MY INTERNET WRITING :
ONE MILLION VIEWS - ONE MILLION THANKS
A MILLION VIEWS
Sometime on the morning of 25th July 2017, someone, somewhere in the world, chose to press a keyboard key which accessed one of my pages at the HubPages content creation website. And in so doing, they unwittingly contributed the one millionth click on my articles.
That was a milestone which I had been anticipating for some time with a huge amount of delight, but also with a healthy dose of realism about its significance. This page is a brief reflection on that milestone and the people who provided those one million clicks. For each click, I owe one thank you.
What's more, traffic on any scale - big or small - clearly is not necessarily indicative of quality. Knowing how to use Google effectively, and writing on subjects which catch the public mood, are much more important than quality when playing the numbers game. Mere click numbers and levels of traffic do not determine worth. What determines worth is whether that traffic lingers more than a few minutes, reads and enjoys or is informed or stimulated by an entire article, and perhaps then goes on to read other pieces by the same author. There are ways of deciphering some of that information, but I've never been expert at doing that. What I do know is that my level of traffic neither 'proves' merit, nor lack of merit.
Now that's out of the way, let's get on and celebrate!
BEFORE WE GO ANY FURTHER - LET'S KEEP THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE
We'll start with the healthy dose of realism I mentioned - just to get that out of the way before you think I'm over-egging this 'achievement'. One million views sounds pretty impressive, and a lot more than many a great author of antiquity ever had in their entire lifetime. Hooray! But I had by this stage written 159 articles over a period of nearly seven years, and we all know that in this day and age a page of celebrity gossip, or a YouTube video showing a cute animal or a stupid human, or even a two-line Twitter tweet by someone with a 'name', could get a million views in a teeny length of time. One million hits on all my articles put together, in nearly seven years of writing, is pretty unimpressive by comparison.
TRAFFIC : On the left, what traffic is like en route to a celebrity gossip page. On the right, a representation of the more typical level of traffic to one of my web pages. To be philosophical about it, I've always preferred to journey along the quieter roads in life
TRAFFIC TO MY 'HUBS'
Leaving aside the question of merit, where did that one million figure come from? It came after 6 years and 7 months of writing on the HubPages website, and it came from all the articles or 'hubs' I published during that time. My postings hadn't exactly been very consistent in their frequency, and the success of those articles (measured solely by the level of traffic) had been wildly varying. The most popular article which contributed almost one fifth of the one million total was a page of funny quotations about aging - nice - but I must say it is a source of some frustration that my most popular hub of all consisted almost entirely of other peoples' clever quotes, rather than my own original work; I tried not to read too much into that! The next most popular subjects were music pages about Christmas carols and the folk song Greensleeves, science articles about electronic colour creation in computers and TVs, and some very short stories, all with substantially more than 25,000 hits. I'd also written with modest but welcome returns on travel, astronomy, politics, and a whole host of other subjects - whatever took my fancy.
But at the other end of the spectrum I must say there are many hubs which many years after publication still haven't achieved even one thousand clicks, even though they are just as 'good'. Very poor performing work may be 'unfeatured' by HubPages staff, which means that it won't show up in Google searches. Thankfully only seven of my pages had suffered that fate, and ironically six of those were hubs which focused specifically on the benefits of the HubPages experience! (The reason why those articles have been singularly unsuccessful is simple - no one from outside of the HubPages community was going to be remotely interested in reading introspective articles about that community!)
The basic message to take from these statistics is simple - quality may matter somewhat, but content matters much more. Pick the right subject with a bigger pool of potential readers, and if you can learn how to market it successfully, the traffic will come.
WHO, WHERE AND WHY?
How did people who contributed to the million views first arrive at my pages? I've already established that I'm not the best when it comes to interpreting website statistics, but there are some things I have figured out. The vast majority of my traffic has come from Google searches, and indeed almost exactly one third came from the main American-based, Google.com search engine. Nearly a tenth came from Google UK, and the overriding importance of Google worldwide is highlighted in the acompanying table. Google India, Google Canada and others have played their part. Other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo have also contributed significant traffic, and so to a lesser degree have social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
The internet is truly global and we should never forget the potential worldwide audience of any web page. In addition to the regional Google search engines listed in the table, people from as far afield as South Africa, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and China and many other countries have also visited my pages and read more than a thousand times. So that's who provides the traffic and where the traffic comes from. But why do they visit? Most of my hubs are factual in nature, so I guess in my case it comes down to anyone who wants to find information and who does a keyword search, and then happens upon me.
But one other figure in that table needs to be mentioned - 65,000 views had come directly from fellow members of HubPages - people who whilst spending time on the site see an article and decide to read it. And a large proportion of those will be members who have done me the honour of becoming 'followers'. So the HubPages experience, and my followers, must be the subject of the next few sections.
Major Sources of More Than 10,000 Views
WHAT IS HUBPAGES?
HubPages is a content creation site on which members can post articles on pretty much any subject they wish. It is also a writing community where members can correspond with each other via a range of topic forums. That means there is a strong social network element to it, albeit with the primary goal of publishing and promoting creative or informational content. There are some 'cons' to writing at the site - limited ranges of fonts, layouts etc - but the 'pros' are possibly more significant. It's just so easy to write and publish there, as no site building know-how is required, whilst the community atmosphere gives advice and encouragement. All of my key internet articles until recently, were published there.
HIGHLIGHTS OF HUBPAGES
Since joining HubPages at the beginning of 2011, the HubPages experience had for the most part been very rewarding. Merely to have one's work published for all to see is a great feeling, but during that time there were some special highlights, including the award of several accolades, the winning of competitions, and a number of complimentary e-mails from people associated with causes, institutions or places about which I had written. But the motivation for this article today is the one millionth visitor, so highlights related specifically to traffic are what I really must concentrate on. The general trend had always been upwards, although it took a few years to reach as many as 800 visitors per day (that is 800 to all pages combined), and there were troughs as well as peaks due to adjustments to the Google algorithms - adjustments which can impact internet traffic very greatly by altering the ranking of pages on the Google search engines.
There was an occasional traffic surge which helped contribute to the million figure. I've never yet had a hub go spectacularly viral, though I did have a Tug-of-War article promoted by the world governing body's website, which then received a few thousand clicks over the course of just two or three days. Given the extraordinary traffic that some web pages get, I guess that particular 'viral' experience was more of a mild sniffle than a full blown epidemic, but nonetheless it was an exciting highlight while it lasted!
It was personal contacts on the HubPages site itself however, which made the most difference to my traffic levels - those HubPage members who followed my writings and who most helped me to reach that one million landmark, so the next section pays tribute to them.
Ever since Day One, many of the other HubPage members had been an invaluable source of support for me. In the early days, people on the site who took the time to read and comment on my pages provided a fledgling writer like myself with the encouragement to continue, lifting me up the first few rungs of the writing ladder and giving me the self-confidence to try to climb higher still. Although few in terms of the potential total global audience for internet articles, they remained crucial throughout my first couple of years and many became 'followers', which means that they would receive regular updates about the hubs I was publishing. One member indeed read - and commented upon - every one of the first 71 hubs I published. Many others also looked at several of my pages, and these HubPage members contributed greatly to that 65,000 figure mentioned above.
With that in mind, I did think of compiling a long list of those Hubbers to whom I owe the greatest thanks. But I won't name names here - it would be unfair to single out some, introduce an arbitrary cut-off point, and inevitably omit others. But I do hope those who have helped me with all their visits and comments know who they are, and they will accept my gratitude in this way, and in the more personal correspondence which I have had with them on the HubPages site.
The important point on which to conclude this section is this - there is just no point in writing web pages if absolutely no one ever reads what is written. For me, the knowledge that people have taken the time to read, and the hope that they may have gained something worthwhile from the experience, is the most important thing of all, whether they be followers of mine or casual visitors to the site. Hence the second part of this page's title - 'One Million Thanks' - one for everyone who has taken the time.
It took me almost exactly four years to reach half a million views, and another two and a half to reach the million, all on the HubPages website. So is two million views the next target? I hope so.
But since that day in July 2017, there has been a significant development. I was becoming increasingly concerned with the degree of creativity available to me on HubPages, with the administrators of the site taking ever greater control over the layout of articles. That meant to my way of thinking that my pages were no longer entirely my own - issues which are discussed in much more detail in another article in this series, 'My Internet Writing : Starting Out on HubPages'. The important point to make here is that the time came late in 2017 when I had to make a decision about the future. And the decision I made was to branch out on my own, launching my own websites. Hence this site you are now reading and others which I have recently published.
The downside of this is that traffic to these sites of mine is currently excrutiatingly slow, because they lack a ready made HubPage audience, as well as any HubPage back-up and resources, including an instant presence high up on the search engine lists. Without any experience of running independent websites, I also have no real idea if and when traffic to my own sites may pick up. What's more, I have to pay for web space - something I never had to do before as HubPages was a free platform to write on; the only income I received in the past came from Google advertising at HubPages and that was always minimal, but at least it was absolutely all mine to keep. It remains to be seen whether any advertising profit on my new sites will pay for the cost of web space.
As long as I do not lose money in the future, I will continue to develop my own websites. But for the next year or two, I suspect the bulk of my articles will remain on HubPages where they are still attracting reasonable traffic - currently about 600 visits per day.
The future is unseeable. It depends partly on my dedication to writing and my own good health to continue to do so, and partly on the success of my articles in attracting an audience. If that happens, and if the two million landmark is one day achieved and with it some small income, then I will be happy. But whatever traffic I ultimately receive on my own web pages, none of it would have been possible had it not been for the grounding in internet writing which I acquired at HubPages, and the community of writers there who supported me. To all of them and to all who read my pages at any time in the first 6 years and 7 months - thanks a million 🙂
I’d Love to Hear Your Comments. Thanks, Alun