Our strategy is to satisfy readers and Google. We support this with our mission to be the go-to place for people to create useful in-depth media rich pages on topics they are passionate about.
We aspire to attract everyday experts and we are building our services to support their content with relevant use of technology, best of breed monetization, and a host of services that help maintain content.
I'm pretty proud of our community and our progress over the last 18 months. We've taken some lumps, but we have emerged stronger.
Here are a few tangible updates.
1. We started an in the article QnA test this week. Someone can ask a question and the author can answer it. It's sort of like Amazon QnA. There are two variations of it running. If successful we will roll out more broadly. It fits our strategy by adding bits of relevant content to the page that should satisfy readers and Google.
2. We've implemented Header Bidding. It's shown a material increase in yields after a bumpy start. It's a bit tricky to get this technology to work correctly because we have multiple partners. We hope to add new bidders in the next two weeks - AppNexus and Facebook. This fits our mission because it brings monetization capabilities that are very difficult for individuals to get on their own.
3. We have been designing a way to collect expert reviews for your money and your life type pages. We ran some tests on collecting reviews and are now in the design stage. We hope to have it in a more broad test in the next month. This fits our strategy of satisfying readers and Google by adding commentary that adds trusted sources to the page.
Feel free to post questions about our strategy and I'll do my best to respond.
It's late in the night so I'm going to jump right in with my questions.
1: The QnA section, would it be a capsule that we would need to implement or is it going to be included on all/some niche sites? Over the past weeks I've had some interesting comments (questions) on a few hubs on dengarden, would asking a question be similar to posting a comment? And I assume the person who asked the question gets an automated email once the author answers?
2: Header bidding has been implemented with plans to add new bidders. Is this the reason most of us are seeing increases in CPMs right now? It would explain the sudden jump.
3: Do you have a reference website or page where we could see these expert reviews? Just curious as I'm not really sure what you mean. Sounds good though.
These are some pretty amazing updates. Would we also be seeing something new related to internal linking in the future? (In reference to your recent post on Erics forum thread.)
I love that idea. I am often asked questions about my methods in my felting tutorials. Sometimes the answer will benefit future readers when they attempt the same tutorial. If the answers were somewhat more defined it would make it easier for those looking for answers without them having to sift through a whole load of comments.
I am really pleased to hear that HubPages is progressing.
The updates you have mentioned here seems very helpful to all the writers and our community. However, can you please give more clarity on point 2? As you have mentioned, we hope to add new bidders in the next two weeks - AppNexus and Facebook. So my point is how AppNexus and Facebook are going to assist HubPages? What advantage is our community going to get from this bidding process?
You have completely lost me on some of this.
What is Header Bidding and how does it work?
Expert reviews, I think, could backfire. Say someone writes an article about a particular topic and an expert gives it a bad review? This could kill the article and all of the revenue that might come with it. Experts can have varying opinions on topics, so I think implementing this particular item could be a double edged sword.
As far as the Q and A is concerned, I like the idea but I think it's redundant. We already allow people to "contact the author" and we already have a "comments" section that people use in this way. Also, if an author is not really active and questions come in that they don't immediately answer or can't immediately answer, what good is that?
For example, sometimes people go away on vacations, have emergencies, get sick or whatever and their articles are the last things on their minds. However, if you leave the "comments" sections in place, people generally are making their views known, rather than requiring answers, although some do.My personal take on this is that you should tread carefully with the expert and question ideas because I think they might backfire.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe you need to do a test and see. Just playing devil's advocate here.
I see why you say the expert reviews may backfire. But the questions section has no real reason to backfire. Worst case the person just doesn't return to read the answer so it's a page view being lost.
Header bidding you may want to Google what is header bidding. That's what I did last night.
Personally, I wouldn't mind doing away with the "contact the author" feature. I don't like receiving email from strangers, and I would prefer to answer any questions on the hub.
You can turn off that feature in your profile > account settings.
I also get a lot of questions about astrology on the comments sections and lately loads of people are using the "contact the author" feature to write me at home. I have a busy clientele at home and really can't take on traffic from here, I come here to write, and actually do write about other topics! It's annoying, it's all people trying to get a free astrology reading, when what I can tell them from their info is about 1/10 of a chart, if that much.
I've tried hard to be ethical and have a blog for clients to reach me for this type of issue, HP or the niches is not the place. Also, I don't like to answer rather personal topics where anyone can read them. I think in 6 years I've established my expertise, and really don't try to flaunt it here.
I've learned a lot about writing on HP, though I found I'm a lousy proofreader. I read somewhere that once your eye passes a mistake, it accepts it and you won't see it. I'm shocked as I go back to older hubs, yikes!
I agree with the idea of doing away with the contact link. I have had several emails (from very nice people) that required extensive answers. I am happy to help people, but I honestly don't have time to do that. The questions were about the articles I wrote, and would have been fine in a Q&A format.
Marcy, As I mentioned earlier, you can shut off the contact author link. I turned mine off for the same reason you just mentioned. I don't want to have to answer one person with a lengthy reply that would be better served in the comments so others can learn from the reply too. Why dedicate a reply to one person? I don't mind giving a lengthy answer as long as it's available for others to read as well.
The Q&A format is being tested as a new capsule, as discussed earlier in this thread. That should help improve the method of answering reader questions.
I quoted this in another thread, from Google's search evaluator guidelines:
"Important: For YMYL pages and other pages that require a high level of user trust, an unsatisfying amount of any of the following is a reason to give a page a Low quality rating: customer service information, contact information, or information about who is responsible for the website."
The 'contact the author' feature that HP has adopted makes sense in this context.
https://static.googleusercontent.com/me … elines.pdf
This is an important consideration. I agree. But the key words in that quote are "an unsatisfying amount of any of the following" – That means as long as we have most of the items listed, we should be okay. We don't need all of them, just a satisfying amount of them.
As for "contact the author" goes, my prior statement is more important in my opinion – That is to provide the answers to questions publicly so everyone (including Google) can see the author's response, rather than a private email between a single reader and the author.
Another thing I didn't mention yet, some hackers might ask questions via contact the author just to get our email address. Then they start spamming us. That's another reason why I don't use that feature. When you reply, you are giving them your email address.
The upcoming Q&A capsule may solve all those problems. Paul has tested it on his hub. That's where I saw it.
Seems to me, Google means that a page or site is liable to a low rating if it fails in any of the following areas:
'customer service information, contact information, or information about who is responsible for the website'
This means the irritation of the contact an author feature is worth tolerating. Set up a new email account for HP readers if you plan on replying, ignore them if you feel uncharitable.
The contact us option on the footer of the website would suffice in this regard. I do not think the contact the author option matters. Unless there are manual checks by the search engine, I doubt they can tell the difference if it's a contact HP link or contact an individual author. Because the contact the author option is either encrypted or it is forwarded to individuals via a HP email id.
So in Chrome, Google is blind when someone clicks a link titled 'contact the author'?
What I mean is, Google is cannot probably cannot distinguish between "contact author" and a regular "contact" link which takes you to the HP contact page.
Where exactly is the 'contact' link that you mention? There is only one instance of 'contact' on the pages that I looked at. That is in 'contact the author'.
Even the 'about us' page has no contact info.
It isn't there anymore. If you look on the old Hub Pages theme, like the forum for instance you will see a contact us link. I'm not sure how search algorithms would evaluate a self linking contact author link. If this was important, I would place the contact us link back into the footer on the niche sites. But then again, we do not want to link back to the HP domain and so a new contact page needs to be created for every niche website.
It certainly seems important.
There is no knowing how Google's algos assess pages, but it is wise to assume that they hoover up everything.
The search evaluator guidelines, linked to above, keep repeating 'contact information' (11 times in total, with its own special section on page 13, and plenty of refs in connection with YMYL later on).
So I reckon you should take the contact thing seriously and assume the algos are on it.
The absence of a 'contact the website' link is probably bad, even with a 'contact the author' feature.
On a slightly different topic, the 'about us' page is not great:
"Our Purpose and Goal
Our goal at HealDove.com is to be the best place online to find high-quality, informative-style content. We are also a platform for experts, enthusiasts and aficionados to create original, useful, in-depth content. In most cases, we pair our authors with professional editors to create a well-written, informative piece."
That sounds like it was written by a marketer on a lunch break. "Informative-style content" is especially not reassuring. Leading with the phrase suggests a marketing exercise first, reliable information second.
I would go with a front page with real names and qualification of as many hubbers as are necessary to suggest some depth. Maybe persuade TahoeDoc to ditch her mask, lol. Melissa Flagg COA OSCOr (Daughter of Maat) has semi volunteered to front the eye-care section. I am sure there are others.
Then make sure contact information, and information about who is responsible for the website is available and solidly written,
I agree that the about us section needs a good re-write. I guess they were all written in a hurry when the niche sites were first brought into existence and the about us page was probably one of the last things on their mind.
Probably, lol. Anyway, got to go and find the cat. Apparently, that is important, what with night falling, lol.
So, I will have to leave other stuff. Best of luck all, with the link mystery.
Good news! After an hour or so, I tried again and now I see the contact author link in both cases. So you're right that it needed to work though the server after I enabled it.
I just wish they would update that contact form. It's written more for other Hubbers and organic traffic viewers won't understand the verbiage. Let me know if you agree. I might make that suggestion to the team.
Did you find your cat?
I agree with the changes to the contact form. But to be frank, I do not think HP wants regular people to contact them. Imagine what would happen if they kept getting the questions we get? If someone misses out on the contact the author feature and instead chooses to contact HP, that would end up being loads of "spam" for the team, woudn't it?
That's right, and that must be why they removed the 'contact site' link at the bottom. But the form I was referring to is the one for contacting authors, which is not used to contact the hp team.
Do you mean they should remove this:
Do not send the same message to multiple users. If you want to alert users about new Hubs you've published, you should encourage them to follow you by actively engaging with them on their Hubs and in the Forums.
If yes, yeah it makes sense. I doubt hubbers who want to spam users about their new hubs are going to stop because of that message anyway.
What I really meant was that any reference to a "Hub" should be changed to "article" because organic traffic people don't know what a hub is. And the phrase saying to "encourage them to follow you" is meaningless to someone from outside our community. It just doesn't make sense to an outsider.
I just sent a note to the staff about this. Let's hope they improve the wording. Thanks, Brandon, for your input on this discussion today. And Will, you too. Thanks for clearing up the fact that everyone sees the link, including Google.
Just looked at the page source:
<div class="contact_author"><a href="#">Contact Author</a></div>
This is all the algorithm sees. The link basically is a self link (linked to the same page) against a contact us page where contact information can be found (something google says they want).
On the two points: I see what you mean about the interpretation. I had to read it a few times, but now I see that Google might mean that if any ONE of those categories has an unsatisfying amount then one will get a lower rankling. So, yes, it's up for interpretation.
One the second point you made, my main point about 'not replying personally' is not because of being uncharitable, but because I want my reply to be helpful to everyone. That's why Q&A in the hub itself is much more useful.
You can tell when someone is asking a genuine question and when they are just out to get your email ID. For the genuine questions, I just added text to the hub and replied to the person saying I've updated the hub to answer their question and that I included it in the article so that it helps future readers. I just tell them which section of the hub they would find their answer on. So I'm one of the people who is really looking forward to this QnA section.
Brandon, you convinced me to try activating my 'contact author' link again. We'll see how it works out with ranking. You're right, I have my one domain so I can create as many email addresses as I want. So I can use a special one just for 'author replies.'
Many times I add more to the hub based on questions asked. That's routine thing I do when it's worthwhile for other readers.
UPDATE: I just turned on my 'contact' link and tested it. I just discovered that it only is available to signed-in users. So organic traffic will never have that option anyway. And Google never sees the link at all.
Again the question is: whether the self link (contact author) is helpful in any way?
Not true. I just checked one of my hubs incognito and I see the link? Could it be cache on your end or mine?
I tried it when logged out on Safari and then I also tried with another browser (Firefox) where I never was logged in at all. In both cases I do not see the contact author link. It reappears when I log in.
Try clearing your cache and check again.
Try someone else's pages in a clean browser. I see mine signed out or signed in, on any browser. Maybe your change hasn't worked through the servers yet.
Wow, I take back everything I said about my test results. You're right Will. I just tried looking at one of your hubs while logged of and, yes, I do see your 'contact link' – it's interesting that I don't see it on my own hubs when logged off.
EDIT: I think you're right about it not being worked through the servers yet. I'll try it again later.
Just did and I also checked on IE, a browser I never use, so it can't be cache there either. And from the people who have contacted me, I doubt any of them were hubbers. So it doesn't make sense that it isn't visible to logged out users?
EDIT: Just read your response
Someone may have answered elsewhere, but here's a definition of Header Bidding courtesy of https://digiday.com/media/wtf-header-bidding/
"Header bidding, also known as advance bidding or pre-bidding, is an advanced programmatic technique wherein publishers offer inventory to multiple ad exchanges simultaneously before making calls to their ad servers (mostly DoubleClick for Publishers).
The idea is that by letting multiple demand sources bid on the same inventory at the same time, publishers increase their yield and make more money."
That's the idea!
We launched a new partner yesterday. The early data looks promising. My hope is we can bring up yields another 10%. They're on a good trajectory!
You are giving me vague stirrings of trying the HP Ad Program again.
Best be careful regarding new partners. I remember some of the obnoxious ones of the past.
"Google’s built-in Chrome ad-blocker said to be more of a quality filter"
https://techcrunch.com/2017/06/01/googl … ty-filter/
Leastwise Google is giving plenty of advance warning.
Thanks for the new updates but I have not seen the header part. Maybe will monitor later
Thank you for the progress that could so greatly benefit all of us.
If you please, I have a request:
I would like to see a "Wedding" category. It could be a sub-category under "Photography". The Wedding industry is huge, and it includes photography, videography, floral, cakes, venues, and music.
Thank you for all that you do to make hubbing prosperous!
We have a wedding category on Holidappy: https://holidappy.com/party-planning/weddings/
How many "sister sites" to hubpages are there, and is there a directory?
There are presently 25. Here is a hub with a list. Only one entry is wrong (unless he corrects it). See my comment at the end of the hub for that correction.
https://hubpages.com/community/List-of- … ated-Worth
How did the writer arrive at the $$ figures listed there? According to that, the niche sites are collectively worth over $12 million.
All of our sites and their Editorial Policies can be found here, too: https://hubpages.com/help/sites-editorial-policy
@Paul - A little off topic, but has there been any more discussion about moving the topical forums to their respective niche sites? I know this was on the table when the sites were launched but the idea seems to have died out.
It seems to me the forums would be a great way to build a community of non-writers around the niche sites. It would add content to the sites, and people would come back over and over to participate in the forums - and read the content. Writers could participate as well, of course, and would be able to attract more readers to their content by positioning themselves as the resident experts, so to speak.
I was really looking forward to this and hope it is still on the agenda.
Love the question and answer idea. I get a good few emails asking about INTJs as a result of the article been shared on many sites.
I am concerned about this. I am not an expert at anything. While I have many interests, I have no particular passions. I am an old fashioned writer. I research extensively (and I read extensively). From this I write.
Does this now exclude me from writing because I am not an expert at anything?
You have pretty much described me there.
Keep doing what you are doing, i.e., what I am doing. I just keep writing stuff (my own website) and throwing it against the wall. Whatever sticks, sticks.
“We are all experts in our own little niches.”
– Alex Trebek
One of those dumb little cliches that generally make the inexpert and uninformed to be expert and informed when it is clearly not the case.
You're feeling pretty negative about yourself Tess. I thought that quoting Alex Trebek might make you feel better.
Oh. Cliches never make me feel anything. They are cliches. Deep insights about life give me a momentary aha feeling, and then that passes into memory for future use.
Sorry, Glenn, for me, it is not about feeling negative or positive. Just objective statements of fact. I don't feel negative about myself because I am a generalist, not an expert.
Tess, perhaps you are missing some obvious opportunities?
What can you share about your life experiences that could be of benefit to others? For instance, you've lived in many places, so you could write about "how to get settled when moving to ...." or "Should I migrate to ....." etc.
Marisa, I have done so - sort of. For instance, I have written articles how to immigrate to Europe, the process for winning the American Diversity Lottery, about living and buying in Olvera (Andalucia, Spain), about a many things. Some of my articles have been selected for niche sites, others were written prior to niche sites coming on line.
I think you're right about one thing. I have lived in many places and traveled to many more. So I have an unexamined knowledge about that side of things.
I need to give it some more thought.
These plans sound wonderful, and I'm looking forward to seeing more about it. I think I saw the QnA capsule on your hub you just wrote, but I ignored it and went right down to the normal comment capsule. Now I went back to your hub to see if that is what you're referring to, but it's gone now. Was that it Paul? I guess you took it away.
@glenn, you spotted it. We had a bug in it but I think it was just fixed. Should be there.
@lobobrandon, yes, if it moves forward, it would go in all articles. Reader asks and author answers. Similar to comments, but a bit more structure.
2. Header bidding is helping with CPMs. We are seeing that and we are seeing significant increases in google traffic and search traffic pays more, so it is sort of compounding earnings in a good way.
3. The expert reviews were done in a low tech way as a sniff test to see if we can get them, so nothing we can share yet, but it looks promising to add credibility to pages.
Internal linking is in the very early stages. We are sorting out how to measure the impact, but the intent is to drive consumption. If readers view more pages, that's a good thing.
Yes, I see that it's back again. I can see two benefits of this:
1. Replying to regular comments can end up being many comments later and not associated with the person asking. I assume the QandA solves that problem.
2. The QandA can increase revisits by the same people, something that Google likes to see.
I am wondering now — does a reader need to create an account and/or be logged in, in order to ask a question? How else would they be notified that the author answered?
Paul, I just sent you a test question. I noticed that one needs to be a signed-in user or they don't even see the QandA capsule. I guess that's a good thing since it avoids being inundated with questions from organic traffic, which is a much larger audience. Or maybe you're just limiting it to signed-in people now during the test phase, and is so, that's something to consider.
1. I think QnA will need to be available to anonymous people to get traction. There are two different tests running. One in comments and one standalone. The test is so new, there are a few bugs to flush out.
2. Header bidding is a way to run an auction like process on each ad that shows in an article. This pushes our partners to pay what they think it's worth. We have two partners plus Google running now. The net is more money for each impression.
3. Expert reviews are for "your money or your life" type pages. They are intended to improve reader trust. We hope that we can get reviews from credentialed people. They will be tested to make sure they improve the reader experience.
I didn't see where my question and your answer appears. Does it appear in the hub for others to see? Or does your answer come to me by email? Did you see my test question?
Paul, quick thought on header bidding. I like it.
When someone asks a question and the writer replies, does the text remain on the page? And if so, where?
I'm wondering how it differs fundamentally from the comments section.
Also not sure about the expert reviews. Will they be endorsements from well known bloggers or journalists with recognized organisations?
Will we be providing an advertising platform for them or really getting an extra note of authority?
I mean this would be good for a hub: 'Excellent overview of the perils and possibilities of cryptocurrency speculation' Jeff Whoever, New York Times financial editor
This would be less good: 'Excellent overview of the perils and possibilities of cryptocurrency speculation' Jeff Whoever, Yourmoneyismine.com
I'm with you Time Traveler. Most of Paul's post went "swish" way over my head, but that's not his fault. I'm a total dunderhead about things technical. Header bidding? CPM? Not a clue about either. But does it matter? Can't I just keep writing and leave that stuff to the folks who understand it? Please say yes.
^^ What Rupert sez. I don't have any clue what these "improvements" are, either.
Header what now? QnA who?
I'll be telling kids to get off my lawn if anyone needs me.
Woo hoo Paul. I can go back to my steam-powered loom and make blankets for the lads in the trenches.
I didn't answer the question posted because it wasn't relevant to the article. The question and answer will be displayed on the article once it is answered.
That's good to hear, because it reaffirms my thought that it can help bring repeat visitors. And unlike the comments capsule, I assume the answer will be tied to the question. Am I right?
So, if someone asks a question, and there is no reply, then other readers cannot see the question? That seems like a great system. I wouldn't want a bunch of unanswered questions sitting there.
I can see why the 'money or your life' sites need all the credibility boosts they can get after the recent (temporary) traffic crash but I would worry if reviews were paid for, either in cash or links. Especially in links.
But obviously, I'm sure everyone hopes it will work out.
I like the idea of an 'ask the expert' feature but should it be on individual pages? A special section, similar to Q&A might be better. A reader asks a question, writers with pages in the relevant area could be notified and a discussion could ensue.
It might need some editorial input to keep the advice on a professional level.
I would avoid advice about YMYL topics, though. The first person who ends up broke or dead would never stop complaining.
I reckon any strategy should include getting more qualified writers onto the sites. I would target retired people, as one group at least. Ads aimed at teachers could help Owlcation. Ads aimed at nurses, radiographers, doctors, occupational therapists etc etc could help Healdove. And so on for all the other sites.
Facebook is good for demographics.
Forums might work eg: http://forums.atozteacherstuff.com/index.php
That's as much as I can come up with in five minutes but I reckon it could be done.
Will, Where are you seeing those links on my hub? When logged out, the people commenting don't have links to their profiles.
EDIT: I see you deleted your post with those links, but I saw it before you deleted it. What was that all about?
Sorry Glenn, I made a mistake. When signed in, you see a lot of links back to HP with SEOQuake. When you are signed out you do not. I was looking at a page that I thought was signed out, when in fact it wasn't.
So unless Google has an account here and signs itself in, the bot will never those links from the niche sites to HP.
When I realized my mistake, I deleted the post.
Should we be worried about the potential side-effects of slower loading times with header bidding?
@ Paul Edmondson
You have so much respect from me than I can imagine or can fall upon. You have done what 99.9% of us do not and have not the ability to do.
Just checked AdSensense. HP continues to be amazing. Am ticked off my site can't match it.
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