After reading every post, every article, etc... on the subject matter I thought I'd start a post with arguments against Amazon being the source of the free fall in traffic that many of us experienced last week as I don't believe it is the problem. (I can't say 100% for sure).
1.) Many hubbers which aren't Amazon focused have been hit
2.) Not all other Affiliate-based sites have been hit with a similar penalty. I can honestly say that none of mine have been and I've read and spoken with several others who have had similar results.
So if it's not Amazon, then what?
The more I look around at high-traffic Hubbers like Randy Godwin, Izzym, Mutiny92, Eleanor's Words, Mulberry1 I find a few things that they have in common with me that I feel could play a strong part in the penalty that was received.
Links With Duplicate Content
Whether it's links with duplicate content that show snippets of your other Hubs to yourself or RSS feeds with snippets all of those I looked at have this problem. RyanKett suggested after the first Panda Update (that affected us not the first ever) that we all try and remove these types of links and feeds. I removed some of my RSS feeds at that time as it made some sense to me, but almost none of my auto-captioned links. When I really took a look at it tonight I have a lot of duplicate content done in this manner. The whole point of what Google was trying to do in March was to remove duplicate content - Matt Cutts said as much himself.
HubPages recently went away from the automatically generated link description because they believed that this was becoming a problem and I believe it is more of a problem than any of us thought.
Popular hubbers like Melbel, RyanKett, and Andromida show very few examples of the above linking strategy.
I believe it was mentioned in an article that there could be some association with linking to other sites and the penalty. I feel like this doesn't really make sense - there are many cases where Hubbers who link to other sites in their articles have not penalized. Also, Google naturally wants writers to be able to lead people to other valuable information.
You've been penalized - so now what?
No one can say for sure what the solution is and the truth is that I could be way off the base. I am currently in the process of removing these types of links as well as as a few copied "technical details" which might appear as duplicate content on my hubs.
Even if You or I had the Solution Today....
It's unlikely that if you fixed the problem today that in the next week Google would notice. A penalty is just that, a penalty. So no matter what... we have to wait it out; however, I do believe that being proactive is the best solution.
Have you been hit?
I don't get paid for anything I've taken a look at here and I've already made the point that I could be wrong. If your traffic took a hit last week, then please respond here and let me know if you had used a similar linking strategy.
I had kind of wondered a bit about those links and wondered if they might not be at least a piece of the problem. I think I will delete them actually, but I understand what you're saying about it not being likely to bring about a turnaround anytime soon.
I appreciate your analysis!
I don't do a lot of backlinking with my hubs, but I must confess I have bookmarked them on three or four sites (not facebook) so that's pretty low quality. Otherwise I sporadically link to them in articles but not as a general rule. I certainly wouldn't mind doing less of the bookmarking!
Grrr, I always remember something AFTER I've posted.
As I mentioned, I plan on deleting many of the links that have duplicate content within them. My question is which option would seem most advisable:
1. Delete the links completely
2. Leave the links but remove the snippet that appears automatically
3. Leave the links but add my own uniquely worded description about the link (so that readers know what to expect if they click)
In other words are the links the problem or is it the duplicate content from the auto generated snippet?
My traffic has been going up over this last week. And my August earnings are showing a whole penny per day average more than in July.
Yes, I've been hit and I too used RSS feeds to my hubs. I've been systematically getting rid of them lately.
Jason stated they speculate a problem could be over-optimization, too. Paul hinted at the same thing. I'm in the process of examining my hubs in the event that's the case.
I have a feeling it's not about Amazon, either. My other sites are doing quite well...
Thanks for the interesting post, Brandon.
All of my RSS links related to pages within my own subdomain is this OK?
How do we remove the HP related hubs, many of which do not relate to the host hub?
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I wonder if it is over-optimization, at least in part? I rarely concern myself with worrying about how many times I use keywords, etc. as I just like writing - but I have just looked at a couple articles by other hubbers about keywords and they seem to recommend a frequency of no more than 3%. I do not know if this is good advice or not, but on the two hubs I checked, my main keyword was above that - almost 5% on one.
The reason for this is undoubtedly because I am writing in detail about a product (ipod, for example) and during the natural course of my writing I unintentionally mention it a lot as it is difficult to refer to it in any other way.
I have the same problem as I also write a lot about particular products. I've been going back through my hubs trying to delete frequently used words. Sometimes I'm at a loss, however (unless I want to say "that THING I'm writing about").
I do think some of my hubs were/are over-optimized, however. I am reducing the number of times I use my longtail keywords. I'm also deleting them in many of my photo captions. I read the hub and if it doesn't sound natural, I'm editing it.
I hope I don't shoot myself in the foot by under-optimizing, though. It's a balance, no doubt. But, my traffic could NOT be worse right now. It's about 25% of what it was before 8/10/11.
Bottom line, I don't want to give up. Very little insight has been given into the reasons for the crash some of us are experiencing. But, I am choosing to act upon whatever theories have been proposed by HP staff, particularly since I'm convinced the changes won't be detrimental.
Yes, I would consider myself to have excessive links to my own hubs, not in an RSS feed but just in an ordinary link capsule. Of course, you can read little snippets of each hub, and links to many specific hubs are featured at the foot of almost every article.
I would say I might have gone overboard a bit with this linking strategy - I recently decided to start getting rid of some links, and on many hubs I have hidden the link capsule altogether.
What I don't have is links to any other websites.
I make extensive use of Amazon and have not been "hit". It's been a tumultuous ride but my earnings and views are now roaring past pre-panda values.
My personal suspicion is that low-quality backlinking practices may have become detrimental. Beyond the holy trinity (facebook, twitter and now +1) I've always troed to avoid building paper castles (low-quality backlinks) as the foundations of my traffic and SERPS, relying instead on inter-linking original and informative articles from different C class IP addresses. (bolstering HP with Squidoo e.t.c).
I don't backlink at all, when I first began I created a few backlinks on shetoldme and snipsly on my earliest hubs but they are very minimal and I quickly gave up.
Same with me. I have very few backlinks...
I guess we can scratch that out then, how hard have you guys been hit?
very hard, now getting almost no google traffic at all. My second account has extremely low traffic, only 20 hubs (some of which are poems and travel to local areas) and has been largely neglected by myself. Yet the little traffic I do get is unaffected and yesterday google views were higher than on this account. It does not have sales hubs.
Strange, I have quite a few (as you can tell) even my profile was awarded with a PR 4 (I noticed yours is a n/a). Perhaps it's just an indexing shuffle. I can't see why you would be penalized.
Very hard... My traffic about 1/4 of what it previously was.
BTW, my PR was a 2 until 8/10, it's been n/a ever since.
wordscribe43 - mine remains a PR2 so I don't think that seems to be a factor; however, in looking at your hubs I don't notice too much of what I was describing. It does look like you have a couple instances of it including your hub on http://wordscribe43.hubpages.com/hub/Be … ge-Breasts
I only looked at about 10 of your hubs so I'm not sure how the rest of them look. Do you have other hubs where you have linked to similar hubs and used the auto-generated description?
I got rid of pretty much all of them last night, Brandon. I'd been slowly removing them, but this topic was the impetus I needed to totally obliterate them. Trust me, I had loads of RSS feeds to my own hubs!
And yes I do have the auto-generated descriptions going...
Thoogun - I really don't think this is a low quality backlinking issue as we've seen Hubbers like Randy get hit that we know don't have those types of backlinks. When I got hit and lost 75% of my traffic I hadn't even linked to my subdomain yet.
Also, it looks like you have a few of the type of links that I've been describing; however, I'd rather look at those who have already been hit to see similarities rather than look at everyone else.... too many variables.
You are right in that it could be a reshuffling... I've also experienced a similar type of "freshness" penalty or temporary "google dance" before... I've also had a penalty put on a site of mine when I should have and had other cases where I should have received a penalty. Once this happened to 2 of my sites at once when I changed their layout.
One thing I did do since the Subdomain switch was change my profile page (Subdomain home page) by quite a it. I also wonder about similarly titled hubs like having all "best" or "how tos" - but for the most part these seem to be sufficiently random for both myself and others.
One thing that Paul said that is really interesting to me is that this all started a couple days before the latest Panda release... so if it's not a result of that it really leaves just a couple more options.
My traffic is at 1/3 of what it was. I did email the HP team asking if my low views were due to stolen content. They responded saying they did not think stolen content was the problem. And left it at that...with no other indication what the problem could be.. needless to say I emailed them back.
My hubs have mainly been product hubs over the last year. I try to write a variety of things though to keep it interesting.
I sincerely hope the HP team is working on this issue. I feel at a loss. I know it is only August but but the Christmas season is right around the corner. I have to take action ( whatever it is..) now so that I may have some earnings over the Holidays...
Yes, I feel the same - it really is not that long until the Christmas season. I also do not feel inclined to write any more hubs right now.
I emailed the team as well and they indicated that they were investigating as to whether heavy use of amazon capsules is causing the problem. Some hubbers don't agree with this though, so I don't know what to think right now. I also have a lot of links to my other hubs on every hub, which I notice some other affected hubbers have, though I don't think all. Then I thought that perhaps amazon hubs were more likely to be over-optimized simply because it's hard not to mention the product a lot.
I think I am just going to write more hubs on my other account for now as it needs building up - however, it doesn't earn me much money so will not compensate for the loss of income.
Ms Chievous - Do you use a lot of auto-generated link descriptions? I see a few examples of them here:
http://mschievous.hubpages.com/hub/Mons … -by-Mattel
http://mschievous.hubpages.com/hub/Scoo … -and-Games
As I said above I could be completely off base about duplicate content but since I used this same linking strategy heavily I have to wonder.
Umm.. like twitter or twaiter? I have also been putting RSS from HP in other sites like blogger or Squidoo... Is this the cause?
Ms Chievous, I just looked at your hub Woody Toy Story Doll and it is set out pretty much exactly like most of mine - with the same sort of linking at the end.
I have not seen the drastic drop in traffic that many have, but thought I might post some data that might be useful to someone with more experience.
My primary account of over 100 hubs showed increased traffic with the subdomain switch which then dropped by 40% for about a week but has recovered this past week to nearly pre-panda levels.
About 1/3 of the hubs are sales hubs, many approaching the 50 word per link limit. These hubs show traffic commensurate with overall traffic, or about what I would expect them to do.
I have one RSS feed on each hub, pointing to other hubs that I have placed in the same group. Home improvement hubs point to other home improvement hubs, travel hubs point to other travel hubs, hubs about cars point to other hubs about cars, etc. These are not exact, but give at least give hubs that are very generally about the same kind of topic.
I use very few links to other hubs not my own and few to outside sources. These links all have custom descriptions. Along with this are just a few videos.
Photo capsules usually have no keywords in them.
Although a very few hubs may be "stuffed", the vast majority are not. I doubt that they are above maybe 2% although I have not actually checked.
Backlinking is minimal - I use redgage, shetoldme, excerptz and for a while Xomba. None of these have ALL my hubs on them.
My profile has a (-) PR, while hubs are nearly all 1 to 3 with just a few of the newest also showing a (-).
I removed just a couple of hubs that got just 1 or 2 hits per month, but I've also kept several that I like. Nearly half my list gets 0 most days and only around 50 or less per month.
A second, small (18 hubs), account is 100% sales hubs, with all of them near the limit of 50 words/link. Traffic to this account, while very spikey due to small size, is also showing growth since the subdomain. Probably only 5 or 6 get any traffic at all most days, but the graph shows a definite increase since the subdomain. There are no backlinks at all, but they are written in the same manner as my main account, with the same linking and RSS concept.
Thanks for the input Wilderness - it's good to see that someone with a similar linking strategy is doing well again. Hubs may in fact climb out of the hole they are in shortly without any changes made - still, the drastic drop of so many Hubbers makes me wonder if this is something different.
I'd like to look at some more Hubbers that had their traffic plummet last Tuesday and see if they fall under the same pattern that I mentioned above.
What HP did, the subdomain thing, are they first in the Internet's history to do something like this in such a massive scale? I have never heared that someone has tried to move all of their content to subdomains. Traffic will go back up again, we just have to wait and hope that it will go up before Christmas sales.
Also, it is extremely unlikely that it has anything at all to do with amazon capsules.
UzDawi - did you traffic decline last Tuesday as well? I notice that you don't use the linking strategy described above so I'm curious.
That is correct, I get almost no views from google.
You know, it might be worth noting here that while my traffic returned post-subdomain, my Adsense earnings didn't. My Amazon earnings did.
Now of course I have neither.
But something has not been right for 6 months since Panda, as my CTR fell through the floor, and never returned when the traffic did.
A lot of my hubs have related feeds. What I might do is go back and set them all to 'first sentence only' as that way they still get the link juice but the duplicate content is minimalised.
If I can be bothered that is.
I am sick of changing things that were meant to be permanent. As it is, my most popular hubs needs constantly updated (best selling books). They are not a subject you can write and walk away from because they change all the time.
I use keywords in photos where I can because that is good SEO practice.
Before Panda, I had backlinked all my hubs round the usual sites -shetoldme, redgage, blurpalicious etc - about 10/12 sites each in all.
Most of those backlinks never showed up anyway.
I also usually send to Twitter and have rss feeds set up to post new content to rss submitter sites as well as twitter.
I sometimes send to Facebook but not always because my friends were complaining.
Just thought I'd add to this thread to see if we can find common ground.
And before anyone blames Hubads, we had a two week gap between Hubads and Panda, and it was a no-go then too.
I don't know what proportion of people have experienced traffic drops. Paul E seems to imply it is a definite minority, although still a matter for concern. I personally have seen significant increases in traffic and earnings, though I realise I only have 80 hubs and am a relatively low earner compared to many of the people in this thread. I saw that HubPages is climbing in Quantcast too.
I have confidence that the HP staff will work out what's going on and they are in the best position to do it, as they have access to much more info than individual hubbers and it's easier for them to put their data into formats that more easily interpretable: graphs etc. I appreciate it must be tough for you guys who've suffered drops, however.
It is more than tough. I'm losing my peak earning time of the year because somebody did something to deliberately impact my traffic. I don't push my content all over the net. I don't link to other sites beside my affiliate links. Others link for me if my hubs are worthy of the compliment and so they did. Now Google decides those who made the links don't know what they should like. All bow to the all-powerful Google.
It's unfortunate, but realistically, you could be in for months of low traffic before it gets better. Then again, you might recover quickly. Who knows?
I suspect it's maybe hitting you harder in some ways psychologically, Randy, because you miraculously didn't seem to experience the same punishment as most other hubbers during the 5 month period between panda and the introduction of subdomains.
The whole thing shows clearly how perilous it is to rely on Hubpages and the goodwill of Google, even if you are doing exactly as Google proscribes.
I think diversification is essential, even if things are going well. That said, if things go wrong with your wordpress site, for instance, there is no Hubpages team to help you out!
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