Strategy Tips for Being Successful as a Writer on HubPages
These 20 strategies will help you make your articles stand out more professionally on HubPages' Network Niche Sites. Select what you find intriguing from this table of contents, or read each strategy so you don't miss anything important.
- Write for the Reader
- Indicate Your Background and Expertise in Your Bio
- Show You’re Serious with a True Image and Real Name
- A Square Main Image Produces a Better Thumbnail
- Find Good Search Phrases for Better Titles
- Look After Your Obsolete Hubs
- Delete Unrelated Comments
- Review Your Low Quality and Spam Filter
- Only Use Images That Are Free for Non-Commercial Use
- Improve Your Page Load Speed
- Proper Grammar and Spelling Can Be Easily Overlooked
- Give Your Hubs an Annual Checkup
- Review Traffic Stats with Google Analytics
- Get Into Google's Featured Snippets
- Keep an Eye out For Plagiarism
- Use Amazon Ad Capsules and In-Text Links Properly
- How to Justify Text
- Special Consideration for Recipe Hubs
- Don't Abuse Animated GIFs
- Is Flipboard Useful for Sharing Articles?
1. Write for the Reader
You can achieve the best results with articles that offer help to queries people search for online. Always keep in mind how well your reader will benefit from your article.
While writing, consider if your reader may have gone through a similar experience. Write with a point of view that they can relate to, and make it about the reader—not about you.
2. Indicate Your Background and Expertise in Your Bio
Your bio is the first thing that readers notice at the top of your article, next to your avatar. It’s essential to have a description of your expertise, as required per Google’s Quality Guidelines.1
Mention something about your background in the subject you are discussing, to make it clear why you are an authority on the subject.
That's especially important in the HealDove, YouMeMindBody, and PatientsLounge niche sites, where Google wants to see specific expertise with the medical conditions discussed.
You can create up to 25 individual bios, so make the best use of that. Don't just write one generic bio for all your articles. Write specific ones for each category you cover.
Bios can be written in the HubTool when editing hubs. However, it's easier to maintain and assign all your bios from one place. You can find that by clicking the “About the Author” tab on your Articles page.
3. Show You’re Serious With a True Image and Real Name
There is so much competition on the Internet that you need to appear real. When people search for information and discover an answer written by a dog, a cat, or a tree, they don’t trust the authority of the author. If a writer can’t show their face, they aren't serious.
A real name, or at least something that looks like a real name, also makes a better impression. Pen names are okay.
If you used a meaningless username when you created your HubPages account, you could still add your real name in your profile settings. That will be displayed in your articles.
4. A Square Main Image Produces a Better Thumbnail
The first image in your hub is used to make a thumbnail for your profile listing and other places where your hubs are listed. If it’s not square, then the sides (or top and bottom) will be cut off. It’s cropped to make the thumbnail square.
Moreover, 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.
Therefore, you should crop your image to make it square, so the thumbnails make sense. You can crop images with image editors such as "Paint" on Windows or "Preview" on a Mac.
If you place text on an image that’s not square, keep it within the area that won't be cropped off. The sides will be cropped off without cutting into the text.
Do you want to check it now? Open your profile in another window or another tab and review all your thumbnails. If you have any problems, you’ll see why I’m making an issue out of this.
Another problem is with images that are too large vertically. You can make the image wide with white space on both sides. The vertical size of the image will be reduced, so less scrolling is required. HubPages will crop the square portion from the middle to use for the thumbnail.
5. Find Good Search Phrases for Better Titles
You can take advantage of auto-complete, a feature that both Google and Bing provide when you search. When you start to type anything, it completes it as you type. That offers clues to what other people are searching.
In addition, Google shows alternative search strings at the bottom of the SERPs. Don't overlook those suggestions when working on creating a title. It will help create good titles that work well with attracting traffic.
Revisit and Improve Later:
Go back a few months after publishing to fine-tune your titles. HubPages will show you Search Phrases people have been using. You should look over what people have been typing into search engines when they found your article. That can help improve your title.
You can find this information by clicking the "Search Phrases" tab under the “Stats” tab on the hub you want to work on. Then click on the period of time you wish to review.
When creating your title, make it clearly state what your article is about. You need to deliver on that and stay focused. Avoid anything that does not relate specifically to what the title indicates. I see some articles where the writer goes off on tangents. 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 the character width affects what gets truncated. More ‘I’s and less ‘W’s, and you might get away with a longer title.
6. Look After Your Obsolete Hubs
Hubs that are dead to the world might be good quality but may 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 to a manageable number so that I can focus on the maintenance of those that work well.
Some Hubbers have over 1,000 hubs. When I look at some of them, I see things that are obsolete with incorrect data due to changes over time. That is a bad reflection on the author. Don’t let this happen to you.
That is my opinion. If you’re comfortable maintaining over 1,000 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.
7. Delete Unrelated Comments
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 I delete them after having been read.
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. Google will consider unrelated content low quality. That goes for things like "nice hub" comments too.
8. Review Your Low Quality and Spam Filter
Did you know you have a filter on your comments page? You can use it to see comments that are spam or low quality.
Low-quality comments can negatively affect your Google ranking. These are comments that don’t add value. It’s pleasing to see someone say “nice hub,” but these things don’t add value to the subject.
Most of the time, people who say two words are doing it for their own recognition, in my opinion. Otherwise, they would say something that shows they actually read the article—and add something meaningful to the conversation.
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.
9. Only Use Images That Are Free for Non-Commercial Use
If you're using your own images, you don't need to be concerned about this. But if you use images found elsewhere, you need to be careful with the license.
I see many people overlook the fact that our articles are commercial. That's because they generate revenue. Many free image sites allow use for non-commercial content only.
It’s important to read the specific licensing information. If you don’t understand something, stick to using your own images, or at least use a CC0 license.2
CC is Creative Commons, and the zero after the CC means “No Rights Reserved” so you are free to use the image in any way you wish without attribution, even commercially.
Pixabay is my preferred source for Creative Commons Public Domain Images that can be used 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.
10. Improve Your Page Load Speed
If you use a lot of images, you need to be aware of their size and how it may affect page load speed. Google may lower ranking if pages load slowly.
When I take pictures with my camera to use in my articles, I change the setting to a lower quality since I do not intend to use the images for print. I usually reduce the size even further before uploading to HubPages.
Try to keep your images under 100 KB and no larger than 700 pixels width. They are reduced to 520 pixels anyway.
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.
11. Proper Grammar and Spelling Can Be Easily Overlooked
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: Try and do this the right way.
- Correct: Try to do this the right way.
- 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?
That last one deserves a further comment. Just because people think they sound intelligent by using "I" insert of "me" doesn't mean that it's correct in all cases. A good test is to say each item alone. If it sounds silly, you know it's wrong. — "Do you want to go to the concert with I?" — See what I mean?
If you’re serious about getting your grammar right with your content, I recommend a book that I keep by my side and refer to whenever I’m not sure about something. The book is "" by Lisa McLendon. The Perfect English Grammar Workbook
12. Give Your Hubs an Annual Checkup
Every so often I give each of my hubs a routine checkup. This is what you should do too. Check each of the sub-tabs under the “Stats tab” at the top of your hubs.
- Under “Overview,” you will see several useful items. I find “incoming links” and “view duration” useful. These are represented with 1 to 5 stars. The more stars you have, the more incoming links were found from other sources, or the longer people have been reading through the entire article.
- “View duration” will show you if you are losing people too quick. You might be starting with something that’s not meaningful with what the title had suggested.
- “Referrers” lists all the traffic sources. Make sure your major traffic is from search engines. Organic traffic can be perpetual, but traffic from social media leads may have limited success.
- “Search Terms” shows what people are entering into various search engines. This information is vital in helping you make productive changes.
13. Review Traffic Stats with Google Analytics
You probably already know that Google Webmaster Tools no longer works for HubPages since we no longer have individual subdomains, 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 review my hub to see what's wrong.
I also compare organic traffic to traffic from other sources. 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.
Here’s a summary of what I do with Google Analytics:
- Track the behavior flow of my readers (flow from one hub to the next).
- See how long people stay reading each hub.
- Track the source of traffic and the demographics of readers.
- See how many people come back for more vs. how many are new readers.
- See what types of devices people use to read my hubs (desktop, mobile, tablet).
- 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.
14. Get Into Google's 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 suggested by your title. People look for instant answers, and Google will take notice and might use your content for a Featured Snippet.
- Use meaningful subtitles on text capsules that clearly communicate the subject of the content in that capsule.
- Use bulleted lists where appropriate, with subtitles for the list.
- Use table capsules where appropriate, and remember using a subtitle.
Don’t use callout capsules for subtitles. Callout capsules should only be used for attracting attention to a noteworthy statement. 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 when formatting Featured Snippets. If you place a subtitle in a separate capsule, such as a callout capsule, then Google cannot combine the elements.
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
15. 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 content. It's a long, drawn-out process, but once you do it, it’s done. Just remember to do it for each new article that 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.
16. Use Amazon Ad Capsules and In-Text Links Properly
One of my hubs gets Amazon sales almost every day. HubPages has moved all my Amazon monetized hubs to niche sites. One hub even has five Amazon capsules, and none were snipped.
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. That applies to in-text Amazon links too.
- You need to be a user of the product and show the authority of knowing it from first-hand experience. At the least, you must display knowledge of the product.
- 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 include ads, hoping people will buy something, you will upset your 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.
17. How 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 content, 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.
18. Special Consideration for Recipe Hubs
If you publish recipes, make good use of the recipe template in the HubTool. It’s necessary to use all the required recipe capsules.
There are specific 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# 14).
Providing 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.
Here's an example of an Excel Spreadsheet I made for calculating nutritional values for one of my recipes:
19. 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 an excellent 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.
20. Is Flipboard Useful for Sharing Articles?
Flipboard is a platform where you can create groups called magazines and list your articles to those specific magazines. Listing articles is known as flipping.
Flipping used to help bring additional traffic, but for some reason, that had died down. HubPages had a social sharing flip button once but removed it because it was an extra overhead to the server. Few people used it anyway.
In early 2018, Flipboard had a bug that credited flipped articles to the wrong author. I removed most of my flips for that reason. They fixed that bug, but I’m wary of the site now.
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Thanks to everyone who voted for me as “Most Helpful Hubber“ in 2017. This is the second award mug I’ve received from HubPages.
© 2017 Glenn Stok