I've been resisting crying about what the latest Panda iteration is doing to traffic, but now I can't help myself. One of my highest quality hubs is one of my two on Robert Smalls, the Civil War and Civil Rights hero. It's an Editor's Choice of over 3000 words, with 5 photos, a map, a video, and a poll. Google ranks it (using Robert Smalls as the keyword) somewhere between 200 - 300.
Ranked above my hub is a Reddit page with the following two statements:
"Robert Smalls, freed slave and politician, c. 1870's" ... "there doesn't seem to be anything here"
That's it! That's all the page that outranks mine says about Smalls. If Google's aim is to raise the highest quality pages in its rankings, in my opinion they are failing miserably.
I think most of us are aware that although Google states it's trying to reward quality, it's not achieving that goal very well!
However, I have to say that where you rank is pretty irrelevant, since your Hub and that Reddit link are so far down the search results, very few people are likely to get that far.
Marisa, the fact that my page is ranked where no one will see it is exactly my point. Are there really more than 200 other pages on Robert Smalls that present more comprehensive information in an accessible and engaging way than that hub? Having looked at a lot of online material while doing my research, I find that hard to believe. The Reddit page is just a particularly egregious example of Google's failure to rank based on quality.
Ron, I feel for you. I know exactly how you are feeling. I have a hub that was TOP on a certain topic and it's now on page 2 of Google. It's hard not to get discouraged. My entire hub network is down 85 percent. It sucks so I am very much with you.
Thanks for commiserating, misterhollywood. I'm hoping the Panda ship will right itself over time as more cases like this become evident.
I feel for you, too, Ron. There seems to be little sense and sensibility when it comes to what gets the most attention on the internet. Your article is excellent!
Your hub is specific about one event - Smalls escape from slavery by seizing a ship. If you narrow your search to the topic focused on in your URL, you are on Page one, ranked #10, ahead of the Charleston Museum, for example and Amazon.
I suggest you write a second hub with a less narrow focus. You can blame them for ranking you according to the topic you specified, can you? On that topic, you do okay.
David, I appreciate you taking a look. I think the hub you saw was "How Robert Smalls seized a ship to escape from slavery to freedom," which is, as you say, about a specific event. The one to which I was referring (and I apologize for not specifying which one I meant) was "Robert Smalls: A Civil War Hero’s Fight for Racial Equality," which is a more general overview of Smalls' life and impact.
I recognized before writing the two hubs that since Smalls' story is far less widely known than it should be, the number of search queries would be limited. So, I'm not complaining about that. I'm simply venting my exasperation that despite Google's stated goals for its algorithm, producing high quality material won't necessarily produce higher search rankings relative to other pages.
Sorry to quibble, Ron, but I'm seeing the same thing. I realize you worked hard at this with passion. Google bots are responding to your URL and Title. If you search directly for "Robert Smalls Racial Equality," it's page one, #1.
Being careful with URLs and main titles saves a lot of frustration. We can't count on Google to sort out our intentions. We have to show Google what they are.
Google has no intention punishing anyone out of spite. It's almost all automated, and the automation picks up cues first from the url, second from the main title and what's in the content thereafter. It seems to be exactly what happened.
David, the problem is that I haven't been able to identify any "long tail" search term regarding Robert Smalls that gets any significant number of search queries. According to the Google Keyword Planner, "Robert Smalls" gets 4,400 queries a month. Nothing else that relates to my hub, including the term you suggest, shows as getting any at all. I also use SERPs Suggest which, like Ubersuggest, amalgamates results from Google Suggest and Bing Suggest and others. Same story. It reports the 4,400 for "Robert Smalls", then 170 for "Robert Smalls biography" and 90 for "Robert Smalls civil war" (all of those without quotes). No other search terms for Smalls appear to get any queries at all. That's why I need to rank well for "Robert Smalls" if I'm to get any significant traffic from search.
Search traffic is essentially problem-solving traffic. Is your target audience for that hub students? If so, what academic idea would drive them to your page? Let that train of thought help you slant the page or connecting pages to scream out to the searchers, "Here's the answer to your problem!"
Welcome to the club, RonElfran. Your point is well taken about why and how an obviously better quality article can be outranked by Google for one of lesser quality. Your revelation makes me believe that the odd ranking of your hub has nothing to do with quality and more to do with the branding of HubPages itself as a "content farm." It is sad to think that high quality writers, as yourself, are being penalized by Google because of their assessment of the entire site. I hope the perception changes soon before it does irreparable damage to our progress on this site.
How do you even find out how a page is ranked by Google. Google page ranker only does 1-10 or not at all. I know there is a way, I forgot though. Google is a mindless creature that controls then Internet world.
Linda, I just chose a general keyword (in the case of my subject, a more specialized one would probably generate an insignificant number of queries). I selected "hide private results," and then just searched each successive page of Google results for the term "hub", assuming mine would probably be the only listing from HubPages. By the way, I have my browser set to return 100 results per page of search results, and found my hub listed midway on the 3rd page. That told me it was ranked between 200 and 300.
Love your last statement, Linda. It immediately put my brain in "conjure up an image" mode. The graphic that appeared in my mind's eye was hilarious.
It does appear that Google is whimsical, to say the least.
I just checked out Reddit. Garbage is what I saw. Google page ranker ranks Reditt at 8 and HP at 6.
Reddit is basically a glorified social bookmarking site, it's very rare to find 1000+ word posts there, or even 500+ ones for that matter. I find it appalling that Google would rank a less useful site above HubPages, simply because HP is a "content farm" and somehow supposed to be inherently worse.
That really grinds my gears, Ron. You don't strike me as an angry person, so let me just say I am furiously angry for you, that's just so wrong. Hopefully, its just a temporary lapse in quality control.
Thanks, Michael. For me the issue isn't the amount of traffic, since I knew from the beginning that there aren't millions of people searching for "Robert Smalls" every day. I just want Google to be fair. If it says it's ranking based on quality, that ought to be what it does.
If HP got a manual penalty then it is not going to matter how much more content there is. Remember how big e-how used to be? They hardly come up in the searches anymore. I'm not saying that is what happened to HP but it sure feels like it. People keep saying this was not a panda penalty. Well, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck...
Just for the sake of argument, let's say you are totally correct and this is an HP slap from Google. What does that portend for the writers here? Can HP recover in Google's eyes? If so, how long would that reasonably take? Is HP working toward that end? If so, how?
My point is there are too many questions. If it is a Google slap, that points towards a condition of no matter how good anyone is, if the work is posted here its doomed for failure.
Does anyone have a link to a clear answer from HP regarding weather or not this is a site wide slap and if so, how/if they plan to fix it? I've seen lots of great advice about getting rid of the products, checking for this and that which is all good but doesn't apply to many an article that had no products to start with and was very well done to start with. Those articles seem to be suffering tremendous traffic suppression.
I really believe the staff needs to address this in a very direct, to the point, this is the plan and time frame kind of way. I've been hoping for this for some time. Does anyone have a link to such a thread?
Assuming there is no such thread, for I've been hunting but hope I just missed it, what would anyone suggest? Going to our own blogs? There has to be an answer but thus far, I'm missing it.
If it was a manual penalty, HubPages would know, and they would be reacting by changing rules and setting tight deadlines for us to update our Hubs, as they did after the first Panda.
The silence from the staff tells me that this is not a manual penalty, it's just the latest Panda changing the algorithm. Webmasters all over the world are still trying to work out what it did and, if it hurt them, how to recover. I'm sure the HubPages team are busily following and engaging in those discussions.
Unless HP can develop some kind of theory on WHY we were hit, it's not possible for them to give a definitive answer on how to recover. It will never be possible to say with absolute certainty - the best they can achieve is a theory, because Google is so secretive.
You won't believe this one. i just did what Ron did. I found my hub about dog beds on first page. But, next to the title is yellow circle with a dash in it. Hover over it and it says, " This site has a bad reputation."
Look up Hub pages, every thing with hub pages being part of it, has the same yellow circle Site has a bad reputation.
Linda, I remember seeing other forum threads about that "bad reputation" thing. If I recall correctly, it has to do with a particular antivirus product, not with HP's general reputation. Maybe someone can supply links to those threads.
I looked it up as well and it does not show the circle when I search. I used Firefox and Chromium no yellow circle so I guess it is the antivirus. I use Lubuntu and thus no antivirus as it is not needed for any Ubuntu operating systems.
I found a forum post on it. The forum post is 6 months old. This circle appears when viewer is using AVAST for virus protection. AVAST provides a way to vote positive or negative for any site you are viewing. I hit positive but nothing changed.
I sent email to HP Team.
Imagine how many people use AVAST. Every one of them is seeing yellow circle.
I tried different search phrases for your article and your article is in first place on Google for each of the following:
fight for racial equality Robert Smalls civil rights hero 74,900
Robert Smalls: A Civil War Hero’s Fight for Racial Equality 73,000
A Civil War racial equality Hero: Robert Smalls 72,400
Civil War racial equality Hero: Robert Smalls 73,100
racial equality Civil War Hero: Robert Smalls 72,800
racial equality Civil War Hero: Smalls 945,000
Smalls: racial equality Civil War Hero 1,110,000
Thanks for checking those terms out, lbrummer. That's encouraging. Still, what bothers me is that if Google is doing what it says it is, for any given search term it should not be possible for pages that are unquestionably inferior to outrank content of obviously higher quality. I'm not talking about pages that are on similar quality levels, so that it's a matter of judgment which should rank higher. But when the disparity is a chasm, as in the example I cited, it indicates that something is drastically wrong with the ranking algorithm.
Sorry to hear of your experiences re Google and Panda. You're not alone on this one! I can only hope that within a few weeks ALL quality articles that were hit hard will recover to their former positions.
You have excellent skills and deserve better treatment, but this is online writing for you - sometimes quality takes second place to.....what? SEO? Backlinks? Factor X?
I think the powers that be at Google are trying hard but they need to come up with an algorithm that can differentiate between weak writing and quality writing, poor content and decent content, within the context of SEO or not.
They seem to have hit HP excessively this time because we're seen as one huge content farm. In reality we're a collective of individual smallholdings; most raise good quality crops, others not.
I read varying accounts of this latest Panda: how it was supposed to hit the bigger sites harder and leave small to medium sites relatively untouched. Don't know if this theory is true. It seems to me that each time Panda updates, many good quality sites take a beating, whilst inferior sites escape with a telling off. This can't be right. I suspect that back links have much to do with resilience against Panda algorithms;the more back links the less you get knocked down, which is of course ridiculous. I thought this idea was dead? Surely quality content should take preference over the number of back links?
It has been obvious to me for a long time that google has no interest in trying to raise the highest quality pages. All it is interested in, is making money.
Shades-of-truth: Avast allows users to vote negative or positive for every site they go into. Apparently there has been a lot of negative votes against Hub Pages. So anything with a hubpages.com in url, it gets that yellow circle for site cannot be trusted staring searchers in the face.
Linda, that is very interesting, especially since I accessed HubPages articles, i.e. hubs, hundreds of times over the last few years. I like reading what is on here. That certainly makes me wonder why anyone would consider HP to be an undesirable site.
Linda I use Trend Micro and they give this article and Hubpages a large green tick as being safe and trustworthy. I think HP need to complain to Avast about unfair treatment as this is pushing the bounds of libel and slander law! Hopefully Paul or someone in authority will see this and take appropriate action here.
Google updates algorithms frequently to show best results in search engine results listing. Google Panda only focuses on content quality. Content is approved in hubpages.com if that contain with high quality. But some time Google show other websites that have high authority and down above appear results.
I would like to suggest you that you must review those websites which present above in search engine results listing of your links. After doing complete analysis you can find a reason.
There is much more to search results than just great content. You would be surprise at some of the little trips and tips that are used to rank site. Age of site is one as well as site layout and SEO plus relevant back-links. Your site is pretty good, but i see why some pages are ranked higher.
Google is every bit as fickle as my GPS that sends me on a 4 mile route to get to the store 1/2 mile away. Evidently, it wants me to look at the pretty lake it sends me around.
"Something"... I now suspect Google since everyone seems to concur, has been obliterating my already low view count to the point where it's worse than it's ever been, even worse than it was just days after I joined HP with a couple of hubs. It's beyond my comprehension how things could get this bad. No way I believe that a lack of SEO knowledge or any other fault of mine could have caused this.
Hi there, Ron!
When Google representatives communicate about "quality content," they are not referring to content that is good, worthy, well-informed, current, expert, or whatever in their eyes.
Because they only care about the quality of content for heuristic purposes, they have a relativistic definition of content. Quality content to Google means the content that the user wants to see right then, for that search. Each search is an event in which the user wanted something and Google delivers something - meaning in each search, Google has two challenges: Figuring out what the user wants, and figuring out how to deliver it.
You'll probably say "That's obvious!" But given that, if a user wants a quick answer, then an in-depth article is not "quality content."
Sometimes it's easy for Google to figure out. Other times, it's not, and Google has to guess what is quality content to the searcher. For example, people often do general searches with specific intentions (like "Robert Smalls" when they actually want his birthdate or "warts on arms" when they want to read forum discussions with people who've actually experienced it), and Google has to become seriously AI to figure it out. They use user data and, presumably, proximal searches, as well as historical keyword data and pretty much anything else you can think of that they can get away with in order to become smart enough to know what the user is wanting.
They're still very bad at it, and they know it. In twenty years, if they survive, they'll be awesome.
So, because Google is not thinking about the content, but about the user, so should we as writers. Not the generic user. But each user. Give each user who might land on your web page something to do that sends a clear message to Google.
Casual browser who gets there by accident: Make your content funny, entertaining, snappy, or otherwise engaging so they stay. Google has advertising on more pages than they bring visitors to through search; they are very likely to have access to casual browsing data.
Users who want something specific, like facts: Make it clear early on whether or not the specifics are forthcoming. Don't lead the user along. Don't imply or promise and then fail to deliver. Google can figure out (more or less adeptly) what bounces on certain search terms mean and will stop ranking your piece not just for those keywords, but probably for related ones as well.
Users who want in-depth: Show right away it's well-organized and concise. People who want depth don't always have time, because, we'll they're on the Internet. Most folks who read stuff on the Internet live at a different time speed.
Users of various demographics (college students, baby boomers, regionally defined, etc.): This one's super-hard to have any control over. Google decides that X demographic searches for topic #1 on weekends but topic #1a on weekdays and will deliver different results to users suspected of being in that demographic at the appropriate times. So "Robert Smalls" on the night before exams or term papers are typically scheduled (weekday nights during end of quarter or semester) originating in large college towns could cue Google to look for academic-type documents. But "Robert Smalls" on a night following a TV special documentary would suggest a widely variant Boomer audience (they are most of the network TV demographic) who happen to be dabbling that one night, so...Wikipedia it is for quick and interesting facts.
They really are not about ranking quality. They use the word "quality" because it gives webmasters the idea that it's something controllable and it gives their primary search customers (searchers) reassurance. But it is not quality in the traditional sense.
Just as the job of a successful fiction writer is to write stories a wide audience wants to read (that is, to communicate the stories they want to tell to the people who want to experience them), our job is to write articles that please our users. Our users are in a hurry about some things, nice and leisurely about others, and they have practical needs and wishes. They're pretty much like us.
Oh - one other thing. With all that I've said here, Google is also interested in keeping users coming back. So they do have to make sure the content they deliver isn't only in a one-to-one correspondence with the search, but also filled with discovery and adventure for the user. People who search the Internet like to feel they're exploring terrain, not being spied on. Google's walking a delicate balance between delivering the pizza ordered and making it clear that there are other tasty new pizzas out there. Their big challenge here is to keep users in a good neighborhood when they do their exploring. And then ranking the good neighborhoods. That's what the Pandas are all about.
Thanks, Fiction Teller, for taking the time to give such a comprehensive reply. As a general explanation I would give a lot of weight to what you say. But I don't think it covers the specific example that set me off in the first place.
For my subject, the only search term that gets any significant number of queries at all is "Robert Smalls." That's apparently all most people who inquire know about him (I suspect much of it is for school assignments), and they don't tailor their searches to any greater level of detail. To my mind, any algorithm that thinks that Reddit blurb, "Robert Smalls, freed slave and politician, c. 1870's," meets the information needs of people who search for "Robert Smalls" is seriously deficient in smarts, AI or no AI. I can't see how any reasonable set of quality standards, no matter what their basis, could produce that result if the algorithm based on those standards was functioning as advertised.
So what the Pandas are also about is establishing sites as authoritative or not. The big differences in authority determine whether your subdomain gets page one or page 20 or page 200 on the SERPs.
My experience has been that the farther down you are in the SERPs, the less of a difference ranking within the smaller authority classes makes. As in, on page one, big difference in traffic between top of page, middle, bottom. On page 5, much less of a difference. On page 30, even less - not statistically significant, even.
And of course, you won't be able to see how the rankings actually appear to any given user, anyway, because each user's/machine's search results are different.
Truly, I'd focus away from search rankings and exclusively on traffic changes. Ask "How do I get established as an authority page for my audience?"
Shades-of-truth: The odd thing is that they vote negative or positive without having to give a reason or even have a list of reasons to choose from. The oldest forum about this is 11 months old. I did report it to HP yesterday but no response.
Ron, if you search for Robert Smalls civil War Hero on Racial equality you are ranked first out of 71,800 pages on the subject. Google are saying that for someone who knows he was that, then your article is the best to learn more about it.
Your article is being returned first, however if the search is general just Robert Smalls it is not. If you had his name 100 times in your article it may be, however then Google may hit you for keyword stuffing.
A WP site called Robert Smalls.com with just one page and only Robert Smalls on the page would probably rank No 1 until it was spotted by manual reviewers. It is this lack of real intelligence that has kept AI research teams working for years, no machine can do what we do, and see that the short page is useless, as it is about nothing. AI uses the keyword "Robert Smalls" as its guide and then some complex idiotic algorithm that says 5% repetition is OK but more is not and every 3rd 4th or 5th paragraph may use it, or whatever is their "in" feeling. No one ever knows what it is today, and Google are no better or worse than any other search engine.
Actually Google are Google, because they are the best so far! Get used to the heat or get out of the kitchen. They know they are bad so go tell them why it bothers you, and maybe just maybe, the next change will favor articles like yours.
Your article is well written and ranks well for long tailed relevant keywords and would be found by any user who knows he was a civil war hero and racial equality activist. Other people will find Wikipedia first and should they want more detail armed with the basic key facts they will find your longer and better researched article.
I do not feel that in this case Google have hit you, or Hubpages, you are No1 for the articles title!
Dressage: Avast is the only one that does this and in the box they use for the vote, it says Unknown site on top of it. This is nuts!
I sent a msg with image of what is seen.
Dressage: I just got rid of Avast, and trying Trend Micro, but I don't seen any checks at all when I do searches.
Could this have anything to do with that rogue ad that has been discussed elsewhere on the forum because if people see a malware highjack they are likely to vote the site as dodgy, aren't they?
Thanks, everybody, for all the input. Actually, I'm feeling more encouraged, and you've all contributed to that. Thanks again.
Since Google make some of us feel like this guy............
Why don't we just ignore it and keep writing good stuff. I have given up trying to figure Google out and letting the folks at HP figure it out.....before I end up like these two.....
It's easy to forget that Google's Panda is a sitewide penalty, not a page penalty. So even if you have a fantastic, 100% original, 100% informative page, it'll still rank lower simply because of the sitewide penalty. There's absolutely nothing you can do about it except encourage other hubbers to create fantastic content so Hubpages is not longer seen as low quality.
McAfee is always putting up warnings for this site. I don't have McAfee safe search any more, as they were so inaccurate and troublesome.
I've gotten a few warnings here and there but never had any serious virus issues or other here at HP. I can't say that about all other sites. I'm not a huge Bubblews fan but admit to having written there for a while. I really liked that I always got paid and always on time. I know others say that was not the case for them but I never had a problem. I won't go there now even to collect the money sitting in my account because the viruses abound!
While I understand Google and others wanting to tag questionable sites, that is not the reality of what is happening. Dangerous sites still abound and sites that are not dangerous, though yes they may have an annoying issue here and/or there, are taking serious hits. At some point, I have to stop listening to what companies say they want and look at what they are actually doing. The party line defined goals and the actual reality are not aligning at all when it comes to Google.
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