little traversing.
We are also moving Hubs formerly known as hot to the primary view.
We aren't done. In fact, we are just getting started. I'd like to let everyone know exactly what will be coming, but this process is a bit of make a change, measure and tweak, so we don't know what the best next step will be. That said, my hope is that we start to see significant progress over the next 90 days.
I feel fortunate that we have brought in some folks that have been very successful at helping sites with Panda issues. This should be a very nice benefit for Hubbers over the coming months.
If you would like to help here are a few things you can do to your Hubs that they have pointed out that could be potentially problematic.
1. Refresh you Hubs with updated content
2. Only link externally to sources that improve your Hub
3. Be extra cognizant to write for people (avoid over use of phrases)
4. Avoid filler content (extra products)
We will keep you updated along the path.
If you spot bugs, please let us know.
Sounds like it might be helpful. However, the constant admonition to "update hubs" is something of a problem for the type of articles I write. Most "are what they are" and the information is not going to change, either because it's my opinion, or it's past history.
Movie and book reviews (my opinion of the movie or book)
Historical articles (the past won't change)
Places to go (they don't move around the country)
Product reviews (my experience is what it is, and I'm not going out and buying the next new model to test--that's not in my budget)
The only "updates" those types of articles ever get, is if I go through again, and find a better way to phase something, or explain it better. But the basic information and facts won't change.
Furthermore, since edited articles don't hit the landing page or feed page, there is little reason to expect them to be seen (or seen again with the changes appreciated).
Can you address this issue, please, and explain how HP would expect "updates" on non-changing topics/information?
Lizzy, I understand your point. I have some hubs that fall into those situations too. But there are still other things that can be done to keep hubs fresh.
For example, I watch my Google Analytics (realtime) to see what queries people are using to find my hubs. This is also available under "Search phrases" under each hub's stat tab. I use that information to decide on what I can add to the hub if it relates, or what needs to be removed from the hub if it doesn't relate.
Sometimes people stumble upon the wrong information just because a search term matches a phrase in the article. But if it doesn't apply well, this can cause the bounce rate to go up. So in that case I rework the hub to avoid attracting the wrong audience.
I also use the search information to decide on changes to the title. Many times I discover that I can modify the title to work better based on what I see people use in their search terms.
What else? I also keep abreast of Google blogs to see what they want. Such as their recent requirement to make everything mobile friendly if we want to keep a high rank. When I read that, I updated my hubs where I used capsules side by side in a second column when I saw that it messed up the presentation on mobile devices. HP also posted the importance of this as soon as Google announced it.
So as you can see, the basic substance of a hub does not need to be changed just to keep it fresh in Google's eyes.
Thanks for that explanation, Glenn.
But the "no side bars" thing messes up the formatting something fierce. sometimes there is a side note, that is an additional 'FYI' or 'caution' and mixing it all in with the in-line text removes that emphasis. I really dislike that.
Sidebars are standard in all forms of print publications, and they were developed for a good reason: It makes the information stand out 'to the side." It is important, but an adjunct, and not part of the main part of the article.
IMO (not that anyone is going to listen to me), the makers of mobile devices need to figure out how to make such text display properly.
I just hate removing formatting like that; it makes the page all one straight, boring line. No visual interest at all; all the text, photos, etc., all in one long column. UGH.
Lizzy, You CAN have it both ways. I also use capsules in side columns when it’s useful. And I like to keep them that way for non-mobile visitors, just as you do.
What I was referring to is that we need to adjust them so that they don’t mess up the presentation for readers using mobile phones.
On mobile phones they fall into a single vertical flow. It’s not the responsibility of the mobile phone manufacturer to decide where to place the capsule. There is no way they would know what the author intended.
All that is required is a small change to where we place the capsule to align it with the left capsule in such a way that when it is viewed “in line” with the main content, it still makes sense.
When I first reviewed all my hubs in “mobile view” I saw that I had a few places where capsule titles fell out of place when the right capsule was embedded incorrectly. I just needed to make a small change so that it worked well both ways: Two columns on desktop and single column on mobile.
Okay--I guess I'll have to go figure out how to do that...another round of edits, after I just got done with all the editbot nonsense...
And, you're correct; I know it isn't up to the mobile device manufacturers to mind-read every online site host -- I was just venting my frustration..
As for GA--I cannot seem to grasp it--it's gobbldygook to me; too technical. I don't even understand what I'm looking at...WHEN I can get in...I never remember how to access it, even...
MsLizzy, I understand what you are concerned about. I like the side capsules where extra info can be noted and highlighted for emphasis. I think that is an interesting format. Unfortunately it does not work well for the mobile users.
As far as I am concerned, it is the mobile users who should adjust and use computers to read articles. However, since Google thinks differently, I use the callout feature to highlight extra information. It is not as attractive (IMO) as the side caps, but if that is what Google and HP want, we do not have much of a choice if we want to rank higher.
I really miss the blue highlighted caps that drew attention to pertinent information.
Great points, Glenn. I'm just getting the hang of Google analytics, there is a wealth of information there once I learn how to use it. Learning to tweek published hubs helps me when i publish future hubs - I have a better idea on titles/words etc, and how to find them.
Thanks, for that information, but when I click on stats it just loads up the hub again, I'm I doing something wrong I cannot check my stats, I'm logged in.
Something may be wrong with your browser. When you click the stats tab it should open up the stats display with the graph of your traffic. Then you would see another tab for "Search Phrases" to see what people typed into their search engine. Try clearing your cache and restart your browser. If it persists, contact HP staff about it.
Glenn, since you are talking about changing titles to make them search friendly, I want to say that even if we change our titles, the URL can't be changed. Then how can it drag more audience with our changes of title?
The other thing is how to adjust poll capsules, photo capsules and amazon or e-bay capsules to fit just to the side of related content, as we can't choose the correct position for alignment for these things. It just appears at the top of the capsule and not at center or bottom positions to match your content on left side. You may see this from my Nail Polish article. My text capsule is long and the right side capsules appearing at top of the right side and I can't fix their place in it.
If you change your title, the search engine will recognize the new words. You do not need to change the URL.
If it is so, then well and good.
Thanks for the reply.
In fact you cannot change the URL. It is fixed. Changing the title will result in a re-direct, if I understand correctly, which is a minor issue, since it happens behind the scenes, and the reader will be none the wiser.
I need to correct you on this. Changing the title does not require a redirect. A redirect is only used when the URL is changed, otherwise search engines would not find the new location, and old links to the prior URL would be broken.
Changing the URL is not a good idea since links can get broken and link juice gets watered down, so to speak. It would also look like a newly published article that starts all over again with building rank. This is why HP does not allow it. You were right about that. Besides, it's a burden to maintain redirects and best to avoid it. There is one case where redirects are needed on HP. That is when a hub is moved for Editor's Choice.
Changing the title, on the other hand, is a useful thing to do when appropriate. I sometimes discover a better title I could have used by examining the search strings people use to find my hub. So I make the change if I feel it will improve traffic.
I also sometimes notice many months later after publishing a hub, that I had used a subtitle in the text that would be better used as the main title. So I update the hub accordingly.
So, title changes are fine to do, and since the URL remains fixed, Google will see it as a fresh update to the existing hub. That's a good thing.
Thanks, Glenn, for clarifying that. I knew that Google somehow found it again, despite the new title, but not being a techie myself, I don't understand all the ins-and-outs of the matter. It seemed like it would have to re-direct, since the title would no longer match the URL.
I don't understand how that works. I did not mean to mislead anyone; it was merely my 'best guess.' LOL I guess I shouldn't guess anymore.
The title does not need to match the URL. For that matter, I usually change the URL to something shorter than the title when I create a new hub. That's the only time you have a chance to select the URL that you want. It defaults to the entire title, but I like to remove useless words and change all letters to lower case.
Upper case letters in a URL can cause problems for people who try to type the URL into their browser, although no one does that anymore. They usually just click on a link, or copy and paste. I even see a lot of people who put URLs into Google, which is a long way to get where they're going. But that's another story.
Thanks Glenn, for clarifying all these points. I, actually, do not know anything about these keywords and SEO. So, whenever I see my URL and title does not match I get worried why it is so. Now, I am clear with these things.
But, still, I have a doubt. How to put keywords in any article. Is it simply typing the words that are search friendly or should I copy and paste it in my article from Google search bar. I will be thankful, if you can clear this doubt.
When you first create a new hub, try to put the best keywords in the URL. You will never be able to change the URL later so be careful with your selection.
As for the title, start out my making it as meaningful and attractive as possible. But most of all, make sure you deliver on the promise. Make sure the reader comes away feeling they got what they thought they'd get when they read the title.
Now the big part... After several months you will start to accumulate information from your google analytics reports and from the hub's own stat tab showing what search phrases people have been using to get to your hub. Then you can uses that information to improve on the title.
Hope that helps. These things take time and patience. It's an ongoing job to be successful. But you can do it.
Thanks for this advice. But, I didn't get the answer for pasting keywords. Am I to simply type or copy and paste the keywords from search bar? If you can clear this doubt also. I think it may be silly for most of you asking such things.
What do mean by the "search bar"? In any case, I think you are asking how to create a title. Am I right? If so, you use the information you discover from analyzing the search people do to get to your hub. You don't copy it, but you use it to create a better title. The search information is found from the stats tab at the top of you hub when logged in. It's also available in your Google Analytics. If you're not using GA, you should. There is a lot of useful information there to help you fine tune older hubs.
No, you cannot change the URL, and too many people here are concerned about that and it makes little difference to your traffic. I always use a generic URL so if I decide to change the title later it will not matter anyway. (For example, on my hub "The best seven dog breeds that look like wolves" the url is "dogs-that-look-like-wolves". The search engines do not care.)
It sounds like you are actively doing what it takes to put the site in the limelight again. Thanks for all you do behind the scenes on our behalf.
This sounds very promising. I know how much work it is to make changes like this, but I feel that with all you are doing, you will be able to bring HP back up to its former glory.
I am surprised, though, that you are putting "hot" articles first, rather than "Best". Articles may be hot because they are on controversial topics, but best because they are well written and better represent what HP is trying to achieve. I think this is why someone mentioned seeing so many religious articles. That situation will likely drive people away from the site rather than draw them to it.
I would think topics of general interest would fare better, and that you will find most of them in the "best" section.
At any rate, thank you for working so hard at this. Christmas is not far away, so maybe Santa will bring all of us some nice gifts this year!!!
Paul, please explain what you mean by "over use of phrases"? (#3)
I think it is repeating of the same point in different styles with additional phrases and sentences frequently all through the topic that add no extra value to the readers.
Oh, okay. Thank you, Venkatachari.
I am excited. I just found a September 2015 article about an update on a Revolutionary War battle I wrote about. Some new archaeological evidence is verifying details of the battle. I added a link to the article in my hub. So, I updated as Paul suggests in his post.
That's great, Phyllis. I should visit your update. Thanks for informing.
It would have been better if HubPages allows updated articles in the feed stream so that anybody can know a hub has been updated.
I did make a new comment on the hub so it would appear in the feed stream. I think it is gone down too far by now.
By overuse of phrases I meant that sometimes people try and pick words so hard and repeatedly to try and help search engines figure out the relevancy of their Hub that it actually becomes keyword stuffed.
Search engines don't need repeated keyword use to figure out a page anymore, and the day a we've been looking at suggests that even light keyword stuffing is penalized.
Ah ! Okay - I gotcha. I will keep that in mind. Thanks, Paul.
Interesting, in that an article I read here recently about a particular type of dog training was so keyword-over-stuffed as to be obvious to a kindergartener. Yet the next thing I knew, it ended up featured (it's been a few months--I forget which), as either an EC, or on the HP Face Book page!!!!
Hardly a penalty! And why would HP make such a selection that Google would penalize??
Paul, what happens when no other word is available. I am very aware of keyword stuffing but if I'm talking about a Sandawana Emerald, well, there is no other world for Sandawana.
Just checked Subjects highlighted on the Home Page as per new hierarchy. I have to say I'm NOT a fan of partial lists of categories for the simple reason that those not listed instantly drop traffic - as you will note in the weeks to come.
Seriously - "Painting" is not worth featuring as part of the Arts and Design Hub?
Spot any duplication in what does get featured in 'Arts & Design'?
Note any sub-categories in the wrong category?
"CRAFTS & HANDIWORK, CROCHETING, TEXTILES, SEWING PATTERNS, LIGHTING DESIGN, DRAWING, ACRYLIC PAINTING, UPCYCLING AND REPURPOSING, PAPER CREATIONS, SEWING AND SEWING PATTERNS"
Any chance of splitting off Art from Crafts and moving home decor elswhere?
I've noticed before that any time the two get combined on a website the Crafts absolutely SWAMP the Art. It's as if the latter does not exist - and if you swamp it and don't feature it at all the people interested in art and painting might as well give up now.
The other things I've noticed in the past on sites which go in for partial lists of categories and sub-categories is the way it warps the new additions. For example, it'll be a brave person who decides to add a new hub to a sub-category that's NOT listed and featured on the category page. That then affects the overall balance of the site and impacts on its reputation.
I suggest people take a look to see whether their hubs are in sub-categories which have been selected for listing on the category page - or whether (like 'Painting") your sub-category is thought to be too 'niche'
Need to ADD a category for "HUMOR." There are a lot of humorous articles written here, and they get lost under "literature, books and writing" as their top level and sub-category.
No one looking for a good laugh is going to search under "literature." That will make them think of Shakespeare. And while the Bard had some wicked humor, it is lost on the current generation.
"Only link externally to sources that improve your Hub..."
Does this mean we may not link internally relevant hubs of fellow-Hubbers, or profile pages of fellow-Hubbers?
These are welcome changes - I'd like to see a Hubpages homepage layout that looks like a newspaper, similar to the Huffington Post, with carefully hand-picked content by HP staff and tailored further reading links so each visitor stats longer on the site.
Looking forward to seeing if there is any improvement in visits to my sites!
There is one improvement I would like to see made and that is a very simple one. A hub may be the smallest part of the wheel but it is usuall the strongest component and is very necessary in the transmission of power. Some hubs, and I can only assume, that it is the length requirement of the articles is part of the problem, are a little long winded and verbose. Long fat words can confuse the reader and long long verbose articles can lose them. I would suggest that the articles be shortened and maybe have links to more information if required. Sometimes a long article is not indicative of the authors knowledge of what they are writing about nor is a really short one. every piece of writing should be written with the reader in mind and the audience that you are trying to reach. I could be wrong, Having been wrong before and probably will be again but I feel that this should be said.
Paul - Whatever the changes on HubPages are doing to the site as a whole and to other members, they are adversely affecting me. The bottom dropped out of my traffic during the past six weeks, and my earnings took a major hit. My best hub, which previously got thousands of visitors daily, is lucky to get 200 now. In fact, my November earnings will be only about 43% of the payment I just received. If this improvement you predicted takes 90 days, I'll be lucky to have any readers at all by then.
I agree - huge plunge for me. I wonder if it is to late the reverse these changes as the traffic losses appear to be set in and permanent. Bring back the Subs!
The only thing I would add is to Reduce the number of words required for a hub. Long and Verbaceous articles are not a demonstration of knowledge of a subject and it is better when addressing the public in writing to prefer thin words to fat words. this ensures easier and better readability. Some of the articles I have read on hubs have been too long for what they are saying. Just my understanding and having been wrong before I could be again but give it some thought.
This sounds very promising Paul. I'm glad to hear HP is being so proactive with trying to find ways to improve traffic overall.
Those four points you mentioned are things I've been routinely doing with my hubs. And it's good to have them as a reminder of what's important to do.
Yeah... sounds okay... but I notice that all the Hubs on the Popular Topics page today are all religious in nature (morality, homosexualty, etc). I understand that there must be a formula and they are, then by definition, the most popular topics, and so people would not be blamed for thinking HubPages is more about religion.
I agree, but it only looks like that when you view it logged in. If you view it logged out it's not so bad.
Ah, yes. The old "signed in" vs "signed out" difference again. Thanks for pointing that out calculus.
That's good to know, I also have a problem seeing all those posts about religion (each to their own), it makes the site look very provincial and partisan. Surely high-traffic hubs have a wider appeal like tutorials, for example.
I was looking at it logged out and found the blurbs at the bottom of the pages strange, to put it nicely. For example, browsing the card games topic page I saw this
Have you ever thought about sharing your knowledge in Games, Toys, and Hobbies, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Children's Card Games and Decks, and Magic: The Gathering.
Is that supposed to be a question? On the diseases and conditions topic page there is this
Discover great articles about Health. HubPages aim to be the best place discover and create original, in-depth, useful, media-rich pages on topics you are passionate about.
Shouldn't that be "aims" since HubPages is the name of a single website? Here's another one on the diets topic page
HubPages is a community of people like you that care about sharing knowledge in topics such as Health, Weight Loss, Diet Advice and Tips, Healthy Diets. Nothing makes Hubbers as happy as a new visitor enjoying their articles. Spend some time and explore the world on the #1 Community writing site on the internet.
More proofreading needed there as well. Who wrote your blurbs?
@calculus - The blurbs are a bit weird, but we will do our best to fix them up. Thanks for checking them out.
This is some exciting news, Paul. I would like to see the improved features of our site and be a part of this wonderful site always. Thanks for this information.
Paul - I'm just curious if updating/refreshing content could include (a) updating photos only (b) updating written content only, or (c) a combination of both. Thanks.
I'd like to know how the "popular" top categories and sub-categories were chosen
I'm assuming that this isn't anything to do with how many hubs are created for a topic but rather how many EXTERNAL VISITORS choose to visit a category or sub-category.
In other words please confirm that the listing relates to the external marketplace and not to user generated preferences.
I would guess it's done by external traffic, social sharing, traffic spikes etc. because some of the subtopics that are highlighted do not have many hubs, as you can see from the topics tree page
For example, lighting design is one of the 'chosen few' but it only has 21 hubs according to the topic tree.
One thing I noticed was that my 4 most popular dog name hubs are not listed in the Naming Dogs topic tree, while several of my hubs that get 1/5 the number of views are. Seems strange to me.
Just FIVE hubs in TOTAL under Painting????
That's what I get if start from the 'All Art and design categories' on the HOME page.
However if I start from a search (using the search box) using the query 'painting'
.......and then find all the paintings hubs
.......and then get back to the sub-category that way what I see is
HubPages»Arts and Design»Painting
POPULAR TOPICS, ACRYLIC, PAINTING, WATERCOLOR, OIL PAINTING, PAINTING INSTRUCTION, FAMOUS PAINTINGS, PAINTERS AND STYLES, EASTERN STYLES OF PAINTING, ART OF BODY PAINTING, PORTRAIT PAINTING AND PORTRAITS, ILLUSTRATION
The above is TOTALLY MISSING if I try to access painting via the Home Page.
I think somebody has really messed up on the bit of sub-categorisation starting at the Home Page - especially the bit that suggests all painting is in acrylics
as per this narrative for the Painting sub-category........
[i]"People from all over the world contribute to HubPages by sharing words and pictures. Get to know us a bit by reading what everyday people have to say about Arts and Design, and Acrylic Painting. The breadth of content on HubPages is wide, but each article is specific in its own special way![/]
Please review this mess and revise this sub-categorisation.
[On the basis that this might not be the only sub-category which is badly out of whack - I suggest other people might like to check their sub-categories for their hubs]
Thank you very much for informing us, Paul! I love Hubpages and hope the site will get better and better. Keep the great work!
Paul, when you say that you are going to put the types of articles into a hierarchical order, are you going to let us know which topics are the better ones to write about?
I just checked out the new hierarchy system for hub topics. Um, I don't know. Unless your hub is very popular (presumably due to traffic), you have to go in deep to find it. This makes me want to re-think how to group them in the hubtool under subcategories and not use the last category which essentially puts the article at the bottom of the hierarchy. Hmm. Do you think searchers will go in that deep, through so many subcategories, to find articles?
No - they need
* a decent and prominent onsite search engine
* categories which don't swamp the minor partner (re topics)
* a database which responds quickly with accurate answers
Then they can use search HOWEVER....
As things stand at present the results of search queries have no obvious rationale and you can't define how to make them more relevant using the search engine used.
Oh boy. Thanks, Katherine.
Edit: Maybe this is just a categorization germane to HP's needs and will have no bearing on how Google makes articles available to searchers. Google is still google, right? Organic searching is King. I know it's all connected but just saying, brainstorming, yada, yada, yada.
It never ever does any harm to make content much more accessible to vsiitors to a site through the use of a good search engine.
After all it takes a lot less to retain a visitor and improve standing with Google through length of stay than it does to get them in the first place.
Jan I think when the Main Page for HP is the landing page most will tend to use the search feature before a category search. I know I would. I could zero in on what I was looking for. It would be a familiar process. A human behavior thing I think. Topic search would be a convenience, but probably secondary. However, that does not mean there is not 'value' with properly categorizing a Hub.
If I remember right a ways back say a year or more the system for HP Search Feature changed to a Google driven system. I am not sure, but that is what I recollect. I would think it would parallel Google ranking system with article search results except would be independent and internal to HP.
A quick glance using your articles show some points of interest. When I use the HP search for 'Self-Centered' the results places your article regarding children ranked #1 and self absorbed people #3. The article type is mixed with other articles. And, too if one does a Google search engine search with hubpages + self centered that article again is #1 on page ranking.
If one searches 'self-centered children' then your article once again is #1 at HP. But, the self absorbed article is #2. When doing a search for those keywords above - 'self centered children' your article is ranked #12 for me with a Google Search. (#2 on page 2). That is pretty good when looking at all the competition. So, that to me means the Google ranking factors are being considered - quality content, keyword usage, and etc. Again, I am speculating . . .
Tim, that was extremely helpful. Because I'm still not completely savvy to the way searching works on a site, it didn't occur to me that people will use the HP search tool and not sort through a bunch of categories to find articles. (Duh) I think that's what I was getting at in my reply above. I also really appreciate you using my articles as an example to make it clear. Thanks.
Paul, does this plan for Updating the Site Hierarchy have anything to do with the EC hubs being moved back to our subdomains? http://hubpages.com/forum/topic/133403
Thanks for the new plans to increase traffic on HP. As a veteran I've experienced many changes (most are for the better.) I'm for anything that will bring more traffic to my hubs. Big thanks to all involved.
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