I know this isn't a suggestion for a new feature, I'm suggesting the removal of one, but this seemed the best category for my post and the most likely location for it to be seen by a staff member.
Can we all think back to January of 2011 when Hubpages traffic was decimated by the original Panda update which penalized sites containing low quality pages mainly for the purpose of placing ads on.
Let's also think about how HP have worked and struggled so hard to bring up the quality since which has resulted in much better traffic and earnings.
Considering the history, I can't understand why HP decided to start creating so many low quality pages with the Q and A feature. These pages created only to place ads on are exactly the kinds of pages Google targeted with Panda.
I understand that Google is sending traffic to some of these pages (see my example below) but I'm not sure how good a guarantee that is of their safety for the sites as a whole.
My top question is getting over 100 views a day and it's a nonsense page really. I don't think it's quality and I don't think it deserves to be on this site.
I've just hidden all my questions and paused the feature so you can't see the page now but it was essentially someone asking about their period in january/feburary this year and wondering if they're pregnant. I gave it a one sentence response so it was about 200 words of text in total.
The recent traffic declines could be due in part to having so many pages like the one I mention above.
I feel strongly that HP should move all questions back to the hubs and stop creating separate pages for some of them.
Frankly, I have never seen the point of this feature. We have a comments section that essentially does the same thing, and readers can also email us if they need further info or assistance. Somebody has dropped the ball here, and it could really hurt us. I do hope the team will dump this one or at least reconfigure it such that it won't potentially hurt us. Lobobrandon's post was a real eye opener for me!
Sadly the point seems to be extra ad revenue and that's about it. Either the question pages need to include all the related questions and answers to make them worthwhile (for both visitors and by google's standards) or they need to go back to the hub.
We're so lucky to have Brandon here to explain everything so well!
I sent an email to the team asking them to check out this forum and see what they could do. They suggested I turn off the feature for my own posts, to which I replied, this is not going to resolve the problem.
Just after posting about the email I saw the post from Samantha, which I suspect is in response to my email. I feel better about this now.
I asked a follow-up question there, if I get a good response to that, I will feel better about it. If there's no response, I'm not going to bother. The only thing I could do is point out the issue, and now the team responded which means they definitely read the posts.
Stated this at least 10 times on the forums, 3 of which were direct requests to change this feature. Also sent an email about the possible repercussions of this and this feature being one of the main reasons we have lost traffic after the recent updates.
That question feature was trouble the day it was implemented.
QnA websites such as stackoverflow etc. do well because they are not one question and one answer as on the niche sites. They are discussions, people comment, ask further questions, propose alternative and smarter solutions and so on. They end up becoming long pages with a lot of helpful content. Also, they have the right schema markup which I doubt the questions on HP have (never bothered checking).
Is the QnA feature helpful? Yes, it could be one of the best features HP ever came up with, but the way it was implemented has made me realize the importance of learning history. 2011 was not that long ago. Have something like stackoverflow: questions with answers and replies on the Hub itself. Not a failed system like yahooanswers. Stackoverflow is still alive and doing great, yahoo answers is dead.
Moreover, if you Google:
site:dengarden.com there are 4050 pages indexed
site:dengarden.com inurl:question there are 1100 pages indexed with the word question in the URL. Not all of them may be questions, I could have an article: dengarden. com/questions-to-answer-before-home-remodel, but a majority of those are questions
So, 27% of the pages indexed are these low-quality pages. I can call them this because HP would never allow a hub to be moved to the niche site had it been written the way even the best of the questions are answered (no images, no headings, nothing but ads and links).
So what would any algorithm do to a website with a quarter of their pages being spammy? Either ignore those pages or consider the website to be less of an authority. It's not a direct panda slap as the last time because we have a lot of quality pages too, but the authority of the site in the eyes of their algorithm is diminished. No one can rationally argue against this. Let's be very optimistic and say we haven't lost traffic because of this feature during the last updates, even so, it's just a ticking time-bomb waiting to happen.
The image below is from a new SEO client (the second biggest website in a particular niche in Germany), he originally lost traffic in the August update and then a bigger kick in the September update. He came to me just before the Sept update. The major thing I did was remove his tag pages and excess category pages from the Google index and the traffic went up 33% and it's still rising (see first image). SEMRush has still not updated all the keywords. These pages that I removed were pages with a helpful description on the top of the category, but they made up 30% of the pages of the site and provided no real value on their own, main categories were retained. HP has category pages, gardening and home gardens for example, those are good pages to have. Categorization is important when done right, and HP has this done really well.
This is the change October vs September
This is an image from Dengarden for the same period:
Without knowing a great deal of all the logistics going on, my feeling is that you are both right. HubPages should pay attention.
100% agree. This issue was discussed in these forums from the beginning of qanda. In theory it seemed likely this would be problem. Now, with the stats Brandon has presented it is inarguable.
I'm also wondering if the attempts to funnel traffic around the "maven network" are a problem. It seems like HP learned it is a bad idea to try and direct traffic back when we had subdomains. Now, it's happening on a site-to-site scale instead of sub-to-sub. I don't see how that ends well.
That's a whole different Pandora's box, let's not open it till this one is solved
But this issue is another reason why history is important - never make the same mistakes again.
I remember seeing your posts about it at the time and I fully agreed. Now I believe we're seeing the results.
I don't see that working out either unless the links are much more tightly related to the content.
The feature is not working. Someone from HP needs to speak up and explain their logic to the new feature.
I have also been wondering what the point of the "new" Q&A format was supposed to be. Ever since it was introduced it's been more of an annoyance than anything else.
On the rare occasion that I do get a question on one of my hubs, it's usually something that was already answered in my article, if the questioner had bothered to read it.
I got two "new" questions yesterday and I deleted both of'em - one was pointless (and barely in English to boot) and the other wasn't even a question, it was a snide comment.
Soooo yeah, if HP got rid of this feature tomorrow, I certainly wouldn't miss it.
Susana, Based on our discussion on Facebook about this issue, I agree with you that all the Q&A should be moved to the hubs. They can add value as additional content, but not as a stand alone page.
I used to think that the additional pages brought extra traffic, in addition to having more pages with revenue producing ads. However, I changed my mind and it was you and Brandon who convinced me.
I now realize that Google may be seeing those extra pages as low quality since they have little content and might be considered spammy, thereby reducing the ranking of the entire niche site(s). I had tried to make my answers into mini-hubs (making my reply focused on the general audience instead of just a quick answer), but that may not have worked well either.
Your best answer cannot be as good as your worst hub that gets moved to a niche site. This is considering every aspect other than the core information: A good title, a good URL, headings, internal links, images, videos, ... Basically, anything that makes a good page apart from the content that goes into it.
I applaud you and Bev for really trying to make this feature work and be the best it could be. From what I read on the forums I think you guys probably put the most effort into trying to make quality pages out of your answers.
But like Brandon says, even your best answers are no where near as good as a hub.
Glenn, Good points. Can you hook me up with the FB group?
Send me a message with your email ID and I can hook you up. It's a group for people with websites or who intend to build websites. This one: https://hubpages.com/community/forum/34 … having-one
Kenna, I see that Brandon already is helping you get into the group.
I've never used Q & A ... from what I'm reading and gathering, maybe opting out was a good decision for me ... or bad?
I don't think it matters--the whole site (whatever network site it is) would be affected negatively.
I could be wrong, and that would be a good thing because we could all just switch QandA off.
All questions need to go or reduce the number of these pages, one way is to switch off your QnA, I paused mine a long time ago. But, there are many who won't see this post nor bother switching it off, so even though it will help to reduce the number of such pages, the issue would still be present.
Thanks, Bev G ... well, now I see Brandon has turned off Q&A as well ... will be interesting to see what the staff has to say if anything. Would be nice to hear from them ... it's been a little quiet lately. Kind of unnerving
This is why I turned it off:
I have like 20 published hubs. So that's like 20 high quality pages. But I was getting at least 3 - 4 questions a day, not as much as most, but if I were answering all these, that's like 120 a month and just in one month there are 6 times more spammy pages than quality pages on HP by me alone.
Yes, over time if they are not getting organic traffic they are moved to the hub and don't have a URL of their own, but if HP gives them one month, that's already enough time to make Google see the higher ratio of "not the best work to the best work"
Could someone enlighten me as to where I go to switch off the Q&A's? I've decided I don't need'em either.
EDIT: Never mind, I figured it out.
Brandon, thank you for this very useful information. I hope the staff listen and act. Just to be clear, I turned QnA off after 2 days. Too many inane questions.
I don't like the QandA either so I paused them too. When it's a good question I copy it and put it in my hub as an update and answer it there.
Owlcation is doing well and has plenty of questions pages. That does not mean they are not harming dengarden, of course.
A quick look at one of the dengarden question pages:
6 instances of keywords 'Lucky bamboo'
Number of outbound links: 105
On the whole, a pretty poor quality page. Looks like an SEO exercise rather than something people would find useful. Except to say that 35 people asserted that it was useful, lol.
This search gave me 300 pages: site:dengarden.com Related Questions. So I reckon Brandon's estimate of 27 per cent of the site being low quality question stuff is over the top. Probably less than 10 per cent.
Still, it wouldn't do any harm to put a 'noindex meta tag' on the section to see if it helped the site recover, would it?
You need to use URL parameters to search. Typing site:dengarden.com Related Questions does not give you everything.
And Owlcation rankings are down too, 12% is no small number. People who write mainly on Owlcation have said that their traffic is down.
On how to use Google search to provide all answers and not just answers it thinks you would like, check out this guide on search operators. https://ahrefs.com/blog/google-advanced … operators/
A no-index tag would not be so hard to implement.
I would settle for 12 percent on dengarden. It would hardly be noticed in the great ebb and flow of traffic. 40 or 50 percent is depressing.
Thanx for the search link, useful. I would still recommend "related questions" as the search term if you want to avoid false positives.
Yup, I use these and combinations almost every day when working on SEO projects. They're really helpful as it's a direct search into the Google database, bypassing any of their "catered-to-you" searches.
I've changed my strategy now after Brandon pointed out the potential problems a while ago. I just give short answers now, which stops them being moved to their own pages.
I have no idea whether it makes a difference, but currently my traffic is completely normal for this time of the week. Having said that, recent articles aren't increasing my traffic either, so perhaps they are just compensating for lost views. Who knows?
Samantha has posted a thread wrt this: https://hubpages.com/community/forum/34 … c-concerns
I'm not completely satisfied with that response, I asked a follow-up question.
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