Kate Swanson wrote her first novel at 15, created her first blog in 2006 and has been writing for profit, and creating websites ever since.
This Hub is all about how to maximize income on what I call "writerly" Hubs. I've been a member of HubPages for nine years and in that time, I've met many excellent writers, some even published authors or seasoned journalists, who are frustrated and mystified by their lack of success on HubPages. They write great copy, they've had success elsewhere, why not here?
It may surprise you to know that writing online is not the same as writing in the print world. You have to "unlearn" some of the rules you learned in school or on writing courses, and pick up some new skills. So choose one of your Hubs to edit, and let's work through it:
Tip #1 - Ditch the Clever Titles
Most writers are taught to use a humorous or catchy title for an article, and witty headings within it. On the internet, that does not work!
You must use titles that describe what the Hub is about, in phrases people actually search for. That often means your titles are somewhat boring, but don't worry - because titles are to attract Google first and foremost. You can "grab" your reader with your summary and first paragraph!
It's surprising what a difference a Google-friendly title can make to your traffic - I saw one Hub triple in traffic when I changed its title to include my keyword phrase.
The clip below is an official HubPages video, explaining how to use the Google Keyword Planner to optimize your title. Personally, I don't recommend it. That tool is designed to provide a service to advertisers, not writers, and because of that it's far too easily misunderstood. Get it wrong, and you can do more harm than good!
It's possible to achieve a lot with simple common sense. Just ask yourself what people are likely to be looking for, start typing them into Google and see what auto-completes - those are the phrases people are actually searching for, so those are what you should use.
For a more detailed explanation of how to use that feature, read this Hub on Google Suggest by Wrylilt.
Underneath the title, you'll notice there's a space for a Summary. It's invisible on the published Hub, but Google uses it to create the blurb you see under the Hub title on search results. Make sure it entices your reader to click on the link and read more!
Tip #2 - Grab Your Reader Immediately
People are impatient online. If they're not instantly convinced your Hub gives them what they're looking for, they will click back to Google and try the next search result. So the opening of your Hub must say to the reader "I'm going to help you with your question".
Many writers have been taught to start an article with an introduction, perhaps a bit of humour or a general overview. Not online! If you must explain the background to how you came to make the quilt or learn all those facts about cataracts, tell us at the end of the Hub. NOT at the start. You have to jump straight into your main topic and convince the reader they're in the right place.
Tip #3 - Consider a Hero Shot (or Maybe Not)
Some people recommend a full-width image at the top of your Hub to achieve Tip #2 (grabbing the reader). However, that tactic must be used with great caution.
The concept of the "hero shot" comes from retail websites which are selling products. If a reader arrives at a site looking for a pair of shoes and see a picture of some gorgeous shoes, it gives them confidence in the site. It's not always so easy to find the right photo for a Hub, and that's where the "hero shot" concept can backfire.
Say a reader comes to your Hub for help on how to fish for saltwater trout, and the first thing they see is a picture of a fisherman holding a fat trout he's just caught. That will give the reader confidence - "this writer knows how to catch fish". But what if the image is of your family having a great time on a fishing trip? No matter how appealing the photo, they'll think, "oh this is just some amateur writing about fishing with his kids" and click back to find a more authoritative source.
So, ask yourself what your readers want, and make sure your opening image relates directly to that need. If it doesn't, don't use it as an opener.
If you do use a "hero shot", it's vital to jump straight into the "meat" of your content in the very first paragraph. You've already asked your reader to scroll down once to find the answer they're seeking - they won't scroll down any further unless they're convinced you're going to help them!
An example: I recently saw an excellent Hub on how to make a particular type of quilt. It started with a "hero shot" of the finished quilt - which is great, except that the next several paragraphs told the story of why the author decided to make it! Anyone looking for instructions would've decided this was a personal story with no practical advice to offer - which is a pity, because the rest of the Hub gave some excellent, detailed advice.
Tip #4 - Keep Your Readers on the Page
Google looks at a range of parameters when judging your Hub, and one of them is the length of time visitors stay. The longer they stay, the more value your Hub has in Google's eyes, the higher you'll rank on searches and the more visitors you'll get.
Obviously, a longer Hub takes more time to read, so writing more words is one solution. Research (both by HubPages itself and by individual Hubbers), has shown that longer Hubs - between 1,000 and 2,500 words - do much better than short Hubs. That doesn't mean you should pad the Hub with useless information just for the sake of length, of course - but you could consider combining two related Hubs, or covering another aspect of the subject.
Depending on the topic, readers themselves may not care to read a very long Hub - but a longer Hub will also rank higher in Google's search results due to the greater variety of keywords and phrases, and will therefore be more likely to get readers in the first place.
Another excellent way to hold readers on your Hub is to add Youtube videos relevant to your subject.
Tip #5: Split Your Text
Although more words are good, online readers like bite-sized chunks of text, so don't write long indigestible paragraphs. Also, split your text over several text capsules (if you don't know what that means, read the explanation here). If you have several clearly defined sections in your Hub, then one text capsule per section is fine. Otherwise, start a new text capsule every 150-200 words. There are two benefits to this method:
One, HubPages uses software called Yieldbuild to work out the best positions for advertising on your Hub - but they can't put an ad in the middle of a text capsule. Splitting your text into several capsules allows HubPages to insert ads in the optimum position.
Two, if you need to revise your Hub in future, it will be much easier to add or rearrange photos, tables etc around the text if it's in smaller chunks.
Tip #6 - Good Layout is Important
Online, people don't like to read large solid chunks of text. You need to break it up into smaller paragraphs, and make it look attractive with images. But be careful - a huge photo cutting across the page, or a big chunk of white space, can stop a reader scrolling down. This Hub has some good ideas on how to avoid white space, and how to create color and interest without letting photographs become roadblocks.
(On a side note, do make sure you use photographs legally, too! Copyright for photos is the reverse of what most people think - ALL photos are copyright unless stated otherwise. To learn more, read this Hub.)
Tip #7: Keep Your External Links Low
I don't mean you mustn't link to other websites: Google will reward you for including helpful links to good quality sites. I mean keep them low down in the Hub. The reason is simple - if a reader sees a link to another site before they get to an ad, they may follow that link and never come back to click on the ad!
So keep your links to other Hubs or other websites to the last couple of paragraphs. And don't go link-crazy: only link if the other Hub or site adds real value to your Hub. A sea of blue links only annoys your readers - and they'll be even more annoyed if they follow the links and don't find it helpful. Besides, the more links you create, the more work you're creating for yourself, because you're more likely to have broken links in the future - and Google doesn't like broken links.
The exception to Tip #6 is if you're writing for HealDove. When writing about medical or health subjects, HubPages requires you to justify every statement and every claim with a link to supporting research. That means your Hub SHOULD be "a sea of blue links"!
Tip #8: Interlink
If you've written several Hubs on the same subject, interlink them. I don't just mean put them in groups - I mean mention your other Hubs in the text, (e.g. "...as I explained in my Hub on The Basic Rules"). These are called contextual links and Google loves them.