Greekgeek's Online Odyssey - Hubpages and Online Article Writing Tips

Hubpages – A Grab Bag of Tips and Observations

I became active on Hubpages again in 2011 and churned out a little over a hundred hubs in two years. I have been next to useless on that site for the past year. So take anything I say about Hubpages with a grain of salt. That said, I may have learned a few useful things.

Places to Learn About Hubpages

  • Familiarize yourself with the Hubpages Learning Center while waiting for your lenses to transfer. It’s well-organized, frequently updated, has good FAQs, and it’s maintained by Hubpages staff.  See especially the Quality Assessment Process guide and this style guide which includes a handy linked list of sources for free images.
  • Paul Edmondson, CEO of Hubpages, is very, very knowledgeable. Hubpages is his baby, he’s in the trenches working on the site daily, and he and staff members regularly scan the forums and respond to questions. Look for the white-on-black “H” logo in the corner of staff member profile pictures. Trust posts from these folks.
  • Relache has helpful how-to-Hubpage tutorials. However, in the forums, she tends to come off… shall we say… rather blunt. Take her useful answers, which come from the voice of experience, and ignore the ironclad delivery, if you can.
  • Marissa Wright gives sound answers more gently.
  • There’s a lot of other good and helpful people in the forums. But this post is going to be long, so apologies for not making a comprehensive list.

Miscellaneous

  • [ETA] Quick guide to Dashboard Icons and what they mean
  • 301 redirects mean that traffic going to your old lenses will be redirected to their new address on Hubpages. 301s also tell search engines, “Hey, it’s not duplicate content! It’s the same content, it’s just been moved.” Good news from Paul: “HubPages will own the squidoo.com domain…The 301s are permanent.”
  • Hubpages has done a lot of content testing, and finds articles in the 1000-1200 word range tend to get the best traffic.
  • You can set a copyright notice to display automatically on your Hub. In the workshop, look to “Display Options” in the sidebar and click it to toggle several options.
  • Also under “Display Options,” you can create a new GROUP for a hub or add an existing hub to a group. Groups are articles in the same niche which are relevant to one another, so that users reading one page in the group are likely to want to read the rest.  For instance, I’ve got a “space” group. All hubs in that group have a “Next” and “Previous” link at the bottom of the article, pointing to the next hub in the group.
  • Links on a Hub are doFollow if (a) your Hubscore is 75 or above and (b) the hub’s score is 40 or above. [I need to verify this; I can’t find the official blog post where the numbers were given and am having to rely on a forum post.]
  • If a hub is found to violate Hubpages quality standards or rules, it is unfeatured, but it is not deleted. Edit the hub in the workshop and look at the notice at the top of the page to learn what filter it has tripped. Yes, Hubpages gives you a little more guidance.
  • When composing/editing hubs, take advantage of capsules which have a right-arrow in their top bar, allowing you to make that capsule half the page width and shove it to the right. Then use its up or down arrow to embed the half-width capsule next to a full-width capsule which will then fill in around it.
  • Experiment with the tables capsule; I think you’ll find it useful. Scroll down to see it in action on this hub (yes, that hub is much too long.)
  • Several capsules allow you to change the background color to light blue or gray. Again, don’t go overboard, but it can be handy.

Adsense

  • Adsense wants to see examples of your content before it accepts your application, and it also wants to see that your webpages are established. So I’d suggest waiting until your lenses have transferred to apply for Adsense. Hopefully, the fact that Hubpages is preserving lenses’ original creation-date will convince Adsense to treat these as established rather than brand-new pages.
  • The uncertainties of Squidoo’s tier system drove many of us to focus on affiliate sales for income, rather than ad revenue, especially after Squidoo’s traffic tanked. On Hubpages, I think, there is greater opportunity to earn income through ad revenue simply by writing on things you are very knowledgeable about and/or passionate about. That used to be true of Squidoo, but in the past few years it had moved away from its “everybody’s an expert (about something)” origins.

 

Amazon

  • As with ads (Adsense or the HubAd program), Hubpages shows your affiliate codes in Amazon capsules 60% of the time, and its codes 40% of the time.
  • Unlike the Ad Programs, you can configure a Hubpages account to use your own Amazon Associates ID immediately. Hunt around in the Earnings > Settings area to “Configure” your Amazon settings, and look for the spot that lets you enter your own Associates ID instead of enrolling in Hubpages’ Amazon program.Your associates tracking code will then be used in the Amazon capsules on your hubs.
  • The Hubpages Amazon program pays 8.5% commission— hooray! However, there’s two reasons I may leave one of my Hubpages accounts with my own Amazon Associates ID, at least until my other properties are making more sales. (a) I’ve got Amazon Associates links on other websites where I publish. Their commission rate will plummet, if my Hubs’ Amazon sales don’t factor in. (b) Amazon Associates deactivates accounts which show no activity for 90 days.
  • Even if you want to start earning that 8.5%, I suggest you wait until you reach the Amazon Associates payout threshold with your own Amazon Associates ID before switching to the Hubpages Amazon program. That way you won’t leave unclaimed money sitting in your Associates hopper.
  • Hubpages doesn’t have a set limit to the number of Amazon capsules per hub. Instead, it checks to see you have 50 words of text somewhere on the hub per each Amazon capsule. However, that doesn’t mean you can write an endless stream of products simply by adding more text.

Listen to one of Hubpages’ most experienced members, and CEO Paul Edmondson himself.

The big rule with Amazon is that the products must be absolutely, totally relevant to your Hub.   Approximately relevant isn’t good enough.   If you can’t find exactly the right product, don’t use the capsule.   If you apply that rule, you often end up with only one or two capsules anyway!

Paul Edmondson:

We have been trying to hammer this advice home – Thanks Marisa.  This is on the money.

If a product is tangentially related there is a risk the page and subdomain will be classified as spam.  I’m often amazed at some of the manual actions we have seen where the intention of the author isn’t to spam, but Google applies a manual action anyway!  USE PRODUCTS WITH CARE!

UH OH I FEEL A RANT COMING ON…

I want to stress something. After Hubpages took its own serious hit from Panda in 2011, Paul and Hubpages’ new Quality Assessment Process largely succeeded where SquidooHQ, its new content filters and the lensrank algorithm largely failed.

Paul Edmondson and his staff did a ton of content testing to try and discover why Google was downgrading Hubpages. Also, after the 2011 Panda Slap and for several years afterwards, Paul was very visible in the search engine community talking about steps Hubpages was taking to improve user experience and site content. This was a frank message to Google and the world: “Look, we are hiring new staff and establishing new policies to ensure that our good content is showcased and our poor content is improved or jettisoned. We’re not a spam haven.”

In 2011, when Hubpages got smacked and Squidoo didn’t get smacked by the initial launch of Panda, I went over to Hubpages and built up a test account partly to watch and see how and whether Hubpages was able to pull out of its nosedive. Paul’s response to Panda at the time impressed me tremendously. That’s why I keep dropping his name now.

The thing Hubbers are fearing is that Squidoo members will inadvertently import the same practices and content that caused Google to write off Squidoo. I’m proud of many Squids, and I know there’s a lot of great content on Squidoo, but I also think that those worried Hubbers’ concerns are justified. After all, Squidoo’s lensrank algorithm kept encouraging content that Google didn’t like. Right to the end, despite years of pleading from veteran members, Squidoo staff were still encouraging and demanding short-form content of minimal utility to visitors, and awarding Lens of the Day to exactly the sort of pages that might show up in the Google Quality Raters’ guidelines as examples of low quality or “mixed” quality at best.

For heavens’ sake, even at the end of 2013, when the site had been taking on water for a year, SquidHQ forced lensmasters to create five “Lenslets” against Google’s best practices guidelines in order to maintain our Giant Squid status. Two of the lenslets I created for that misguided challenge received a “Best of Squidoo” award. It seemed clear to me that SquidHQ was not checking Google’s quality raters guidelines, was not checking Google’s “High-Quality Content” guide telling us what Panda was rewarding or penalizing, was not peeking at the next student’s desk to find out how Hubpages had recovered from its Gooogle slap, and was determined to continue to push the very kind of content that had gotten Squidoo in trouble.

So when Paul Edmond says, “USE PRODUCTS WITH CARE,” I think it’s wise to listen to him. Hubpages is taking a big risk by taking content from a site that was hemorrhaging traffic to the tune of 2 million visitors a month.

Even if a page, individually, is making lots of sales, if Google determines that the website hosting it is primarily hosting content designed to benefit its authors  (by making money) more than it benefits readers and visitors, that’s when the Panda axe comes down without mercy. And then the traffic dries up. And it’s hard to recover. Hard. To this day, Hubpages is still fighting its way back up that mountain.

They’re investing a lot of trust in us, that we have the kind of content that will help. And we do! It’s just that Squidoo also had the kind of content that might hurt them.

So I don’t want to see Squidoo refugees begging Hubpages to loosen up its rules and become more like Squidoo. I’ve already seen a few such posts in Hubpages forums. I’ve resisted the urge to scream NOOOOOOO, only because I’m pretty sure that Paul Edmondson has sense enough to stand his ground.

9 Comments

  1. Heather says:

    Re the lenslets: my feeing was that they had been slapped by Amazon for TOS violations which we all know had been going on for years and they were kissing Amazon’s as* with those things. No proof, but it seemed everything they were doing during that time was to appease Amazon, not Google. Just my opinion of course.

  2. Ann Hinds says:

    Wonderful advice. Thanks for sharing. I am pinning this so I can go back and read it more slowly and with more care.

  3. Paul Duxbury says:

    Ellen thank you so much for taking the time out of what I know is an incredibly hectic schedule to write this excellent post. I picked up several things that I had missed including the ability automatically add our copyright notice. Thank you

  4. Titia says:

    Thank you Ellen for your wise words. I’m gonna bookmark this for future use.

  5. I am so in agreement with you on this. I am one of the migrating Squids, and I pray that HubPages will recognize and un-feature any of my lenses that don’t meet quality standards. Its short term pain for long term gain.

    1. E. Brundige says:

      This. I deleted a number of lenses which I may test on a domain on my own site, but which could be asking for trouble — so rather than endanger Hubpages, I’ll take the risk myself. And/or it would just be so much work to overhaul them to suit Hubpages. I don’t mind tossing some so as to focus on others that may thrive and prosper in their new environment more than they did before.

  6. Paula Atwell says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment Ellen. Hubpages took a huge nosedive and it took two years and a lot of hard work to start coming out of it. I believe some of my pages that worked on Squidoo will need major overhauling or deletion from Hubpages. However, with a 4 month window I believe we have enough time to make those changes and still get results from the original pages through the redirection. I don’t think that Google will jump right on Hubpages to catch them in the act of poor content. As long as Hubpages assesses and cleans up any content that comes over, Google should be happy and we lensmasters can learn what still works and maybe, just maybe go back to what many of us came to Squidoo for in the first place, writing about what we know.

  7. Katinka says:

    Great article. However, are you sure that hubpages allows unlimited amazon LINKS instead of CAPSULES?

    1. E. Brundige says:

      Oops. No, only two links per hub. Thanks for the catch!

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