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Is Google Penalizing Us for Writing on Diverse Topics?

Updated on June 13, 2012

I made an interesting discovery about SEO. I managed to increase the traffic to my hubs by deleting a bunch of them. It appears that Google prefers subdomains that stick to one niche. This is not groundbreaking research, but it seems be something that is not discussed much in the HubPages community. And since many of us are here to make money, why aren't we doing it the smart way?

I do not claim to be an expert on SEO or making money online, but I do want to share my experiences here on HubPages.

The Backstory

I first joined HubPages at the end of February 2012 under a different account name. The account started out as a way to backlink to my architecture website, but I soon found that I really enjoyed writing for HubPages. Next thing I knew I had hubs on makeup, travel, books, and relationships in addition to my architecture hubs.

However, I had made a big mistake. I had used the name of my website as my username on HubPages. While this isn't the end of the world, I decided from a marketing perspective that it wasn't wise to associate my professional architecture site with dating and skin care advice. I hope you understand that this is why I'm not saying the name of the account in this hub either.

I opened my Modern Lady account at the beginning of May. I deleted 26 non-architecture hubs from my old account and moved them over to Modern Lady. I started commenting on hubs, following other hubbers, and generally having a good time participating in the HubPages community under my new persona.

And I completely ignored my old account and the seven hubs that remained there.

My Traffic Discovery

A few weeks later I decided to check back in on my old account. My traffic had skyrocketed! Perhaps it was a coincidence, but it seems a bit interesting that immediately after I unpublished all those unrelated hubs, my traffic would see such a significant increase.

It seems that Google ranks sites higher if the keywords for all their articles are related. If you've got too many unrelated keywords, you get penalized. I've noticed in my new account that keywords from other hubs pop up in searches. For example, 10 Creative and Fun Date Ideas came up for a search for "ideas for double dates chicago." No doubt Google got confused by my Travel Guide to Chicago, Illinois. There are a number of other similar instances with other hubs. Too many unrelated keyword means the Big G gets confused on what the topic of your site is.

This also leads me to believe that HubPages as a whole is getting penalized since there are so many writers who all have different topics. This is what makes HubPages an awesome community, but we're probably hurting each other's SEO.

Deleting Hubs Increases Traffic?

I deleted 26 non-architecture hubs, leaving 7 architecture hubs on the account.
I deleted 26 non-architecture hubs, leaving 7 architecture hubs on the account.

Where to Go from Here?

We've already got HubPages accounts with established hubs. What do we do now?

For those new to HubPages (or thinking about joining) I would suggest picking a niche and sticking to it, even if that means deleting a couple hubs. For those of us with more published writing it's a bit stickier.

I'm an advocate of working smarter not harder. Given the option of writing 10 hubs on a carefully chosen niche or 50 on scattershot topics and getting the same amount of traffic, I would take the 10 hubs. Although I'm also here to enjoy myself and learn new things, my ultimate goal is to make some side income. It's important to make the right decisions to acheive the desired goals.

Another consideration is that Google gives sites with a lot of content more clout. The more hubs the better (assuming they're good quality). It's easier to write a lot of hubs on a subdomain that covers many topics. One account with 100 hubs is better than 10 accounts with 10 each. However, if you're penalized for writing on diverse topics, it must breakeven somewhere. At what point is is better to have more hubs than to have them all on one topic?

All told, I'm not looking forward to moving hubs again. Modern Lady has been a catch-all account for me and I'm not sure she's a good candidate for becoming a niche account at this point. I suppose she could become exclusively beauty or exclusively travel, but I don't think that would be fair to my current followers, and frankly I'm not interested in putting in the time to move hubs that I just finished moving. Modern Lady also has a few hubs on very random topics that are doing well and need to remain in a generic account. If anything, I will try to write on topics I have already broached with Modern Lady. If I come accross any potentially good niches, I will start another HubPages account or maybe develop an independent website for them.


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    • Modern Lady profile imageAUTHOR

      Modern Lady 

      6 years ago from Chicago, IL

      howlermunkey, it's just an educated guess, but it seems to be true for my accounts. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    • howlermunkey profile image

      Jeff Boettner 

      6 years ago from Tampa, FL

      "It seems that Google ranks sites higher if the keywords for all their articles are related" ----- WAT? -- had no idea, thanks so much for writing this -- voted up and sharing

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Oh if only there was a magic ball to look into and then clarify what we should do! Hearing from Mark Knowles that it made no difference makes me think that it would not be worth the effort to move all of my travel hubs or other niche topics to another site. By now, I have many different ones. Do keep us posted if you think this is still working in another couple of months or so. OK? Thanks! Voted interesting.

    • Redberry Sky profile image

      Redberry Sky 

      6 years ago

      I did intend to do this when I first joined HP, but my mind flits from one thing to the other too much. Maybe somewhere down the line when I have some time on my hands (and a decent number of Hubs) I might try splitting them into different niche accounts. Good information to know (and all the comments are really helpful to those of us finding our way around, too). Voted up, and thanks for the ideas.

    • carter06 profile image


      6 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Thanks for this, it makes a lot of sense as many people here suggest that we find our niche and stay with it...and I think it helps define who we are and what we are on about to our readers...and google...has really made me think...well written & voted up...cheers

    • Ronna Pennington profile image

      Ronna Pennington 

      6 years ago from Arkansas

      I see your point. I have several websites so I guess I should have several hubs. I'm gonna have to make a list! Thanks for the awesome advice!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Very interesting information, i have been writing a few different areas and sticking to what i do best and hoping that it will pay off in the end.

    • daisydayz profile image

      Chantele Cross-Jones 

      6 years ago from Cardiff

      Hmm that is very interesting. But I dont think I can face moving hubs and trying to work on another account just yet! Building this ones followers is enough for now, but I suppose in the future if I wasnt to write a lot on one specific feild I suppose it would make sense to have it on a specialised account.

      Good luck though!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Hmm, definitely an interesting one this and certainly it has me mulling over what it might all mean...

      On the one hand - there is clear sense in breaking up one's body of work into niche-specific accounts.

      On the other hand, for many that would be a huge undertaking.

      On the other hand, if it were to make building a following easier and increase you exohubic views, that would be a good thing.

      On the other hand, If that meant that you had to be an expert (in order to generate lots of hubs in each niche) on a multitude of topics, that could be difficult to achieve honestly.

      On the other hand, it may not matter if you are already building a reasonable following that shares your stuff on the social networks - which as also a very good source of external traffic. It might even be better than Google search because it is a 'word-of-mouth' web of recommendation and therefore carries much more authority.

      On the other hand, if you are including hubbing as part of a wider, linked-up web publishing strategy, then it might be worth all the trouble to stay in Google's good books.

      On the other hand, Google is constantly changing its mind and so maybe just ignoring it and getting on with doing your best writing and letting 'natural processes' do the rest might be the best way forward.

      On the other hand....wait a minute, that's seven hands already! Could it be that SEO concerns are getting out of hand?

      For my own part, I do think about Google and dance their merry dance with my magic site but really, I'm here to enjoy the freedom that hubbing gives me as well as everything else so personally I'm happy just to keep writing and see what happens.

      But it is nevertheless useful to have this sort of thing in mind. It really depends what Hubpages means to you.

      Maybe one solution could be to have a 'catch-all' hub that you can just write freely in and then build a few niche-specific hubs if you want to concentrate on some more entrpreneurial income generating stuff.

      One of the lovely things about Hubbing is that you can make of it what you will.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I knew things were tough out there but dam, it’s evident by the quality of the feed back you have received, that this is still a mind blower. I like your ideas and they do seem rational for sticking with the niche theme, but mark knowles is bang on, with his assessment that these days you really have to pay for traffic.

      When he mentioned that, the bells just rang for me at that moment. As I have also noticed some rumblings from other Digg members where I also hang out too, that it looks as if the ones paying for it certainly do see more attention at these sites, tough game this business.

    • Natashalh profile image


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      Interesting. This seems almost counterintuitive! Unfortunatly, I guess, for me, I don't think I can stick to just one topic. It's s problem for me in real life sometimes, so I guess I'll just deal with it being a 'problem' here, too.

    • buckleupdorothy profile image


      6 years ago from Istanbul, Turkey

      You make a very compelling argument here - but unfortunately you're right - for those of us who've been around for a bit it would be a little difficult to splinter the hubs into specific niche accounts.

      It's something I'll nevertheless keep in mind, though, and if I come up with any organizational breakthroughs, I'll be sure to share!

      Thanks for a great hub. Voted up and shared.

    • Marisa Wright profile image

      Kate Swanson 

      6 years ago from Sydney

      The idea that niche accounts should do better has been a pet theory of mine for a while. After all, do the smallest amount of research, and you'll find experts telling you that your blog MUST focus on one subject to be successful. So why should a HubPages sub-domain be any different?

      However, Mark's comment is valuable, because he's the first person I've met who can accurately compare sizeable "niche-specific" and "generalist" HubPages accounts, both written by the same person. And on the basis of his evidence, it seems that my pet theory doesn't hold water!

      It's always hard to test theories like this, because Google is updating their algorithm so often. If traffic goes up just after you've changed something on your account, it's tempting to think the uptick is due to your change - but it could also be as a result of something Google has done. So it's vital to also check when Google updates happen, so you can identify the reason for traffic changes.

      For instance, I had a recent traffic upswing. Turns out the cause was a Google update on June 8th, which Google classified as 'minor' and which was meant to affect only 1% of searches - yet there's a thread on the forums with posts from many Hubbers whose traffic was affected by 50% or more.

    • Mark Knowles profile image

      Mark Knowles 

      6 years ago

      I'm afraid you are wrong. I have multiple accounts - some of which are niche oriented. They are a disaster zone now. Almost no traffic and most of them have 100+ hubs in a single area.

      My own personal account has several completely unrelated hubs that still attract traffic.

      "Gaming the system" is not a term I choose to use because of the negative implications. Whether you are optimizing your site with massive interlinking as the HP platform does, or researching keywords, or building links - these could all be called "gaming the system" - but to truly "game the system" you need to pay google for traffic - that is their goal. Money money money for their shareholders.

      Unfortunately - google is the only game in town for "free" traffic. lol

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image

      Melissa Flagg COA OSC 

      6 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      I'm with Lizzy on this one. While I'm here to try to make a bit of supplemental income, I want to enjoy what I'm writing otherwise I'll get burned out. This was an interesting read and theory however, so I voted it up and shared it with my followers.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      6 years ago from Oakley, CA

      I just write what I want to write. Google can do as it pleases. Sure, it's nice to make money on the side, but when it was strictly Google Ad Sense, I was lucky to "make" 50 cents in 3 months time! All the SEO stuff, keywords, trying to figure out analytics, etc., is just too much for my poor old brain.

      Once the HP ad program kicked in, my income started rising dramatically. That's not to say that I'm able to make a living here yet, or even go out to dinner on my monthly 'take,' but at least I've gotten a couple of payouts, which, with Google alone, I doubted I'd live long enough to see.

      And now that I have over 200 hubs, and things are finally working for me--I'm not going to mess with it. You know the adage--"If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" And I certainly have NO niche at topics are all over the map; I'm a "Jill of all trades; mistress of none." I know a little something about a lot of different things. Variety is the spice of life, they say, and I agree.

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 

      6 years ago from Texas

      Absolutely....NO DOUBT ABOUT IT. If you want to win Hub Of The Day or Hub of the Month, etc., you better be writing about something that has to do with assembling a bar-b-que grill on your patio and in the process you better not mention "meat" lest you offend some "vegan" out there in the world. There are many things I like about HubPages but their political side and their orientation toward non-conflictive subject matter absolutely undermines their attempt to be a "real writer's site". WB

    • moonlake profile image


      6 years ago from America

      I'm sure your right about this. My problem I don't know enough on one topic to write just on that topic. So I guess I will have to keep my hubs the way they are. Very good hub voted up and shared.

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

      Pamela Kinnaird W 

      6 years ago from Maui and Arizona

      I enjoyed reading this hub and the opinions expressed in the comments, too. I started another hub account about nine months ago just so I could be more anonymous. There are a couple other advantages to it, too, but it can be a lot of work, so I don't post there very often anymore. I am moving the occasional hub from that account to my main account.

      When I first joined Hubpages two years ago, there was a lot of talk or discussion about how good it is to have backlinks from Ezine, so I wrote ten articles there and I need to go back and update them sometime. I do think they help even as is. And I had read on the forums that so long as we change the first 250 words of the hub, we can put it somewhere else safely without Google considering it duplicate content.

      I have a lot to learn yet, though.

      Voting this up, interesting and Sharing.

    • Anamika S profile image

      Anamika S Jain 

      6 years ago from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India

      My HP Account is seeing a downfall for the past few months while my niche Blogs are doing well. I think Writing on diverse Topics could be the reason. However, there is nothing much I can do about it except delete a couple of hubs with less page views and try to get more non-google page views. Happy it worked for you.

    • That Grrl profile image

      Laura Brown 

      6 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

      I don't think you could move posts to another account now. The new duplicate thing would find them online and block you from reposting them on the new account.

      Unless that changes the next time Google rolls over, you're stuck with keeping them as they are or giving your off-topic posts a try on a blog of your own, off HubPages.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 

      6 years ago from USA

      This is an interesting theory, and I too have often thought about separating my various hubs into different niches. However, I really enjoy writing about a variety of topics and it would be too much for me to keep track of too many accounts. I have decided to just keep writing about random topics and hope that they manage to be connected in some way. Besides, that would be more difficult when participating in the community. I am going to wait for Google to change its algorithm to my methods, instead of changing to it.

      I am glad this worked for you, and I wish you continued success. Please keep us informed about how this strategy works, because I could easily be convinced to change.

    • Ms Chievous profile image


      6 years ago from Wv

      You know I have been thinking about this as well. What made me start thinking about it was when one of my newer hubs which was about children's websites. In a few days time from being published it went straight to the top of my list of hubs and almost ranked 100. I think this may be in part due to the fact I talk about being a mother in my profile. The hub topic and the profile link well and Google might like that in a sub-domain. I have written other hubs that are not linked to anything in my profile and they rank in the middle somewhere. I might try making some other sub-domains and see...

    • viking305 profile image

      L M Reid 

      6 years ago from Ireland

      Yes I agree we really are being given the run around by Google. Their updates starting with Panda last year and then Penguin is really wearing me down.

      I tend to agree with you that it may be that at the moment Google wants us to have niche sites. But then they can change their mind at any time and the rules. We will be back to square one again.

      A great hub will be sharing with followers and Twitter.

    • Modern Lady profile imageAUTHOR

      Modern Lady 

      6 years ago from Chicago, IL

      RedElf, it's very hard to make the decision to add more accounts because of exactly what you say. There isn't enough time to devote to answers, comments, and forums if you have too many accounts. Plus, if you do end up moving hubs, not only will you be losing comments, but the age of the hubs. It's really a lousey situation to be in.

    • RedElf profile image


      6 years ago from Canada

      Well, I have been mulling this over for some time. I have a couple of other accounts, but haven't used them for visiting forums etc. because of negativity about multiple IDs and "sock puppets" One is doing well, but the other is languishing (not the best niche topic, I guess).

      It's a daunting task to consider moving a pile of hubs to another account, but that might be the best way to go. I hate to lose the comments on some of them, but Oh, well...

    • Modern Lady profile imageAUTHOR

      Modern Lady 

      6 years ago from Chicago, IL

      christinhawaii, I agree about how frustrating trying to predict Google is. We all ought to spend our time writing useful content and not worrying about how Google ranks it, but obviously how we organize our work affects it's usefulness. A small site on fly fishing, for example, is a more useful resource to readers than a large site that mixes fly fishing, fitness, and wedding dresses. It's just more navigable and therefore easier to use.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I was just thinking about that recently, whether it would be smarter to seperate my content by using different hub accounts...especially having anything seo related on a separate account.

      It sucks trying to predict what google is going to do and try to somehow stay one step ahead. I'd rather just keep writing hubs that are useful to people and not have worry about whether having personal finance hubs and weight loss hubs on the same subdomain will sink the whole ship.

      Oh well, that's life for a freelancer. Great hub! Voted up and useful

    • Modern Lady profile imageAUTHOR

      Modern Lady 

      6 years ago from Chicago, IL

      wirahilly, yes, Google is frustrating with the updates. I agree it's silly to try to game the system, but I feel having multiple accounts isn't too sneaky. You are right about putting your eggs in one basket. I wouldn't want to be in a position where I relied on income from HubPages alone. Thanks for commenting!

    • wlrahilly profile image

      Wendy Rahilly 

      6 years ago from St Petersburg, FL

      Very interesting. Although I now try hard not to rely too much on Google anymore because of their constant changes. If they pick up my blogs, hubs etc awesome! But, I've learned not to stick all your eggs in one basket so to speak.

      Although I think sticking to one niche is key and if you want to write on other topics, create different usernames (if the sites allow it). Great hub!


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