Why Did HubPages Take Out Personal Subdomains of Accounts?
2011: Subdomain Switch And Google's Panda Algorithm Update
The reason individual accounts were moved to personal subdomains was, ideally, to address this drastic update in the Google search engine algorithm. The intent was expressed as a test in the official HubPages blog post: Preparing a Test to Further Address Panda.
"Putting authors on a subdomain clearly delineates between sets of Hubs by author, so one author’s Hubs won’t negatively impact another."
At the time, the idea was that HubPages authors who roll out high-quality and search-friendly content may be dragged down by authors whose intentions are to spam or just are not very good at generating traffic or having their articles rank on search engine. Aside from that, low-quality content also affects the how the search engine ranks the main HubPages domain's authority and credibility as a whole.
In an official post on the Google blog about Panda they said:
"The “Panda” algorithm change has improved rankings for a large number of high-quality websites, so most of you reading have nothing to be concerned about. However, for the sites that may have been affected by Panda we wanted to provide additional guidance on how Google searches for high-quality sites."
Many of us, at the time, felt the dip in traffic and saw our articles disappear on the front page of search results on Google. After the decisions to switch individual accounts to personal subdomains, my traffic and ranking on search dipped even further. I expressed my analysis and experience on two Hubs I wrote:
This test has lasted for 5 years. In that span of time, there were even more changes. The changes since then were not just in algorithms but also added new features on the search results (locations in maps, word definitions, information about brands, lists of books by author, list of movies, tv shows and specific episodes, etc.). This made writing about most of these things almost unlikely to gain traffic referrals from search. As an example, imagine if you had a dictionary website: your click-throughs from search would definitely decline due to a word's definition already appearing on the search engine. Also, there are apps may address these queries as well.
Aside from developments in search, social media evolved drastically and a variety of apps also emerged and this provided new points of discovery and mediums for content distribution.
And now, HubPages has decided to end this test and go back to making HubPages authors' content be hosted on its main domain. Aside from that, they've added new features that are very helpful such as HubPro. Allow me to explain further why this is very beneficial for active users of HubPages...
HubPages Official Statement on this Change and Announcement of the New HubPro Feature
I noticed a significant increase in my Google AdSense earnings and checked right away where the traffic was coming from. To my surprise, it was specifically HubPages.com and no longer my subdomain (ie. myusername.hubpages.com). As you can see on my tweet above and my Facebook message on the right, they're very helpful and responsive and social media. So the first thing I did was ask them for the official announcement and they provided me the link.
The blog post for the announcement's title is perfect: Like Old Times, Something Old Is New Again. Along with the milestones and features they've added in the past years, they also explain that not all decisions they've made are perfect:
"Many of you have been loyal community members for years—you have seen the many ups and downs. We don’t always get it perfect, but the commitment to our mission remains..."
They also announce a new feature, HubPro, where writers from their end edit authors' content that generate high traffic. So aside from moderation of content, they actually now help in writing or editing content. Many users may get it free through HubPro Basic and others may opt in to get the HubPro Premium where you can have your articles edited.
Benefits of These Changes
Increased Ranking and/or Traffic From Search - all user-generated content, now that it's hosted again on the HubPages domain, share in its authority (ie. it currently has the global Alexa ranking of about 1,100).
HubPro's Free Editing Service - without having to pay for the premium service, two of my highest traffic content were edited extensively to provide better information. I must admit, it was so easy to rank and get traffic back in the day and all you needed was the proper keywords. With their help, extensive information was added to two of my articles. This assures that aside from traffic, users will actually read and stay longer on the page giving your ads more exposure.
Increased Authority for Owned Content Backlinked On HubPages - aside from the traffic you're already able to generate by backlinking relevant articles, blog posts, or websites you have, it could also play a big role in increasing the authority of those assets. Of course, it is better to be linked from an authoritative site rather than just the personal subdomain that was considered separate by the search engine.
Although many things have changed, such as the influence of social and other mediums, I am optimistic about the benefits all users will get from this change. Within my first two years of joining and only writing 158 hubs at the time, I was able to reach 1 million views here on HubPages. As I adapt to the many changes, I am glad my content is hosted on the main domain again and I'm very happy with how HubPages is really helping users generate quality content.
How about you? How do you think these changes and new features will affect users of HubPages? Feel free to share your thoughts on the comments below.