Recent Google Changes

There has been a significant update to the Google search results that we first noticed the evening of February 23.  We have always believed that the only way to long term success is by creating useful high quality content.  We also strongly believe in Google’s desire to have the best content rise to the top of search results.  We believe that HubPages’ authors’ interests and Google’s are aligned and ultimately this update will create value to both of our audiences.

Google has written about this update, and the media has covered it extensively as the entire online universe has been influenced.  For those who are concerned that their high quality original content has seen significant changes, our recommendation is to be patient – good content has a history of returning to previous traffic levels after significant updates to search engine algorithms.

Changes like this are an opportunity to be reminded that once things settle down, the cream of the content will rise to the top.  As a site that’s always been squarely on the side of good writing, we are confident that our content will continue to do well on all search engines. As we learn more about the update, we will keep you informed.

HubCamps, and HubMeets, and HubClubs, Oh My!

One of the best things about HubPages is you, our amazing community members! We’ve created HubCamps, HubMeets and HubClubs in order to help you become better Hubbers and meet your fellow community members.  Since the terms can be confusing, I thought it would be a good idea to break each one down.

HubCamps: HubCamps are led by the HubPages staff:  myself (Robin Edmondson), Paul Edmondson, Simone Smith, and Jason Menayan.  They are three hour seminars that help you become better Hubbers by giving you instruction on topic selection; writing techniques; ways to make more money on HubPages; how to grow readership organically; insights into the latest SEO expertise; and many more tidbits on how to write great Hubs. They are also a way to meet fellow Hubbers in your area, connect, and share stories.  We typically have a HubPages-hosted social hour after the seminars where we can all chat.  The HubPages staff and I really love HubCamps because it gives us the opportunity to meet Hubbers face-to-face and hear their success stories as well as their areas of confusion.  So far we have been to San Francisco, Hollywood, and New York, and we will be in Atlanta tomorrow and Miami on Saturday.  You can check out other cities we will be visiting on our HubCamp Meetup page.

HubMeets: HubMeets are Hubber-led social meetings.  One of the things we heard from Hubbers at HubCamp was that they wanted to meet their fellow Hubbers. HubMeets are a great way to make this happen!  On our HubMeets Meetup page, Hubbers can either join a community already created in their geographic location, or they can create one. Meetings can be arranged from the community page and Hubbers can elect to meet or not.  Once you are a member of a community, Meetup will email you if another Hubber has arranged a meeting in your area.  We’ve had a few HubMeets already and Hubbers have really enjoyed them.  Some of the meetings were purely social, while others involved discussions about HubPages.  If you’re interested in joining your community or starting one in your area, click here.

HubClubs: HubClubs are for Hubbers that would like to meet on a regular, scheduled basis.  I equate them to a writer’s workshop/book club setting where Hubbers discuss HubPages, perhaps write a bit, and socialize.  We’ve created materials for HubClubs to make it easier and more organized for the group.  The materials are short mini-lessons to lead the discussion and then Hubbers can apply what they’ve learned in their writing.  We see HubClubs as an extension of the HubMeets program, where Hubbers meet for the first time, socialize, then decide to continue to meet and discuss HubPages.  If you’d like more information on HubClubs, click here.

We hope that clarifies things a bit for everyone!  Happy Hubbing!

Hubbers Socialize in Melbourne, Australia

Last week, Australia saw its first HubMeet (HubPages social meetup) when Hubbers Suzanne Day, Kangaroo Jase, and May PL got together  at the Stolberg Beer Cafe in Preston – the three Hubbers, plus Richard, May’s Husband (and hopefully soon-to-be-Hubber) got together to chat, share tips, and talk all things HubPages in the real world!

The group swapped a lot of helpful information – May PL shared some tips on writing about business-related things, Kangaroo Jase talked genre trees, and Suzanne Day suggested some good strategies for writing all-around good Hubs.  Even Richard pitched in with his insider insights on the financial world and writing on financial topics online.

Suzanne wrote a great Hub about the HubMeet sharing fun photos and noting the major topics discussed – I highly recommend you check it out!

If you love the idea of a social HubPages meetup, you can check our HubMeets page on Meetup Everywhere to see if there are any HubPages-related meetups in your area.

And if you would like some Hubbing Tips straight from the HubPages staff, check out our upcoming HubCamp event schedule to see if one of our free seminars is coming to a city near you!

Best of the Web

In the February edition of Family Magazine, HubPages is listed in the  “Best of the Web” section. Hurray!   One part of the write-up highlights how our Learning Center helps HubPages assist its users in  “how to make the most of its tools.”  Which, of course, is true.

We are continuously updating our Learning Center with new materials to help our community of Hubbers become better and more effective online writers.  I encourage you to check out our Learning Center from time to time to see if there may be some gems of helpful information, video tutorials, or tips that will help you.  After all, what makes HubPages newsworthy is its community of online writers, creating some of the best online articles on the web.

It’s Been a Great 2 1/2 Years!

Friday, February 18, will my last day as a HubPages staffer.  You will still see me in the forums but I will no longer have the official H on my profile photo.  Also, I will no longer be posting my occasional “Larry’s Random Thoughts” in the HubPages blog.  This post is the last one before I leave.

I joined HubPages in June of 2008.  At that time, HubPages had just launched its Yieldbuild Ad Optimization technology.  There was excitement in the air as the company attempted to duplicate its success with HubPages in a new space.  Because many of the existing team would be transferring to this other project, they were hiring engineers and marketing folks to work on the HubPages side of the business.  One month earlier, they hired Fawntia FowlerMaddie Ruud was already on board as the community manager, Paul Deeds was staying as General Manager of HubPages, and then there was me. Next came Ryan Hupfer as the Director of Awesomeness.  I still smile when I remember the job title that Ryan chose, the giant HubPages business cards he handed out at conferences, and his blog posts on a street performer who was performing just outside the HubPages officeJames Edmondson was doing design work for both HubPages and the new Yieldbuild project.  Paul Edmondson stayed active in both HubPages and Yieldbuild.

Some of the HubPages Team and InspirePub in 2008

HubPages was #250 on Quantcast then.  For those who aren’t familiar with Quantcast, this ranking is based on the number of unique visitors who come to HubPages from the US.  I remember that a few months later, with roughly 200,000 Hubs, HubPages was attracting 8 million unique visits world wide.

One very special part of being on the HubPages staff is the great interactions with the Hubbers.  I remember when inspirepub visited the HubPages office right after I had first started.  She wrote a Hub about her visit and included the picture above.  DJ Funktual wrote a staff care package for each Hub staffer. More recently, wordscribe43 has noticed similarities between Hub staffers and famous celebrities.  I also enjoyed this year’s April Fool’s post by James.

The HubPages Community has always been great about providing suggestions and feedback for existing features.  The categories in their current form are based on feedback from the community.  Fawntia wrote the tools for implementing the categories.  I took the lead on coming up with the initial list and getting feedback.  I started out with two levels of categories and then Paul Deeds said that two levels was a good start.  Can break down each subcategory into a list of smaller subcategories?  That eventually led to over 6,000 categories.  Ryan identified me with categories so he took a bunch of pictures of me in a red shirt.  Ryan, Cam Edmondson, and James Edmondson were the one responsible for the “Larry” graphics if you have ever seen those.  The move toward categories went against some of the thinking at the time.  Many people asked me if I had read Clay Shirky’s classic criticism of categories.  After enough people brought it up, I wrote a response as one of Larry’s random thoughts.

Paul Edmondson is always trying to figure out how to improve the Hubber experience. He loves to meet with staffers and bounces ideas off them.  One of these ideas led to the Hub Feed.  This feature was a response to Hubbers who wanted Hubtivity to be more interactive.  I really think that Fawntia knocked the ball out of the ballpark with the feed.  It is a gem that greatly improves the ability to follow the changes that occur across HubPages.  It was featured in a TechCrunch article about HubPages.

Gosh, it amazes me how many different capsules that were added during the last two years:  amazon capsule, updated text capsule, quiz capsule, poll capsule, code capsule, map capsule, and table capsule.

We had a celebration inside the office on October 28, 2009, when HubPages shot up to #100 on Quantcast.  Just a month before, we had hit the milestone of 500,000 Hubs published.  The relationship between these events was not a coincidence.  I wrote a blog post in July, 2009 where I had compared the relationship between number of unique visitors and the number of hubs published.

2010 was a big year for HubPages.  We celebrated our 4th year birthday.  That team of 5 was now a team of 23.  A new HubPages awning and sign have been added to headquarters in San Francisco.  HubPages is now #46 on Quantcast with over 36 million unique visitors each month to the site and over 10,000 likes on Facebook.  We now have over 1 million Hubs published.  Paul Edmondson has recently begun telling the business story behind HubPages which I am looking forward to following.  HubPages was chosen Best of the Web by Family Magazine.

The event that really showed how much HubPages is growing as a company was when Robin Edmondson organized the first HubCamp in San Francisco on October 6, 2010.  It was a great evening.  Attending the event were many of the current Hub staff: Simone Smith, Ren Chin, the VP of Marketing, Jason Menayan, the Director of Marketing, who had done HubPages marketing before Ryan came on, Paul Deeds, Mausmi Deeds, Norah Casey, Maddie Ruud, Paul Edmondson, a large number of Hubbers, and a few members of the Google Ad Sense team.  Robin was masterful in her presentation and the number of HubCamps that have followed are testament to that first event.  It was a great opportunity to meet Hubbers face to face.  For example, I got to chat with Urban Farm Girl who wrote this Hub about the event.

I want to end this post by thanking the people who are most responsible for HubPages’s success: the Hubber Community!  Thank you very much for publishing so many high quality Hubs, for your requests, your questions, your comments, and your feedback!  HubPages will only continue to thrive if the Hubber Community remains active!  HubPages has always been about its community.  🙂

Changing The World One Hub at a Time

There are some truly heartwarming Hubs out there on HubPages, but this one in particular really hits it out of the ballpark.

Last week, Hubber frogdropping published a Hub on bone marrow donation encouraging readers to register to become bone marrow donators.  She shared that one of her friends was recently diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia and needs a bone marrow donor, and that it takes a lot of searching to find a match.  She also shared the process of becoming a bone marrow donor and that she herself had signed up.

This Hub was just the thing that another Hubber, sueroy333, needed as a reminder to sign up – and she did!  In the comments section of frogdropping’s Hub, sueroy333 shared that she had just donated a kidney to her child, and that bone marrow donation would be a breeze in comparison!

It’s so exciting to think that one Hubber’s Hub could inspire such real and immediate action in the name of a good cause.

We took some time to talk with frogdropping about her Hub and her thoughts on the inspiring turn of events – you’ll find our exchange below:

What inspired you to write the Hub?

The fact that my brother-in-law Steven recently found out that he has CLL – Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. Naturally it’s been a big shock for him and my sister. When I found out I felt impotent, I had no way of making the news easier to bear or easier to live with.

Steven is young to contract the type of Leukemia he has, it usually strikes the over 55’s – so it’s more difficult for the doctors to deliver a longer term prognosis. So – having found out what he has I asked my sister if she thought it ok that I wrote an article about it.

She was fine with that, so I chose to write about bone marrow donation as there’s so few on the register. In comparison to the global community – 15 or so million out of almost 7 billion people is pretty low. I figured those that are forever trying to raise awareness would welcome one more article.

Did you expect someone to take action on your suggestion to sign up for bone marrow donation so soon?

No I didn’t. It was a great feeling. I hope others are inspired to do the same. The procedure really isn’t as frightening as many would think – and if a registered individual does come up as a match – there’s nothing more awesome than the gift of life.

I hope down the line others that may read it will feel comfortable enough with the idea of donating bone marrow to go right ahead and register. There are a few myths surrounding the procedure – like it’s really painful (it’s not), it makes the donor very ill (it doesn’t) or even that you might get some issues relating to a bone marrow disorder down the line (you won’t).

The saddest story that I read whilst researching it was about a woman that found four matches on the register. Each of the donors decided against donating when it came to being asked – consequently she lost her life. In the US upwards of 47% of those on the register refuse when it comes to the actual donation.

Educating people is the way forward – which can only be done by raising awareness.

Do you know of any other Hubbers whose Hubs have supported a good cause like this?

I have noticed and read some during my time on HubPages – some have been personal accounts of their journey with an illness. I remember once reading about Destrier’s journey with Lymphona – My Journey With Lymphona Cancer which struck me as being useful and informative for those experiencing through the same illness.

Others are written like mine – as a means of informing and educating people and not necessarily because they’ve been through the subject they’re writing about. RedElf wrote a hub about surviving domestic violence – Domestic Violence – A shelter from the storm MPG Narratives wrote a hub about Autism – Autism and Autistic Children

The above are but three – there are hundreds around the site. This goes to show that we’re not always writing because we’re trying to make money online. Sometimes Hubbers spend their time writing about subjects that are personal, close to their heart or simply because they know of a cause that needs more exposure that it’s been getting.

I guess that’s a part of what makes Hubpages so unique – we have so many different people, sharing a wealth of information across a broad spectrum of topics that’ are informative, enlightening and sometimes just plain touching.

.     .     .

Thanks, frogdropping, for writing the Hub and taking the time to chat with us!

To learn more about bone marrow donation, check out frogdropping’s Hub: Bone Marrow Donation- Are You Registered

The Business End of HubPages

We spend a lot of time talking about the community aspect of HubPages – Most of our blog posts are about improving online writing skills, HubCamps, contests, special programs, social media, and other Hubber-related topics.  These are all great subjects, but there are a lot of really extraordinary things our staff is doing behind the scenes to ensure that HubPages is an amazing place to write online, and I think they deserve a bit of attention as well. 🙂

In his latest iMedia blog post, HubPages CEO Paul Edmondson shares a little peek of the business end of HubPages.  He talks about the doubt the team faced and overcame during HubPages’ first months, the amazing growth the site has experienced, and the amazing community that has developed around it.  He also talks about our hope to build direct relationships with advertisers, so that we can pass on even better rewards to you.

This blog post is the first in a series – I recommend keeping an eye out for future installments!  If HubPages has become a part of your life and you are involved in its community, it never hurts to know more about how the business works and what we’re doing to make your experience as an online writer better than ever.

The Secret to Finding High-Traffic Topics for your Hubs

Over the last four years, I’ve published over 150 Hubs in my livelonger account, and have experimented with various types of topic sources. Some of my Hubs have been major hits, with over 100,000 views and several hundreds of dollars in my AdSense account; others barely got any views at all. Let me share with you the worst sources of high-traffic topics, and the best sources, for me, at least.

WORST

  • Anything covered in the news
  • Anything with a “newsy” title
  • Reprinting anything viral (funny videos, etc.)
  • Reviews of individual low-cost products (things that aren’t heavily researched online by people before a purchase)
  • Anything personal

These types of Hubs usually only got traffic from other Hubbers, fans or people I know, with a tiny/nonexistent trickle of searchers from Google beyond that. As traffic- and money-bringers, they were not good at all.

DECENT BUT NOT GREAT

  • hyperlocal reviews
  • better-titled information that is already available online on a single page

These kinds of Hubs do tend to get a trickle of search traffic. Better-titled versions of topically-grouped local reviews (“Best vegetarian restaurants in Orange County”, for example) outdo reviews of individual places, which face stiff competition from the likes of Yelp, CitySearch, etc.

PRETTY AWESOME

  • better-titled information that is only now starting to become available online
  • a much, much better treatment on a topic than what Google serves up as the first result (more capsules – like videos, polls, pictures, videos, etc., and a better writeup)

Following these approaches to sourcing topics has worked consistently well. If I’m a bit ahead of the curve on a topic, and publish a Hub on it with a search-friendly title before the large groundswell of traffic comes, I can usually rank and do well on it. The same goes for Hubs that do a lot better job than the 1st search result in Google on the same search term (better information, pictures, maps, charts, etc.).

THE BEST

  • topics that I google and can’t find a comprehensive answer in any one of the top results Google sends me

I can’t stress this enough. My top three Hubs – which represent over 40% of my Hub traffic – were sourced from this method. I was curious about something, a friend was curious about something, or someone in the Answers section was curious about something (one of each in this case!), I googled it, and the first few results were pretty bad. I had to poke around several sites, digging through pages, to stitch together a comprehensive Hub that really addressed the topic. From all of my research, I was able to put together a Hub that addressed the topic far more directly and thoroughly than any of the sources I found in the first few search results could.

So that’s my secret: when Google’s results frustrate you, take that as a signal and create a Hub that will earn you visitors and money for years!

Accolades: Gotta Catch ’em All!

HubPages AccoladesYou have seen them before- those little badges lined up under Hubbers’ profiles boasting their superior involvement in the community, number of Hubs published, followers, etc…

Accolades are a great way to strut your stuff on HubPages, and the only way to collect them is to be an active member of the community and to continue to publish your amazing, original work!

Are you aware of all the different types of Accolades you can collect on HubPages.com?  We recently posted them all on our FAQ page so that you can see the entire breakdown.  How many do you already have?

One fun and new aspect of Accolades is that you will get a friendly email notifying you whenever you get a new Accolade or a new level of an existing Accolade (e.g. when you publish your 300th Hub or reach your 5th year milestone of being a HubPages member).

Each email is accompanied with a unique, fun fact, so you’ll get a pat on the back and learn something, too!

Let’s Meet!

Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 3.41.10 PMHubPages is excited to announce social meetings with your fellow Hubbers through the Meetup platform!  One of the best aspects of HubPages is the amazing community you have all created.  Paul and I have loved meeting some of you at our HubCamps and we have listened to your feedback:  “We want to meet our fellow Hubbers!”  To make this happen, HubPages has created a Meetup page.

If you’re not familiar with the Meetup platform, it is a great place to organize get togethers in your community.  If you are interested in meeting other Hubbers face to face, join the HubPages Community Meetup page for your area.  If there isn’t a HubPages community page for your city, you can create it!  From here, you can recruit others to join your Meetup page and arrange a time to meet.  You will also receive updates, if you choose, when someone else organizes a meeting in your community.

A few Hubbers have mentioned trying to meet other Hubbers while on the road traveling.  Through the Meetup platform, you can do exactly that.  It’s easy to check out Meetups in other communities and try to organize a gathering when you are passing through their area. You can also see where Meetups are occurring around the world and see if your trip coincides.

Finally, we’ve created a Forum specifically for social Meetups.  Once you’ve created a Meetup community, post it here to let everyone know.  If you have a date and time set to meet, this is a great place to promote it so all those in your city can join!Oh, and HubPages could be sending a bit of shwag your way if you’re the Meetup community leader.  Just an added bonus to meeting your fellow Hubbers!