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. 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 goes on to read other pieces by the same author. There are of course ways of deciphering some of that information via a Google Analytics tool, 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
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' 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 to them) was even more wildly varying. The most popular article which contributed almost one fifth of the 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 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 years after publication still haven't achieved even their one thousandth click, even though they are just as 'good'. Very poor performing work may be 'unfeatured' by HubPages staff so that it doesn'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 they were singularly unsuccessful was 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 those stats 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? Well 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 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 also 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 visited 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 it comes down to anyone who wants to find information and does a keyword search, and then happens upon me.
But one other figure in that table needs to be considered - 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
THE HUBPAGES EXPERIENCE
HubPages is a content creation site where the 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 specific highlights, including the award of several accolades and the winning of staff-organised competitions, and a number of complimentary e-mails from people who were 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 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 alterations to the Google algorithms - alterations which can impact internet traffic very greatly.
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, and it then received a few thousand clicks over the course of just two or three days. Given the extraordinary traffic that some pages on the web 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 the personal contacts on the HubPages site however, which made the most difference to the 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, other HubPage members had been an invaluable source of support. In the early days, people who took the time to read and comment on my pages gave a fledgling writer like myself 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 relatively few in terms of the potential total global audience for internet articles, they remained crucial throughout the first few years and many became 'followers', which means that they received regular updates about the hubs I was publishing. One member indeed read - and commented upon - every one of the first 70 hubs I published. Many others looked at a lot of pages, and these HubPage members contributed greatly to that 65,000 figure mentioned above.
With that in mind, I did think when writing this of compiling a long list of those people on HubPages to whom I owe the greatest thanks. But I won't name names - it would be unfair to single out some, introduce an arbitrary cut-off point, and inevitably miss others out. But I do hope those who have helped me with 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 no point in writing web pages if no one ever reads what is written. For me, the knowledge that people have taken the time to read them, 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. 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 two million views is the next target? I hope so.
But since that day in July 2017, there has been a significant development. I felt there were increasing issues 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. And the decision I made was to branch out on my own, launching my own sites. Hence this website and others I have recently published.
The downside of this move of course is that traffic to these sites of mine is currently excrutiatingly slow, lacking as it does a ready made HubPage audience, as well as a lack of HubPage back-up and resources, and a lack of any 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 ever 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 sites. 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 on my dedication to writing and my own good health to continue to do so, and on the success of my articles in attracting an audience. If that happens, and if the two million figure one day arrives 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