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12 Overlooked Writing Techniques for Successful Hubs
As I read other Hubs and engage in the forums, I see that some people don’t use all the available tools to achieve success with their writing on HubPages. My mission with this discussion is to bring these tools and features to your attention. This is also useful for newbies and anyone deciding to write for HubPages.
You Write Articles
When mentioning your hubs to the outside world, or referring to another hub in a hub, don’t refer to them as a hub. Only other Hubbers know what that is. Refer to it as an "article."
Most of our traffic is organic, from the outside world. At least that’s the traffic we hope to get.
In addition, don’t call it a blog! I see some people doing that. HubPages is not a blog site. Articles are stand-alone pages of informative content. Blogs may be informative too, but are less formal and don't require as much research.
"About The Author" Bio
Do You Include This?
The most usually missed feature is the Author Bio. I read so many hubs that are missing this.
Don’t confuse this with the profile bio. The Author Bio is managed under the "About the Author" tab under your account page. You can include a short bio with your avatar image on your individual Hubs. You can create up to 25 individual bios and each is limited to 140 characters.
The purpose of each bio is to provide a description of your expertise in the topic so that readers can see that you have authority on the subject. The presence of a bio under your avatar helps the reader have confidence in you and rely on the information in your article.
I created several individual bios, each one specific to the categories I write about. If all your hubs are related to one theme, then you probably only need one Author Bio. However, most of us tend to write hubs on a variety of unrelated subjects. A unique bio for each category will relate better and add to your reader’s confidence in your writing.
Once you have created one or more bios, you can assign each of your hubs to each bio. There is no limit to how many hubs can be assigned to a bio. You’re just limited to the 25 bios.
Remember, you should make each bio relate well to the assigned hubs. I write most of my bios in a general way so they can be applied to several different hubs. However, in one case I decided to make a bio very specific to the hub as shown below. You’re free to do that as long as it helps the reader gain confidence in your authority on the subject of the hub.
The point is that you should write your bio so that it works well for each of your hubs. Just remember that the bio is meant to express author credibility.
Here is an example of my bio I use for my product review hubs.
The Importance of Using "About the Author" to Manage Bios
You can add bios directly in the HubTool when creating a new hub, but be careful with that. I noticed a number of Hubbers get confused when they try to change their bios from there.
I suggest that you should always maintain your bios in the "About the Author" page. That’s the only place where you will see your entire set of bios, along with the list of hubs assigned under each one.
Being that they are all in one place, it’s easy to move hubs from one bio to another if you need to do that. In addition, you can clearly see how your have organized your hubs under various bios.
Display Options in the HubTool
Do You Set These?
The display options used to be in the sidebar of the HubTool, where you specify your bio and activate your copyright notice.
In August 2017 HubPages changed the HubTool to make these two items more obvious because many Hubbers overlooked these important details.
Now the bio is right up front under the summary field when you edit a hub, as shown below.
Select the Author Bio you want to use from the list of Bios you had created (as I discussed above). You can also create a new bio while editing your hub, if you hadn't created one already.
The copyright notice has been moved to the bottom of the HubTool to be consistent with where it appears in the final version of your published hub.
This shows the Year of Publication, which does not change when you update your hub. It also protects you because it shows Google when the hub was first published in case you need to file a DMCA takedown notice when you find a plagiarized copy.
The default is to not display your copyright, so you should turn this on as shown here:
Have you been using the Author Bio and remembering to set the Display Options?
- 42% Yes, I use both.
- 21% Yes, but I keep forgetting.
- 37% I didn't know these features were available.
True Image Avatar and Real Name
Do You Care?
There was a time when Google included our image in the SERPs as long as you had a real face image. They discontinued that for reasons that are outside of the scope of this article, but I feel it still helps show that you are legitimate.
There is so much competition on the Internet that when people search for information and discover an answer written by a dog, a cat, or a tree, they tend to think it wasn’t written by someone who has authority on the subject if they can’t show their face. Please don’t shoot the messenger; I’m just sharing that with you.
A real name, or at least something that looks like a real name, also makes a better impression. Pen names are fine. Even if you used a meaningless username, you can add your real name in your profile settings and that will be displayed in your hubs.
Selecting a Good Title for Your Hubs
Do You Research This?
You can take advantage of a search feature of Google and Bing. When you start to type anything to search, it completes it as you type. This actually provides clues to what other people are searching. Google also shows you alternative search words at the bottom of your search.
This is valuable in helping create good titles that work well with attracting traffic.
You’re not done. Go back after a few months of publishing to fine-tune your titles. Data about search strings may have accumulated after several months. You should look over what people have been typing into search engines when they found you. This can help improve your title.
Click the "Search Phrases" tab under the “Stats” tab on the hub you want to work on. Then click on the period of time you want to review.
When constructing or changing your title, remember that it should clearly state what you discuss in your hub. In addition, you need to deliver on that and stay focused. Avoid anything that does not relate specifically to what the title indicates. I see some hubs where the writer goes off on tangents and I lose interest – not knowing the point he or she is trying to make.
Titles should also be limited to around 60 characters, because anything longer gets cut off in the search listings (SERPs). It’s not exactly 60 characters because character width affects what gets truncated. More ‘I’s and less ‘W’s and you might get away with a longer title, but don’t go crazy with that.
Just keep in mind that people may not see enough of the title to convince them to click to your hub.
Select a Good URL for Your Hubs
Do You Skip This?
You only have one chance to specify the URL and that is when you first create the hub. After that, it remains constant even when you change the title.
I see that most Hubbers let the URL default to the same as the title. The problem with that is if you ever drastically change the title, the URL may not relate as well.
I like to specify a URL that is more generalized than the title so I’m not so locked in to a specific theme that I may change as the hub matures and I collect search strings (remember that from the previous section?).
As soon as you start to create a new hub you will see the title field as the first entry, as shown below. After you enter a title, the URL will automatically fill in to match the title. Notice that directly above the title field is where you can override the URL. Remember, this is your only chance you have to change the URL.
HubPages keeps the URL static so that incoming links don’t break. However, there are cases where it’s forced to change, such as moving to a network niche site or changing the main topic. In those cases HP makes a 301 redirect so Search Engines are informed and older incoming links follow the redirect.
Do you override the URL when you create a new hub?
- 25% Yes, I always make it more generic to allow for title changes later.
- 67% No, I didn't know I can do this, but I will from now on.
- 8% I knew about it, but I don't care.
Purposeless Amazon Ads
Do You Include Personal Content?
I often see Amazon ads in hubs with absolutely no personal description. Amazon capsules have a description field and you should use it to discuss your personal experience of the product. That helps make the ad “personal” instead of just another ad.
Google has been cracking down on Doorway Pages, those that encourage readers to click through to another page. Google may lower ranking of hubs that don’t have enough substantial content discussing the product in the Amazon capsule.
This is why HubPages is so strict about it. If you do it right, you won’t have a problem. I know – I have a hub with five Amazon capsules that was moved to a niche site without snipping.
Showing that you have knowledge of the product from personal experience with it is important. You need to discuss how you use the product. At the least you need to show knowledge of the product, even if you don’t use it yourself, and explain why you are recommending it.
In addition, It MUST relate to the title of the hub. A recipe hub, for example, should not have an ad for a kitchen utensil unless your hub is a review of that utensil. Get the point? Google sure does – and they will downgrade for it, unless HubPages protects you first with a snip snip here and a snip snip there.
Do You Check This?
You don’t need a smart phone to see what your hubs look like on mobile. HubPages has a mobile preview built right into the HubTool.
According to 150 top experts on SEO surveyed on MOZ, mobile friendliness has an 88% impact on Google's ranking.
Did you know that your hubs are displayed only as one column on mobile phones? If you use two columns the right-hand column may not be inserted in the right place to make sense to the reader.
Sometimes I see hubs where the author refers to images in the right column. They say “see the image at the right.” However, the image is not on the right when viewed on a mobile device. It may be above or below the text.
This is why it's important to check the mobile preview before you publish a new hub. More importantly, stop using the right column for images or text-blocks.
HubPages will eventually discontinue two-column format anyway and all images will be full-width in order to support the growing mobile audience. They didn’t give a time frame for that yet, so get ready now. I eliminate the right column whenever I update older hubs and I make most of my images full-width.
Mobile preview is available by clicking “Mobile Preview” under the “Preview” tab when editing your hub.
I go into more detail about creating mobile friendly hubs in: "Why You Need to Make Your Hubs Mobile-Friendly"
Global Comments Review
Do You Moderate Comments This Way?
How do you moderate your comment? Do you go into each hub? In a forum discussion I discovered that some people do it that way.
In case you don’t’ know, under the “Comment” tab of the account page you can review and moderate all comments in one place. There is no need to log into niche sites and moderate each hub individually.
Just click on "My Account" and then select the "Comments" tab. You can approve or deny as well as reply to all your comments.
You can even change the filter to view comments you have previously denied and comments that you never moderated and HP had to approve for you. Two other filters show you comments that went into your spam folder and your low quality folder. More on this next.
Comments that are not related to the subject are not helpful from an SEO standpoint. Sometimes people get into a discussion and go off on tangents.
I go along with it when appropriate, responding to personal comments as a courtesy, but then later delete them after having been read by the specific person for whom it was meant.
Keep in mind that if a comment doesn't serve a purpose for the general public, and add value to the actual subject matter, then it should not be included.
Low Quality Comments and Spam
Do You Review These?
Low-quality comments are known to negatively affect your Google ranking. These are comments that don’t add value. It’s nice to have someone say “nice hub” but these things don’t add value to the subject.
Most of the time people who just say two words are really doing it for their own recognition, in my opinion. Otherwise they would say something that shows they actually read the hub, and add something meaningful to the conversation.
Google is cracking down on this practice. They consider it spam, which hurts your hub.
Therefore you need to be diligent with moderating your comments and removing anything that is low quality. Go to your global comment moderation page and change the filter to "Low Quality." You can delete them permanently or approve them if you think they are okay.
While you’re moderating comments, delete any spam, such as self-promotional links. HubPages automatically hides most spam in your spam filter but some of it gets through.
HubPages Blogs and Announcements
Do You Read Them?
Did you know HubPages has a blog? Many questions I see in the forums have been answered in the blog. In addition, sometimes I see complaints about changes and new features that were not announced. They were!
Announcements are always in the blog as well as emailed to everyone. Do you have notifications enabled in you settings? You should be getting a weekly Newsletter from HubPages. If not, then check your email settings. There’s no excuse for missing out on important announcements.
Curators and Editors
Are You With Them?
They are just extremely busy right now. Having hired a team of new curators/editors, they are working on moving forward with selections of hubs for niche sites. In the process they have curators assigned to specific niche sites. These curators are well-educated editors. In some cases they use their best judgment for edits and snips made to hubs, but in general they follow a common routine.
The curators are free to be creative (within limits of course), which helps tremendously with improving our hubs. I am pleased with the process.
I have been in communication with several of the curators about the changes to my hubs and in the end it turned out better. I have also learned a thing or two that I went ahead and implemented in my other hubs as well. Keep an open mind to what’s being done. These professionals are paid to improve earnings that benefit both you and HubPages. We’re in this together.
As you can see, HubPages gives you the tools to help with success, so use them.
Now, if you're ready for more tips, I added a 20-Step Checklist of Hub Writing Success Strategies for your viewing pleasure.
© 2017 Glenn Stok