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In Anticipation of Panda 5

Updated on June 16, 2015

We work hard to improve HubPages everyday. Since Panda we have made tremendous changes to our business. We are now much more tightly controlled. All new content is initially screened and content that is widely read is assigned professional editors, illustrators and photographers to compete at the highest quality levels. This is an ongoing effort to provide more services to Hubbers and help them by offering resources so they can compete with other professional publications.

Quality Improvement Since Panda 4.1

Search Visitor Net Promoter Score
Search Visitor Net Promoter Score

In anticipation of the next Panda update, I thought folks might be interested in what we have done.

The last confirmed Panda update (Sept 23, 2014) came a few weeks after we started importing Squidoo authors into HubPages subdomains. We couldn’t tell if it was Squidoo content that contributed to getting us whacked hard, or if it would have happened on its own.

  • Before we began importing Squidoo, we had roughly 340,000 articles indexed in Google. We added about 160,000 pages from Squidoo. We now have about 310,000 combined articles indexed. About 45,000 of those pages are from Squidoo. Nearly a 40% reduction in total articles in Google's index.

  • While we have no indexed or removed a tremendous number of Hubs (articles), we have also been following Google’s advice to either fix up or remove pages (avoiding merging because of HP’s structure). Pages representing nearly 30% of the site’s Google traffic have been substantially improved by a team of professional editors, illustrators and photographers. We’ve concentrated on the top traffic pages to impact the greatest number of readers.

  • We redesigned the layout of our article page to remove the display ads located in the body of the content. Now, all display ads are located above the main title, below the main article body or in the sidebar.
  • There were a few partial manual site penalties placed on the site for unnatural links, spam, and inappropriate use of rich snippets. We entirely removed support for recipe and reviews rich snippets, and submitted a request to have our manual actions reviewed. All of the partial manual actions have been removed by Google.

Has HubPages made enough quality improvements to see some traffic increases after the June, 2015 Panda update

See results

Is it Enough?

While I wish Google would provide specifics to help us improve the issues causing ranking problems, the best we can do is try to make a guess at the issue.

We've benchmarked the quality of our site against other large UGC sites. Based on our data, we are very competitive in terms of overall quality.

Fingers crossed.

As Long as Google Doesn't Kill us

I'd sleep a lot better if I didn't worry about a Google algorithm update putting us out of business without a channel to understand what happened. As long as that doesn't happen, we will keep on improving the site.

Over the next several months we are going to continue to edit Hubs and continue to no index Hubs without traffic or that are lower in quality.

At some point you would think we will have no indexed and improved enough content that we will have to be considered a high quality site.


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    • LindaSmith1 profile image


      3 years ago from USA

      I am one of many who have jumped the HP ship taking my hubs with me. My sites have done better since day 1 of starting them in traffic, as well as sales than they ever did on HP.

      Google does not like content farms, plain and simple.

    • CorneliaMladenova profile image

      Korneliya Yonkova 

      3 years ago from Cork, Ireland

      Thank you very much for this hub, Paul. It is very kind to inform us about these details. :)

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      It didn't work for me either sockii, at least not after that initial Google smackdown. I have moved nearly all my articles elsewhere, and they are doing much better than they did here.

    • sockii profile image

      Nicole Pellegrini 

      3 years ago from New Jersey

      Interesting to me to see how many of those imported Squidoo lenses, 160,000 as you say, are now gone: down to 45,000. So, was the acquisition really worth it for HP? The transition certainly didn't work for me and I know I'm slowly moving my former lenses off HP to my own websites as many other former Squidoo lensmasters have been doing. In my case, I have to say, my personal site traffic from Google has never been better and I'm now making daily Amazon sales once again. I was lucky to see a few sales a month after my lenses moved here, and terrible traffic stats. Yet it wasn't the fault of the "quality" of the content so much as where it was being hosted.

    • RTalloni profile image


      3 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks for the information and the chance to review comments/responses that come in on it.

    • Kierstin Gunsberg profile image

      Kierstin Gunsberg 

      3 years ago from Traverse City, Michigan

      Thanks for keeping us in the know!

    • janderson99 profile image

      Dr. John Anderson 

      3 years ago from Australia on Planet Water

      Google's Gary Illyes says webmasters can expect a Panda refresh within the upcoming weeks - [Search Engine Land]. "Illyes referred to it multiple times as a data refresh, not an algorithmic change. So sites that have been suffering from this algorithm may see a recovery in the near future". But not all sites will recover! So hopefully HP will recover following all the hard work - Here's Hoping.

      Also some other update (not Panda) has occurred over the last couple of days.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 

      3 years ago from Long Island, NY

      This is all very good Paul, but one additional thing that I think HP should be doing is have an automatic alert notification to people who fail to moderate their comments.

      I see a number of Hubbers who are clueless and leave spam and self-promotional comments posted in their hubs. These types of comments hurt their ranking, especially if they contain links to low quality sites.

      Since Google is unclear lately about separate ranking by subdomain, these comments may hurt the entire site.

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 

      3 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      Paul it seems to me that concentrating on the existing top performing Hubs would be a recipe for suicide. These Hubs have little that can be improved and the new Hubbers need to learn to be effective as fast as possible.

      If we neglect the new writers they will not learn to survive and all their Hubs could end up being un-featured this is a recipe for discontent and gradually dwindling numbers of Hubbers or not so gradual as the case may be.

      I think Google prefer Bloggers and even many of them are being attacked so I think they are just wanting the larger established advertising sites, where their returns are highest. This approach is a bit like the economic model of exporting jobs to the lowest bidders. We lose our skills and in the end the whole system collapses.

      Google are really not saying what they really want and appear to be using your input to them to launch further attacks.

      I am getting the impression that they want all commercial sites like Staples, Amazon etc. Although sometimes I think they hate Amazon too.

      Hp and Squidoo both suffered from using the same templates and therefor seem similar whenever writing is on the same topic which implies an inherent weakness in the concept that is hard to overcome.

      I feel like we are in a decaying building and need to prioritize where we make repairs. Leaving rot alone and concentrating on the good stuff will not always work as a long term strategy.

      However if you really do not know what needs correcting then no strategy works!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Thanks for the update. I'm also not sure what you meant about removing support for recipe hubs. Do you no longer want recipe hubs?

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Thanks for keeping us up to date.

    • serenityjmiller profile image

      Serenity Miller 

      3 years ago from Brookings, SD

      Who exactly is to be performing this editing?

    • Paul Edmondson profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Edmondson 

      3 years ago from Burlingame, CA

      I agree we can get better at screening new Hubs, but relatively, they have fewer issues than the existing featured Hubs.

      That said, based on my measurements we are highly competitive in terms of how we think about quality (substance, organization, grammar and mechanics) with other large UGC sites. We can still get better and we are.

      For folks that want to help, the most basic thing folks can do is copy edit their Hubs. Right now we in the range of 4 to 5 errors per page (including comments). Ideally, articles would have less than 1 error for every 4 pages (not including comments).

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 

      3 years ago from High desert of Nevada.

      Thanks for this update, Paul.

      I still think that new members should be screened and tested before they are allowed to publish and that their first five hubs are carefully edited. There is still a lot of low quality hubs coming through and even some that are unacceptable per HP policies.

    • NateB11 profile image

      Nathan Bernardo 

      3 years ago from California, United States of America

      It's good to see all your hard work laid out in this article. Glad to see the site moving forward on all this.

    • Buildreps profile image


      3 years ago from Europe

      Great info. Google tries to deal with all the nonsense garbage on internet. Everyone can publish nonsense these days. I believe only one thing can cope with the Panda updates, and that's authentic content high quality. The more sources the author provides him/herself the better. Also more lengthy articles with superb researched content is a major globetrotter.

    • littlething profile image

      Jackie S 

      3 years ago

      This is interesting information. Is there any advice you can give to authors regarding the next Panda update, and how we can update or edit our hubs so they might not be hit as hard?

    • serenityjmiller profile image

      Serenity Miller 

      3 years ago from Brookings, SD

      Interesting information... I wasn't aware of this level of involvement.

    • retrojoe profile image

      Joseph Ritrovato 

      3 years ago from Vancouver, WA (nextdoor to Portland, OR)

      I believe that what is not yet popular can become popular if shown a bit of patience and faith (or promotion), but it appears that, in the name of quality, hubpages may be ushering out some quality hubs (perhaps mine included), due to disappointing numbers at present. Please correct me if I am wrong. Something tells me I'm right, but also that Google is the root of the problem.

    • viking305 profile image

      L M Reid 

      3 years ago from Ireland

      Thanks or the update.

      What does this mean as I have a lot of recipe hubs - We entirely removed support for recipe and reviews rich snippets, - .

    • janderson99 profile image

      Dr. John Anderson 

      3 years ago from Australia on Planet Water

      Thanks for the update Paul, very interesting. 5 quick questions:

      1. Have all the old hubs been processed through QAP so you can identify poor quality ones? If not when will this be completed

      2. In the past it appeared that many hubs, on weekends and at times with peak load sneaked through without a full QAP review. Is this still the case?

      3. Looking at the 'latest hubs' list still shows poor quality hubs - have hubs passed QAP when they appear on the list?

      4. Is HP considering a radical new design - single column - designed for mobile FIRST layout?

      5. Did HP benefit from the Google Mobile-friendly algo update?



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