Glenn Stok has been publishing educational articles on the HubPages Network since 2009 and has received numerous achievement awards.
These 20 tips are effective strategies for creating professional-looking articles on the money-making niche sites of the HubPages network. HubPages is part of The Arena Group (formally the Maven Channel).
So, let's get started:
1. Focus on Writing for the Reader
You will achieve the best results when you help people who search for answers online. Always keep in mind how well your reader will benefit from your article.
Write with a point of view that your reader can relate to, and make it about the reader—not about you.
2. Indicate Your Background and Expertise in Your Author Bio
Your bio is the first thing that readers notice at the top of your article. It’s essential to have a description of your expertise, as required per Google’s Quality Guidelines.1
It helps to mention something about your background that's related to the topic. That will make it clear why you are an authority on the subject.
Showing authority is especially vital in the YouMeMindBody and PatientsLounge niche sites, where Google wants to see specific expertise.
Don't just write one generic bio for all your articles. Write specific ones for each category you cover. You can create up to 100 individual author bios.
Author bios can be written and selected in the HubTool. However, I recommend that you maintain all of them from one place by clicking the “About the Author” tab on your articles page. It's much easier to keep track of your many bios that way. And you will also see where each bio is used.
3. Use a True Avatar Image and Real Name to Show That You Are Serious
There is so much competition on the Internet. You need to appear as a real person to attract readers and make money with your writing.
When people search for information and discover an answer written by a dog, a cat, or a tree, they won't trust that author’s authority. If a writer doesn’t show their face, they aren't serious-minded.
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. Crop your Main Image So It's Square
The first image in your article is used to make a thumbnail for your profile listing and other places where listed. If it’s not square, the sides (or top and bottom) will be cut off in the thumbnail.
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If you have text on your image, some words may be missing in the thumbnail. That's another reason you should crop your image to make it square. You want the thumbnail to make sense. You can crop images with image editors such as "Paint" on Windows or "Preview" on a Mac.
Alternatively, if you place text on an image that’s not square, keep the text within a central square area of the image. That will avoid having the text cropped off.
5. Create Titles With Good Search Phrases
You can take advantage of auto-complete, a feature that both Google and Bing provide when you search. Start to type anything in the search bar, and you'll see that it completes it as you type. That offers clues to what other people are searching for with their queries.
In addition, Google shows alternative search strings at the bottom of the SERPs. It's helpful to consider those suggestions when working on creating a title. That will help create good titles that work well with attracting traffic.
You might want to fine-tune your titles on older articles that haven't been working well. Problems with search traffic might merely be due to titles that need improvement.
Make your title clearly state what your article is about. 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 articles where the writer goes off on tangents. When that happens, I lose interest, not knowing the point they are 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. Letters such as ‘I’ take less space than ‘W’s.
I recommend using the Google search results preview tool to make sure your full title appears in the search listing without being cut off.2
6. Review Your Obsolete Articles
Articles that are not getting traffic might be good quality but may need some changes to correct problems. It might merely be that you lost the reader too soon. I find it helpful to review old articles once in a while to see what improvements I can make. That can take a lot of time, but I consider it time well spent, especially since I already put effort into the original work.
On the other hand, you may decide to delete them if you feel they are taking up too much of your time with maintenance. I’ve deleted over half my articles over the years. I like to keep it down to a manageable number so I can focus on the care of those that work well.
When I read other articles, I sometimes see things that are obsolete with incorrect information. That is a bad reflection on the author. Don’t let this happen to you.
Important Update for Tips 7 and 8
As of January 2022, HubPages has implemented a new comment system that interfaces with Maven.
Unfortunately, it is not user-friendly and lacks the crucial features we used to have. At the time of this update, the ability to screen comments for approval or delete unwanted comments is not available.
I’m leaving the following discussion in tips 7 and 8 here in case these critical features are implemented.
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 reading.
If a comment doesn't serve a purpose for the general public or add value to the subject matter, then it should not be included. Google will consider unrelated content low quality.
That goes for things like "nice hub" comments too. It’s pleasing to see someone say “nice hub,” but these things don’t add value. For that matter, delete any comments that contain the word "hub" because readers that come from organic search do not know what a hub is. That's especially true when your article is on a niche site.
8. Review Reader Comments for Low Quality and Spam
Low-quality comments that don’t add value can negatively affect your Google ranking.
Most of the time, people who say just a few words that don't relate to the article are doing it for their own recognition. 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.
Never accept any comments that have self-promotional links. Besides, you never know if it goes to a website that automatically installs malware. And if that's not the case, it still might be a low quality website. When you have a link out to such a site, it lowers your ranking with Google.
9. Only Use Images That Are Free for Non-Commercial Use
If you're using your own images, you don't need to worry 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 use a CC0 license.3
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 and Unsplash are 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 articles 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 many images, you need to be aware of their size and how it may affect page load speed. Google may lower the 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 quality. I usually reduce the size even further before uploading.
Try to keep your images under 100 KB and no larger than 1,000 pixels wide.
When reducing the size of images, make sure you maintain the quality. Images on HubPages should not be pixilated, or they will not pass the QAP. They must be clear and not appear fuzzy.
11. Proper Grammar and Spelling Can Be Easily Overlooked
I still see articles 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 seems to be a common mistake. Some people think they sound intelligent by using "I" instead of "me" when speaking, but that's not correct in all cases.
An easy way to determine that is to say each item separately. If it sounds silly, you'll know it's wrong. For example, "Do you want to go to the concert with I?" — See what I mean?
I recommend a book that I keep by my side and refer to whenever I’m not sure about my grammar. The book is "The Perfect English Grammar Workbook" by Lisa McLendon. She includes a lot of instructive examples.
12. Give Your Articles an Annual Checkup
Every so often, I give each of my articles a routine checkup. That 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.
- A short “View duration” indicates you are losing people too quickly. Hint: You might be starting with something that’s not related to the title.
- All the traffic sources are listed under “Referrers.” 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 useful, but lately, many search engines no longer pass that information as part of their privacy strategy.
13. Review Traffic Stats With Google Analytics
Google Analytics collects data across all HubPages' network niche sites.
Your analytics reports will help you know what’s going on with your traffic. I examine my reports to see how long people stay on the pages reading my articles. If they click away quickly, I review my article 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 look for problems with the title or summary since those are what people see in search listings.
Here’s a summary of what you can do with Google Analytics:
- Track the behavior flow of readers (flow from one article to the next).
- See how long people stay reading each article.
- 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 (desktop, mobile, tablet).
- Watch people reading in real-time view. It’s cool when I see several people reading the same article simultaneously. That means a lot to me.
14. Get Into Google's Featured Snippets
Google has a feature that displays instant answers in the SERPs when searching for information. These are called Featured Snippets.
Here are four methods that increase your chances of being listed in a featured snippet:
- Answer the question suggested by your title immediately at the beginning of your article. People look for instant answers, and Google might use your content for a featured snippet.
- Use meaningful subtitles on text capsules that clearly indicate the subject of that capsule.
- Use bulleted lists where appropriate, with subtitles for the list.
- Use table capsules where appropriate.
Don’t use callout capsules for subtitles. You should only use Callout capsules for attracting attention to an important statement.
When you place a subtitle in any capsule, it is directly tied to the content of that capsule. Google can combine that data when formatting featured snippets. However, if you place a subtitle in a separate callout capsule, Google cannot connect the elements. That’s crucial to have your articles appear in Google’s featured snippets.
15. Keep an Eye Out for Plagiarism
When HubPages finds a copy of your content on the web, they report it with a little © symbol next to the title in the stats report. Then you can go to the "Copied Articles" page to see the details.
However, they don't always catch everything. So, I place a few random sentences from each article into Google Alerts4 to notify me when a copy is found.
Make an alert for each title and 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, just do it for your articles that get the most traffic.
It's important to file a DMCA takedown request when you find copied content. I never bother with communicating with the plagiarist. Instead, I send the takedown notice to their website hosting company. You can find that with this tool from digital.com.
16. Use Amazon Ad Capsules and In-Text Links Properly
I must be doing things right. All my Amazon monetized articles have been moved to the niche sites, and none were snipped. I get Amazon sales every day. So I can attest that you will have success if you do it right.
Here are the rules you need to follow with Amazon ads:
- Amazon capsules need to be 100% related to the subject of your article. That applies to in-text Amazon links too.
- It helps to clarify that you have used the product yourself. That goes a long way towards showing your reader that you are an authority with knowledge of the item.
- Describe your experience with the product and place that text in the Amazon capsule. The Buy Now button will automatically fall below that text. That provides a better user experience because you’re not throwing 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.
- Use Amazon to provide value to the reader rather than hoping to make money. Think in terms of the reader. Can you honestly say you would order the item? If in doubt, don't include it.
- In-text links to Amazon are favorable in many cases since they don't appear as ads. However, I found the capsules work just as well when used properly.
17. Avoid Spammy Amazon Ads
In addition to the points I mentioned above, it's crucial to avoid any Amazon ads that look spammy. Understanding these things is vital to avoid getting your Amazon ads snipped.
You need to avoid placing ads for items with little or nothing to do with your article's subject. It needs to relate 100% to the topic promised by your title.
If you place Amazon ads in hopes of making money from sales, they may be considered spammy. If you're hoping people will buy something, you will upset your readers. The only reason for placing Amazon ads is when the item adds value for the reader.
18. If You're Writing Recipe Articles, Do It Right
If you publish recipes, you need to use the recipe templates in the HubTool. It’s necessary to use all the required recipe capsules.
There are specific capsules that help search engines relate to your article as a recipe. These are:
- Cook time
- Cooking Instructions
- Nutritional Facts
Rather than putting your instructions in a text capsule, using the instructions capsule will improve the likelihood of getting your recipe 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 and Maven support animated GIFs, but this can be very distracting for 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. The Myth of Building a Following
Followers are pleasing to have, but they don’t read every article, especially if we write content on various subjects that followers are not interested in knowing.
You’d do better when you attract an audience from search engines. Organic traffic is much more substantial and is a limitless audience, while followers are limited to those on your list.
Besides, people who search for information online are much more prone to read your article when it comes up in their search results.
Get to Work!
I look forward to seeing you around with your published articles on the HubPages network niche sites. All the best!
- Google’s Quality Guidelines
- Google search results preview tool
- CC0 FAQ - Creative Commons
- Google Alerts
© 2017 Glenn Stok
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on April 26, 2020:
Cynthia Hoover - You're doing the right thing that helps SEO with on your articles. I also see many Hubbbers who leave spam or unrelated comments in their hubs.
It's amazing how so many just don't care. It's a shame that HubPages staff tolerates that on the niche sites, because it affects the ranking of the entire domain.
I wish they would notify those Hubbers to pay more attention. Some of them let comments post without being moderated. That feature should be eliminated.
Cynthia Hoover from Newton, West Virginia on April 26, 2020:
Very useful information. I was recently wondering specifically about comments. I have seen articles under niche sites that the author does not seem to moderate the comments. While the comments are technically relevant, they are also spam, I have written an article under a similar topic and it resides on a niche site.
I get the same exact comments on my article and I always delete them. Thank you for sharing the detailed tips, I have been going through applying these to my own articles and this article was most helpful.
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on January 16, 2020:
Very exhaustive and useful article for not only beginners but also for everyone. Thanks.
Dominique Cantin-Meaney from Montreal, Canada on January 05, 2020:
Thanks Glenn. These are very useful tips. I'll definitely remember them.
Michele Kelsey from Edmond, Oklahoma on November 23, 2019:
I apologize. I didn't see the answers. Thank you.
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on November 23, 2019:
Michele, I replied two days ago to your last questions. See that below in this thread. The only question I missed is about HubPages' apprentice program. That has not been repeated.
Michele Kelsey from Edmond, Oklahoma on November 23, 2019:
Thank you so much for your sharing! I have several questions that I was hoping you could answer, some of which are listed in the last comment I made on this hub.
Would you like me to ask them here or is there a specific place that helps you answer them better?
Thanks! I look forward to hearing back from you!
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on November 21, 2019:
Michele Kelsey - You had asked me to email you direct, to help you with your articles. My policy is to help people via comments in these tutorials so that everyone gets helpful ideas from the interaction. Feel free to use comments in my tutorial articles to ask me questions. I’ll always be glad to help.
Per your last comment, you need to keep up with notifications. You can change your email address in your “profile / account settings”.
I left you a private critique in one of your hubs as you requested.
Thanks for the nice fanmail. Much appreciated.
Michele Kelsey from Edmond, Oklahoma on November 21, 2019:
Thank you so much Glenn! That gives me a great start! Actually as i am fumbling along trying to figure out where to start, I actually had HubPages Writing Guide open, but I got a little overwhelmed by the amount of information in there. However, you have given me new insight and motivation to give it another shot! I really appreciate your prompt feedback. I know this will all take a lot of time, but I am feeling more motivated!
It seems like you know a great deal about HubPages and how to keep earning on here! I would love to keep picking your brain! LOL. If you don't mind, I would love to consider you as one of my mentors to keep me going! I went ahead and followed you and sent you a fan mail.
I may not get thru all of the details on your HubPages' hubs yet, because I want to take useful notes for me to follow, but I will continue referring to them, so I apologize if I leave numerous comments to let you know my thoughts on the particulars of the hub areas I'm reading. You can share them or not if you want. I can't imagine stating anything bad tho! :)
One thing I was thinking about was:
#1 Maybe I should only follow people that I wish to read their new or updated hubs, not just people who are following me or whatever.
#2 If I do #1, I could gradually focus on the ones I follow and give them useful comments.
#3 The email I have set up for my main hubpages account (misslong123) is not one I check regularly so I have no idea when people comment or something (unless I log in and see the notifications); that email is more of a catch-all. I could: