I've spent the last few months experimenting with different hub lengths and layouts on sales hubs and trying to be rigorous about it.
It's impossible to do this in a completely statistically valid model with this relatively small number of hubs (about 350), but after trying different styles of hubs, different lengths (300 words to 2,500), different layouts, different sales pitches, across a variety of identities, the length and layout doesn't really matter. They all convert and they all bomb.
The age of the hub doesn't really matter either. I've got some going gangbusters and making money from the hour they were published. Other's nada. Even on my earliest hubs, there is no pattern of older hubs doing better as they age - some do, some don't.
I did try to hold the promotional methods and linking constant.
What really matters is the niche and competition level. And on that concern the hub topics and keywords chosen using TKA, Market Samurai, or Wordtracker, did no better than my walk around the mall and get ideas method.
I'm a little surprised about the effect of hub length and layout - and will continue to experiement. But there have been so many questions in the forums lately about these topics, I thought I'd share my results at this point. Oh and it didn't matter if they were all Amazon hubs, all ebay or mixed. That was a subject to debate recently as well.
I'm not done experimenting, so the results could change with time. If I see that happening I'll report back in.
Nelle, how "old" is "old"? I've found age makes a big difference. Maybe that's because I don't promote, therefore the Hubs have to achieve rank all by themselves and that takes time. I certainly have Hubs that have never improved, but my successful ones have all got better with age. However I'm talking six months to a year, so I'm just wondering if your timescale so far has been too short to judge?
Thanks for sharing the results of your experiments. I think 350 hubs is a very respectable number. I have eked out only 17 hubs so far but already was wondering what improvements I needed to focus on to raise my hub score.
You know, you're like the Paco Underhill of HubPages! My hero...
I'm not totally surprised though, as I have seen similar results with both my blogs and HP on length, and I was never convinced that a consumer cared whether the product came from eBay or Amazon. Acme Five & Dime, maybe. But not eBay or Amazon.
When you say "layout," do you mean just the physical placement of things? (vertical ads vs. horizontal ads, etc.) I've been wanting to try a few different formats, as I have just one that I pretty much stick to now. But it sounds like I should abandon that idea and just continue on course?
Who's Paco Underhill?
Anyways, yes on physical layout, just the way you arrange text and products.
I think the trick is to do what you think is right for each set of products and not worry about it. Some lend themselves to different layouts and lengths.
He's the guru of understanding what makes shoppers buy. Back in my previous life, I worked with him on an in-store study on wine purchases. His first book is "Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping" or something like that. It's a fantastic read.
His company is Envirosell out of Chicago I believe. Most of the big companies use him for in-store studies.
Nelle I've always liked you and now you're my hero. I've seen the same thing on a very small sampling. Across my hub accounts I have a total of about 41 hubs existing right now, and I started originally late last summer. Most of those were political and no longer exist, and then I took a long break, but right now I have 41, 36 for monetary purposes, and all of them go all across the board as far as results go. My latest ones have done best. I found a great niche and my earnings exploded immediately. I have old ones that get respectable pageviews but almost never earn a dime. None of these have ever been seriously promoted, or like really, pretty much at all promoted. People either came or they didn't. That said, perhaps I'd get better results if I did promote, so I can't comment on that.
But either way, it's gonna be like 95% about your topic. It'll hit and fade, hit and stay, or never show up.
That's the single most important thing people trying to make money here need to understand.
This is great. Nothing like having others validate my findings and share theirs.
And yes, I think what hubbers need to understand it's more about the niche and competition level and getting that right, than anything else. And you can do that as well by consumer observation as well as mathematical models.
It's also about finding your Inner Seller and being yourself. That makes your hubs - even sales hubs - more unique in the eyes of the search engines. The way you put products together and cross merchandise, and then describe them.
I'm beginning to have mixed feelings about promotion as well. But I can't get myself to stop it.
And, I should add, some grow very slowly, and do contribute to your over-all earnings, but alone would never earn you living, I suspect. But then I've never promoted much, so perhaps non-performing topics would perform -at least better, if not great- if you promoted the heck out of them.
that's interesting Nelle. thanks for sharing. I've been thinking this past week about all of this stuff.. and I think it's so easy for people to get lost in it~~ trying so hard, that it's easy to lose touch with reality.. like getting out and walking around observing people, walking around a mall or store, sitting at a starbucks and interacting with people, listening. my hubs aren't product hubs (except 1), but more topic oriented so I try to focus on what I know or listen to what people are talking about.
I've had this link bookmarked for a while and it's an older article, but very helpful as to how people read online.
That's really interesting to learn, Nelle
Not sure it is any good for me seeing as I live in the back of beyond and I never get to the big shops to see how people spend, but all this about the length and age of the hub not mattering is very interesting!
rebekahElle, I think hanging out at coffee shops and local restaurants is one of the best ways to find out what people are interested in. I think marketing is about understand a market and there are lots of ways to do this. I've known people who have "tin ears" and just couldn't figure out what consumers want or need. It didn't matter if they were trying to understand a focus group or statistical model.
IzzyM I do think that not living near a mall is a disadvantage if you're trying to market to Americans. But I have had success using keyword tools, so there are many ways to be successful.
And I guess that this is the point of all this. Do what you can do well - and do a lot of it if you want to make consistent earnings, because no technique is going to work 100% of the time.
I always try to have at minimum 350 words. Many of my best selling hubs are just around that mark 350-400. I can only write so much about certain products! I don't think length really matters (as long as you have a 350 minimum), rather it just provides the opportunity that more unique keyword phrases will have the chance to be discovered when people are searching for those products.
I totally believe what you say about niche and competition mattering the most. Many people simply don't choose to write about $10 products online (they get greedy and write about high comp products!), but if you have 100 hubs that sell $10-$30 products, those commissions can really start to add up!
Thanks for sharing your results with us!
Interesting findings here, Nelle. I think that knowing your niche and learning how to write so that you attract targeted traffic is the most important thing, then will keyword research is important, it is even more important to understand trends especially if you are trying to sell products.
I seem to have found a couple of layouts that work for more, and mostly write between 500 to 700 words for most of my hubs. When I write in my area of knowledge I do the best. So the thing to do is expand my area of knowledge.
I would disagree with length of hub, simply because in a longer hub you can naturally incorporate more second level keywords. This is a direct benefit to traffic and earnings.
From my own experience hubs that have over 1500 words tend to do a whole lot better than 500 word hubs simple because of the keywords around a keyword.
Haveto admit though the fact that you have come to this conclusion is incredibly intereting, do you focus a hub on one single keyword or do you use additional keyowrds on either side of your keyword to promote additional traffic?
Thisisoli, I'm really surprised at hub length not mattering more. But I try to work efficiently, and when someone like girly_girl09 keeps saying that 350-500 word hubs work for her, I pay attention.
When I write long hubs, I focus on 2 or 3 main keywords, then I very carefully check in with wordtracker and come up with a hundred or so other keywords that I should have as well. Then I write my copy trying to use as many of those as I can plus just bring in all of the natural stuff I think of. That's why I usually have pretty long-winded hubs.
But I've also written very short hubs focused on just the 2 or 3 keywords.
The long hubs do not consistently make more money that the short hubs. Sometimes they do. And I'm beginning to think that's the niche.
I'm trying to evaluate long and short hubs in the same niche now. But it's hard to do, because I think there's a synergy there, even if they aren't linked. Can't figure it out though.
But I think hubbers should worry less about what others do, and focus on what feels good for them. I think all models can produce money, if tinkered with enough.
I would like to add that I only target 2 or 3 keywords per hub, but they almost always are long-tail keyword phrases. I used to do all sorts of keyword research but don't have the energy to anymore and just write about a few keywords that I know will get traffic. All I really do now to determine whether or not I want to write a hub (for monetary purposes) is to google the keyword and use seo quake to check out the PR of the top 10 results.
I can add that from the other end of the scale - I get almost no views - playing with long hubs, short hubs and backlinking some and not backlinking others - none of it makes any appreciable difference. Most of my content is not targetted in any way - and some does contain 'thought about' keywords - still no appreciable difference.
It is becoming clear to me that the target subject is the ONLY really important issue, then targetted and researched keywords and then everything else in descending order.
I have now made a new 'name' and going to target a specific market and its niche's AND I am using Market Samurai to research the keywords AND yes I am doing their fantastically illuminating course - which I would highly recommend to other beginners like me - as it makes the whole process very clear, including the meaning, and how to, of the varous terms the experienced hubbers toss around.
Enjoy, I would actually quite like to know how you find the market samurai course from a beginners perspective!
I find their course amazingly good and easy to follow. The best part is that by using the Net Samurai tool at the same time it is working with real information that applies to what you are doing.
The other side is that the terms are explained fully, even the most obvious. Can you believe that I have been here half a year and hear 'backlinking' constantly, yet never really knew how it was DONE !! I kinda had an idea of why, but notclear and concise as explained in the course. Yes it is excellent for beginners.
Cool, On my article directory I am including a resources section where I am including toosl such as this. unfortuantely I have only used Market Samurai after near enough a decade building websites. This means that to me a lot of it seemed basic, however I do want to provide utilities to help people new to the internet make money online. Because if they make money on my site, I make money on my site
I think that this is the key to its appeal - it is basic, and beginners need real basic.
Trust me, I am currently in the process of writing a book about HubPages, the first few chapters are a nightmare though as I am having to keep things about as basic as they come!
You will probably win if my current pace keeps up, have an escaliting amount of work requirement for an electronics site which is keeping me pretty busy on top of my own projects!
But do 3 or whatever number of hubs that add up to 1500 words together perform as well as the 1 1500 word hub?
Its the same amount of effort, for the most part.
Great question, I don't know....yet. I still want to believe having all those keywords on one page creates a synergy, that doesn't happen with 3 shorter hubs linked together. But, at this point, I need to experiment and see if I can draw any conclusions. After what I've seen so far, I'm trying to stay open minded and just experiment.
In my gut, I really want to have a variety of hubs, because I still worry about G playing favorites at some point.
All those keywords -- "synergy" could also be "confusion"..
I havent made a decision myself ..but there is an aspect of search examiners who would suggest the focused article will outrank and hence most likely outperform the lesser focused.
On my longer hubs and articles I often find a happy level of traffic that comes from longtails I never considered. But I cant say I get more traffic for the exact term I was hoping for.
I prefer to get exactly who I was building for.
If PCUnix is "10,00o Monkeys" then I prefer the "Persnickety Spider" approach
The good thing about long tail keywords which contain your terget keyword, is that Google picks up on both.
I link for the most part for the main keyword, but I follow the train of thought which goes 'Google likes natural linking, 1000 liniks to wone site with the same anchor text just is not natural'.
By using prefixes and suffixes to the main keyword I can help to avoid this, and even in longer articles put in a secondary keyword.
This technique works incredibly well for me, however I do appreciate that some people don't find it effective.
Good question, and I couldn't give you an accurate answer off hand. I will say that the majority of hubs that earn significant amounts are all over 1000 words though!
What a great thread. I'm a little relieved. I had thought that you needed to have at least 800 words for a hub to do well and I was wondering what to do if the hub didn't need to be that long when I go back to review unsuccessful hubs. It's great to hear that other hubbers had great responses with hubs that had less than 800 words.
Aside from a general assessment of competition, I'm beginning to see the value in PCLinux's '10000 Monkeys at 10000 typewriters' approach. It seems there's just no way to account for every discrete element that determines a hub's success or failure.
I don't know about that, nelle works hard to find out what works best!
10,000 monkeys could be rephrased as "throwing mud at the wall just to see what sticks" ..certainly, it is not a wise approach.
but, you could throw mud at the wall see what sticks and then try and replicate that which sticks
I tend to think its a better idea to just know what makes thing stick before I throw anything.
Not surprised about your findings Nelle, Ive always found that across all sites and hubs my performance evens out by word count.
Whether its 1500 words at one location or 3 - 500 word articles - they seem to earn and perform equally.
But, I find I have 3 times the chances of hitting the appropriate term if I try it 3 different ways then I would if I committed to just one.
Couldnt disagree more about layout though.. Ive performed split testing at my sites and attempted to do a close approximation with Hubs - layout is very strong factor in conversion for me
Agree with layout, I doubled my conversion rate by playing about with my layouts.
I know. Maybe I screwed up the AB tests. It's hard when you don't control everything, or the sample isn't large enough. Or it's hard to control for me just learning as a I go.
And maybe I know enough just to write hubs and not worry so much about length, and layout perfection. And just let my instincts (which are just the product of years of experimentation) run wild and enjoy myself in the process. Which is where I'm headed I think.
I didn't dare do that, until I though about this.
But it's fun sharing and listening to all of the other HP nerds!
Personally I just wish that you had used my referral tracker when you signed up to Hubpages!
I have other identities as well.
I enjoy banking on a future trends that have no search history and most people dont even know they are in the works. Keywords are of no help, I just go with what should be logically next steps in the current market.
Im hoping this way I get new jumps of traffic, years from now when the product or technology is actually released and I get the benefit of age/backlinks that some future marketer will have to battle in 24 montsh when they first see the gold in their keyword results!
Its a complete gamble but its enjoyable for me to learn about the technologies/products anyway.
In the case of disagreements among Hubpage's veterans, I'll take your advice, Sunforged. I haven't nearly enough experience in this arena to make a authoritative statement.
Anyway, it's back to the 60dc with me!
You need to understand that the 10,000 monkey method is for people who cannot or will not write to spec.
Also, it doesn't mean 10,000 monkeys writing about anything at all. Most of the time, I stick to four general subject areas - that is one of the reasons I came here: to let the monkeys have a little more latitude.
However, it is true that some of my best performing pages just came out of left field. As sunforged said, it would be great to duplicate them, but I have never been able to figure out how to do that. Oh, I can write something similar in the same area, but they don't take flight, so don't count on that either.
In the end, I think some stuff flies and some stuff doesn't. As in any endeavor, some people are better at picking subjects and some people are better at writing and some people are better at promoting. If you are lucky enough to be good at all three, you are truly fortunate. The rest of us do what we can.
Thanks for sharing Nelle. I think you summed up the same thing I think. That is, a lot just comes from doing a bit of thinking and picking subjects by your gut.
Then you check the main keywords with whatever you use for that and pick a few to use. I do think for the best results any hub, blog post or page should have at least 400 words.
But any more than that is often a waste of time. I often pick just one single key word to rank for per article. Keep up the good work!
I tend to target keyphrases at 2-3 words, and then use other keywords around them. That way I get the focus on my main keywords, but Google will also pick up my page on other phrases as well. It just means I have to do more backlinking around more words to help it take off.
Many of my hubs are about 1300 words in length. Not because I aim for this number, but because the main niche I write to requires more detail to make the article useful and complete. I think the subject itself dictates the proper length of the hub!
Of course, it is different when the hub is trying to sell products more than give instructions for how-to articles. So many variables to consider for each individual hubber!
RD, maybe it's just that you're full of hot air! lol
This is very interesting. I always wondered how those shorter hubs did as compared to longer ones. Thanks!
Thanks for the great information and sharing your research.
Your time is most respected and appreicated.
The real trick to picking future trends is to buy the domains up. I have never had the skill to do it personally, but I remember talking to a guy at a conference some years ago who had just bought the domain bluray.com because he had been talking to some engineers who were developing teh technology.
I don't know if he developed it or sold it, either way though I am sure he was laughing all the way to the bank.
sure, im all over that too.
Im at 143 and counting....
but, be careful, sometimes terms and brands and plans change.
Anybody want a bunch of domains that have both ipad and usb in the name?
Nelle thanks for sharing your hubbing wisdom. Thisisoli,Ironher and Sunforged have some valid comments on your research which is also helpful to us intermediate hubbers.So thanks to you too.
How have you found the attention span of the average reader to be in your analytics with reagrds to the length of hub and how long the visitor is on that page.
Ive heard that the average attention is about 8 minutes and think that the longer hubs would lose readers unless they are specific to answering a need or solution to a problem.Are there any clues in your analytics.
Can you also let us know if you have your keywords in your hub title and then a longtail solution to draw specific traffic or do you rather use you longtail in your H1 tag.
Im trying to decide wether to go for page one for a longtail specific to the niche as the hub title to rate better for organic search or go for keyword and use backlinking.
Any advice would be appreciated.
WHat I meant is that if an article is not answering your organic search, some folks click on the back arrow to return to the search for the next result.
If the placement of the product is in the middle then great, but if you have to read 1500 words is it not likely that you would not get to the end to the product.
It was a solid question, Im sure Nelle will come back eventually.
Im also pretty sure Nelle is on the same time zone as me - which means 3 more hours until most humans are awake on a Sunday.
In general waiting for 1500 words before offering a product exit would be a bad decision.
The profiles that I am aware of that nelle uses (im sure there are many many I do not) dont go much more than 10 words before product options appear.
Ok now I get it.
If you look at http:hubpages.com/hub/hand-pruner then you do not have a worry.
Thanks for the feedback sunforged.
My approach has been the same for affiliate products as well as amazon and now I see where my mistake are.
Thank you Nelle! *Phew*
It's so nice to hear that. I have 1300 word hubs that just increase and increase over time traffic wise then I have 1800 word hubs that are lucky to get 3 external views a week.
I have 300 word hubs that have taken off and 500 word hubs that are mediocre.
Out of the ones that work and those that don't, it's 50/50 keyword researched or not.
I can't see a pattern - and my best hubs are surprising!
Would love to hear your thoughts on promotion if you ever experiment with it...
Most of my long hubs have and ad block below every 150 - 300 words of text. I feel that the key to successful sales (Not adsense clicks) is to offer a large amount of choice. Most of my hubs are aimed at offering a lot of choice to my readers. That way they are more likely to use my hub to buy, rather than just for information. If they are interested with one product they will also generally keep reading to find out about more related products, until tehy find the perfect offer for their needs!
Just out of interest Nelle, have you compared Keyword Optimization VS Latent Semantic Indexing, or combinations of each?
Thisisoli, Sorry I really don't spend that much time monitoring the forums.
I think LSI and non-optimization is where I'm headed. I just want to think things through enough so that I have enough confidence to leave the current day wisdom behind.
I'm really glad you shared your experience. I think Hubs should be at least 400 words to share decent information. I even wrote about my toothbrush at this length!
But you're right - whether a Hub is 400 words or 2,500 may not matter as to its monetary value -- especially with Adsense. The reader gets to it via search engines and the ads are placed within the first one or two paragraphs (text capsules) anyway.
I could see that Amazon could be affected differently.
I'm also glad to read about your experience with Wordtracker and that it doesn't seem to matter in terms of using keywords. I use the Google keywords tool and play around in Google before writing and I try to choose results that have between 600,000 to 1,000,000 returns.
My highest grossing Hub on gasoline did nothing for the first 8 months and then -- bang! - month 9 I remember getting over 20 views in one day. It's been anywhere from 12 to 30 views almost daily since then.
My Hub on landscaping do well, also.
What's the conclusion? Write quality Hubs, write, and write. And yes, I think trips to the mall, scanning through magazines at the library, and walking through Bed, Bath, and Beyond are all useful to stay on top of trends.
Thanks for inspiring and informing.
Dang, I should make this a Hub.
To be honest I don't know, and I don't think anyone does. You can google matt cutts LSI and find a few official posts and videos about it, but they are all pretty inconclusive.
I think Google does work some way towards LSI in determining what content is about, but that it uses it in a way to make sure a keyword with multiple meanings is correctly catagorized. There is not mch evidence that suggests LSI is actually used in ranking, it is however still a possibility.
It is a subject that interests me, but it is hard to extract truth from fiction as there is a lot of content out there which has hidden objectives, or was simply written by somebody who read something which was written by somebody who misunderstood something else
This is great stuff. Thanks, Nelle and others for the tips, info and research. VERY helpful.
how does age doesn't matter it needs time for hubs to be indexed by searc engine, also page rank improves by time am ı wrong?
Wouldnt Google favour a Hub with more content when it came to ranking it?
So a 1500 word hub, with images, videos, rss and links would probably rank higher then a 350 word hub on the same subject?
Or is that a myth?
Marissa my oldest hub is 17 months old. While some have gotten better, others haven't. Age is no guarantee of a hub's success in my world or that it will see increased traffic.
But I had my cpa/lawyer/statistican pal review my research and he believes that my research is flawed with respect to age because I used my Nelle hubs for that portion of analysis and those have been relentlessly poached by hubbers, who have taken the keyword, tag, and merchandizing strategies to use as their own - on both hubs and lenses. They'e spun it enough that I don't think it's duplicate content, but it's enough to devalue the work.
I'll report back next year on the stuff that is well hidden has aged. It might well make a difference.
Or i might just ditch all of the optimizing and just go with my instinct.
Thanks for the clarification, Nelle. I wasn't saying age is a guarantee of success - if a Hub is a dog, it's a dog and getting older won't help it! However if you have a modestly successful Hub, my experience is that you shouldn't give up on it because it will improve as it gets older.
Great study results here, thanks Nelle for sharing this information with us!
I have a gut feel that what Ole says about length holds good as you could incorporate the secondary keyword... Great work!!
I will agree to this. If a hub takes well when published, it gets better with age, like fine wine. If the traffic and sales are mediocre, it remains about the same. This varies throughout the year, like holiday hubs, but for the most part, that's what I've seen.
I will say that niche is most important and at least 300 words. I try to manage at least 500 word, but if I end up with 2000, then so be it. I don't force myself to write extra long hubs, because I haven't seen a huge difference between a short or long hub.
The one thing I really like with longer hubs is that you have more room to use multiple key phrases, versus just one. I will focus on one main phrase, but throw in a few others while I write.
Nelle, just go with instinct. Although, the research and optimizing is great, if you spend more time on instinct, you may do better. All I do is make lists of topics to get around to, and write. I let the hubs gather traffic and views naturally. I do better in the forefront writing, and letting search engines and blogs take over sending me traffic. The only linking I do is on my blogs.
I like your idea of sitting somewhere and watching people. I try to do that at work. I see many employees, vendors, and customers, that I make notes to write hubs on. I've also gotten ideas from commercials, especially around the holidays when all the toy ads start coming out. These sometimes are hit and misses though, but they're always a start, as even a few sales is worth it for me.
I also agree that sometimes other hubbers and whatnot will take ideas, making them not as useful. It sucks when you have a great idea, and carry it throughout a small series, and then someone else does the same thing but just a little different. I've had that happen on another account of mine.
Pretty much summarized what I've been observing. When I began hubbing, I was writing movie reviews and those did not do well in terms of traffic. But when I wrote a diversified group of niche topics, I started seeing traffic and a bit more money.
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