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If I Were The CEO of HubPages: Improvements Needed in this Commercial Writing Site

Updated on September 4, 2017
Angelo Grant profile image

Angelo is an aspiring entrepreneur, think tank, and problem solver. He obtained a B.Sc. in Aviation Management from Florida Tech.

What is HubPages?

HubPages is like YouTube for writers. Its core strengths are in the diversity of the topics covered and the depth and quality of the content available. The platform provides content creators with the ability to publish articles on the site, make fans, grow their following, earn revenue and be a part of an interactive community of writers, curious people, and conversation starters. The HubPages Network operates several niche sites that are supposed to elevate readership of categorized articles. Watch the video below for a brief overview of what HubPages is all about.

The HubPages Team

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The Accomplishment of The HubPages Community

The accomplishment of the HubPages community and its small team of 25 staff members is quite admirable. As of August 12, 2017, the community published 655,534 articles, had 39,185 published users, asked 199,456 questions and provided 831,672 as well as a whopping 2,893,948 forum post. The HubPages team has done the difficult task of 'synergizing' and bringing together diverse perspectives under one umbrella.

Concerns About The HubPages Platform

HubPages employees several quality controls and protocols to protect its reputation. However, these protocols seem to have cornered and limited its conversation starters to topics related or aggregated by HubPages. The site has been losing ground and changes are needed to boost its numbers. But HubPages has employed strategies that have done well for the company thus far so it is easy to see why the company would be sensitive to any radical changes. The HubPages, “About Us” (2017), page exclaims that “Over 41,000,000 million people explore the HubPages Network every month.” Their conservative structure has served the company well but might be the reason its growth has plateaued. Whereas wild-natured and less conservative sites like Quora take flight.

HubPages enjoys mild success but hasn’t broken into the upper echelons of mainstream sites. HubPages operates in a dynamic environment and growth has been on the decline because they consistently fail to make transformative changes to improve their rank.

Information About The Website's Performance

According to Alexa, a subsidiary of Amazon.com that provides intelligence on commercial web traffic; HubPages ranked 2,453 in the United States and 6,207 on the Globe which represents a decline of 983 positions versus the previous three months. About 46.1% of visitors come from the United States, 12.3% from India, 4.5% from the United Kingdom and 2.5% and 2.4% from China and Canada respectively. The bounce rate stands high at 63.50%, a visitor views about 1.97 pages and spend roughly 2 minutes and 40 seconds daily on the site. The intelligence shows that HubPages is losing ground in every major metric, therefore there is room for a lot of improvement. It is rather startling that despite the profound level of knowledge-based articles, college educated visitors are lower than internet average.

In mid-2014 HubPages acquired Squidoo, a leading revenue-sharing user-generated website. At the time of the merger Paul Edmonson, CEO of HubPages announced that “HubPages was acquiring key content from Squidoo, to create the world’s largest site of its kind” (Edmondson, 2014). The merger brought over Squidoo’s top performing articles (lenses) and was expected to cause the migration of Squidoo users and visitor traffic to HubPages. However, this acquisition didn’t translate into exponential growth because of low intrinsic motivation. The extrinsic appeal of these two sites was the opportunity to gain revenue from content placed on the sites. Therefore, users that had no success in earning from their Squidoo lenses would not have been fascinated by the opportunity to attempt the same goal on a similar platform. Squidoo and HubPages had so much in common that they were already appealing to the same curious minds hence the absence of any exponential growth from that acquisition. According to Alexa, the keyword “Squidoo” is still responsible for 0.64% of the search traffic which puts it in second place behind “HubPages” with 2.06% of search traffic.

Need For Change And Recommendations

Through analysis of HubPages background information, we’ve learned of some underlying problems at HubPages. The site fosters a “carrots and sticks,” “reward vs punishment” culture. And according to Daniel H. Pink, a renowned author of books about; work, management, and behavioral science extrinsic motivators are valuable to certain task since they narrow the focus and force personnel to concentrate on a clear set of rules and a clear destination. However extrinsic motivators diminish creativity and innovation which a site like HubPages needs to pay attention to. HubPages should custom build a system of motivation that will continue to make HubPages a place its users deserve. One way of raising the level of creativity is through intrinsic motivation. Offer top performers a whole new level of actualization by investing in publishing users in books, audio books, and e-books. The intrinsic motivation tied to the potential of being published and the legacy of being an author will fuel a level of user investment and productivity that will add to the company’s bottom line.

It is noticeable that the site’s protocols affect its metrics. What HubPages needs to do in this regard is to recommend rather than regulate. Get rid of the stifling rules that assume the company has the formula for going viral. Some of the site’s quality control mechanisms are overkill. HubPages has a sufficient system of checks and balance by which niche sites prevent the dilution of quality by separating articles into satisfactory and above standard. Do not make the mistake of cordoning off creativity thinking that you’re the expert on what people want to hear and not hear. Gangnam Style broke the internet in 2012 to become the first YouTube video to hit 1 billion views, HubPages has to be careful not to shelf content that could have “Gangnam Style potential” because the experts and their rules assume people will not find it palatable. There is no clear control over what goes viral so just offer the platform, throw the full power of the network’s influence behind top performers and offer a method for users to invest in themselves.

Another intrinsic and extrinsic mix of motivators would be to allow HubPages users to boost their articles thus investing in themselves and the platform at the same time. Bing has incentivized internet searches and is enjoying a lot of success with it. That model could be adopted at HubPages by allowing Hubbers to earn boost points for being active or meeting certain goals. Articles could be featured on MSN, Yahoo, AOL and elsewhere by offering a Taboola type service that puts high-quality hubs front and center on sites like those listed above that crave content. These actions will grow the community, intensify activity, increase views, shares, and exposure. Squidoo lenses had success on MySpace, a similar partnership between HubPages and LinkedIn could be mutually beneficial. LinkedIn gets niche articles to cater to its audience and HubPages gets the college educated crowd.

Strategic Acquisitions

Truly, something has to be done to improve the site’s success with the college educated audience. HubPages is not adequately reaching that segment of the population. I propose that a merger with Quizlet or a similar student learning site would make HubPages appealing to the college seeking and college educated. According to Alexa the demographic that visits Quizlet is mostly male, college bound, in college and college graduates; this would give HubPages the edge needed to break into the top tier of websites. Quizlet is ranked 274 in the United States but may likely be interested in a suitable partner since they have dropped 171 places in recent years.

Leadership Style

What will it take to make these changes happen? Transformational leadership is needed, these changes require the initiative of a leader willing to explore the unknown. HubPages has many compelling reasons to make changes, one of the most obvious being the decline in traffic. The expert on transformational leadership, Dr. Judith Wright, states that transformational leadership requires that we examine who we could become and not settle with who we have been, this requires we challenge the status quo. We must take the risk, even chance looking foolish. Christopher Columbus and even Donald Trump come to mind as people who’ve challenged the status quo in order to reach their potential. We don’t want to change just for the sake of keeping up with a trend the reason for change should always bring about our full potential. Ultimately, that’s why HubPages needs to change because if they do not they will always be short of what they could become.

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More Ideas For Making HubPages Better

  • The organization of individual user profiles can be improved by allowing Hubbers to catalog their works. This allows each user to be as diverse but as organized as the HubPages Network itself. Give users the ability to organize into categories and sub-categories and let these catalogs be SEO friendly just like a YouTube playlist. This allows fans to zoom in on what they are interested in from the writer because they may not be interested in knowing the whole person.
  • Build a media repository similar to Wikipedia Commons that gives users access to high-quality royalty-free photos. The backlinks from the sharing of these photos will help to optimize the site's rank on search engines.
  • HubPages could become more intuitive by partnering with Amazon and Google to figure out what readers may also like to read. Amazon's intelligence allows that company to figure out what shoppers would also likely buy, similarly, YouTube makes on-point suggestions of what users would like to watch. This kind of intelligence would also allow HubPages to do successful email marketing.
  • Improve the in-app editing tool so that it is capable of advising on style, grammar, spelling etc..
  • Introduce drag and drop active layouts to give users more options to personalize articles. Save and share layout and themes as templates for other hubbers.
  • Increase social media presence by adding official branded pages to all major social media outlets. (I couldn't find an official YouTube channel)

Your Opinion Can InfluenceThe Future of HubPages.

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Conclusion

HubPages' decisions seem reactionary to what is happening in the marketplace. If they are to remain a leader in the industry then they have to be ahead of the change occurring, their innovations have to become the reason the market transformations. If HubPages waits for a crisis to happen, embracing changes will not be a problem but forgoing a crisis is a better option so being forceful about some transformations might be necessary. The recommendations above will shape the market and set the trend. HubPages will finally be able to stop playing catch up and once again be ahead of the curve and well on the way to becoming a big mainstream site.

Please Share Your Suggestions of What Could be Done to Make HubPages Better

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    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 2 months ago from Pacific Northwest

      Thanks for writing this. It really helps to understand the leadership and challenges to keep this site going. So many, many of these sites have gone belly up. I wrote for Suite 101, Examiner.com, and one other I can't remember and they are now defunct. Although hubpages isn't perfect, I have been on here writing for seven years. There's been lots of changes but I still feel like this is the best writing venue around, at least for me. I have worried in the last year or two that Hubpages will close down. I see that they are working hard to keep it going and that a lot of the changes are necessary. Since they started the niche sites my stats have almost doubled and I'm getting more payouts. But money isn't my reason for writing here. I do it because I have so much freedom to write what I want. If it one day closes its doors, and it's inevitable that one day they will, I will feel totally lost. Thanks again.