HubPages CEO on Google's Panda algorithm 8/23/11

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  1. WoodsmensPost profile image63
    WoodsmensPostposted 12 years ago

    I searched the forums and was surprised not to find this article posted anywhere.
    Nothing really new that we haven't heard before but nice little tidbit of info for for those Demand Media Haters.

    HubPages CEO on Google's Panda algorithm: SEO doesn't work!!!

    Posted August 23, 2011 on ZDNet

    1. FKINGLAG profile image60
      FKINGLAGposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Fascinating.. thanks for the post.
      Knew nothing about this "Panda" algorithm you speak of and now I know..

    2. Ms Dee profile image85
      Ms Deeposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      This is very discouraging to read. Why write, then, unless one does it just for socializing?

    3. paradigmsearch profile image61
      paradigmsearchposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Loved those charts! smile smile smile

    4. Ms Dee profile image85
      Ms Deeposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Just saw this news out today...maybe Google is smarting from this?

      "Google agreed to forfeit $500 million for helping online Canadian pharmacies to reach American consumers by letting the drug companies place advertisements through its AdWords programs."

    5. LegendaryN8 profile image60
      LegendaryN8posted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Anybody got info on Bing yet?

      1. GmaGoldie profile image81
        GmaGoldieposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        I am starting to get traffic from bing - but does Bing pay?

  2. MelissaBarrett profile image59
    MelissaBarrettposted 12 years ago

    *shrugs* I get most of my traffic from facebook.  It eliminates the middleman (google)  Google is not the only source of traffic and I think everyone should do everything they can to trim their power.

    1. Jenna Pope profile image60
      Jenna Popeposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Good idea! Thanks!

      Jenna Pope

  3. IzzyM profile image86
    IzzyMposted 12 years ago

    "The drop in traffic has been discouraging for many of our writers. Some have left because they couldn’t raise traffic levels despite being very focused on quality."

    I understood many writers left because they were treated really badly by HP management when they demanded changes in a timescale most couldn't complete in, plus were forced to edit all their hubs several times which is no fun for those of us with several 100 hubs. Not because they couldn't raise traffic levels.

    1. paradigmsearch profile image61
      paradigmsearchposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      That chart really looks like things have finally turned around. Here is hoping. smile

    2. WoodsmensPost profile image63
      WoodsmensPostposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Understandable IzzyM but what if we didn't have the luxury to edit hubs with the simple format that we have here. What I am saying is what if we wrote and were forced to have "everything" we edit go through a waiting process, or were unable to make changes where would we all be.

      The old term write it and walk away has no longer proved to be the best option. When you own a business it is often necessary to update with world changes, ie google in this case. I feel your frustration but as you can see the necessary changes were in fact necessary to survive. smile smile smile smile Love your work IzzyM

      1. IzzyM profile image86
        IzzyMposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        Well thank you WoodsmensPost smile

        If only Google did too! <sigh>

      2. GmaGoldie profile image81
        GmaGoldieposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        I think the upgrade in the quality and the notifications from HP were helpful.

        In the end, can we as writers take criticism?

        More importantly, can we put forth the effort to be better?  Not just for google but also for the reader.

    3. Daniel Carter profile image62
      Daniel Carterposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      I think you're right Izzy. Most great hubbers were willing to weather the storm about the drop in traffic, but it was pretty horrendous to be treated by HP the way many great hubbers were. So their little PR tactic to state it as they did was a more "delicate" way of saying it, I guess. Still, it's not the way it actually happened.

      As for the rest, I don't think there is any love between G and HP, and I think in the end, G will finally throw a death blow that will bring it down. G is not prone to change its mind or how it perceives many sites. The evidence is against G softening up on its "hit list sites." And HP probably won't escape G's wrath.

      1. PaulGoodman67 profile image95
        PaulGoodman67posted 12 years agoin reply to this

        Regarding Izzy's comment.  I think Paul E is right to put the blame firmly on Google myself.  HP writers have all been angry that their traffic and earnings were down - some blamed HP for introducing big changes too quickly, yes.  Others, though, have accused HP of not being radical enough in scope and being too slow to clean up the site.  HP can't really win, me thinks.

        Regarding Daniel's comment.  I hope you are wrong, but it does feel sometimes like Google are going to keep twiddling with the algo until they take HP down.  I hope that isn't the case, but you may well be right.  :-(

        1. IzzyM profile image86
          IzzyMposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          No Paul, let's get this right.

          HP writers were angry, yes, that their traffic was down, but not at HP. First of all, there was silence from the staff - even Maddie stopped posting. The forums were alive with speculation and suggestions for site improvements, which always included getting rid of the spun crap that is posted daily here.

          Then the staff started bringing in changes - the exact order is hard to remember, but there was the reduction of Amazon capsules to 1 per 50 words, there was affiliate links rule, there was the overly promotional topics, and other changes. I had 400 odd hubs, some of the more successful and vocal hubbers here had more than 1000.

          Never at any time did the staff interact and say, we are trying this or we are trying that, please help us all out folks.

          It was just this is the new rule, obey or face seeing your hubs unpublished.

          The sad thing is, if they had interacted with us, the hubbers would have made all the changes quietly.

          They didn't. I made the changes without too much effort because I hadn't joined many referral sites but the Amazon change was hard and I ended up getting a few unpublished just for that.

          Most of the hubbers who left were very internet savvie and so have their own sites and things now.

          I feel offended for them by the almost dismissal of why they really left being shrugged off with a statement that suggests they left only because they couldn't get their traffic back.

          Yes in hindsight, HP did try very hard to get the site back on its feet, but their customer service department was sorely lacking.

          1. profile image0
            EmpressFelicityposted 12 years agoin reply to this

            Well let's face it, they're not going to go out there and tell the truth are they?

            "People on HP are p***ed off because we changed the rules but we made some of them open to interpretation; for example we said we were going to ban certain affiliate links but never actually published a definitive list of which affiliates were banned*. Oh, and we instituted this rule about a minimum word count to Amazon product ratio, and we flagged hubs that fell foul of this ratio so that people had a chance to reduce the number of Amazon products before the hubs were unpublished. Only we made a mistake with the flagging algorithm, so it failed to flag certain hubs that actually contravened the new rule. So people with lots of product hubs corrected those hubs of theirs which had been flagged, not realising that some of their other hubs were also non-compliant, and then found that these hubs were unpublished without ceremony some weeks later. Some hubbers were even banned for multiple infractions that they weren't even aware of until it was too late. Oh, and we unpublished hubs for strange reasons like having images that were "too pixellated", while all the time, scads of spammy, spun and foreign language hubs still keep being published without any attempt to dam them at source. There's more along the same lines, but that's for starters."

            Yeah, I can really see them telling the outside world about that.

            *if this has changed, let us know - just for accuracy's sake.

            1. Marisa Wright profile image86
              Marisa Wrightposted 12 years agoin reply to this

              Worse, they drastically changed the interpretation of some existing rules and didn't tell us - so established Hubbers suddenly found large numbers of Hubs being unpublished for no apparent reason, with absolutely no explanation.  And when we tried to get explanations, HP staff took days or even weeks to reply.

              Once a Hub has been unpublished for a couple of weeks, it gets de-indexed and loses all its authority.  So for Hubbers with hundreds of non-compliant Hubs, there was simply no point in fixing and republishing them on HubPages, while the site's future was so uncertain.  So HubPages lost a lot of good Hubbers AND good Hubs as a result.

              And what's even more galling, is that in that article, Paul admits all that pain was for nothing - their rule changes were based on guesswork and none of them worked.  He also admits that changing to sub-domains was a guess, too - they have no idea what Google really wants, any more than anyone else.  I think that's important to remember when we read Paul's advice on the forums.

    4. PaulGoodman67 profile image95
      PaulGoodman67posted 12 years ago

      Thanks for posting this!  It doesn't really differ from what Paul E and Jason say in the forums, but it's interesting to see it layed out like that in full.

    5. relache profile image71
      relacheposted 12 years ago

      In the two years pre-Panda I saw a lot of posts from HubPages users asking for HubPages to raise their standards, be tougher on all those Hubs full of purloined Indian actress pictures and come down harder on duplicate content.  Seriously, people were begging them to take some action.

      HubPages didn't, and then suddenly Panda arrives on the scene and the site is decimated.  My own feelings are that if HubPages had just listened to their own users, they wouldn't have had the rug yanked out from under them by Google so harshly.

      I think many site users and HubPages admin are being unrealistic about how long it takes to recover from being downgraded by Google.  In the summer of 2007, Squidoo got smacked by Google and it took two years before I saw traffic and earnings come back to pre-smack levels.  As for Squidoo and Panda, I didn't hardly see a drop in either traffic or earnings with my lenses.

      I think HubPages will recover but I don't see it happening in weeks or a few months based on my own experiences on the internet.

      1. Ms Dee profile image85
        Ms Deeposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        Appreciate, relache, your perspective over the big span of time of your HP experience. Thanks for commenting here! smile

      2. David 470 profile image83
        David 470posted 12 years agoin reply to this

        Yeah, users kind of predicted this in a way.

    6. Angela_1973 profile image59
      Angela_1973posted 12 years ago

      Thank you relache for your comment, I was one of the hubbers hit tragically by the subdomain, I never earned a lot of money here but I was getting decent(for me) traffic with clicks and Amazon sales. This all ended after the subdomain switch.

      Reading through your opinion, I have come to the conclusion that I should take my hubs somewhere else. Writing good hubs requires a lot of time and effort, and while I am by no means looking for fast money, I'd like to be somewhat compensated for my work. Seeing hubs with regular sales especially around Christmas to go down the drain and get suddenly 0 views is depressing. I will not sit around and wait for months for hubpages to recover. I hope they do.

    7. Jane@CM profile image61
      Jane@CMposted 12 years ago

      Yes indeed there is still a lot of crap on hubpages and I don't see it going away anytime soon unless they staff more moderators to catch it.  Some of it is caught by the greeters but they can't catch everything either.

      I myself backed away and am not sure when I'll write here again, but I'm not going to take my hubs down - maybe a few rewrites, but nothing major.  All in all my traffic has not recovered and I totally understand why people left, they had good reason too not share their earnings anymore. 

      My best advise, get yourself a blog or a website and post links to your articles on hubpages, put your blog name in your profile.  Spread your writing out, best not to put all your eggs in one basket.

      1. Ms Dee profile image85
        Ms Deeposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        Jane@CM, thanks for your comment here! One question for you. I'm just starting to do what you suggest, and I would like to know what you mean by "put your blog name in your profile." Does this mean put a link in my HubPages profile page to my blog?


        1. paradigmsearch profile image61
          paradigmsearchposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          And every other web site/page you have a vested interest in. smile

          1. Ms Dee profile image85
            Ms Deeposted 12 years agoin reply to this

            paradigmsearch, thanks so much for answering my question and giving me this further tip! cool

        2. Jane@CM profile image61
          Jane@CMposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          Yes ma'am, put all your links in your profile smile

          1. Ms Dee profile image85
            Ms Deeposted 12 years agoin reply to this

            Great Jane to have your response!

    8. PaulGoodman67 profile image95
      PaulGoodman67posted 12 years ago

      Well, there was certainly a "rabbit in the headlights" moment after that first panda hit when the HP office clearly entered a state of shock for a time!  ;-)

      And yes, HP tried different things, suffered technical troubles, and screwed up some things - with nothing actually solving the underlying panda problem.

      But I personally don't know if I would have done any better, if you put me in their shoes, looking at the wider picture.  Google openly went out of its way to hit "content farms", and make life virtually impossible for them.  It was no accident, nor was anything on this scale widely predicted.  Many of the 'content farms', such as ehow, have had to completely alter their business model as a result.

      True, Squidoo wasn't hurt by panda, but HP still had 6 times as much traffic as Squidoo even at its lowest point.

      I do also sometimes wonder whether people appreciate that computers and software have their limitations, when they talk about what HP should and shouldn't do. 

      Put it this way: If the internet colossus, Google (one of the wealthiest companies in the world) can't develop the software/expertise to sift out the spun, copied, duplicate, and low quality stuff from its search results, it seems a little rich to expect HP to do it all on Google's behalf.

      (I don't want to turn into some unpaid HP apologist, or a conspiracy theorist, but like Paul E says in the article, it does seem a little peculiar that Google Blogger gained from panda and all its potential rivals seemed to lose out!)

      1. Marisa Wright profile image86
        Marisa Wrightposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        I would've done better, and I'm no SEO expert.  I can think of several other Hubbers, far more knowledgeable than me, who would've done better.

        When your business is in trouble, the last thing you should do is hit the panic button.  You need to work out what your problem is and prioritize your efforts.  HubPages totally failed at that.

        They made no apparent attempt to prioritize the changes needed on the site, but simply hired more bodies to handle the existing moderation system, applying the rules more stringently.   Whereas with a little thought, they could've had moderators concentrating on obvious problem areas instead. Like Hubs with low scores/Hubbers with low scores, and the steady flow of new spam.  They could've had moderators doing simple searches on prohibited subjects or words.  Meanwhile, they could have used the forums to educate established Hubbers to bring their own Hubs into compliance with the new rules.

        Such ideas were frequently suggested but because there was only one HP staff member on the forums, and he saw it as his job to keep the kids quiet and not disturb the staff, none of these suggestions reached anyone who mattered - and, to our dismay, when some of us tried to reach out to management directly, we were dismissed.

      2. Randy Godwin profile image60
        Randy Godwinposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        Didn't you read in the link where G had huge financial gains recently?  By down rating sites which normally earn high paying Adsense clicks for their content, and sending the traffic to sites which are used to lower ad clicks but raising their rates a wee bit, voila!  "Huge financial gains".  The ad buyers won't know the difference.  The American way to do business.  lol

        Google-The Wal Mart of the web!

        1. Stacie L profile image89
          Stacie Lposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          I watched the interview that google claimed to not be catering to high ad payers..BULL!
          it was reported  three weeks ago that google is catering to the highest ad bidders..

    9. Cheeky Girl profile image65
      Cheeky Girlposted 12 years ago

      If you have an account on Facebook, Twitter. MySpace, LinkedIn, Tumblr, YouTube, etc, and have links from them back to your hubs (A funnel in other words), then you can look forward to seeing your stock go up. The more you get mentioned and bookmarked and liked by other people - the more you gain.

      There is some opinions on how Google did a lot of damage to many websites and businesses, even I have written on it here in my hubs, but the point is that sub-domains can help Hub Pages and US too in the long term.

      There is also that rather embarassing matter of Whitelists used by Google and Bing, in which special exceptions were made for a lot of Websites and businesses, Fox owned businesses, New York Post, Wall Street Journal etc, (I have a hub that lists them if you haven't read the Quantcast list of them. Whitelists prove there is a double-standard with the mighty G. (Murdoch threatened Google with nasty tactics and got his way with them, so did other firms. Some businesses are able to do that, as they have the power to do so.)

      Hub Pages is a pretty honest outfit and just trying to do the best to make it better for us all, and they deserve praise for making such a big difference and a great effort. Have faith, people. Things on Hubs are getting better. This is a great community!

      1. GmaGoldie profile image81
        GmaGoldieposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        Cheeky Girl,

        I couldn't agree more!  HP is honest and as proactive as they can be - remember this is a new frontier and they are reacting and trying to anticipate the changes.

        The key is what you open with - a base across the board - Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, social book marking and more.  If you believe in your product - stick with it!  Do the work to make it better.

        HP is not scolding - they are coaching and I greatly appreciate it.

        I could write anywhere - I need the coaching so that is why I am here.  I don't understand this stuff and need specific guidance.

        There is no cookbook of what works - the book is dynamic and HP is helping to write that book.

        My only complaint is I feel HP should market as an online magazine a step beyond blogs, a slight step below National Geographic.  Yes, we can make money as writers but gosh who can survive on the income - let's me realistic - we are writers who love to write, earn money over time for our work.  Making a full time income is deceiving - possible for an elite few but why mis-market the product.

        We are the Internet's premier on-line magazine for history, travel, arts and much more!

    10. rembrandz profile image80
      rembrandzposted 12 years ago

      I feel motivated Cheeky am still learning the tricks of online monitizing. Thanks

    11. GmaGoldie profile image81
      GmaGoldieposted 12 years ago

      My traffic plummeted with the first Panda and then it went almost sub zero.  I have worked hard to revamp/revise/refresh my Hubs.

      The story of Panda hitting is here - we must continue to address it.

      I am sad this forum has been languishing for the past couple of weeks.

      Have you seen a drop off or an increase or perhaps your traffic was like mine - dramatic drop followed by a steady rise?

      The world wide web has yet to truly appreciate HP.  Stick with HP and you will see your income grow.  Don't stay just for the money, stay to enjoy the long-term quality of your articles.


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