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Challenges With Products in Hubs

Updated on November 6, 2015

We've had a lot of Feedback on Products

As HubPages evolves, we try to make sure we are building a high quality site and adapting to standards that will help the overall health of HubPages. There has been a long history with products placed in Hubs and over the last several weeks we have collected guidance and best practices to help the overall site from very authoritative sources.

A quick look back.

  • Product Hubs with long lists of products were effective at getting traffic and converting sales
  • Panda crushes the site
  • HubPages gets manual spam actions for products
  • HubPages makes policies limiting the placement and number of products allowed in Hubs
  • Hubs with products get defeatured for spammy elements

I believe that there are at least three challenges with adding products to Hubs that can adversely impact the health of the overall site.

What we Believe Now

In general we believe, Google's algorithms look poorly upon articles with Amazon affiliate products.

There are multiple reasons why this may be the case. I'm going to share my current beliefs and reasons.

#1 The Page Looks like a Traffic Funnel to Amazon

When a page has lots of Amazon products, it appears to look like a doorway page. We know that pages can have substantial information supplemented with an Amazon product for each item listed. These types of guides can be very helpful with lots of depth, a high level of curation, or just helping people decide quickly what product is best for them.

Even with these positive benefits we believe that there are multiple issues with pages like this, although we can't be sure if this is assessed by a page layout algorithm or by the actual clicks that are sent. What we do know is that Google prefers to send people directly to the page on which they will transact. Putting several Amazon products in a page will make the page look and function like a doorway page with the appearance that it's purpose is to send people quickly through to Amazon.

If you think the user performed a query, clicked through to your page with the intent to transact, and the use of the Amazon capsules is placed on the page to quickly send them to Amazon, that is highly likely to be spam.

HubPages is primarily informational. Users need to be educated, informed or guided in so after they have spent significant time consuming the information, they may click through to purchase a single well chosen product because the guidance is so high quality. That would be a good use of placing an Amazon product guided by today's standards.

Keyword Stuffed Product Titles

Not until it was brought to my attention did I realize how keyword stuffed a syndicated product title from Amazon may be. Previously I mentioned we had hired some folks to help us with SEO. One of the things that has been identified as an issue is keyword stuffed Hubs. We've done some early work and I believe this is a significant issue impacting the health of the entire site.

Each Amazon product has the potential to add a keyword stuffing penalty to Hub.

Amazon cookbook KW Stuffed Example

Products inserted into Hubs act differently than ads because their contents are part of the page and indexed by Google. Each product title that is keyword rich has the potential to take a fine Hub and move it into a low quality spam bucket. It's a fine line, but our advice is only add essential products and look closely at the product title to make sure it's clear and concise and only has essential information. Tip: Choose products with concise titles.

A few things to keep in mind.

1. Product titles are all linked so it is even more problematic to have long keyword rich anchor text titles linking out. Tip: For essential products, consider adding a direct link instead of the capsule if the data is overly keyword rich.

2. Every product added to a Hub may compound the keyword stuffing problem. Tip: Avoid overlapping products.

External Content Duplication

One of the things Google's algorithm does is filter out duplicate content. For ecommerce sites that receive factory descriptions they can get filtered out of the search results because they are essentially showing the exact same content that many other sites are showing as well.

On HubPages, we are essentially adding products with the exact same meta data that are shown on thousands of other sites. Each time we add a product, our content is less unique.

Tip: Limit syndicated products to 1 or 2 tops (most hubs shouldn't have them at all).

Over Monetizing the Page

We've heard directly that the value a site extracts from a visitor relative to the value it provides can influence the rankings of the entire site. What this means for us, is we have several ads on the page and when several products are added, we are likely on the wrong side of the algorithm.

Ideally, we would know how many ads to put on a page or whether or not to display products on a Hub by Hub basis. If you look at Google search as an example, many queries return no ads. Some queries return a few ads, and for really commercial queries there can be so many monetized elements that the average consumer doesn't even realize they are clicking on an ad.

We need to figure out a way to do this better. It's something we are working on and in the meantime, it would be helpful if folks were very judicious with their use of products.

Tip 1: If a Hub is regularly converting with Amazon sales, turn off ads. There are two benefits of this. Hubs without ads load much quicker. Ads often cannibalize clicks on products for a much lower value. I've done this for my best performing Hubs with products and anecdotally, I believe I'm making more per visit than I was with ads on.

Tip 2: If your Hubs aren't producing sales or if a certain product is never selling, remove the product from your Hub.

Closing Thoughts

Amazon provides a significant chunk of our revenue and it's a fantastic partner. At the same time we believe that it's a relatively small number of product placements that are the most effective at driving sales.

My hope is we can become smarter together on how to use Amazon products surgically in our Hubs to provide great value to readers and to help monetize the site effectively.

Happy Hubbing,



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    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 17 months ago from Peru, South America

      My earnings with HubPages has really improved lately and I appreciate all the adjustments that are being made to the site. I receive Amazon revenue through a couple of my articles. I'm going to follow your advice and turn off the Google ads on those particular Hubs. Thank you for this useful information.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 2 years ago from Long Island, NY

      jackclee - In reference to your last comment above, you can specify a URL different from the title when you first create a hub, but not later. It's immediately above where you specify the title. You click "edit" to change the URL from the title default and then click "save" to save it.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 2 years ago from Yorktown NY

      With regard to keyword stuffed Hub Titles, a simple fix would be limit the Title to no more than Seven words. Since the title also translate to the final URL of the page, this would also reduce the length of the link. Good insight overall, any information to help hubbers to create better content is welcomed.

    • makingamark profile image

      Katherine Tyrrell 2 years ago from London

      This is Google's perspective on doorway pages

      "An update on doorway pages"

      It doesn't seem to me to be the same as the interpretation of the concept that you have alluded to in this hub.

      Could that be why hubs (with multiple Amazon modules) which have been unfeatured on this site do well when their content is placed on another site - because they genuinely do add value and offer benefits to readers?

      PS I've already started turning off my adverts.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 2 years ago from USA

      Is it possible (or even a good idea) to write some code that limits the Adsense ads in proportion to the Amazon ad. With one Amazon product, leave as is. But for every other Amazon product, take an Adsense ad away. If it is done automatically, Hubbers don't have to do it. For people who would prefer to rely on Amazon and Ebay instead of Adsense, it makes sense.

    • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

      Sondra Rochelle 2 years ago from USA

      Paul, if you really want to get this right, you have to change your policy about allowing old hubs to keep their ads until the owners edit them. That is, I believe, where the real problem lies.

      When I check hubs every so often, I see the most blatant spamming going on...and yet, there the hubs still are. How many you still have on this site, I don't know, but I suspect they represent the majority of hubs that are far too heavy with ads. Grandfathering is not working and frankly is unfair to those of us who do limit our ads because those writers are earning much more than the rest of us. This is not right and certainly lowers morale.

      The truth is that there are many articles that should never have ads on them, but there are others that need them. The problem comes when people abuse their right to monetize their hubs or have never learned the proper way to do so.

      Your problem here is that if you rid the site of the abusive practices, many people will leave because they will feel they have lost the opportunity to earn. If you leave them, you have the problems you just discussed.

      Somehow, you must find a way to balance these issues so that the site can survive.

      For many here, the earnings from ads exceed or equal those from the articles. I'm certain they will not want to delete them.

      Good luck with this one. I don't envy you these choices.

    • Will Apse profile image

      Will Apse 2 years ago

      I suggested a couple of years ago that keyword stuffed product info from Amazon was a problem and suggested HP find a way to eliminate it.

      Surely there is a way of doing that?

      If it is too tough technically to do this at HP's end perhaps you could try to convince Amazon that its ad delivery is flawed and damages all of its affiliates.

      Individual hubbers can exercise their judgement, too. Avoid those long strings of nonsense that pollute your page!

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      The idea of fewer ads within the content of our hubs is a good one. Since I rarely sell an Amazon product I'm thinking of deleting all of the added capsules. I am still seeing a lot of hubs with three or four ads for the same product.

      It's funny that below your hub is an Amazon ad for mop buckets labeled essential business supplies. The bot must have imagined a clean-up in progress.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      I think I am a little confused. Turn off ads from hubs which are converting with Amazon! Which ads do I turn off, how and why would I do that?

      One month I earned as much from Amazon as I did from HubPages. More often than not the products purchased from Amazon/E-Bay relate directly to those which are needed to do one of my a felting tutorials. Looking at this hub, I see four ads, none of which are Amazon Ads. I am most unlikely to click on any of the ads shown because none of them interest me or relate to this hub.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very useful and informative post. I very rarely use the amazon or ebay capsules. You can see it from my hubs. I already objected at the policy of allowing one capsule per each 100 or two hundred words that was set as maximum target by HubPages some months ago. I propose one hub should contain only one capsule, if it is necessary at all.

    • PaulGoodman67 profile image

      Paul Goodman 2 years ago from Florida USA

      Paul, I think you need to limit the proportion of published hubs each hubber has that contains Amazon capsules/links, say to 20 or 25 percent. So for every hub that contains products, they need 3 or 4 that are product free, info only.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      I like the idea of turning off the ads. Sometimes there are way too many and most times they have nothing to do with the hub's content. I really hate the ads that show up in video form. They're distracting.

    • Azure11 profile image

      Marian L 2 years ago from UK

      Yes, I also think that is a good idea to turn off ads on hubs that are converting for Amazon. I'll try it on one or two I have and see what happens...

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 2 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Excellent information! Keyword stuffed product titles drive me crazy even as a consumer, but it didn't occur to me how they are seen when the page/article/hub is being indexed by Google. I read another article just this morning about keywords becoming less and less important and rich content becoming more and more important. Hmm, seems I've heard that before about content. What goes around comes around, yes?

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 2 years ago from Long Island, NY

      This is powerful information! Thanks Paul. The two tips you have near the end are very important. I have always been aware of the idea behind tip 2. I have removed Amazon capsules in the past that never were selling anyway.

      But tip number 1 came as a surprise to me and makes perfect sense. I have two hubs that do quite well with converting Amazon sales, as I'm sure you know from monitoring the progress. So now I am going to turn off ads on these two hubs as you suggested in tip 1, so that no ads are left to cannibalize clicks on Amazon products. It's going to be an interesting experiment that can pay off really well. I see how powerful that might be.

    • NateB11 profile image

      Nathan Bernardo 2 years ago from California, United States of America

      Good info and it what I kind of thought about Amazon product ads and why HP policy is what it is.

    • Paul Edmondson profile image

      Paul Edmondson 2 years ago from Burlingame, CA

      The subtitle that Hubbers add can be an issue, but I'm focusing on the product title that's automatically added with each product.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 2 years ago from Oakley, CA

      What about a non-keyword stuffed capsule title, such as a generic,

      "Check this out here."

      No naming of or reference to the product, and no duplication either. Often, in the cases where I do use Amazon capsules, I don't put any capsule title at all--just let the capsule stand on its own merits.

    • LindaSmith1 profile image

      LindaSmith1 2 years ago from USA

      On my own sites, I don't limit number of products and my sales have left the other platforms I used for 3 years in the dust. My traffic has also left the platforms used in the past in the dust. L