In the blog post about moving away from subdomains Paul referenced comparing HubPages to competitors several times. To me, this indicates HP has identified certain sites as typical of the kind of site HP is attempting to morph into.
I ask because I think it would be helpful to have some idea of what end HP has in mind with all of these changes. It's obvious that the old "content farm" model is out and for for good reason. But what is the new model?
If HP staff can't give an official answer to this I understand, but does anyone else have any guesses?
That's an interesting take, because I'd have thought our competitors were still the content farms. After all with the loss of the author sub-domains, HP is back to being one big multi-topic site so how can it be anything else?
So, you're saying HubPages considers all "content farms" as competition?They are sitting in meetings saying, "How can we make this the best content farm on the web? Brainstorm, people!"
"Content farm" is such a vague term. Are all multi-topic sites content farms? What about multi-topic sites with only a few writers? How many farmers does it take to make a "farm?" Does it matter if the authors get paid or not? Are sites with many authors but heavy oversight (such as those Will listed below) "content farms?"
It seems like HubPages is aiming a little higher, and I'd imagine they have something specific in mind beyond "content farm".
I did not view his comments this way at all. To me, our competition, as individual writers, is any person or site that writes on the same topics that we do.
For example, if you write about Cancer issues, your big competition is going to be the American Cancer Society, followed by the many medical sites that provide information about this disease. Your articles, no matter how good, likely will not be highly ranked against those sites.
On the other hand, if you write about a topic that is covered by other individual writers, and your article is a good one, you might well receive good page views.
I tend to agree with you. Not everyone writing here publishes the same kind of articles that would be found on the above mentioned sites. Competition could be any kind of site that is well ranked with similar content. Think about the sites that show up with a search for your hub topics or more specifically with your URL's.
I've noticed certain sites like Wattpad, Tumblr, Blogger and Worldpress sometimes outrank me in the Google search results when my content at Hubpages is copied by one of their users. I can spend a few hours a week filing DMCA's to get the copied content removed to maintain my ranking. I guess your competitors depend on the subjects you write about but for me the above sites seem like my competitors.
Create your own blog or website.....enable Google Adsense....has worked well for me.
I never heard of the last three. Any of them worth bothering with from a writers' revenue point of view?
Oddee is wierd but will pay you a hundred dollars for an article. You will need to come up with a winning subject and a long article. Anything to do with mating rituals goes down well. Especially if it involves humans.
In order of ranking
about.com ranked 29 in USA on Quantcast - about.com reaches over 31 million U.S. monthly people. Top site by far - but not open to submissions. They employ "experienced online freelance writers who are credible authorities in their fields".
The way in which they recruit people to write for them may mean that Google treats them in a different way.
This is about.com's alexa profile http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/about.com and this indicates 36% of its visitors come via Google - but its retention and average length of stay rates are more like Hubpages than Instructables
instructables.com ranked 76 in USA on Quantcast (and quantified); - It has 112.6 m global views monthly; 43.9 global visits monthly, 31.8 Global unique monthly visitors including 16.9 monthly visitors from the USA. Also much more male oriented and has a wealthier demographic and has WAY MORE pageviews per visit when compared to HubPages - indicating much better engagement and better retention of the audience. I'd love to see their average length of stay figures!
They also have a very interesting membership system! This is a website which is not going to go away and I suspect is not counted as an article farm by Google.
Plus their Alexa profile makes for interesting viewing! http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/instructables.com 41@ of its visitors come via Google
hubapges.com - ranked 85 in USA on Quantcast (and quanitifed) - It has 26.0M Global Unique viists monthly (of which 14.8M are from the USA), 30.7M Global Visits and 44.1M Global Views
this is the alexa profile http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/hubpages.com which indicates only 17% of visitors come via Google
Wikihow ranked 608 in USA on Quantcast - "wikihow.com reaches over 3.0 million U.S. monthly people."
eHow.com describes itself as "the leading how-to resource on the Internet. Its mission is to offer real world solutions for everyday questions" - BUT is not quantified publicly on Quantcast
* howcast.com - it only reaches over 169K U.S. monthly people
* oddee.com reaches over 127K U.S. monthly people
*ezinearticles.com reaches over 177K U.S. monthly people
To give you an idea of how small scale the latter operations are, a popular blog can achieve their visitor numbers.
Interesting statistics; thank you for that.
I took a quick look at Ehow and Wikihow with a random topic - "How to get into college." Ehow was a little better, but both proffered standard advise that any high school cafeteria worker might offer. Ehow's advise looked like a "How to plant a tomato" article. It contained weird illustrations on how to apply to college.
Both sites came up on page 1. Google is F'd up if that is what they think is good content to provide to users really wanting to get an edge on the competition in applying to a good school.
Over and over again, I find garbage results on topics I am researching, and I find that Amazon often dominates 5-6 of the first spots on a product review search. I thought they were trying to make the searches provide just one page per site on the first page. Somehow, their top advertiser seems to win nearly the entire first page.
Very discouraging to the average writer.
By the way, Ehow is/was often fed with stolen materials. Rewritten content taken from personal sites and the like. Found my own content rewritten over there a few years ago - I don't know if their "writers" still get their content from other sites but they did in the past. I've never understood how this site could get G's good graces.
I didn't know that. Mind you that's an accusation which you could level at many article sites.
In fact it makes me wonder whether that's what started Google's hate campaign - the fact that so many have reproduced material which is not original.
IMO if sites focused more on the plagiarism better they might do rather better!
Indeed, it's common to see whole pages stolen and published elsewhere, but HP is specialist in getting their content stolen and Ehow in the time I found some of mine over there, was specialist in republishing stolen material, even though it was rewritten.
You seem to be only interested in who has the biggest whatever.
Hard to learn in those circumstances.
Who are you addressing?
I learned a long time ago that it pays to investigate how a website stacks up in online street cred terms. Otherwise people can waste a lot of time and effort for very little or no return.
I've seen far too many people invest in tinpot outfits trying to get artists to sell their art when the reality was that they were a scam - and the only visitors were the artists visiting the site to see if they had sold any art.
The same thing happens with article sites.
Most recently it has paid to look very closely at how their traffic has been trending.
The only site mentioned which is accessible to writers which looks like it might be worth taking a second look at is the instructables one. There again - that's for a very particular sort of "how to" writer who also likes producing ebooks.
I think you're misinterpreting her remarks.
The OP asks who Paul Edmonson thinks his site is competing with, and surely he's looking at successful competitors - which means he's going to look at those who are equalling or beating HubPages in attracting traffic to a similar mix of articles?
When did this thread change into one about learning how to write articles?
the OP asked what HubPages had in mind as an end product - and how this compared to what competitor sites produce.
In point of fact, asking the question and looking at the competitors has turned up some very interesting information in relation to the instructables model:
- which is obviously very successful and is one which can be translated into a variety of sites
- plus has a membership model which is very different to that of HubPages.
Heaven forbid these forums should help anyone learn anything at all.
I can't work out whether this is on topic or not. It seems to be an example of pointless pedantry as far as I can work out.
Will is a highly respected... etc...
The OP asked which sites were HP competitors. I gave a representative list, from big to middling. The middling are more interesting in most respects.
For the sake of anyone interested in learning a little about article writing, I would recommend a look at Oddee.
It tells you how many pageviews an article has. That is very useful if you want to get an idea of what kind of thing works.
It is not a niche site but it is genuinely successful with 5 million uniques a month from a mere 3 thousand pages.
How does it do it?
A few clues:
Taboola ads. Has HP looked at Outbrain and Taboola? They bring traffic and/or income.
The populist subject matter is similar to stuff here (Best Facebook Updates, Twenty Weird Flowers etc) but is done better.
Hotlinked images work well (dunno if they have permission).
The layout is simple but brutally efficient. I am guessing a stellar bounce rate.
As for Howcast, it does what HP tried to do with videos. The difference is Howcast is doing pretty nicely and HP, unfortunately, failed. Something to be learned there.
But telling people which sites are good for learning how to write is the answer to a different question surely?
However if you just want feedback on how many pageviews an article gets start a blog and review your stats!
If a site is a competitor for HubPages (i.e. what the OP asked about) then it surely has to be big by definition?
For whatever it matters, I did find Will's list thought-provoking, as I did MaM's statistical breakdown. Surely those sites are competition for HubPages at least in the SERPs. Looking at them, it's not hard to see some things they do better than HP, and some things HP does better.
But they are also old-model content sites that suffer from many of the same issues as HP. Are these sites really the benchmarks for HP going forward?
Again - a very good question.
The article site is the dinosaur of the internet. It's also hated by Google who doesn't believe that it can provide the expert answers and believes it is the target of a lot of spam activity (i.e. the reason why there is a need to control membership and access to the site much better rather than sending people emails saying "your hub is spammy")
To make it relevant to today's consumers it needs to be able to deliver the right answer to a question very very fast - and preferably on a mobile device.
If HubPages Founders were to start again right now and design a site for the 21st century going forward would it look like HubPages does right now? I don't think so.
* They don't have adequate control over quality to make it a "go to" site - as about.com does re paying it writers
* They don't have control over spammers to make it a site that's pleasant to be on - as exemplified by the amount of spam I've reported this morning!
* They are not providing navigation which is easy peasy and very fast. It's very easy to see a lot of other hubs which are irrelevant to the consumer's interests and very difficult to see more of the same by the same author. If you lose the subdoimain then you need to build author 'weight' back into individual hubs.
I've thought for a long while that article sites need to break up into completely separate sites with a specialist subject focus and then cultivate audiences and demographics which work well with that approach.
After all that's where the real competition is - on the sites where the users and writers are the experts - or trying to learn about e.g. being a Mum for the first time, how to create better photographs, how to make a cake that tastes good etc etc etc
My personal view is that the real money-making business for tech bods who like building sites (which I THINK is why HubPages got started) would be to create the software for people to create their own 'information" mini-empires - your very own wiki!
Yes, and HubPages is going somewhat in that direction by breaking the site into specialist sub-domains which it hopes Google will see as separate silos. The really courageous thing would've been to break the site into specialist domains instead of sub-domains - thus creating the very thing Google is always saying it likes, specialist websites on single subject areas. However I can imagine that would've been a mammoth task with far more risk of things going wrong in the process.
The only article site to have tried that solution is Helium - and they (a) delayed until the site was in such trouble, it was probably beyond saving anyway, (b) completely botched the transfer so that every single article on the site was de-indexed for weeks before the new specialist domains were launched and (c) completely botched the 301 redirects. So the fact that it failed for them doesn't offer any clue as to whether it would work elsewhere.
There are a lot of things I wish HubPages would do, or stop doing, or never did to begin with, but for the most part this way of thinking (to me anyway) is unproductive. I'm more interesting in figuring out what HP is trying to accomplish so I can adjust my own actions accordingly.
Things are changing here. Some people are happy about, while others not so much. I'm in both camps, depending on what day you ask me. But I do believe HubPages is headed for better things, and I think I want to be onboard when it gets there.
It's just a lot easier to get excited about a trip when you know where you are going.
Maybe I am going through a bad patch, but when a Hubber like Relache says she is leaving the site, I start to question!
However, we do know where the site is going - it is splitting up into sub-domains by topic, with the stated hope that Google will see these as separate, specialist silos.
Based on that, then I'm not sure who PE sees as the competition, because I don't know of any other site that does the same thing. Perhaps he is hoping that each one of those specialist silos will then compete with other specialist sites on the same subject?
What? Relache said she was leaving? When did that happen?
I am not sure if she is leaving altogether but that's the conclusion I drew from her comments on this Hub:
Very interesting - and I have to say I wholly concur with her analysis.
Sure sounds like she's planning on walking away. That's a very bad sign for everybody here at HP including the team, and I do hope she will change her mind. She was a force to be reckoned with here, and taught many of us a great deal about online writing as well as our role in it. Very sad.
She is essentially making the same point you did in your earlier post - that what HubPages really needs to do is stand back, take a hard look at the setup and identify the underlying problems of the site instead of tinkering at the edges with restrictive rules after the fact.
Well I spent very many years working reviewing organisations and advising them about their strategy. I never thought when I retired to pursue art as a hobby that I would end up identifying so very many of the "same old same old" issues around strategic analysis and planning which cause organisations to malfunction.
An organisation is not 'bad' or 'redundant' when and if it falters. However it is certainly not 'wise' if it just keeps 'tinkering' and trying to fix a product without taking a long hard look at how things have changed and analysing whether it is still offering a service or product which delivers a good fit with what people want
I always used to ask the question "If you were starting out again with a blank sheet in the context you have to work in right now, would you create what you've got at present?". That often got people really thinking....
Agreed with respect to experience and the 'blank sheet' approach suggested. At question may be the blank sheet approach with their timelines may have begun with the introduction of Panda and the following algorithm changes leading to Hummingbird. I don't know where in those the SubDomain apporach occurred.
Hummingbird was a restructuring by Google of their concept for a Search Engine with a complete overhaul. Perhaps with each of those was a new 'blank sheet'? Today, the focus might be Hummingbird rather than Panda while Panda and Penguin are still used by Google today, yet less frequently.
Hubpages is making changes. That is evidenced with my research watching the information provided at the About Page. There is the invitation to join HubPages with its benefits and features for selling points for new members. And, too is the results for that with stats at the bottom. I have tracked since June 23 those changes (Most recent 11/02). It appears to be transitional toward some Goal.
There are six categories
June 23 → Nov. 2 → Result / Diff
Hubs: 851,648 → 800,658 → (-)50,990
Questions: 186.032 → 188,388 → 2,356
Forum Posts: 2,733.454 → 2,764,091 → 30,637
Hubbers: 63,514 → 55,308 → (-)8206
Answers: 773,333 → 785,622 → 12,289
Staff: 23 → 23 → 0
What is not known as shared is the Business Model today while remembering an original intent was both a business enterprise and a social enterprise. Then, a social marketplace was more viable. Glancing above I see there is movement with both. Apparent for me is with the overall perspective of Hubs Produced and Hubbers today the trend appears downward. However, unknown is with the 'blank sheet' approache(s) with timelines is how transitional seeking to tailor toward that 'newer' business model is defined, IMHO.
It appears to me, and as done so for some time, that HP is tightening up in order to be more competitive. There used to be more than 200,000 people writing here, but many left because they did not like all of the changes and/or having to follow the rules.
In my mind, what will happen in the end (if they continue doing this) is that we will see a much slimmed down site that has greater quality and less spam, profanity and low level writing.
It's tough for many to stay here without knowing how this will end up, but what people do not know is the research data that is the underlying cause for what is happening. Also, the interpretation of that data...is it correct or not?
It seems to be a bit of trial and error on the team's part, but if they get it right, in the future many who left will return, but this time they will have to be vetted before coming on board. Only the best of the best will be permitted to write here.
This is what I hope will happen, and I do think we are moving in that direction.
Nobody likes to be told what to do or have limitations, but this site is fighting for its very survival, so drastic measures are required.
In the end, it does not matter if we don't like what they are doing. It is their site, not ours. Many say, well, without the writers they cannot survive, but what they forget is that it is a big world out there and all of us can be replaced because there are many talented writers who would love to come to a place that is well set up technically, has a management team that works to help them succeed and may, one day, become a stellar site, despite Google's issues.
Google is big and strong, etc...but so were other companies that thought they were too big to fall. Time has a way of equalizing things, so if Google isn't careful, some competitor will come along and steal their business away. It happens every day, so don't poo poo the idea!
None of us know what will be, but I still have hopes that HP will continue to thrive.
Ageed, emphatically. I see possibly? there may be movement toward inactive Hubs and Hubbers. Surely the drop in Hubbers and Hubs is not related to those going to create Blogs and websites? Or, of least I ponder.
Possibly one goal in the future is the vetting process. To me that is apparent with the Feature status and the Hubber Score at 85 for links. Possibly the approach is Free vs. Paid for services in the future as seen with Wordpress and Weebly? That is why I suggested there may be several 'Blank Pages' approaches, transitions, and timelines.
For me with writing Hubs I am a slow learner especially regarding learning SEO with a Hub. Said is that takes 6-12 months for traffic to build as a result. That is a transition IMHO. I would like that experience before having a blog or website. Even though I have only 7 Hubs today written this year while deleted near 200 seeking being compliant with the newer business structure I am learning. At that same time change is rapid in my view with HP. Seems is to many others too.
She goes beyond that to say there is nothing HP can do to save itself, period. It is a microcosm of the inevitable collapse of society, and therefore, a case study to be examined with relish.
I have a habit of believing nothing is inevitable. In the 1970s, the Arabs would own everything of value in the world; they would have all of the money thanks to their oil wells. In the 1980s, the Japanese would own the world: Europe would be their boutique, the US would be their breadbasket, Russia (then the Soviet Union) was pissed off to be left out of the mix.
The world (and the USA in particular) has a way of adapting, often with unanticipated innovation, to change. Few phenomenon have an inevitable linear direction. Whether HP or any eCommerce site outside of Amazon can continue exist, is yet to be seen. We are still in the infancy of an enormous paradigm shift in the way people learn information, share information, socialize and purchase goods. 10 years from now will look very different from today.
I hope we still have a forum like this to share information.
I agree - change can often come from unexpected directions or contradict what was expected
That's because real change - transformative change - comes from those who have a real drive to make a difference and who are capable of thinking "outside the box".
That's why it's always good to go back to basics and instead of thinking about "how do I improve what I'm doing right now" - and 'tinkering' via incremental change - it's much better to think along the lines of making a real "step change" by asking questions like:
* how can I fulfil needs people don't even realise they have (eg the Steve Jobs imperative and mode of operation)
* how can I re-engineer my process and product to produce a paradigm shift (eg the Dyson mode of thinking)
* how would I design what I do if I started over with a clean sheet of paper (eg the Google way of developing new products and new ways of operating)
I totally agree with you. I learned long ago that change is the only constant in life, and have seen again and again that this holds true.
It is always easier to look at the negative view and difficult to remain positive with things go sideways, but positive energy has a way of building upon itself and producing amazing results.
Whatever will be, will be, and we actually have no control over it, anyhow. However, we must keep trying, or all will be lost.
I would phrase that differently
Learn to differentiate between that which you can control (e.g. where you put your content) and that which you cannot (e.g. what the next Google algorithm change will target.)
Then work out how to make changes in things you can control to best effect over a timeline which works for you
...and also work out to respond to 'the forces of the universe' (Google etc) once we fully understand what is happening and know which of the available levers can help us.
Bottom line - be independent and take charge of what happens to you - don't be dependent and let it all wash over you.....
The only things I can control are those that I personally do. I cannot control the forces of nature or what others do.
Using several different sites lowers a certain amount of risk, but in the end, there is no guarantee that any particular site will do well. It's all a big crap shoot, actually.
Been there, done that...and although it worked in terms of views, it failed in terms of income. It also added a huge amount of work and increased my stress levels. Not worth it to me.
I am controlling where I put my content...right here on HP and for reasons that I stated in an earlier post..
We only have so many hours left to us on this earth, and I do not want to spend the majority of them working my butt off with the hopes that I might make a few bucks. If money is what I wanted, I would still be working as a teacher or running my very lucrative jewelry business.
As I said earlier, to each his own. There is no one right way for everybody.
I agree, of course they do. The thing is, if HubPages is looking to compete with sites that have a completely different model, why is HubPages not making any moves to change its model to compete?
I think they are. Hence all the changes over the past year or two. But they aren't going to (I hope) mess with the two main tenets of the site, which is revenue sharing and the freedom to publish almost whatever you want.
They could adopt a model like About where only certain "experts" can publish and everybody else gets kicked out. Or, they can do what they are doing and establish tougher rules.
So, you can still write whatever you want, but it might not be featured. You still enjoy the revenue split, but no more running wild with Amazon ads.
Obviously I'm guessing and only HP knows for sure, but balancing the original mission of the site with the new standards for success on the web has to be a tough task.
HP defines "expert" as someone who is either professionally trained in a particular field or a long term enthusiast who has plenty of experience.
There are a number of people like that who write on this site, but probably not enough to keep it going. To really make something like that work, they would have to employ such people to write, not allow them to freelance.
This would eventually do well, but would be very expensive, and I doubt the team could afford to do it.
Thus, they are forced to spend their time constantly weeding out spammers and the like in an effort to get the site to lean more in the direction of expert writing.
Their biggest mistake is in not vetting newcomers before allowing them to publish here, and not doing a better job of getting rid of vulgarity, spam and the like. In recent months, they have been making a stronger effort in the latter, but wading through thousands upon thousands of dross is time consuming and difficult.
Thus, we limp along with what we have, ever hoping that the site will survive. I hope it does, because if it terminates, I will no longer be writing online because I have found no better venue and sure as heck do not want to start over from scratch or become involved with starting my own site.
So, we'll see what happens. I sure don't envy the work the team has to do. Must be horribly frustrating, especially with people complaining and making threats all the time.
Thank you for that ‘Hope’ shared. I have no problem for a Feature status. However, I am in the learning process today with emphasis on traffic, the Google marketplace & SEO. Learned here in the forums that it takes 6 – 12 Mths. and boosts along the way too. Or, apparently a learning curve.
For me regarding TT2's comment I agree with the definition for an expert. I am an expert in several topics, however they are saturated marketplaces. I have passions too as an enthusiast. My writing experience as a career is with corporate news letters for ten years - short, creates interest, and information with current events or announcements.
Having been at HP 4 Yrs. I took hiatus about 2Yrs. ago. Arriving back HP’s focus change was dramatic. For instance, the once 30 Hubs in 30 days challenge. Initially I wrote for the Social Marketplace leaning toward Creative Hubs with a degree of success. So with the new focus, I deleted near 200 Hubs. I have weaknesses with Informational. One is a natural tendency to over explain. So, I don’t post Hubs as I am learning Editing. I ‘fear’ having dross hubs. So, I don’t know what is the learning curve for that?
Hubpages's biggest competitor hasn't been mentioned here. It has run away with a lot SE traffic in recent times that would have otherwise come HP's way . No, it is not Infobarrel.
One of the major learning lessons many took away from the Squidoo experience was NOT to put all their eggs in one basket - particularly a basket where you may own the content but you certainly don't own the site.
That's one of the reasons why many of us have started to develop other sites.
That's not necessarily with the aim of removing all content from HubPages - however it's always worth remembering that it is their site not ours.
After that it depends on whether you want to be part of a community or would rather look after yourself and be independent of the "whims" of others.
Also whether you would like to work to a managed timescale or one forced upon you.
I think Hubpages can still be of value as a place where people keep some of their content.
Is it a sensible move to have everything on this site? No, it contradicts basic business common sense.
For those who earn part or all of their living here, I totally agree. However, for people like me, who are up in years and have income from other sources, it makes sense to stay put.
Despite the problems, I like it here. I have learned a great deal, met some fantastic people, have improved my writing skills significantly, have been able, with the help of another hubber, to produce my first online book and, frankly, while I like making a few dollars, I do not need them as much as many others do.
So, for me, keeping my eggs in this basket works.
Writing here is one of the few things, with my health issues, that I am still able to do. It is satisfying, fills my days, keeps me stimulated and has even helped me to physically heal from injuries I have had in the past.
Each person has different situations. If I were young and healthy, I would probably feel as many others here do. But I'm not, so I am content to tolerate the tweaks and changes.
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