Google Explains Clearly Why it's Punishing HP and Network Sites

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  1. Solaras profile image95
    Solarasposted 21 months ago

    Pageviews are off 30% and falling since last month.  Here are the reasons the new Core updates might be punishing Websites:

    Presentation and production questions
    Is the content free from spelling or stylistic issues?

    Was the content produced well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?

    Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?

    Does the content have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?

    Does content display well for mobile devices when viewed on them? … 27984.html

    1. janshares profile image94
      jansharesposted 21 months agoin reply to this

      Thanks, Soloras. Looks like it confirms what hubbers have been complaining about all along. As paradigm used to say, "we are doomed." hmm

  2. eugbug profile image95
    eugbugposted 21 months ago

    Why would they have an issue with "outsourcing"? Do they want one person or company to create a massive amount of content? Isn't it a good thing for content to be produced by many people with varied talents, or do they think that means that sites don't have consistency and there's just a jumble of possibly similar articles with differing opinions and conflicting, unsubstantiated and unreferenced facts? Maybe that's why Hubpages are bringing in just a few authors to create the news content and they'll displace us eventually.
    Maybe it's time to bring in independent reviewers like Wikihow/The Spruce have for checking articles and giving them the seal of approval. Maybe that would help to prevent Google regarding network sites as content farms with content written by authors who don't have any experience or qualifications in the area they write about.
    The "E" in "EAT" stands for "expertise". How can we prove we are experts in the subjects that we write about?

    1. DrMark1961 profile image97
      DrMark1961posted 21 months agoin reply to this

      I just wanted to address your outsourcing coment. I think one reason the niche sites have lost authority recently is that there are still many people published on those sites with no authority and ridiculous fake names. You are not one of them, neither is Barbara, but those of us who changed our profiles when Paul asked years ago are paying the price.

      I think that if HP went back through the niche sites and eliminated all articles from those people there would be an initial loss in traffic, which is why they do not want to do it. Ultimately I think it would add site authority and help our page rank with Google.

      So it is not outsourcing and having lots of authors that is bad, just the quality of the people that are publishing

      1. eugbug profile image95
        eugbugposted 21 months agoin reply to this

        That sounds reasonable, but I still can't figure out how Google can establish the authenticity of authors, their skills and qualifications. Anyone can make stuff up. Does Google trawl the Internet, collecting information about us and piecing together a profile? Do they check stuff we publish elsewhere? I have a collection of photos on Pixabay and just over a month ago, I received a message from someone who claimed that they were being sued by a law firm on behalf of their client for using a photo without their permission. To cut a long story short, this appears to have been a scam and the photo was actually mine. The law firm had a website with photos of its staff with their credentials and details of their experience and also a street address and contact telephone numbers. I did an image search using the photos and found them used on other websites, so I'm not sure who copied who's photo. Of course neither the law firm nor client would reply to my correspondence.
        Maybe at least Hubpages should make it mandatory for authors to use their real names as you suggest and not use a pseudonym.

        1. DrMark1961 profile image97
          DrMark1961posted 21 months agoin reply to this

          I do not know that Google can tell. We can only add it to our profiles, but if there are a lot of incomplete profiles I think it cancels out our efforts.

          A HP staff member explained that they do not have an algorithm to find those people using fake names. If this was a mandatory policy I am sure we could flag them but at the moment it would not do any good since the article would not be unpublished.

      2. EricDockett profile image97
        EricDockettposted 21 months agoin reply to this

        I get what you are saying, but I am growing weary of the blame falling on the writers.

        My niche account with a weird name used to have triple my current daily traffic a couple of years back and has over 17 million lifetime views. I won't say what it used to earn, but it was a lot. Those earnings have fallen significantly in the past three years, of course.

        It's the same quality of writing as on this account, and it is on a topic where I am absolutely an expert. The name is no dumber than any other niche website on the topic. I really don't think people care.

        At one point, when traffic started to fall, I changed to a real pen name for about a year. It made no difference whatsoever. In fact, traffic continued to fall. I changed it back. Didn't matter.

        Whatever changed in the past three years, it wasn't the quality of my writing at fault, and the name seemed to make no difference.

        1. DrMark1961 profile image97
          DrMark1961posted 21 months agoin reply to this

          The thing is that your main account and Eugenes are not part of the problem. (That might be though. You changed one name, not the many thousands out there. That is anecdotal information and not the basis with which we can make a decision.) Part of the problem can be blamed on some of the writers, but it is also partly because of TAG.

          This is a qoute from their 2020 financial report "we do not provide a compelling user experience because of the decisions we make regarding the type and frequency of advertisements that we
          display;" So they have known for year that too many ads will make for less revenue and fewer page views but I think we are part of their experiment to find out which sites will crash because of excessive ads.

          I do not think we have enough information to decide if changing thousands of names will might make a difference. We cannot change the ad hosting though so this is one thing that writers can do from our side.

          1. EricDockett profile image97
            EricDockettposted 21 months agoin reply to this

            You are right that I can only speak for a sample size of one and that's not enough to suggest either way if it really makes a difference in the entire network. But with a year of metrics after I changed my name, I would think it would make a difference in traffic if readers are really put off by an odd screen name.

            Presumably, if they care about the name, when they arrive at a page and see it is written someone with a non-human name they'll go WTF and and hit the back button.

            It's the metrics that tell search engines what people like and don't like. I don't know how else Google would know.

            What if my real name is Captain Fantasticpants?  My parents, Frank and Irene Fantasticpants, named me Captain. My wife is Joan Fantasticpants and, here, meet my kids Nancy and Billy Fantasticpants.

            How would Google know that is or isn't my name, especially given the diversity of names across the globe? I don't think they can.

            It is up to reader reaction to clue them in. If the article is crap, either because of poor writing or because of ads or just bad user experience, readers will act accordingly and Google will know to downrank that article.

            All of that is 100% up to HubPages, and they have done their best to twist writer's arms into complying with the ever-shifting goal post that they deem "quality writing". I don't know how they can form a strategy for quality across multiple sites when any two editors don't even seem to agree on best practices on a web page.

            It is not the writer's fault. How could it be with so much editorial oversight. It is time for HP to look inward if they really want to solve this problem.

            This page design is like a rock that a marathon runner insists on carrying. Why can't I run faster? Why are all the other runners passing me?

            The solution seems simple. Drop the rock, stupid. Or find a lighter one, at least.

            If they don't intend to drop the rock, or take some kind of steps to address falling traffic and revenue, well then I guess the Fat Lady is warming up, isn't she?

            Sorry I got off of your original point, which I do agree with, and sorry about the rant. I've kind of had it at this point (not because of you, of course.)

            I see no signs that HubPages or TAG or whoever intend to right this ship, and I don't know what I can do as a writer. I am pulling for the success of HP for many reasons. Of course it affects me personally, but it has also been a haven for writers like me who don't have a lot of formal training but are/were willing to work hard to get better and succeed.

            If HubPages goes away, or, almost as bad, if it becomes a place where serious writers are no longer welcome, it would be an unforgivable crime in my opinion.

            1. Solaras profile image95
              Solarasposted 21 months agoin reply to this

              I think it's not about the name per se, but the existence of that individual online, in other realms.

              If I exist as a real human being, you can search for me and find all of my previous addresses, age, schools attended, family members, telephone numbers, email address, previous places of work, Linkedin profile, FB profile, twitter, Siri etc...  My online purchases, my grocery store purchases, if I use a loyalty card number, online "personality games" played all contribute to Big Data's understanding of who I am. 

              If Google can read my texts and send me ads based on my texts, which it has done, it and FB and many others are collecting and collating data on me every minute of the day.  Big Data has infinite data on each of us, and can make decisions about our authority.

              Mark Cuban has warned that our texts will one day be used to determine if we are likely to commit crimes based on the personality profiles being generated and stored on us by the owners of all of our data.

              Therefore, a site filled with imaginary people, with no other digital presence, would be suspect IMHO.

            2. DrMark1961 profile image97
              DrMark1961posted 21 months agoin reply to this

              I dont think the name matters to readers but may be a pebble in our page rank. I do not recall the percentage but just a small page rank fall makes a huge difference.

              The big stone is the ad layout and those videos. I am not sure TAG is willing to drop that, especially since they are doing better in 2022.

  3. Kenna McHugh profile image93
    Kenna McHughposted 21 months ago

    The writers and editors can do their due diligence, but HP needs to change with the times. I hope HP Team pays attention and formulates a plan. Like Jan says, "we are doomed"  if they don't. The handwriting is on the wall!

  4. PaulGoodman67 profile image94
    PaulGoodman67posted 21 months ago

    I don't think it is clear. Most of it they admit is stuff that they've been saying for over ten years, starting with panda.

    1. Solaras profile image95
      Solarasposted 21 months agoin reply to this

      Yes, they reiterate that.  There is no gaming of the system to be had. They advise not making any changes since you can't change these fundamentals, other than the ads. And we can't change those either.

      They started with a war on content farms 10 years ago, and will not be satisfied until they win.  Spruce has very few actual authors on the Pet site, and they only have 2 reviewing vets from what I have seen (their images and bios are on the pet homepage).

      TAG has a new site on Dogs that has very limited authorship, so perhaps they are changing with the times, on all manner of topics, and we shall be left here on the death ship, soaring quietly through space into oblivion.

      For authority, you can clean up your bios to say you are an expert, and not someone who likes lots of little things, who likes to share their experiences with others.

      You can make up your own awards (awarded to you by your friends...etc).  I worked with a PR firm and there are other firms that make a business of giving awards to clients that sound good but are completely invented. We could give awards to each other through the forums lol.

      Quoting another author as an expert and linking over to them shows Google that quoted author is an authority.  It is conceivable that we promote each other via quotes and links to establish each other's expertise on our topics within the niche sites.  Google might detect that as gaming their system.

      Or HP could put someone with licenses in charge of approving content, for various subjects. 

      I need to update my bio, and I'll let you know if Google restores my article rankings based on my illustrious self.

      Funny, it seems the old subdomains might come in handy again, but there is no going back.

      1. DrMark1961 profile image97
        DrMark1961posted 21 months agoin reply to this

        That TAG dog site has a global rating of about 2000, which is worse than many blogs. Since it is also plastered with ads I asume it did no better in this latest update.

        I also updated my bio to see if it might help. No idea yet.

        1. Solaras profile image95
          Solarasposted 21 months agoin reply to this

          Updated mine as well, let's see if Google makes anything of our glory.

  5. CYong74 profile image94
    CYong74posted 21 months ago

    All these core and product updates don't seem to improve the Google search experience. I can search for a specific product and before the official page is listed, I have to scroll through numerous suggested, i.e., ad results.

    1. eugbug profile image95
      eugbugposted 21 months agoin reply to this

      Apart from the ads, there are still lots of articles with thin content, simply ranking because of the authority of the site.

      1. CYong74 profile image94
        CYong74posted 21 months agoin reply to this

        Exactly. DR seems more important than ever.

        1. eugbug profile image95
          eugbugposted 21 months agoin reply to this

          The problem is there's probably no money to pay for experts to review articles, unless TAG can fund it. The impression I get is that TAG owns the site and gives orders, but Hubpages has to stand on it's own financially. There was mention about developing the socials of the sites, but posts can be somewhat infrequent, presumably because there aren't the people to do it. Disclaimer: This is just speculation.

  6. Eurofile profile image96
    Eurofileposted 21 months ago

    I have noticed a dramatic drop recently. This dialogue explains a lot. The future of HubPages is looking grim.

    1. janshares profile image94
      jansharesposted 21 months agoin reply to this

      Yes, I'm as concerned as you are, Eurolife. This is different from the past when we'd eventually rebound. I wish HP/Arena powers that be could give us a real update about what's going on so we can prepare. I would be very sad if this site ended.

      1. Jan Stepan profile image93
        Jan Stepanposted 21 months agoin reply to this

        Do you believe that there's a real risk for that? I would be devastated if HP closed. I hope they can turn things around. I still have total faith in HP. But we live in tough times, so one never knows what will or will not happen.

        1. alexadry profile image96
          alexadryposted 21 months agoin reply to this

          I feel that way too. After us writers here have invested so much on this website! Any updates and elucidations from staff are always deeply appreciated. I miss the times when Paul would chime in and reassure us.

          I think the answer can only come from staff here, letting us know what projects there are for the future and what can done to ameliorate the current situation.

  7. Pamela99 profile image87
    Pamela99posted 21 months ago

    I know Goggle is in the process of changing their algorithm, (started about Sept. 20). I believe they are going to feature more articles with evergreen content. I do think the ads on Hubpages harm us with these nee changes. Our reads may continue to drop, and I'm not sure what all needs to change.

  8. Solaras profile image95
    Solarasposted 21 months ago

    I suspect that TAG is using HP to fund longer term projects, and it is a forgone conclusion that HP will ultimately fail due to the overload of ads. For the time being, I think HP is funding not only HP but other new sites, Sports Illustrated, whatever needs a financial injection, it comes from HP's excessive ads and part of our share of the earnings.

    You can't tell me that Paul cannot find the time to make a single address to those who write at his old baby, since the The Maven/TAG takeover.  Not even a generic New Year's address. I suspect that what is happening over here is too painful for him to address.

    Regarding our profiles, Big Data can compile all of our information on the web, without anyone having to give it a thought.  Articles, links, backlinks, our emails, texts all combine to give them an idea of who we are and what our expertise maybe. Just look at the ads they can deliver to us across various platforms based on our search history. 

    Google states they don't like sites with large numbers of contributors, however there is one site, Wikipedia, which is the ultimate in crowdsourcing information, that is always at the top of the SERPs.  Can anyone explain to me how Wikipedia succeeds, and how we could emulate that model.

  9. Solaras profile image95
    Solarasposted 21 months ago

    BTW my earnings are miserable this month.  I'll be lucky to make half of what I made in August.

    Matt Wells said he would look into Impressions vs Pageviews and what our income share is, which has been removed from the FAQs.  I hope to hear something definitive from him here.

  10. PaulGoodman67 profile image94
    PaulGoodman67posted 21 months ago

    The quality of the articles in the niches (I'm not talking about or Discover) is better than ever. Everything is checked by human editors.

    Writers complain about the aggressive advertising, but I tend to see that as a symptom of the problems, rather than the cause.

    So what is the beef that Google really has here? It's still not clear to me...

    I do wonder whether there is something to be said about the site not being seen as trustworthy, as people like Eugene and others have discussed in this thread.

    Could we be headed towards a situation where HP drastically reduces the writers accepted and introduces a set list of "expert" writers for each niche or topic area?

    1. Solaras profile image95
      Solarasposted 21 months agoin reply to this

      I think they will start new sites with expert writers and let this one sink or swim as it will. HP and the niche sites are already tarred in Google's eyes, better to start fresh.

      Edit:  Most of their new initiatives were designed to cut us out of new income streams.  The product reviews fiasco, the dogs website...they are not seeking to partner with us in future ventures in my opinion.

      1. PaulGoodman67 profile image94
        PaulGoodman67posted 21 months agoin reply to this

        "HP and the niche sites are already tarred in Google's eyes"

        I don't think that's how the internet or business really works. They have a lot of articles that generate money. I doubt that they would just throw those assets away.

        When they created the niche sites, they took existing articles and effectively put them on new websites. Google then sees them as a (kind of) new thing. It perceives things in urls.

        It's more likely, in my opinion, that HP will do what they did after panda, and try and find a new way of making the assets/articles (or a portion of them) work, rather than just throwing in the towel.

        My feeling is that they might abandon the "open platform" approach completely, but that's purely speculative. They've gradually being reducing the community aspect over the years, as Google punished them for the weakest material.

        We've been moving towards a situation more like traditional publishers, with editors who accept or reject, or change the writers' work. In many ways we're already there, but we could move even more in that direction.

        The products review thing was just a test, in my opinion. It's the sort of thing that companies do all the time, in my experience. If it had worked out, they would have rolled it out.

        When I've done tests in organizations, we'd usually either make up small groups of customers or users, or use our own profiles. We didn't involve everyone. I don't think that was significant.

        I'd be more worried if they stopped testing things, to be honest. It's a shame it didn't work out, but I don't see it as a "fiasco."

        1. Solaras profile image95
          Solarasposted 21 months agoin reply to this

          Using cheap labor from English as a second language writers or 12 year old school girls was a fiasco, and a sign that they wanted us cut out of that effort.  And it was not a small effort on someone else's platform; there were over 130 articles on  PetHelpful real estate, with thin, ridiculous content and loads of links to Amazon products on each review. 

          It was a crippled effort to find a new revenue stream for them, in the face of all prior experience of HP and Squidoo's collapse, to even try it that way, when I can't link to a single Amazon product.  Not that the commission rates over they make it worth more than a Happy Meal a week to have Amazon links.

        2. EricDockett profile image97
          EricDockettposted 21 months agoin reply to this

          The product reviews test, if it had succeeded, would have cut writers out of any revenue it produced. It stepped on the toes of existing content on the same keywords. Much of that existing content had been watered down by HP policies and editing which had for years told us to steer away from presenting too many Amazon products.

          Yet that is exactly what those product reviews did. Everything we were told not to do.

          Had it succeeded, I don't see any way that was a win for existing writers unless we were allowed to create similar content with the same template.

          Frankly, as someone who used to do very well with Amazon and has struggled to keep my articles viable in the face of overzealous policies, I saw that test as a slap in the face.

  11. Kenna McHugh profile image93
    Kenna McHughposted 21 months ago

    Come on, HP staff!
    Matt, give us an update. Tell us why the stats are falling. We have a right to know. We can handle it!
    We used to get updates from Paul. That helped us! It will stop us from spilling our wheels of speculation.
    And, please change the ad formats; they are obtrusive.

    1. SerenityHalo profile image95
      SerenityHaloposted 21 months agoin reply to this

      Yes, we need clarity from the other side. We're throwing darts in the dark, but I think some people here are eerily close to the target or targets.

      1. DrMark1961 profile image97
        DrMark1961posted 21 months agoin reply to this

        I like your imagery. I was thinking of us as a roomfull of chimpanzees trying to write Shakespeare.

        1. SerenityHalo profile image95
          SerenityHaloposted 21 months agoin reply to this

          Sometimes I do feel like a chimpanzee at a typewriter. Thank you for the laugh.

  12. tsmog profile image85
    tsmogposted 21 months ago

    Some info that may help with the mystery is the following link. If not relevant, Oops! Apologies! It goes to an Aug 9th Arena Group News Release. A kinda' long read of highlights and balance sheets, yet worth a skim of least. It did mention HP with the following quote:

    ** The Company’s pets brand, PetHelpful, one of more than 30 brands within the HubPages business, continues to show rapid growth, with monthly average pageviews of 42 million, an increase of over 600% year-over-year.

    Report Title is:
    The Arena Group Reports Record Revenue and Positive Net Cash Generated from Operating Activities in the Second Quarter of 2022; Total Revenue Increases 87%, As Digital Ad Revenue Grows 114% Year-Over-Year … e-net-cash

    1. Solaras profile image95
      Solarasposted 21 months agoin reply to this

      How is that growth possible when my pageviews are down 50%?  Are they cannibalizing existing content?

      1. DrMark1961 profile image97
        DrMark1961posted 21 months agoin reply to this

        No, I think that was June data.

        1. Solaras profile image95
          Solarasposted 21 months agoin reply to this

          My traffic was not up 600% so I have to wonder where that growth came from - The MSN pickups?

          1. DrMark1961 profile image97
            DrMark1961posted 21 months agoin reply to this

            I do not have the numbers but I think a lot of it was from the news section.

            1. Solaras profile image95
              Solarasposted 21 months agoin reply to this

              That makes sense.  They are posting bunches a day.  If you click on Pet News though, it does not take you to the articles, it gives a page cannot be found error.

              1. DrMark1961 profile image97
                DrMark1961posted 21 months agoin reply to this

                If you click on it where? If I click it on the homepage it is giving me a list of the most recent posts.

                1. Solaras profile image95
                  Solarasposted 21 months agoin reply to this

                  Yes, on the homepage.  You can click on the words Pet News and it is a link to nothing.  No older news.  I wanted to see the volume on a daily basis, but I guess they don't archive it?  I don't know; that link did not work; it gave an error page not found or something.

                  Edit - I see the link at the top of the page does work - they just have a bad link where they show the most recent Pet News, right before Popular Articles.

                  That stuff is pretty thin content.

        2. Solaras profile image95
          Solarasposted 21 months agoin reply to this

          It is 600% increase in pageviews year over year.  Has the site grown 600% in pages? Have your views doubled or tripled or increase 6 times?

          Mine have not, and I still hold first in SERPS on some articles, and 4th position after Spruce, Rover and daily paws on many others. Where is this growth that they specify happening on Pethelpful?

          1. SerenityHalo profile image95
            SerenityHaloposted 21 months agoin reply to this

            A 600% increase isn't indicated on SEM Rush. I can say this year has been underperforming, but I didn't like what was happening in 2021 or 2020 either.

      2. tsmog profile image85
        tsmogposted 21 months agoin reply to this

        Hopefully others will chime in with their views. In other words I dun'no . . .

    2. Solaras profile image95
      Solarasposted 21 months agoin reply to this

      Looking at the balance sheet: Intangible and other acquired assets + Goodwill equals half of their assets. 

      $90 million in intangible assets.

      1. theraggededge profile image97
        theraggededgeposted 21 months agoin reply to this

        That'll be us then big_smile

      2. DrMark1961 profile image97
        DrMark1961posted 21 months agoin reply to this

        I guess that is okay for the SEC but imagine going into a bank with that? Banker: "What collateral do you have for this loan?"
        Client: "I have several hundred thousand in goodwill."

        Banker calls security to throw client out.

    3. PaulGoodman67 profile image94
      PaulGoodman67posted 21 months agoin reply to this

      The only "rapid growth" I've been experiencing recently has been around my waistline! wink

      1. tsmog profile image85
        tsmogposted 21 months agoin reply to this

        Ha, ha smile For me in San Diego area in Calif it has been the rise in gas prices. This week I paid $6.49/gal while there are some bandits over $7.00. But, on the TV news yesterday they said it went down 3 cents. Whoo-hoo!

        1. DrMark1961 profile image97
          DrMark1961posted 21 months agoin reply to this

          Too bad our HP payouts are not related to the gas prices in So. Cal!

          1. tsmog profile image85
            tsmogposted 21 months agoin reply to this

            Yeah, that would be nice especially as I don't think the gas price will drop anywhere near how much they have risen. It would be great to hear articles/payouts here having that effect.


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