For a long while I have noticed a correlation between publishing frequency and improved traffic. This seems to reflect search engines' alleged affinity for fresh and updated blogs and websites. Our subdomains are crawled and indexed, not just the individual Hubs but our main page as well. So, it stands to reason that frequent updates (publishing new Hubs) would serve to keep your subdomain (site/blog) "fresh" in the eyes of search engines.
However, this only makes sense if search engines view subs as somewhat independent from the main domain. If all of HP is lumped together as one big site it shouldn't matter a whit if an individual author suddenly posts 10 Hubs on a dormant account. Again, in my experience anyway, it does seem to matter. And, no, I'm not simply talking about the extra traffic from the new Hubs. Older Hubs seem to benefit too.
I'm sure I'll get a few theories from Hubbers, which I will certainly appreciate. However, what I am really hoping is that HP staff (Paul?) might jump in with some data or theories on how subdomains are treated these days, specifically in regard to publishing frequency and freshness.
My thoughts are freshness matters. I"m going to try and break it down a bit based on what I see.
Sites that add content and update do better than those that stop adding content (including subdomains on HP). If they stop updating, they tend to wither over time. To me, this means that adding content or updating existing pages is essential for long term health. We've also run experiments where we update old pages and on average they see significant gains. We've never done a study where we update old pages and leave the quality unchanged to see if it's really freshness that drives the traffic change. Regardless, any Hubber can improve their traffic on a page by page basis by making steady improvements to their pages. A good place to start is making sure the title and subtitle use proper casing. Grammar and spell check. Remove unnecessary content (extra products, low quality links). Add relevant content to enhance the Hub such as nice imagery that breaks the Hub into logical sections.
The more difficult question you asked is HubPages treated as a bunch of sites or as a single site. For certain things page level updates can have an impact outside of the entire site. However, I feel like there are a number of algorithms that do impact the entire site.
In the recent end of April Phantom update, the entire site lost traffic. Google later said it was a quality update that was supposed to impact sites page by page. Our data didn't show this. My feeling is if subdomains were treated completely as separate sites we would have seen our highest quality subdomains outperform our lowest quality. That wasn't the case.
To me, we need Hubbers help to continually improve pages that they create and we need to do a better job at site wide quality control.
I can say this. Each month we are getting a bit better together. Quality is steadily improving. I'd like to see the entire site get a nice bump up in the future:)
I am doing this, ever more aggressively.
I do still think there are types of pages that are consistently seen as "quality" in Google's eyes but that do not follow your current quality standards. It's tricky to move 'em to my own sites after all this time. Worse, it's tricky to edit them to improve them, because your new quality standards would eliminate my most converting links. (They're for highly relevant products I haven't personally used.)
I wish there were a way of "babying" the more successful hubs through the editing process to avoid the deep financial risk for individual hubbers.
Thanks for the detailed answer.
For some time now I have made it a point to check my stats page for problems. When I see an article faltering, I jump in and do upgrades. Often I find that the quality was much worse than I realized, so by doing this, I am able to tighten things up. It doesn't always work out, but sometimes it does, and I am able to save an article that otherwise would have failed.
Thanks Paul! That was very informative. "Wither over time" is exactly what I see with a subdomain I neglect for several months. Updating old content seems to help, but in my experience they have to be significant updates to really matter. Publishing several new, fresh Hubs usually seems to be what it takes to get the gears turning again.
Great topic. I'm also interested in feedback from Paul or other HP official voice.
On my subdomains, I've never seen any correlation between freshness and traffic.
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