Hub Cannibalization: Google Has to Choose One

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  1. TTGReviews profile image68
    TTGReviewsposted 9 years ago

    Yes, there was a Panda update yesterday, but this topic will be focused on things we could see far in advance of this update.

    As someone who has written extensively on both HubPages and Squidoo perhaps I can offer a little bit of insight. While I typically remain silent I'm hoping my feedback on this can offer some insight to those who are struggling with the same issues that I am. 

    At least a week before the Panda update my Squidoo transfer profiles saw their traffic declining once they were indexed by Google under HubPages rather than Squidoo.

    One of the reasons that this happened is that Google will only pick 1 or 2 results from a particular domain (yes, including subdomains). So, my lenses were not only competing with other lenses that moved here, they were also competing with Hubs that others had written here on a similar topic.

    I believe the 301 worked fine. In my opinion this is more of an issue with what we refer to in marketing as brand cannibalization or, for the purposes of HubPages, Hub Cannibalization.

    Reference on Subdomains:

    Since keywords are less of an indicating factor than ever, this can be particularly harsh to those who write about popular topics on HubPages.

    Reference on Keywords:

    In my opinion, this is the major reason for the traffic decline. Panda may play a small part in refreshing all of it; however, the issues go far beyond just the update. You can talk about grammar, link, and on-page issues all you want; however, for the most part, this isn't anyone's fault.

    Moving forward Hubbers that want to succeed need to write original and relevant content. There are more people writing here than ever so choosing a niche which isn't saturated is ideal. Certain subdomains clearly get sandboxed while others prosper. So, even if subdomains are merely a folder it does appear that certain folders draw more favor than others.

    As I look to the subdomains I have that draw little favor from Google they all have one thing in common. They are unoriginal.

    It's unfortunate that Squidoo could not have simply been owned by HubPages who would now have had the opportunity to add their own templates, work, and insight to the site. Having multiple places to diversify our work was and would continue to be a plus as Google has no choice but to treat the 2 sites separately.

    That being said I'm still glad to have my work somewhere rather than nowhere.

    1. Suzanne Day profile image92
      Suzanne Dayposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      I noticed this too and will be able to assess any damage over the next few months. While traffic is unaffected for me at present, I suspect that I'm going to be seeing a couple of top hubs crashing and burning as someone's magnificent ex-lens moves to the top spot in Google.

      If this happens, what I will do is target another long tail keyword phrase and move it where there is no existing HP competition.

      But as yet, have only had 1 hub go down (and this may be a temporary Panda thing) and the rest seem to be OK. Luckily I've never found it in me to write about popular subjects, I'm more of a low traffic, obscure topic kind of person!

    2. Writer Fox profile image33
      Writer Foxposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Very well stated.  I mentioned the same concept on several forum threads early on because Google has changed it's position on domain clustering on search results pages.  Before this merger, it was possible for two articles from Squidoo and two articles from HP to rank highly for a given search query. Now, that possibility has been cut in half. 

      What is even worse, however, is that now there is more duplicity in titles, descriptions, targeted keyword phrases – all of which looks like webspam to a search engine.  There are now a huge number of URLs with the same words and a '2' or '3' tacked onto the end. 

      I don't think the decision makers were looking at the total picture of  merging the content 'as is' from another user-generated-content site.

      1. Marisa Wright profile image84
        Marisa Wrightposted 9 years agoin reply to this

        I think the decision-makers were looking at the total picture - but the thing is, they still believe that sub-domains are treated separately by Google, as you can see by Paul Edmonson's recent post:

        The funny thing is that I don't usually agree with Paul, but in this case my whole experience on HubPages tells me that sub-domains here are treated separately.  And while you keep quoting Matt Cutts' old video, I have yet to see you post any case studies or other more recent discussions to counter my links.

        I'm quite prepared to be proved wrong but one old video isn't sufficient counter-evidence to what my research, and personal experience, tells me so far.

        1. Writer Fox profile image33
          Writer Foxposted 9 years agoin reply to this

          I'm real sure that you and Paul Edmondson know more about Google search that Matt Cutts does. roll

          I think you should stop hijacking this thread for your personal agenda and read the OP.

          1. Marisa Wright profile image84
            Marisa Wrightposted 9 years agoin reply to this

            I'm not hijacking the thread.  The theory propounded by the OP relies on the fact that sub-domains are not treated separately.  I'm just pointing out that not everybody agrees with that premise. 

            Matt Cutts may know better but is he always totally honest about what Google is doing?  I'm not convinced.

            1. Suzanne Day profile image92
              Suzanne Dayposted 9 years agoin reply to this

              Settle down you two! You both have great armies and I only have an army of 3 little people from nowhereland wink

              No one's 100% correct on these theories, because if they were, they would be pulling in $millions and wouldn't bother with this forum!!!

              1. Marisa Wright profile image84
                Marisa Wrightposted 9 years agoin reply to this

                I know, Suzanne.  What concerns me is that this kind of thread is encouraging people to blame Squidoo members  for their loss of traffic which is unfair (it's not their fault, regardless of whether it's caused by the transfer of lenses or by Panda).   Squidoo members were already saying they felt unwelcome!   

                And since subdirectories vs subdomains is still frequently debated, I'm not willing to let WF's view of sub-domains go completely unchallenged.  It's like everything else on the internet, not cut and dried. 

                And yes, I know we're wrangling on several threads, but that's because I know not everyone reads every thread.

                1. Suzanne Day profile image92
                  Suzanne Dayposted 9 years agoin reply to this

                  Everyone's got theories about how and why. These are just blame games and even if it is someone's or something's fault the trick is to be proactive and deal with what's happening right now instead of moaning about it.....either that or take a break and do something else....

                  No offence to either of you as I haven't been following the hundreds of helpful posts you guys do daily.

                  1. Marisa Wright profile image84
                    Marisa Wrightposted 9 years agoin reply to this

                    I couldn't agree more.  I'm not moaning.  I just know that WF is very respected on these forums so many Hubbers would take his word as gospel if no one pipes up to the contrary.

            2. Writer Fox profile image33
              Writer Foxposted 9 years agoin reply to this

              Read it again, Marisa.  The OP is talking about the Squidoo domain vs. the HubPages domain (including all subdomains of HP).  He is talking about  Squidoo and HubPages having webpages show on search for the same keyword queries.  Now, instead of four or so possibilities, there are only two or so possibilities of webpages ranking on the first page of SERPs. Capisce?

          2. TTGReviews profile image68
            TTGReviewsposted 9 years agoin reply to this

            Thanks for everyone's feedback on this post. It means a lot to me. As I mentioned before I'm typically quiet about SEO-related subjects, but as I believe I should be listened to on this topic for everyone's sake, this time, I'm speaking up. I'm doing so as someone who has had substantial traffic and experience full-time on here, YouTube, Squidoo, and my own domains over the past 5 years.

            In terms of subdomains being treated separately my viewpoint on this is very complicated. I agree and disagree.

            Think of it in terms of how Google has to rank Blogspot. They won't completely punish the main domain because, if they did, it would affect subdomains that are both good and bad. In this way they do treat it separately.

            That being said they only allow a certain amount of results from Blogspot in the search engine. In this way they treat it as the same.

            The folders or subdomains of Blogspot that are "good" will be those given preferential treatment. The same is true here on HubPages. In this way they are treated separately.

            If you copy and paste your work and just try to do what everyone else is doing, then most likely you'll be seen as a bad folder. If you're unique, then, again, you'll get preferential treatment.

            Again, as someone who had work on HubPages and Squidoo I had good reason to not put all my eggs in the one proverbial basket. Now, I have to figure out where that diversification will come from.

            My 1 and only suggestion for HubPages: HubPages may well be wise to make satellite websites for certain topics where they can put their better material or allow certain authors to participate. In addition, Squidoo would not have been a terrible place to start one of those satellite websites. We'll watch and wait for a little while to see how everything turns around; however, returning some well performing material, that is no longer performing well here, to that website might not be the worst idea in the world wink.

            1. Marisa Wright profile image84
              Marisa Wrightposted 9 years agoin reply to this

              So, to clarify: 

              Let's say we have twenty people with blogs about blue widgets on Blogger, and twenty people who each have a self-hosted blog about blue widgets.

              So you're saying that regardless of quality, Google will group all the blogs on Blogger together and give preference to only one or two of them.  Whereas the twenty self-hosted blogs will each have an even chance against the "best" blog from Blogger - even though they may be poorer quality than the third- or fourth-ranked Blogger blog.

              I'm not saying you're wrong - all I'm asking for is evidence because it has such huge implications.  Based on that, anyone who writes on Blogger or any other sub-domain-based site is handicapping themselves before they even start. 

              I've been trying to get clarity on this for some time - I even asked on the Google Webmaster forums but of course, no one from Google bothered to answer.  I got replies from other website owners saying that sub-domains on multi-user sites were treated as separate but no one had any evidence to offer.

              1. TTGReviews profile image68
                TTGReviewsposted 9 years agoin reply to this

                A few years ago you'd find in excess of two from a single site. Google would even offer more suggestions from the same site allowing you to essentially see all the related articles from that site on that subject.

                I haven't seen more than 2 in quite some time... especially in the case of Squidoo and HubPages. The only exception might be a very odd  or academic topic, but I can't really think of one off the top of my head. Another exception would be if you typed the name of the site in the search engines like "Wikipedia" or "HubPages", for example.

                I routinely keep and check for many keywords that I have. Some of the keywords were ones that I had held the first position for on both HubPages and Squidoo. Certain Hubs that are on similar topics may still receive traffic for Google for longtail keywords that they may be controlling vs. a more popular hub; however, for a single keyword I simply haven't seen it.

                1. Marisa Wright profile image84
                  Marisa Wrightposted 9 years agoin reply to this

                  You haven't directly answered my example about Blogger and but I take it you mean, that's right?    That has big implications for people on Blogger who imagine they're writing their own independent blog which has a fair chance with Google.  I'm surprised it's not more publicised.

                  1. TTGReviews profile image68
                    TTGReviewsposted 9 years agoin reply to this

                    I can't say it for 100% certainty on every single topic. That being said look around and I believe you'll find that what I'm saying is accurate. If a particular site is especially authoritative you may notice additional references further down the SERPs, but not more than 2 in a row. Again, I'd like to emphasize that this was especially true for HubPages and Squidoo - 2 sites which Google had clearly categorized as content farms in the past.

                    I have one more interesting thing to share from my personal experience here and on Squidoo that might help Hubbers and perhaps even staff.

                    I've had several of my hubs chose for Editor's choice that lost quite a bit of traffic when they were moved to the main domain. For reference, moving them back to my personal subdomain allowed me to regain the traffic I had previously lost.

                    Before Squidoo sold it started moving the best of Squidoo to subdomains. (Previously, nearly all lenses were on the main domain.) The Lenses which were chosen were some of the better traffic generating lenses on the site.

                    Many of my lenses were chosen for this experiment. Once these lenses moved from the Squidoo site to the subdomain of their topic they tripled or even quadrupled in traffic. As someone who ended with 20 of the top 100 (not top 2,000) performing lenses this was very substantial.

                    Grouping these lenses on a subdomain was definitely a good thing in Google's eyes.

                    I was also given a personal subdomain for my other lenses which helped to improve traffic to all of my lenses on my subdomain (not to the same degree).

                    You can draw whatever conclusion you want from this information; however, I'm of the opinion that when HubPages went to Subdomains a few years ago it was a good move. I'm also of the opinion that the main difference between HubPages and Squidoo was not content and links... but rather subdomains and Squidoo's self-destruction of many of its most popular lenses.

                    Within the past few months Squidoo was finally figuring out the advantages it could gain with subdomains. I made this suggestion to them over 18 months ago, but it was not implemented at the time.

                    I'm not sure what took them so long, but it appears that going to Subdomains at least allowed Google to separate the good content from the bad. Keeping everything on the main domain beforehand kept all of that content punished. I'm not sure if this was some type of spam content farm punishment or punishment because of bad links and posts.

                    I'm also not sure to what extent that exists on HubPages other than my experience with Editor's choice Hubs.

                    Please don't take my post the wrong way. I'm sharing this information with everyone because I'm optimistic and hopeful that sites like HubPages and Squidoo can continue to exist.

                    All the negative talk doesn't help. Rather, we should all work together to share information like this that can help writers as well as staff make the most optimal decisions available.

    3. rebekahELLE profile image85
      rebekahELLEposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      I think you're probably on target with your post. I read that moz blog this morning and there's helpful, fresh content in his post.  I know there are forum hubbers who want to help, but not all that they say is correct, it's interpretation.  No one should blindly follow advice here without doing some research on their own.  I tend to listen to what the guys in charge of the site offer.  They're giving advice from their perspective which is the one we want to understand since we're writing on their site.

  2. misterhollywood profile image90
    misterhollywoodposted 9 years ago

    Writer Fox I think you make a lot of sense. Just wondering what we as Hubbers can do to figure out how to proceed? Part of me is wondering if I should chill posting for a bit on HP until the dust settles?

    1. Writer Fox profile image33
      Writer Foxposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      I'm not going to publish any more on HP for the time being.  I'm going to wait till this Panda update runs its course and then the new Penguin update.  Then we will know the true effects of putting tens of thousands of pages of unvetted content on this site.

      1. Suzanne Day profile image92
        Suzanne Dayposted 9 years agoin reply to this

        I was going to do this too, but now I'm having too much fun playing around in the forums while the updates are going on. Then I wrote a hub the other night and the next day read it again only to figure it sounded a bit offkey. So break time for me with writing, though not with commenting. Seriously, the forums are more fun than Facebook dribble at the moment!

        1. Writer Fox profile image33
          Writer Foxposted 9 years agoin reply to this


        2. Mark Ewbie profile image82
          Mark Ewbieposted 9 years agoin reply to this

          Yes it is fun.  Someone should write a hub about that.

  3. HomeArtist1 profile image57
    HomeArtist1posted 9 years ago

    Finally, an unemotional, more-objective viewpoint I'm more inclined to entertain. Blaming ex-squids is too narrow a scope for traffic losses.

  4. HomeArtist1 profile image57
    HomeArtist1posted 9 years ago

    LOL! Looks like I was heavy-handed on that submit button.

  5. makingamark profile image70
    makingamarkposted 9 years ago

    People with Blogger blogs have the option to use a domain name of their own. Thus you can have the free use of Blogger and your own URL which is not associated with blogspot.

    Put most search terms into Google and I don't see any Hubpages site on the front page - suggesting there's lots of scope for people to write new good quality content!

    Try putting any popular search term into Google + Hubpages and what comes up as top rated are the related categories - not any specific hubs.

    Put more refined search terms in + HubPages and what I can see are a number of hubpages sites - certainly more than two. I can  quote examples.......

    Theories are useful but practical research has a lot to teach us.

    The fact is ANY hub at any time can be beaten to the front page of Google by a lot of other good sites on other domains.

    The real issue at the end of the day is quality of content - not who was here first! 

    Plus the fact that competition to produce better search results actually benefits the consumer - I suggest people get used to this idea.

    So yes Google has to choose - but actually it doesn't have to choose any of the sites on HubPages.

    1. TTGReviews profile image68
      TTGReviewsposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      You've definitely made a lot of good points and I do agree with many of them.

      As I mentioned above if you add "HubPages" you, of course, will still get a list of HubPages hubs; however, I don't notice more than 2 in a row on any other relatively competitive keyword.

      Also, I believe that most of the content will stay. A lot of it had matured and although it may not be doing as well on HP as it was at Squidoo, at least it's drawing traffic. I guess we'll see how it all shakes out.

      I for one will be working harder than ever to make sure my content on here as well as elsewhere on the web benefits the consumer. That, of course, includes any advertisements on the page. Moz's 2014 SEO Ranking factors is very telling: … 14-big.png

  6. makingamark profile image70
    makingamarkposted 9 years ago

    One other point - and this is one which is repeatedly underestimated by a lot of people.

    The simple fact of the matter was that in order to extract the final payment from Squidoo, lensmasters had to allow their lenses to transfer.  Whether or not they wanted to come to HubPages.  There was no option.

    The fact that content transferred in does not mean that the content is going to stay. I'd say it's even less likely given the current state of play with the system and the traffic.

    I've already seen a lot of top lensmasters removing content to other sites elsewhere. There's a general feeling amongst a number of former lensmasters that they would now much prefer to place their own content on their own sites.

    So if you really want to worry about the competition, try worrying about those who will be knocking hubs off the front page of Google because there are seasoned and successful former lensmasters out there already creating brand new sites with good quality content.

    There's a second set of lensmasters who've done well at Squidoo and had content which survived all the quality shakeouts who are waiting to see what happens to their content  on HubPages. A lot of these are already placing at least some of their content elsewhere - typically on blogs. Others are keeping their options open and taking time to plan where next.

    So whatever your concerns about how hubs show up in HubPages either currently or in the near future, the bigger concern SHOULD be whether or not the quality content which has transferred in actually remains - or whether it becomes new competition from elsewhere and consequently not subject to the battering which Google has been giving article sites of late.  That's where your real competition is going to come from.

    Put simply, there's more than one way of losing out in the search query game.

  7. Paula Atwell profile image69
    Paula Atwellposted 9 years ago

    This is an interesting discussion however no one has taken into account the fact of personalized search, or Pinterest and YouTube as search engines. Search is not defined by straight keywords on a single results page anymore.

    1. makingamark profile image70
      makingamarkposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Very true Paula.

      Google also switched to a model based on semantics quite some time ago - for example Google's Hummingbird algorithm is based on semantic search queries … ird-175634

      This is an interesting article published today on Google’s Shift to Semantic Search & Its Impact on SEO

  8. Paula Atwell profile image69
    Paula Atwellposted 9 years ago

    Another point is that the Searchmetrics data that you are referencing came out before the latest Panda algorithm and has research from before this merger took place so while you can use it as a guideline it is not specifically relevant to what is happening on Hubpages right now.


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