There should be a quick and easy way for readers who aren't interested in writing to sign up and follow HubPages writers, topics, or niche sites without actually signing up for HubPages.
I just had a reader say they really like PetHelpful and wanted to subscribe to the site. Unfortunately, the only advice I could give was to sign up for HP, follow me, and follow the topics they are interested in. But, that not only means they will get notifications about my fish-keeping articles, but about everything else I write, which they may not be interested in.
This is not the first time I have encountered this issue or the first time I have suggested this. An easy email opt-in that allows readers to follow the niche sites or writer content on a niche site seems like a smart way to grow a reader base that doesn't rely on search.
I think one can follow a site, topic, and authors only as per the present setup. So, if you follow a site, you will be following the entire site articles irrespective of author or subject. If you follow a topic, then also, you will be following the entire stuff and writers whether it is on a particular site or on multiple sites.
So, the option can be only to follow a single article only (in that case), if the HP makes it like that. For example, a button that suggests "follow this article". Or one button saying "follow this topic from say "A" or "B" so that a person can follow all articles from "A" on PetHelpful.
Eric, You're describing a blog site more than you realize. Blogs need followers. HubPages is for articles that attract organic traffic. I know I don't need to tell you that. LOL. But it leads into what I'm about to say.
When we write on HubPages, we don't need to be concerned about followers. There is much more income involved with organic traffic since there is an endless supply of those readers.
Readers who follow authors are in limited supply, and many of them never read everything you write anyway. So that further reduces the value.
If you want followers, Medium is a platform that will give you what you want. Readers can follow individual authors, and they can also follow publications.
Medium's publications are equivalent to HubPages' niche sites. You can place your articles in pubs where they attract readers who follow those topics.
When comparing both options, I find HubPages much easier to succeed with, since readers find our articles with a Google search. No effort on our part, other than keeping our hubs up to date and fresh with content, so Google stays energized.
However, Medium is useful for specific types of content that readers focus on wanting to follow for more.
Glenn, I'm pretty sure Eric knows that. You'll notice he talks about enoucntering readers who want to sign up to follow the NICHE SITE, not to follow him or HubPages..
These days, it's common for websites to ask to be allowed to send you notifications, or to give you the opportunity to sign up. The niche sites should have something of the sort and it's an opportunity missed.
Marisa, I know Eric knows that. That's why I said "I don't need to tell you that."
I don't agree about it being an "opportunity missed." Gaining followers is limited to a finite group. We should always be focused on getting organic traffic, which is not finite.
If that's the case, why do so many other websites bother doing it?
The existence of that feature would not affect our focus at all, because it would have nothing to do with us. It would be an automated feature of each niche site.
I see many websites doing things that aren't worth the effort. Sure, it's no effort for us if it's implemented. But the implementation requires effort that may not pay off well. They have more crucial things to work on right now.
It really doesn't have to involve all that much effort. Use the same signup process as with writers except gather limited information such as a user name and an email and remove all of the discussion about writing Hubs. Give them limited access to certain areas of HP such as the ability to follow writers and topics. It seems like the payoff for this effort would be well worth it.
And it doesn't have to be one or the other. HP can continue to focus on organic traffic while at the same time building a reader base. It would help smooth out the times when search engines aren't so nice to us.
If HP wants to build another process directly into the niche sites that will obviously take a lot more effort, but just getting readers in the door doesn't seem that complicated.
Eric, it's not just programming effort. The additional overhead of the share buttons can slow down page load. One of Google's ranking criteria is page load time.
If they are interested in this idea that would be very simple to avoid.
On the top row of Pethelpful (Where it lists pages for dogs, cats, horses, etc) another entry could be "forums". The button to follow could be added to that page. It would not slow down load time on Pethelpful´s main page.
That would be a good idea, but only if they create a forum on PetHelpful itself. Directing readers back to HubPages.com would not be wise.
Yes, I agree. Even the pet forum on HP is not something I would want to recommend to a Pethelpful reader. If they started a new forum there it could be divided up just like the rest of the site it. I do not know the numbers on this but I think it would be great for traffic.
....and the problem with that is, creating separate forums for each of the niche sites would be a project.
Personally, I think there is a bigger problem with the niche sites - most of them are NOT niche sites. If HubPages was serious about creating sites which would generate a following, they would need to split some of the ragbag sites (like Hobbylark) to create proper niche sites.
Really? With all of the clunky ads clogging the niche sites one button would make it that much worse?
No, it would not. If it were placed on a forum page all HP would have to do is add one line of text. "To sign up for daily updates, visit our forum pages." One line of text is not going to affect Pethelpfuls page rank on Google.
That's what they said three years ago. The code for the Flipboard and Twitter share buttons where taking a lot of resources, slowing down loading time. That was mainly because they included tracking who pressed the button and where the button resided.
That overhead could all be eliminated if it were reduced to a simple non-tracking code. DrMark's idea would work in that case.
I can vouch for the fact that social sharing buttons can cause terrible lag times on a website. I remember trying to add them on my own Wordpress sites and when I tested the site speed after adding them, I was shocked at the result.
And that was on a site which had lots of eBay feeds and Adsense ads!
So I can understand why HubPages had a problem. However, social share buttons are a different animal from what's being proposed here - there's a lot of tracking associated with the social share buttons.
A button would not be using any external code, it would be just that text with some CSS. Nothing more. You would need thousands of these buttons to equal one ad in terms of page load time.
It would be worth trying on one site and see if there is increased traffic over time. I would like to suggest Pethelpful be first.
My previous comments were related to following individual authors, which would only make sense if authors stuck to one subject. I'm not sure I made that clear.
I do agree, however, with adding a feature to follow niche sites. That makes sense since readers might want to follow specific topics. That's what Medium does on their platform—where readers can follow publications.
....and that's what I said when I replied to you. Though Eric mentioned the ability to follow an author, his MAIN suggestion (supported by the concrete examples he gave) were that there needed to be some way for readers to follow the SITE, or topics within that site.
Your original reply seemed to dismiss that whole idea.
I understand all of that, Glenn.
But I don't think readers know or care about the difference between a blog and magazine-style website. If they find content they like they might want to keep up with it.
Eric, That might be true to an extent. But magazine-style articles usually answer the question people were searching for, and then they are satisfied. Few organic search readers go to an author's profile and follow them. However, on blogs, they do if they want to follow the specific blog.
That's why blogs need to focus on one topic, and writing on HubPages does not require sticking to a single topic because our articles are placed in niche sites along with others on the same topic.
I agree. I recently began with an aquarium around a month ago. I did read some of your hubs and at the start even did a site:pethelpful.com search on Google. I gave up though when I found fishlore.com because they have an easy sign-up option and I am active on their forum almost every day since.
People who are into something often like to sign up to a website that talks about the subject as you pointed out. I have had a few readers contact me in a similar way about tomatoes and gardening in general. I told them to follow topics. I did not get any response from them after that, so who knows if they did.
But, having a follow or sign-up option would be very helpful in getting a handful of those organic visitors into long term subscribers which could end up becoming a large number of long-term subscribers due to the every day "handfuls" that sign up. This would work best if the website also has an active forum so that the readers can ask questions and for help, but that's something I do not see happening. A simple sign up would definitely help.
In response to what Glenn says, I do not think HP is an organic-only model. If they were they would not bother putting up social sharing options or creating niche-specific pages on many social media platforms. HP could definitely use someone who is good at online marketing on their teams, there's a lot of low hanging fruit that they miss out on.
Drat! Lost to Fishlore again!
But you're right. PetHelpful can't compete with that.
The frustrating thing is, HP actually has forums for just about every niche. Here is the tropical fish forum:
Last post four years ago. Thirteen posts in the history of HP.
And the pets and animals forum:
All HP would have to do is provide a limited signup function and direct access to this forum from PetHelpful. Writers could jump in and get involved, creating more exposure for their articles. It would build a community around each niche that doesn't rely on search.
HP was conceived as an organic-only model. In those days, most other websites and blogs were organic-only, too. Then Google started playing with their algorithm and the organic-only model became precarious.
That's why bloggers switched their main focus to building email lists. And it's why websites ask for permission to send you notifications, and why some are moving to a subscription model.. Everyone is looking for ways to cushion themselves against the ever-present possibility that Google will change something and destroy their traffic - again.
I am surprised that HubPages is simply persisting with the organic-only model, given its instability (and they've suffered through massive traffic downturns in the past, so it's not as if they don't know).
That's the reason for the last sentence of my post. They need someone who is better at marketing and strategies. As Eurofile says there's no real work involved in scrapping some stuff off a sign-up page.
I completely agree with everything you just said Marisa. It's a concern of mine too. That's why I write on Medium as well. I don't need to be concerned about organic traffic there.
Brandon, you said HubPages would not bother putting up social sharing options. You might recall they removed a few of those options years ago because they weren't worth the support. Only Facebook and Pinterest sharing options remain (plus email).
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