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21 Hub-Writing Success Strategies
In addition to my “12 Overlooked Hub-Writing Techniques You Need to Use” I've also compiled the following list of 21 strategies.
Thanks to everyone who voted for me as “Most Helpful Hubber“ in 2017. This is the second award mug I’ve received from HubPages.
1. Do You Write for the Reader?
You have to ask yourself if the reader will benefit from reading your article.
Consider if your reader may have gone through a similar experience. Imagine how you can explain things in a way that will guide your reader. Make it about the reader, not about you.
2. Make Your Hub’s Main Image Square
The first image in your hub is used to make a thumbnail for the list of hubs on your profile as well as any other place where your hubs are promoted. If it’s not square then the sides (or top and bottom) will be cut off. It’s cropped to make the thumbnail square.
If you have placed text in your image, which is useful when pinned in Pinterest, some words may be missing in the thumbnail if the image is not square.
For this reason, you should crop your image to make it square so the smaller thumbnails make sense. You can crop images with image editors such as "Paint" on Windows or "Preview" on a Mac.
If you do place text on an image that’s not square and you want it to be used for the thumbnail, an alternate trick is to keep your text within the square center of the image. When you do that, the sides can be cropped off without cutting into the important text.
Before you go any further, open your profile in another window or another tab and check all your thumbnails. If you have any problems, you’ll see why I’m making an issue out of this.
Alternative to Square Image
If the image is too large, causing people to scroll past it, you can alternatively make the image wide with white space on both sides. The vertical size of the image will be reduced. This is what I did with the image of me holding my HubPages award mug above. As long as the images itself is in the middle, HubPages will crop the square portion from the middle to use for the thumbnail.
3. Log on When Commenting on Niche Hubs
Occasionally I see comments from other Hubbers posted as “guest user” in my hubs on niche sites because they didn’t log into the site. They will never be notified that I had replied to their comment.
If the comment box looks like this example image below, then you need to click the login option. Don’t just enter your name. That’s only for an outsider to post as a guest.
Your login user and password are the same on all niche sites as you use for your main HubPages account.
4. Maintain Your Obsolete Hubs
Check the “Stats tab” at the top of your hubs. This has sub-tabs that show you view duration, where your traffic is coming from, what people are typing into search engines to find you, and so much more.
Click “Referrers” to see the list of traffic sources. You want to be sure most of your traffic is organic (from search engines). If not, you need to investigate why you are missing out on this, and then make the appropriate changes to your hub.
Click “Search Terms” to see what people are entering into various search engines. This information is vital to helping you make changes of better response going forward. Search terms sometimes guide me to make changes to titles and subtitles.
Obsolete hubs that are dead to the world might be good quality and simply need some tender loving care to bring them to life.
On the other hand, you may decide to delete them if they are taking up too much of your time resources with maintenance. I’ve deleted over half my hubs over the years. I like to keep it down near 100 active hubs so that I can focus on maintenance of those that produce residual income.
Some Hubbers have over 1,000 hubs. When I look at some of them, I see things that are totally obsolete with incorrect data due to changes over time. This is a bad reflection on the author. Don’t let this happen to you.
This is my opinion. If you’re comfortable maintaining over 1000 hubs, that’s fine, as long as it’s working for you and you have the time to keep them all up to date with content modifications and technical changes.
5. Make Your Hubs Mobile Friendly
I wrote a complete hub on this topic, and HubPages had discussed it in one of the weekly newsletters too a while back, so I won’t go into it much here.
I just want bring to your attention that mobile traffic is increasing and HP said eventually they would make all hubs single column to be consistent with the way they’re displayed on smartphones.
If you missed that announcement and you’re still using two columns for text capsules or photos, you may not realize that your right column content falls into the wrong place on mobile phones. You need to click the preview tab while editing your hub and check the mobile preview.
6. Indicate Your Background and Expertise in Each Bio
Your bio is the first thing that readers notice at the top of every hub. It’s most important on hubs where a description of your expertise is required as per Google’s Quality Guidelines.1
I mentioned this in my other hub on “12 Overlooked Writing Techniques You Need to Use”, but it deserves mentioning again–especially for the traffic problems with HealDove where Google wants to see specific expertise with the medical conditions discussed in the article.
You can mention something about your background in the subject that expresses your "expertise" that Google is looking for.
7. Do You Keep Your Focus When Writing Hubs?
I just recently read a very interesting hub about a scientific discovery that the human brain can retain its basic functions after death as long as it is preserved. I became interested in that article because I relate the idea to flash memory, which does not require power to keep its memory.
The entire credibility of the hub was destroyed, in my opinion, because the author went into a discussion of the possibility of zombies. What a turn-off that was, and the hub actually even made it into the Owlcation niche site.
My point is, stay focused on the important aspects of your hub.
8. Usage of Images Found Elsewhere
The thing I see most often misunderstood is that people use images in their hubs that are free for non-commercial use. The problem is that since our Hubs generate revenue, they are considered commercial.
It’s important to read the specific licensing information and understand every detail. If you don’t understand something, stick to using your own images, or at least just use a CC0 license.2
CC is Creative Commons and the zero after the CC means “No Rights Reserved” so you are totally free to use the image in any form you wish without attribution, even commercially.
Another Creative Commons license that allows images to be used in our hubs is “Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)” This can be used commercially, but needs attribution.
9. A Trick to Justify Text
HubPages does not have a feature to justify text in a text capsule. However, if you want to center or right-justify your text, here’s a workaround trick that I use.
You can specify left- right- or center justification in the table capsule. Remove all columns and rows so you only have one text block remaining. Then put your text in that block and specify the justification you want to use. Here are examples:
This is a Table Capsule showing left, right, and center justification.
This text is left-justified.
This text is right-justified.
This is centered text.
10. Proper Grammar and Spelling
Why is HP allowing poor English?
I still see hubs where people use poor English. I thought the Quality Assessment Process (QAP) was meant to catch these.
Examples of errors I see:
- Wrong: Your not doing it right.
- Correct: You're not doing it right.
- Wrong: That use to be the way to go.
- Correct: That used to be the way to go.
- Wrong: You might of disabled your settings.
- Correct: You might have disabled your settings.
- Wrong: What is the furthest you’ve traveled?
- Correct: What is the farthest you’ve traveled?
- Wrong: Do you want to go to the concert with Phyllis and I?
- Correct: Do you want to go to the concert with Phyllis and me?
If you have trouble with grammar, and you’re serious about your work as an author, it’s worthwhile getting a good book on the subject. I recommend by Lisa McLendon. I refer to my copy of it from time to time when I’m not sure about something. The Perfect English Grammar Workbook
11. View Forums Chronologically
The Forums can be viewed in chronological order or in a threaded order. Occasionally I notice that someone missed something in a discussion because they were in threaded view, which doesn’t show the last post at the bottom. It also does not show the posts in order of posting.
I always view the forums chronologically so that I can follow the entire forum thread rather than just threaded replies to individual posts.
I recommend that you don’t use threaded view, but this is entirely your choice. At least give it a try in chronological order. You can change the setting at the top right of any forum where you see these two buttons:
12. Watch Your Page Load Speed
If you use a lot of images in your hub, you need to be aware of their size and how it may be affecting page load. It’s possible that Google lowers ranking if pages load slowly.
When I take pictures with my camera to use in my hubs, I change the setting to a lower quality since I’m not intending to use the images for print. Even then, I usually reduce the size even further before uploading to HubPages.
Try to keep your images under 100 KB and under 700 pixels width. A perfect width for full-width images is 520 pixels. Remember that we shouldn’t be using two-columns anymore since they are merged on mobile anyway, as I mentioned in tip #5 above.
When reducing the size of images, make sure you maintain the quality. Images on HubPages should not become pixilated or they will not pass the QAP. They must be clear and not appear fuzzy, especially if a reader clicks to view the full-size original.
When I find images on Pixabay, I download the smallest version (with a 640-pixel width). That’s all we need for web-based usage. If I’m using it for the first image in a hub, I crop it to make it square, as I talked about previously in tip #2.
By the way, Pixabay is my preferred source for Creative Commons Public Domain images that can be used commercially.
13. Reviewing Traffic Stats with Google Analytics
You probably already know that Google Webmaster Tools no longer works for HubPages since we no longer have individual sub domains, but Google Analytics works great, and it gives us all the information we need.
Google Analytics even works across all network niche sites, so all data is tracked.
It’s important to monitor your analytics reports to know what’s going on with your traffic. I examine my reports to see how long people stay on the page reading my hubs. If they click away quickly, I examine my hub to see what's wrong.
I also compare organic traffic to traffic from other Hubbers. You want to be sure your traffic is coming from organic search. When I find that this is not the case, I review problems I might have with the title and summary. Those are the first things people see in search, and will attract them or not.
Here’s a summary of what I do with Google Analytics:
- I use it to track the behavior flow of my readers (flow from one hub to the next).
- I use it to see how long people stay reading each hub.
- I use it to track the source of traffic.
- I use it to see how many people come back for more vs. how many are new readers.
- I use it to check the demographics of my readers.
- I use it to see what types of devices people use to read my hubs (desktop, mobile, tablet).
- I used it to watch people reading my hubs in real-time view. It’s cool when I see several people reading the same hub simultaneously. That means a lot.
- I use it to show me which hubs lose readers (bounce rate).
That last item is the least to worry about. When people are done reading and close their browser rather than going to another hub, this can trigger a bounce. A more accurate indicator of losing readers is the view duration that you can see in the hub stats on each hub.
14. How to Use Flipboard to Organize Your Hubs in Groups
You might remember that once we had “Hub Groups” where we could organize our hubs in categories so that we can easily find them.
Groups have been eliminated on HubPages, but you can use Flipboard to keep track of your hubs and organize them in magazines (as they are called).
Just create a private magazine for each group and flip your hubs into those magazines. If you decide later to make the information public, you can change any magazine to public access whenever you wish.
Publically available magazines also provide a great back linking opportunity that has worked so well that HubPages decided to include a “Flip” button on our hubs. Unfortunately, few people used it and it was later removed since the low usage didn’t warrant the overhead of the share button. Nevertheless, Flipboard remains a useful tool.
My hub about using Flipboard was selected by HubPages for the Letterpile niche site: “Flipboard Online Magazine for News and Article Sharing.”
15. Following Is Meant for Reading
When someone new follows me, I examine the activity log in his or her profile. If they just followed dozens of other people in a minute or two, it’s obvious what they’re up to. They haven’t read any of my hubs, so they don’t really have an interest in following me.
They just are hoping to get followers with this trick. It makes me think they don’t feel they are good enough to capture followers with their writing, so why would I consider following them back?
When I see some real activity, then I'm motivated to check out their hubs to find something that interests me. Then I'll read it and leave a comment.
I only follow as many people via HubPages as I can honestly keep up with, but I do also follow Hubbers via other social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn.
In addition, from time to time I check out hubs of people who follow me, as well as people posting in forums whose comments attract my attention.
16. Following for the Wrong Reason
Focus on getting followers by writing useful hubs that provide helpful or educational content.
If you're thinking that following attracts followers who read your hubs, you're mistaken. You want followers who decide to follow you based on your own merits, not because you followed them. People who follow you as a courtesy probably never read your hubs, so what’s the point?
Making money from writing is not related to how many followers you have. Although it nice to have followers among our close nit friends of HubPages, we don't make money from them since we don't (and shouldn't) click ads.
People who follow too many and can't keep up with actually reading what they write are fooling themselves, in my opinion.
17. Focus on Getting into Featured Snippets
You may have noticed that Google has a new feature that displays instant answers in the SERPs when searching for information. These are called Featured Snippets. Don’t confuse this with Rich Snippets Structured Data, which is totally different.
How do you get the information in your hub to be featured in a snippet? Here are four methods that increase your chances:
- Get right into answering the question posed by your title. People look for instant answers and Google will take notice and might use your content for a Featured Snippet.
- You’ll want to use subtitles on text capsules that clearly communicate the subject of the content in that capsule.
- Use bulleted lists were appropriate, and again with subtitles for the list.
- Use table capsules were appropriate and remember the subtitle method there too.
- Don’t use callout capsules for subtitles. Callout capsules should only be used for attracting attention to a noteworthy statement.
That last point deserves a full explanation. When you place a subtitle in a text capsule, or any other type capsule, it is directly tied to the content of that capsule. Google can combine that data together when formatting Featured Snippets.
However, the way the HTML coding is done, if you place the related subtitle in a separate capsule, such as a callout capsule, then Google does not have the ability to combine the elements together.
For this reason, when deciding on hubs to move to vertical niche sites, HubPages curators don’t want callout capsules used for subtitles. I confirmed this with staff.
One of the reasons that we are moving back to using subtitles rather than callouts as headings is so that articles can show up as featured snippets. Callouts don't work great in this capacity.— Robin Edmondson - 3/15/17
18. Keep an Eye out For Plagiarism
I place a few random sentences from my hubs into Google Alerts3 so they will notify me when a copy is found.
Make an alert for each title and for one or two sentences taken from the hub. It's a long drawn out process, but once you do it, it’s done. Just remember to do it for each new hub you publish.
If it’s too much work and you don’t feel it’s worth doing, then just do it for your hubs that get the most traffic.
19. Special Consideration for Amazon Links
One of my hubs gets Amazon sales almost every day. HubPages has moved several of my Amazon monetized hubs to niche sites. One hub that they moved even has five Amazon capsules and none were snipped from that hub.
Based on that track record, I feel I can give you a few things to consider:
- Amazon capsules need to be 100% related to the subject of the hub. This applies to in-text Amazon links too.
- It helps to be a user of the product and show authority of knowing it from first-hand experience. At the least, you must display knowledge of the product.
- Less is more. I found that when I removed extra capsules and left just one, I actually got more sales. I just have a couple of exceptions where I needed more capsules.
- Describe your experience with the product and place that text in the Amazon capsule. The Buy Now button will automatically fall below that text. I feel this provides a better user experience because you’re not pushing a “buy” button in their face. Placing the button under the description works better since it’s like having a “call to action” in the right place.
- Avoid spammy ads. If you just add stuff, hoping people will buy something, you will upset you readers.
- Use Amazon to provide value to the reader rather than hoping to make money. Think in terms of the reader. Can you honestly determine if you would order the item? If in doubt, don't include it.
20. Special Consideration for Recipe Hubs
If you publish recipes, make good use of the recipe template in the HubTool. It’s important to use all the required recipe capsules.
There are special capsules that help search engines relate to your hub as a recipe. These are:
- Cook time
- Cooking Instructions
- Nutritional Facts
Rather than just putting your instructions in a text capsule, using the instructions capsule will improve the likelihood of getting your hub listed in a Google Featured Snippet (see tip# 17).
Providing the nutritional information will also increase Google’s ranking of your recipe. When I publish recipe hubs, I create an Excel Spreadsheet to add up all the nutritional information of all the ingredients.
Most ingredients have the information on the label. When I can’t find the info I need, I search Google for "Nutritional Facts" and the name of the item. Excel makes it easy to adjust for the serving size.
21. Don't Abuse Animated GIFs
HubPages now supports animated GIFs in hubs, but this can be very distracting to readers. I suggest you refrain from using this feature unless you have a very good reason for it.
A short animation that adds value to the content may be useful, but adding one just for the sake of having something in motion should be avoided, in my opinion.
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© 2017 Glenn Stok