With the launch of the HubPages So You Think You Can Write Online contest this afternoon, many Hubbers are scrambling for insider tips on how to write winning entries. Thankfully, official contest judge and HubPages Director of Education Robin Edmondson is happy to share her advice! Check out the interview below to give your contest entries a leg up 😀
First, for those who are unfamiliar with you, could you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hello! I’m Robin Edmondson. I’m an educator at HubPages and married to Paul Edmondson, HubPages’ CEO. I have been on HubPages since its first day and have been Hubbing for over 4 years! I’ve been officially working at HubPages since August developing curriculum and leading seminars, or HubCamps, on HubPages. Obviously, I’m very committed to the success and growth of HubPages and its community. One of my favorite things is seeing a Hubbers growth over time. I love watching Hubbers learn the best and most effective ways of delivering their message on HubPages.
You’ve written quite a few Hubs- what are your favorite things to Hub about?
My favorite topics to Hub about are parenting and education; probably because these are the things I know the most about and am passionate about. This is one of the keys to success on HubPages: write about your areas of expertise and the things that you love!
What makes you an expert in use of Hub capsules and general Hub formatting?
The biggest reason why I’m an expert in this category is I have been using the HubTool for a LONG time. I’ve seen many iterations of the capsules and have been privy to a lot of the inside changes and the reasons for the changes. I’ve tested and re-tested different formats to find the best formats for different topics, and I’ve been successful.
What would you say are the essential elements of a good Hub?
The first and most important element of a good Hub is its title. You can have an amazing piece of content, but if your Hub has a poor title, you won’t see any traffic from search. Creating a title that is specific and could be a query on Google, is a great idea. I always recommend spending a little bit of time doing some research on your title. Going to the Google Keyword Tool and checking out the search results for your title should be your first move. Check out our Learning Center entry on how to do this. Next, search for your topic in Google and see what other websites show up in the results. If you feel like you could beat out the competition with your outstanding Hub, then go for it. If the results are large sites that could never be beat out, you should either rethink your title or make it more specific and long tail.
After you choose your specific, niche title, follow it up with great content. Obviously, a great title with poor content won’t stand the test of time. It is incredibly important to create content that is original, useful and evergreen.
How do you think that good use of various Hub capsules has changed over time?
It’s a real eye opener when I look back at my old Hubs that I created over four years ago. I’ve learned so much over the years and the capsules have undergone many makeovers as well. Fawntia Fowler, a HubPages engineer, recently updated the photo capsule and it is amazing. I love that you can upload photos from your iphone camera and they will be there when you’re ready to create your Hub on your desktop or laptop! Plus, HubPages stores all of your photos from older Hubs. Also, when I started Hubbing we didn’t have the map, table, or quiz capsules. I love all three of them! (Hint, hint, I’ll be looking for them in your contest Hubs!)
What will you be looking for most in contest entries?
There are three areas that I’m going to focus on for the contest:
Useful, original, evergreen topics – evergreen topics are topics that will be searched for over time. Plus, your Hub has to be useful and original or it won’t ever gain readership.
Specific, long-tail titles – long tail titles are highly specific. Use the Google Keyword Tool to find specific keywords to incorporate in your Hub’s title and throughout your Hub. (Be careful to not keyword stuff though, nobody wants to read a Hub that is all keywords and no real content. Incorporating a few keywords in your title and Hub is a great idea but shouldn’t be the bulk of your content!)
A great use of the capsules – our engineers at HubPages have done an amazing job creating the HubPages capsules. Use capsules that enhance your Hub and help your reader better understand your topic. The table capsule is my favorite and really makes a Hub look professional!
Do you have any pet peeves regarding Hubs?
Ha! Great question! Yes, my biggest pet peeve is a great Hub with a horrible title. When a Hub has a lot of potential but it won’t see search traffic because the author didn’t create a search friendly title, I just feel horrible! I have sent quite a few personal emails to Hubbers that need to tweak their titles because I see such potential and I can’t stand to see it going to waste.
This contest is pretty broad – usually we’re bound by categories, but this time, Hubbers can write about whatever they like. Perhaps some will find this a bit overwhelming – what would you recommend Hubbers start with, if they don’t know what to write about?
I would recommend Hubbers using this contest as a way to build out a niche. Choose a general topic you are passionate about and break it down into many highly-specific Hubs. This is advantageous for two reasons: the judges will recognize your Hubs making you more memorable, and you have the capability of owning a topic and its subtopics. Plus, owning a niche can be very valuable to your readers as well as help you gain trust in search results. (Don’t forget to group them all together using the groups tab to the right of your Hub in edit mode.)
Finally, what tips do you have for those planning to participate in the contest?
The best advice that I have is to write about the things that you love and write about them with passion. If you are passionate about your topic it will come through in your writing and your readers will leave wanting more.
Good luck, Hubbers! I look forward to reading your amazing Hubs!
For more information on HubPages’ April contest, be sure to visit the official So You Think You Can Write Online contest page.