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HubPages Subdomain and Google Panda—the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The New HubPages Subdomain
HubPages got hit hard with Google Panda, the dreaded search engine's newest algorithm update that drastically changes the world of SEO or Search Engine Optimization as we know it. Google has been very vague and secretive about the launch of the update and at the same time HubPages has been in a stage of denial on how bad it really is. They conducted tests to address Panda and have decided they will now give users a specific subdomain instead of the old one. As my title suggests, this change entails good, bad, and ugly news for bloggers like me.
I saw an article online talking about some sort of survival guide for SEO bloggers, as if the Panda is wiping us all out already and there's no war anymore to be fought. We must keep in mind that Google is expected to earn over 9 billion dollars this year because of Google AdSense alone.
You know that scene in Lord of War where Yuri Orlov gets caught by the government only later on to be set free by the higher ups? This is because without him selling weapons to the enemy, there will be no war, thus making him a necessity sort of. I think the same goes for Google: as much as they want to improve their search engine and fill the internet with quality content, they will always have a love-hate relationship with spam and spammers alike.
Don't get me wrong, I'm sure they want their ads to be placed where it is relevant and they want to improve the quality of content but at the same time they won't get rid of it. For instance, we see now that they forced HubPages into playing with their game with their own rules. I have nothing against it, really. It is all voluntary exchange; no coercion (I advocate the philosophy of liberty). And Google has brilliant mathematicians and programmers working on this, I'm sure. But then as you read this article, you'll see why I'm so wary of the whole switch to having a subdomain compared to having just one powerful "www" subdomain.
By having your own subdomain, your profile page and hubs become more personal in the sense that you can monitor your own specific traffic and other stats. For instance, you can use online blogging tools like Yahoo Site Explorer or Google Webmaster Tools to assess your traffic, traffic sources, inlinks or backlinks, indexed pages, and relevant keywords that point to your articles and pages. This is a brilliant thing and something I've always wanted to be able to do.
But there's a upside and downside to this switch to a more individualistic concept. This is very bad for those who have little content or little knowledge in SEO or Search Engine Optimization. The idea is that users are forced to work on building up the content and rank power of their hubs without help from others. Take backlinks, for example. Before, everyone ultimately shared the rank power and authority level of HubPages in the search engines but now everyone is on their own.
So the one good thing that is brought about by this change would be that it is forcing users to work ten times harder, provide better quality articles, and avoid blackhat spamming SEO techniques. So ultimately, we become better writers, I guess. But when it comes to traffic and earnings I'm not so sure. All in all, this is very experimental with HubPages saying that "there are risks" but are very vague and restricted when it comes to what the full effects really are. But hey, I'm sure they have an army of SEO experts and programmers who worked on these tests and in the end only time will show us what the real effect of the changes will be.
In my Blogger vs HubPages article, I've expressed that HubPages is way more powerful than Blogger, in my own experience, in spite of the conventional notion that Blogger has a more powerful PageRank score. This is, of course, very related to the concept of having a subdomain. I noticed that Blogger ranks well in niche blogs, those that have one specific topic and keywords are inter-related and somewhat repetitive (I even noticed that those who resort to keyword stuffing still get good rankings). So those who have HubPages who write on several topics (like me) can be really affected by the whole subdomain thing. I don't know what HubPages mean exactly when they say that their tests had positive results. This is what I mean by them being so vague.
I have addressed that I don't mind the whole 60/40 cut of ad space or earnings. I've always had the impression that their powerful www subdomain is exactly what I was paying for or sharing my content for. There is no zero-sum, I know. I get backlinks, free space to write content and place my ads, but then in the end without the previous ranking power of before the whole subdomain switch, I might end up not writing here anymore. Maybe this is also why I've been writing more often on my Blogger blogs instead. But as I have said, only time will reveal what will really happen. If anything, I have no right to complain.
It was my first year anniversary of writing on HubPages, but with my skills I was able to get way over 300,000 views already even when this Hub you are reading now is only my 100th post ever. So it is important to consider that I haven't been writing here for so long and I haven't even been writing a lot. So I have very little content and little online authority as well. But in spite of all of that, as I have said, I have gotten a lot of views and of course views for HubPages as well (60/40 cut). But then this whole subdomain switch thing targets people like me, those who have little content even when I have used my SEO knowledge in making sure I drive a significant amount of traffic to HubPages. In attempts to provide better ranking to those who drive traffic to HubPages, the subdomain might actually backfire by hurting small-time yet significant authors like me.
The whole Google Panda issue and switch to the subdomain has me very very worried about the rankings and traffic of my hubs but as you can see on their reply to my Twitter above, they say that in the long run this will be good for my traffic. I think what they mean by this is that in the long run I'll be forced to work harder on my own. My biggest concern here is, if I'm going to work much harder anyways then what's the point of the 60/40 cut? Why don't I just post the quality articles on my own blog.
Well, as I have been saying, only time will tell what happens. So be sure to go visit my HubPages subdomain real soon or follow me on Twitter to get updated on my latest hubs or blog posts.