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


Scientific Study Discovers What Gets Retweeted More Often

Chenhao Tan of Cornell University and his colleagues have completed an extensive study of what types of wording tend to generate the most retweets. There’s not one cookie-cutter template that works in all situations, because, unsurprisingly, you need to adapt your vocabulary and language to the particular community or audience you’re addressing. Nevertheless, the study suggests a few generally successful practices:

  • being specific and including some specific information
  • picking up on topics tweeted before
  • using news headline style copy (hey, I wrote a tutorial about how to draw clicks by mimicking news headlines a few years ago— ahead of the curve!)
  • asking followers to retweet

Best of all, for the moment, Mr. Tan’s website has a free tool letting you compose and compare Tweets using the intelligent algorithm he devised, based on this study of what wordings are most effective.

Translation: free Tweet optimization tool, at least until everyone discovers it and he has to shut it down due to traffic overload (just a hunch)! Probably worth using for article headlines as well.

Add Photos to Tweets to Get More Clicks!

When I browse Twitter, I see PICTURES with some Tweets, which help draw the eye to them:

Why, yes, Twitter thinks I’m weird. (Here’s the Sea Slug Article and my phone book article.)


Hubpages, Squidoo and other websites usually have Tweet buttons, but one thing they DON’T usually do is incorporate a photo or graphic into the Tweet. If you’re Tweeting your own stuff, be sure to add a graphic! Here’s how:

  1. Save a graphic from the article (or some appropriate graphic) to your computer.
  2. Go to the article and click the Tweet button to compose a Tweet.
  3. Instead of sending the Tweet then and there, COPY the text of the Tweet, so that you grab the article’s URL.
  4. Go to and paste the Tweet in the Compose box.
  5. Click the camera icon at the bottom of the Tweet box to upload the photo.
  6. NOW Tweet it!

Wait— WHERE will these graphics show up, anyway?

  • Sometimes they’re thumbnails in people’s Twitter stream.
  • They appear in the “Gallery” area on the left side of your Twitter Profile Page.
  • They are big and bold in the “Discover” part of Twitter— click the “Discover” link at the top for a demo!
  • Twitter is evolving. I suspect these pictures are going to grow more prominent with time, so get in the habit, right now.

Obviously, be careful of copyright. Remember that the image may be shared in retweets. Do you have the right to share/publish/distribute that graphic? Or, at the least, is it Fair Use?

P.S. I’ve just found two treasure troves of vintage, out-of-copyright images that require no credit: Vintage Printables, which includes this odd balloon illustration, and OhMeOhMy Vintage. There you go!

Leopoldo Galluzzo’s illustration for an 1836 hoax purporting to depict discoveries of life on the moon by famous astronomer John Herschel.

The True Power of Social Media

Wow. I had started to create a lens on the Mars Curiosity Rover a little over a week ago, claimed the URL, then stupidly failed to finish it.

I wound up creating the article on Hubpages instead, since its clean interface looks a little less corny for educational pages.

I discovered one more reason why I was glad I’d created my Mars Rover page on Hubpages: it’s really fast to edit, update, and add pictures.  Sunday night, I decided to use my hub on the Mars Rover to liveblog the whole event. With a few Tweets and hashtags related to the event as it was unfolding, I started getting traffic before the spacecraft hit the atmosphere!

Today, I saw just how fast Google can crawl after a Tweet or link on a social website gets posted (possibly this is only true of social sites its owns).

On Squidoo, I wound up making a lighthearted Mars Curiosity Rover 3D model lens showing off an amazing free app from NASA that lets you plunk a virtual reality model of the rover down on your cat, er, your desk, and move the model around. (It’s bizarre. It’s SO COOL.) Obviously, if I’m combining a trending topic with a funny cat video, I should Tweet it. In this case, I tweeted the video on YouTube, which is liable to get more visitors. In the video description, I included a link to the Squidoo lens showing how to get your own copy of the virtual rover so you can put it on your cat, er, desk.

I published that lens a few hours ago, but it’s got a lensrank of almost 2 million, since Squidoo ranks unpublished lenses lower and lower if you don’t publish them pronto. This means it’s a WIP lens, and is not yet plugged into Squidoo’s internal links, so Squidoo hasn’t yet informed search engines that the page exists.  To my surprise, it immediately started getting Google search traffic wanting to know how to get and use the app I was demoing in the video!

Remember, YouTube is owned by Google. It must have seen the link in the video description, and/or seen the Tweet, followed it back, and crawled it, a good 12 hours before Squidoo acknowledges that the lens exists.

I’m actually not sure whether the Youtube video link or the Tweet got the page indexed and ranked well by Googe, but it’s good to remember both, and to remember that you already have to be part of the conversation in social media like Twitter, or nobody is going to follow your interruption (link drop) into the conversation. 

On Pinterest and Copyright Concerns (Yes, That Again)

I wrote an article called “Is Pinterest a Haven for Copyright Violations?”  that covered the hidden catches buried in Pinterest’s Terms of Use. The article went viral, and a firestorm ignited on Twitter when my article and two others on Pinterest and copyright came out at about the same time (search “Pinterest copyright” on Twitter).

Apparently what I said resonated with many. The comments I received on both sides of the argument are worth reading. That was actually my intention in writing it:  I wanted to present one side of the story as clearly as possible, and was hoping for the debate that followed.

On a tangent, the “how to” side of things:  this is only the second time I’ve had an article go viral. In both cases, I tapped into an issue that a lot of people cared passionately about, and which was rising in popularity.  In both cases I used a Magnetic Headline posing the topic as a question designed to provoke an emotional response. I didn’t know it would go viral, but just in case it did draw traffic, I posted it on Hubpages which pays better for individual impressions than Squidoo does. (I think Squidoo is better for pages that people click links on and/or buy things from.) Hubpages also has a cleaner, more professional-looking skin for a reader unfamiliar with the site, which I find makes a difference in op-ed and informational articles.

However, I didn’t post the article just to get traffic. I posted it to deliver important information on an issue I care about. I was terrified that I’d be virtually tarred and feathered, but I was gratified to find some people in the comments making my points better than I could make them myself. Of course, many commenters argued the other side of the debate, and some of them had important things to say, too. I urge you to read it, and them.

Partial Recovery of Lost Squidoo Fans List

I don’t like losing useful information (see Spirituality’s blog post on why the Squidoo fans list was useful). I had meant to go on a tour of ALL my Squidoo fans after I hit 1000 fans last month, but hadn’t gotten around to it. I’m not sure when I’ll have time for that, but I can at least provide a backlink at the end of this post to some of you — THANK YOU!

Grab Search Engine Caches of Your Fans List

Many search engines let you view cached copies of their last crawl of each webpage. If they’re not too efficient, their cached copy may be from just before fans disappeared from our lensmaster profiles. Unfortunately, in 2010, Squidoo started displaying only a selection of your fans and hid the rest behind a “more” link which search engines can’t see. So many fans are gone for good. But this will recover at least some.

You’re probably thinking, “What about the Wayback machine?” and rightly so. However, its archives will still be around next week. Whereas search engines’ caches only exist UNTIL the search engine crawls the webpage again. Here’s the ones I found whose cached copies — as of June 2nd — predate Squidoo’s removal of fans. I used a few international search engines since they tend to crawl English sites less frequently:

  1. GOOGLE. Search Google for: cache:
  2.  search for: lensmaster page yourname
    then mouseover to the right hand side of the listing, click the right-arrow that pops up, and scroll down to the bottom to find the cached link. I couldn’t get this to work on Chrome, only Firefox.
  3. Yandex, the main Russian search engine:  search for lensmaster page yourname
    then click the копия link (if you’ve got Google translate turned on, it says “copy”).  This was the most up-to-date one just prior to Squidoo removing fan clubs.
  4. Baidu, the main Chinese search engine. Search as usual, then click the only link right under each search result. It only has some lensmaster pages. (While you’re at it — I don’t normally recommend wasting time submitting your pages to search engines, since most crawl Squidoo very often anyway, but with international SEs it may be worth it. Here’s the submit URL link for Baidu. Keep in mind Baidu will tend to favor content in Chinese and/or content of interest to people in China, plus your content has to pass web censorship, but at least some Squidoo pages are getting through the Great Firewall of China. But do that later. Let’s grab your fans first).
  5. search for lensmaster page yourname as usual and click “cached”. This was a fairly recent cached copy as well.
  6. Exalead:  Who are these people? Donno, but they’re saving caches of the web. Search as usual and hit the “cached” button.

You will note that most search engines give you a date for when their crawled copy of your page was cached.  Make a note of the most recent one to get a fairly accurate estimate of your fans just before they vanished. Ah, vanity.

Find More Fans From the WayBack Machine

Once you’ve gotten all the fans you can find through search engine caches, THEN go to the Wayback Machine aka Internet Archive and punch in into the “Take me back” search box. This will pull up a calendar. Dates with highlights represent cached copies of the page; click on one of them to go to that date. Then you’ll have a menu at the top of the screen that lets you skip forward and back through cached copies. The layout for Squidoo pages from 2010 onwards is too complicated for the Wayback Machine to reproduce correctly, but the fans list is there: scroll down to find it. Note that pre-2010 Wayback Machine caches of your lensmaster page include ALL fans from that time, since Squidoo displayed the whole list until 2010.

Copy that data into your document too. Save it.

Dump your list into Microsoft Excel. Add a row at the very top (row one) and label it “Names.” Then, to hide duplicates:

  1. Select the column of names.
  2. choose “Filter > Advanced Filter…” under the Data menu
  3. Say “OK” if you get a nag popup.
  4. Click the “Unique Records only” box and click okay.

And you can sort the column alphabetically. Alas, the result will be all your pre-2010 fans, but coverage of recent fans will be spotty.

A note on lensrank:

The Squidoo FAQ has long mentioned “lensmaster reputation” as one of the factors in lensrank. In 2009, as part of my comprehensive lensrank study, I guessed — although I can’t be sure — that this included fans as a lensrank factor (probably only a minor one). Right after Squidoo dropped the fans list, I dropped to 5-6 tier one lenses. That represents about a $150 drop in income. Ouch. I’m hoping that drop is due to the fact that everyone is scrambling to update their lenses to cope with all Squidoo’s changes, but maybe it means a more level playing field for newbies.

Backlinks for MY Fans: A Small Thank You

I only recovered half of my 1045-ish fans (wah!) but as a small thank you, here’s all the ones I’ve managed to save. The links will be very minor backlinks. (I’ve added a few more that I know were on there.) Feel free to add yours in comments if you like, and thanks again. :)


Two Thoughts About Traffic and SEO

These aren’t really big enough to deserve a post, but they’ve been sitting in my “Post Topics” box forever, so I toss them out for whatever they’re worth:

Greekgeek’s Maxim:

Traffic isn’t everything, but everything comes from traffic.

I’ve become more aware that clicks, sales, and other factors are almost more important than traffic. Traffic quantity certainly isn’t as important as some people think: attracting 5 people who are ready to buy what’s on your page is better than 500 people who are just browsing, or even 50 Squidoo members who are ready to say, “Nice lens!”  However, you can’t get clicks, sales, or anything else without first getting at least some people to the page.

Yeah, it’s stating the obvious again, but I kinda like the maxim.

SEO Is NOT Social Media; Both Get Traffic

I’ve stated this before, but never clearly enough.

1) When you’re doing SEO, you’re optimizing your content and links so that search engines notice them. Use specific language, keywords, and keyword research (traffic stats) to refine your SEO.

2) When you’re doing social media, you’re talking to people. People respond to clear, exciting, brief writing, appeals to emotions, and benefits. (What’s in it for them?)

Always ask yourself: which method are you trying to use at the moment? Each requires a different approach. The one you choose to use may depend on your topic:

1) Some topics get traffic most easily through SEO: product reviews, for example, are not very exciting, but when someone needs to replace or buy a Quixtop 234, by golly they’re going to search for Quixtop 234.

2) Certain topics almost can’t get search engine traffic. Your personal story, your opinions, your advice about important issues, your passions may not fit into some neat little label someone might search for. Then you have to rely on social promotion: putting out Tweets and Facebook updates and viral videos and other person-to-person content that stands out enough to tempt someone to click.

Social promotion requires skilled writing and a grasp of psychology. You’re running up against human indifference — they’re busy, so why should they read your page? You need to “be remarkable,” as Seth Godin puts it, in order to attract visitors and word-of-mouth recommendations. It can be done. But it’s not easy. Check out Seth’s blog for one example of how it’s done well.

Digg the SEO Vampire: It Drinks Your Backlinks Dry

Just in time for Hallowe’en, I have an SEO horror story that’s happening right now. You may even be a victim!

You think submitting your page to Digg will help SEO, right? Or at least, it can’t hurt, can it?

Ha. Ahaha. Ahahaha.

In September ’09, Digg announced that links would be NoFollow until they proved themselves worthy (lots of Diggs). And I vaguely remember a flap about the DiggBar totally screwing up SEO. I didn’t follow the story closely because I don’t use social media for SEO: social media means promoting your site to people, whereas SEO means promoting your site to search engines.


Which Social Media Sites Benefit SEO?

When a newbie asks how to build web traffic, one of the first pieces of advice they’ll hear is to submit their URL to StumbleUpon, Digg, Del.ici.ous, and other social media sites.

I got the same advice. I bought into it. But does social media/social networking really benefit SEO (search engine optimization)?

Hey, let me be social and ask you, the readers!

[poll id=”2″]

Now, let me give you my answer…