I came across this piece of advice in the first part of the Learning Center:
"Write to educate your readers on your topic: create content on subjects that you are an expert; don't create content for search engines, a link, or to sell a product. Hubs that are written for readers have a higher likelihood of meeting our quality standards (plus, it's a much better feeling to intrinsically share with your readers your expertise and knowledge!)"
This gives me a whole new outlook. as all this time I've been worried about SEO. It might not hurt, though, to check Google on the topic of my chosen niche to see what readers are searching.
You can write for readers and still think about SEO. In fact, that way of thinking is more in line with current best practices. When you optimize your page you are not necessarily writing for search engines. You are just making it easier for search engines to understand what your page is about.
In my opinion, on-page SEO and how search engines work are things everyone who writes here should make an effort to understand. It's not hard, and there are countless resources out there on the internet.
Ignorance is bliss only if you don't care about traffic.
Thank you, Eric. I'm slowly learning. I was actually a little surprised to read this in the HP Learning Center.
Once upon a time HP used to give more advice on things like SEO and keyword research. Then search engines started slamming sites for over-optimization, and the message was changed to "write for the reader", which is still really good advice. And, search engines have gotten much better at figuring out what pages are about, so much of those old-school SEO tactics are no longer needed anyway. I know I've changed my approach a lot just in the past few years.
On HubPages, there are some really, really simple things every writer can do to improve their chances of getting traffic.
1. Choose titles wisely. Do some keyword research and craft your titles based on things people would actually type in to find your article. In fact, in the process of doing research you may come up with a bunch of other ideas for articles.
2. Write a decent meta description (summary). These (usually) appear in the search results under your article title. Even though search engines don't give them a lot of weight for ranking, people read them. Your meta description should entice searchers to click. The more who click your article instead of another one, the higher up in the SERPs you go, provided you've written a decent article that delivers on what you said in the meta description, of course.
3. Choose appropriate H2 tags. These are the headers for your text, photo, video and other capsules. You don't have to throw your keywords around in them, but they should relate to the topic of the articles. And the text that follows should relate to the H2. In recent years, search engines have gotten better at understanding how certain terms fit together and understanding terms in context. Help them out by organizing your content logically and with appropriate headers.
4. Link to yourself where appropriate. If you've written a bunch of articles in a niche, there is a lot of opportunity to link to your own articles every time you write a new one. When visitors come to your page, which is hopefully on a niche site, you want them to stay on that site and look around a little. Just don't overdo it, because HP gives them plenty of opportunity to click over to other content in the sidebar.
Thanks again, Derek.
I usually write my summary after I've written (not published) the article, and I'm getting better at using capsule titles (I think).
I think of the article kind of like a phone call in a way. The introduction welcomes the reader into the article and lets him know the focus of the article. My progression from there may differ from another writer's method, but, overall, I think I do a good job of staying on topic and creating a flow that is easy to follow.
Of course, the only way to make money here is to attract traffic, which is still a mystery to me. Even the Hub Pages team cannot explain why someone's piece goes viral. Fads come and go. I much prefer writing something that's going to be useful for generations to come.
I guess I'll just have to listen to my muse as it hearkens and trust that the money part will eventually follow. ~~~
Eric has given you some great advice. .
HubPages has a habit, when giving advice, of going overboard. Hence, for instance, when they realised that irrelevant Amazon products were harmful, they started slashing relevant products too.
The same goes for this advice in the Learning Centre. As Eric says, at one time there were several tricks you could use to fool the search engines into ranking your article higher than it deserved. Those tricks no longer work, and if you use them now, Google will punish you - and that's why HubPages says "don't write for the search engines". What they mean is, don't use those tricks.
However, those tricks were only a small part of SEO. It's throwing the baby out with the bathwater to say you should ignore what the search engines want. If you don't please the search engines, readers won't be able to find you!
It is absolutely critical to choose your titles to match what people are searching for, for instance.
I agree and yes Eric is correct too. A certain amount of SEO is necessary to get any significant traffic. At the very least, and even HP advises to do this, a person has to write search friendly titles.
Thank you, Marissa. I really appreciate your "street-wise" advice here on Hub Pages. Presently, I'm working on an article on proofreading, which has been a long time coming. My other project is illustrating my children's picture book for Kindle. (I'm not much of an artist, except in my quilt-making, perhaps.)
I'm beginning to wonder whether to continue with the Learning Center, if they're not giving clear advice. It seems reading other hubbers for awhile might be what will work for me. (At the beginning, I read the Learning Center and implemented what I learned, but it seems much has changed. In the past when something similar happened with a new endeavor I started, I'd just quit--that's how sensitive I can be.)
Everything will work out in time. I wonder what the Learning Center will say two or three years from now . . . hmm.
I hope I didn't give the impression that HP gives bad advice in the Learning Center. I don't think Marisa intended to say that either, though of course I can't speak for her.
In my opinion, everyone who wants to do well here should read the Learning Center. Most of the people who are asking other Hubbers to help them with Hubs that failed QAP can find the solutions to their problems there.
The first year or two I was here I spent hours and hours and hours reading those articles. They are the "operator's manual" for HubPages. Nobody knows better than the HP staff what you should or shouldn't be doing when you create a Hub, and nobody is in a better position to give advice on HubPages itself.
However, just remember that the Learning Center articles need to be consistent with HP's mission and vision, which is to provide useful, helpful, outstanding content. That is what they want us to focus on.
Would HubPages be upset if you crafted tons of awesome content with titles and topics based on keyword research, perfectly optimized for search and written with the goal of helping or educating the reader? Of course not! They'll probably want to hug you!
But giving advice on how to do that tends to confuse people, especially people new to online writing. Its simpler and less messy to try to get people to write well first, and it doesn't confuse the message of what HP is really looking for: Great content.
There is a world of advice out there when it comes to SEO, keyword research, choosing niche topics, etc. I would love it if people would talk about that stuff in these forms. It's alarming to me that a thread about "word games" gets hundreds of responses yet an SEO thread gets a few responses then vanishes.
Good point, Eric. Games and fun seem "in," SEO and good writing not so "in."
I had transferred several of my hub articles onto a flash drive because they simply weren't getting traffic or had low scores (less than 70 doesn't seem worth keeping). Then, of course, HP developed these sub-niche sites. I had been trying to develop a niche, but my interests were too varied. Now HP does it for you in a way by grouping each individual article with like genre for you.
I really wanted to be a part of that Apprenticeship Program when they had it. Fate decided otherwise.
Well, I can spend a lot of time trying to figure out why my articles aren't producing better, or I can spend my time writing. I came very close to closing the account, believe me, but there were many articles that I thought had good value to that mysterious group of readers out there who simply haven't found me.
Thank you for your attention and feedback. I really appreciate it. ~~~
The first thing to know is that scores do NOT matter. A good score does not help a Hub get traffic. In fact, it's the other way around - good traffic will improve your score.
HubScore is a combination of a score for quality and a score for popularity. That's why you can never have a brand new Hub published with a perfect score, because it hasn't received any traffic or comments yet. If you can make a low-scoring Hub more search-engine-friendly, so it gets more traffic, its score will rise.
Now that we have the new niche sites, it might be worth republishing some of those old Hubs and see what happens.
As you say, you don't need a niche now, because HubPages groups your Hub with other similar Hubs on the niche sites. It's one of HubPages' great advantages for writers.
Yes, Marissa, it took me a long time to figure out that scores didn't matter. I kept thinking they were like grades in school. I'm beginning to understand that articles should probably never be deleted, just updated and revised, if necessary.
I've been slowly tweaking some of my titles, taking out some paragraphs and Amazon ads (even those related to the hub), and attempting to update. It's a long, drawn-out process and not very fun--and writing should be fun.
Well, I'm going to peruse your and WryLit's articles now.
Thank you and blessings!
If an Amazon ad is related to the TITLE of the Hub, don't remove it. You will be losing out on income for absolutely no reason. Instead, just make sure you write something about why you, personally, recommend the product. If you can't do that, then, and only then, remove the product.
To give you an example from one of my own Hubs. It was about assertiveness, and I included a book from Amazon. At the time I wrote the Hub, the requirement for a personal review didn't exist, so it was fine. When I decided to submit that Hub to a niche site recently, I realised I had to write a review. After Googling the book and reading reviews on Goodreads and elsewhere, I decided I didn't feel confident to recommend the book, so I removed it.
And yes, I know what you mean about it being a tedious process. It's why I gave up trying to write for a living a few years ago. I discovered that to make money online is 10% writing and 90% other stuff, and all of the other stuff bored me to tears! So now I do it as a hobby (mainly on my own sites) and I don't mind that it makes me only a few hundred dollars a month.
The big problem with the Learning Centre is that it's big. It's now so vast that you can easily get lost in it - and not everything in it has been updated.
Personally, I would recommend that you stop trying to work your way through the Learning Centre. It's a good resource if you have a specific question and you're looking for the answer. Trying to use it like a writing course doesn't work.
I have two Hubs on the slider on my profile which you should read. One is the one on the Basic Rules (which you probably already know, but it's good to review to make sure you're up to date with the latest). The other is How to Optimize Your Hub.
I would also go to WryLilt's profile and read the Hubs on her slider. They go into more detail on some of the things I mention in my Hubs, and more.
My Hubs and Wry's summarise a lot of what's in the Learning Centre and I think you'll find you'll have enough on your plate digesting and implementing what you learn from those, without going any further!
Can't go wrong if you're mindful of quality, grammar and HP rules&guidelines and always write with the reader uppermost in mind. I try to do just that and it seems to be working. I don't really know anything about SEO! Ignorance sure is bliss?
Thank you, Andrew.
I'm re-learning Hub Pages and going through the Learning Center, step-by-step, with a goal in mind of creating a nice niche and having at least regular payouts, even if its only a couple times a year. Also, I've never had a 100 initial score on a hub when it's first published. I'd kind of like to do that.
In my view, SEO is pretty simple:
A title that searchers are looking for.
An article that answers a question.
A key phrase in the title that is repeated a couple of times in the text. Preferably once in the opening paragraph.
Images using the key phrase as an alt tag.
One, possibly two, subheadings using the key phrase or variations of it.
An article long enough to provide value, and info that can't be found easily elsewhere.
I think that's about it for me
The first one is the stickler. It's fairly obvious from my earnings that what I write is NOT what readers are looking for! (Ha!ha!, yet it's not such a laughing matter.)
You implied that the article has to answer a question (inform). That's one kind of writing, and I have never used a question to write an article.
I'll see what more of Marissa's hubs have to say, and what WryLit has written.
Thank you for the input. The list seems nice, but I've been lacking somewhere along the line. Sounds like I need to be less creative and a little more tight-laced.
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