Google is very suspicious of anything that increases a sites search rank. It suspects some possible spammy search engine optimization tricks might be at work so it will flag the web site and cause its search rank to fluctuate wildly ....
https://www.zdnet.com/article/google-su … ipulative/
More here if you are, interested:
Why are we advised to spend 80 per cent of our time updating pages?
Both the articles you link to are from 2012. A lot of water under the bridge since then.
The only update worthwhile is the one that improves the quality of an article for both visitors and search engines.
This is what Paul Edmondson is reported saying in a 2018 article:
"HubPages rewrote massive numbers of articles to improve their quality and it deleted thousands more. It did everything it could to meet Google's demand for quality content.
Edmondson told me that it seemed as if improving the quality of the content resulted in triggering a volatile ranking by Google rather than a positive increase. Months of hard work were not paying off."
https://www.zdnet.com/article/maven-buy … ublishers/
I feel bad about linking to that article given the negative impact it might have on newbies. But it seems to be a subject that should be discussed.
Update to make your article the best resource on the internet for the topic at any given time. That's the goal of updating.
If you write about products there's going to be something new that is better. If you write how-to articles, there's probably some new method that can be used or a new product that helps make the process quicker or maybe it just gives people an alternative way to do things. If you write about evergreen subjects, there's a low rate of change, but there's always research being done that brings in new information.
Google does not penalize websites for frequent updates. Any penalties are on websites that change nothing but the date of updating. Do they give you a boost for just updating your pages? Some studies say they do, but any improvements are minimal, and the only time you rise in rankings is when you improve the article. Rise can also mean hold position.
Did you read either of those articles?
Paul finally realized HP had no future on its own when the editors quality improvements/updates had a negative effect on traffic.
I feel rather bad about this since I was always saying the way forward for HP was quality improvements through a team of editors. I had no idea Google had a little trap for that.
Anyway, the question is, going forward, what kinds of edits will help with traffic and what kinds will hurt?
I imagine staff are aware of the issue, given those months of wasted effort that Paul referred to.
Do they have the right approach now? Do individual writers?
The editors worked with what they had. If you as a writer did not put in information that they could improve upon, they did not do a good job. Articles that were hub pro premium edited in my case do really well, they did pick the best performing hubs to be pro-edited so there's that to take into account.
The problem is not the editors but most writers who do not know how to balance writing for search engines and human readers.
I skimmed through the HP article that you posted later not the first two.
Right now quite a few niche sites are seeing the best traffic they've seen in a long time. This is in line with the maven update you posted where the guy says traffic is doing great, not the CPMs, etc.
There is a temporary boost from lockdowns around the world at the moment that will disappear soon. Current traffic does not mean much.
I am not sure about the timelines, but in the early days of editing there was a heavy SEO input. Eds looked for keywords related to the pages and wove them in. It made me nervous at the time. Updates for readers, OK but distorting pages to squeeze in keywords?
Anyway. as I said, I had no idea that Google had a patent on an algo to detect deliberate attempts to alter page ranking after publication. Neither did the eds. This is not about blaming. This is about now and the future.
I would look at those first 2 links and also check out the patent here: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Pars … N/08244722
It is painful to read, but it is essentially a recipe to deal with deliberate SEO rehashing to boost the rank of a page.
Luckily I track rankings and not just traffic.
Those first two posts are from the Mesozoic era of SEO. HP worked with SEO specialists, I'm sure they knew about these patents. I know about them and I do not really work with SEO clients anymore.
The problem, like I stated is with deliberate changes in published date with no corresponding change to the content. No one says stuffing keywords equals updating. As, I said in my first reply, most hubbers do not know what it means to "update".
No blames going around, just answering the question on the title of this forum post.
I have to agree with Brandon. I updated all of my articles in 2019 per HP's request and saw an immediate increase in traffic. I updated again at the beginning of this year and I am having my best year ever traffic-wise.
I write how-to articles so my updates include added info, changing or adding photos, rewriting a paragraph or two to clarify what I am saying and sometimes I even delete info if I feel that it is not relevant to my topic. And sometimes I completely rewrite an article if I feel that it just isn't that good as written.
I constantly strive to improve my articles and it has paid off handsomely. I have no complaints about the huge increase in traffic that I am seeing. I admit that a lot of it is probably pandemic related because more and more people are learning to garden (my niche topic) but if I hadn't updated my hubs, I probably wouldn't be seeing as large an increase in traffic.
Right now HP has bigger worries than SEO and Google. I'm referring to COVID-19 and its impact on monetizing via advertising.
As others have said in other threads, now would be a good time to back up copies of all your articles. We can try and ride the storm, but if the ship breaks up, it won't matter how often we've updated our articles.
Will, you aren't seriously reading articles from 2012 and thinking they are relevant? As I'm sure you know the algorithm and indeed internet has gone through multiple changes since then. You are better than this.
It is not easy getting people to read the relevant info.
The 2018 article quotes Paul Edmondson saying the updates from editors did not deliver traffic improvements.
"Edmondson told me that it seemed as if improving the quality of the content resulted in triggering a volatile ranking by Google rather than a positive increase. Months of hard work were not paying off."
This apparently was the main reason HP threw its lot in with Maven.
https://www.zdnet.com/article/maven-buy … ublishers/
But as I said earlier, the issue is, do present updating practices hurt us or help us?
The Google patent makes clear that it is not just individual pages that can suffer if the bot decides there is an attempt to deliberately manipulate a page's rank, the entire site suffers.
This makes updating an issue to be taken seriously. And it means that other writers updates can affect your traffic.
80 percent of your time spent on updating would only be practical if you had stopped writing new articles on HP. Which I mostly have, just because of time constraints.
I did do some updating early this year. My best performing article had shrinking viewership down to 25% of its peak in 2017. Looking at it, I found editors had removed "the" Keyword I had optimized for. I did a series of updates with little effect. I returned the keyword to the title and subheadings and added longer bulleted lists to an article which had mostly been paragraphs of content.
Now with Covid and the interest in getting new family pets, the article has increased 4 times in traffic from its low. Others that I meddled with this year have increased 3 times in traffic, and those I have left alone have doubled in traffic.
I am wondering if those who were employed with competing in my space have been laid off during the pandemic, giving my updates more weight. I think, properly done, updates are helpful.
People change their search terms for certain topics over an 8 year span. Double checking how people are seeking their info and updating your headings to reflect those slight differences can be useful. And of course Google changes its preferences, liking bulleted lists a lot etc...
That 80% rule is totally bogus and probably something invented over a few too many shots. It is true that most of your page views come from the top 20% of your pages, and I am sure that HP can prove this, but to falsely extrapolate that number and suggest that writers should spend 80% of their time editing is just wrong.
A better suggestion would be to delete 20% of every writers poorest performers. This might be kind of difficult for those people that only have 10 or 15 hubs.
(By the way, I did edit the tough dog names article as you suggested on another thread and added 2020 to the title. It is up from about number 20 to number 6 on my accounts page, but I am not sure if it is because of the title change or the increased traffic to all of the articles. I guess I will never know, but then again I guess that is all right!)
I am finding that bulleted lists are preferable to tables. I still have tables on some articles that I have not changed over, and I think they are suffering for it.
I have tried to get rid of them too. When HP edits an article they usually delete the table and change the information to bullet points.
That 80 percent advice is genuinely depressing. It more or less says that new pages will not get traction and are a waste of time. Instead, they seem to want us to exploit the small and temporary traffic bump that updates bring.
When Squidoo was in its death throes, the only advice staff there could offer was to update every article every month. It was an entirely spammy response from a website already drowning in spam.
HP network sites might still get back on their feet if they simply focus on reader needs and deliver straight down the line quality pages.
To be honest, the fact that eds removed keywords you had optimized for suggests that they are aware that keyword use and deliberate optimization (ie search engine manipulation) can be problematic.
I am sure you hated them for it, lol. And given that there was a period when editorial policy encouraged manipulation you can hardly be criticized for it.
But, for me, it is an encouraging sign.
Having read up about this now, I wonder if the key word here is "constantly".
The message seems to be that when you update an article by adding new material, Google panics for a whlle (volatile results). However, that calms down eventually and if your updates were genuine, you should see a benefit in improved ranking.
The problem is that if you're constantly tinkering with the same article, you''re triggering the next panic before the previous one has settled down, so you'll never see the benefit.
So it comes back to "don't update unless you can add real value".
Well, you might as well have my thoughts for what they are worth....
The 80/20 advice makes the network sites sound like basket cases.
If staff think they are basket cases they will be basket cases.
Some advice should be given on how to update pages, along the lines of update for the sake of readers, do not try SEO trickery (if there is a way to manipulate search engines, Google will be on it), do not update for the sake of updating.
Do not send newbies emails telling them to concentrate on updating pages. What could be more discouraging?
Try to to get to the point that new pages have a chance of traffic.
Hope it is not too late.
Well - in the spirit of faith and hope, I published a new article today. I think I have another one that's been in the holding pen for months now, just waiting on some photos. Will get those out there and let you know what happens with the other 20% of recommended effort. Sorry I did not do them sooner, given the interest in new puppies - it's been
I was recovering from heart surgery when the 2018 traffic crash hit. At the time, I didn't care, and until I saw those pages I linked to earlier, I had no idea what had happened to the sites.
Now I would like to get back to writing. So maybe I will try a few new pages of my own.
I would have more incentive if I thought the sites were not being undermined by poorly conceived SEO.
Best of luck with your new page. And the madness.
I do a big update on my articles right around the new year. That way they have a current date and are volatile during a time where CPMs are low anyway. By the time SERPs even out, they're higher ranking with their new date and I know they're fresh and relevant for the year. I don't update more than that unless necessary.
That's interesting. I suppose, I am wondering if people just update under the duress of staff telling them to, to be honest.
And since you volunteered info, lol, I hope you don't mind me asking:
Are you genuinely improving the pages for readers? Or do you just want the new date?
What kinds of improvements do you make?
Also, when you say volatility, are you talking about distinct swings up, followed by distinct swings down, and then eventually traffic higher than before?
Or something else?
Also, do you routinely update newer pages? Or only older pages?
I definitely want the new date (year) but I also want to update my info to be as accurate and relevant as possible so I'll go in and replace old links to new links (say, for sources), reorganize to make the article as easy to read as possible and just make it look better. I also will replace the photos or cover photo if I think I could do better. So, yes, I'm in there for the new date but I'm also in there to revamp things. I don't just click "edit" and then "publish" to cycle to the next year. I'm genuinely improving it
For volatility I mean, sometimes when you update an article it will experience volatility in the SERPs. It's temporary.
I update newer pages too, I update everything I have time for. Now, if an article isn't getting great traffic I might not get to it that year. It would probably serve me well to just update EVERYTHING but I have a lot published and I have more than one account so I try to just keep up with what seems to be the most successful.
That said, I've updated "unsuccessful" hubs out of boredom and they've ended up becoming "successful" after that.
Google has many ways to find the genuine traffic to a site. It is master in that subject.
That sounds like a good basis for advice to offer every writer. Add a warning about not trying to exploit search engines through keyword manipulation and not updating too often...
I have a feeling most writers try to be pretty honest in their updates but the 80/20 advice certainly represents a pressure on people to be cynical in their approach and discourages the production of new pages.
Without new pages. the sites are just coasting to a halt.
Also, as illustrated by earlier links, cynical updating/rewriting can harm the sites.
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