Like Old Times, Something Old is New Again

For the last several years, we have all worked really hard to improve HubPages.  Many of you have been loyal community members for years—you have seen the many ups and downs.  We don’t always get it perfect, but the commitment to our mission remains:  to build the best place on the internet to discover and create original, in-depth, useful, media-rich pages on topics you are passionate about.

The lifeblood of this site is the community.  Without all of you, it wouldn’t be possible.  When Panda kicked our butts in February 2011, we looked for ways to escape the crushing blow.  As we mined the search results, we could see a pattern that subdomains were not treated the same as the main domain.  We moved really quickly and converted the entire site to subdomains.  At the same time we tightened our publishing rules, built out a moderation team and worked really hard with all of you to create a high-quality site.  We hoped that each author would stand on their own merits with Google.  After many Google updates we saw some subdomains go up and other go down.  We believed this was working.  However, the environment we strive to be great in moves very quickly and we believe that things are different today.

Along our path to improve, we wanted to understand how the quality of our site related to other sites that were doing well.  We created a system to measure the quality of our pages from two dimensions.  One is done by a panel of people that rate articles on our scale and the other simply asks visitors how good is the page they are reading.  Initially, our data showed that our competitors that were doing well were better than we were.  So we went to work to catch up and surpass them.  

We have been able to achieve steady improvements in site quality that over time has added up to a significant improvement from where we were in February 2011.  One of the major changes we made was to partner with Hubbers with the addition of HubPro.  HubPro offers everything from professional editing to extensive fact checking.  This program focused on the highest traffic Hubs.  We have edited nearly 40% of views from search visitors.  With the creation of HubPro HubPages changed significantly.  

There are lots of places to publish online for folks that want to have their own site.  It’s cheap, easy and quick to get going, but as far as I know there is only one site that not only shares a bit of revenue with their community, but also invests substantially in the content the community creates to help achieve a professional production value for readers to enjoy.  

I believe our site is surpassing our competitors in quality and we will continue to race forward.  We’ve created a new type of community site that has potential to be an enormous asset to the world.  We hope Hubbers, readers and Google recognize the progress.  

Today, HubPages is announcing a significant change that will seem like old times.  

We will be redirecting (301) the entire site back to the HubPages domain as a signal of our unification, services, and policies.  A single site to serve Hubbers and readers one great Hub at a time.

This will achieve a few things in the short term.  First, as Hubs get reindexed on their new home they will get a URL that overall looks cleaner, and that is easier for users to know more about the content they’re about to read.  This is particularly true on mobile.  The new URL structure is hubpages.com/category/article.  Each article is categorized under their main topic one directory deep.  QnA and forums will also get new homes under their main category.  This hierarchy will help organize the site into logical content themes.

Google should display URLs like this on desktop for a Hub with this URL (http://hubpages.com/animals/Bee-Stings-on-the-Eye)

  • hubpages.com › … › Farm Animals & Livestock › Bees & Beekeeping

and like this on mobile

  • hubpages.com › animals › Bee-Stings-on-the-Eye

Second, there is a trade-off here with Google Search Console.  With subdomains, we only get a limited view of our data, but by combining it into one site, we will have a better way to see data and issues across all content.  However, Hubbers will no longer see data about their content consolidated in GSC, but they can add specific URLs if they choose.  We will be updating documentation on GSC shortly.

We have done some small scale tests so far.  In our initial test, we saw some pages get removed from the results and stop ranking for a few days to about a week.  After about a week, they returned to their previous rankings and traffic levels.  We know it can be disconcerting to see traffic changes, please be patient and give the site time to get reindexed.  If a URL disappears for a few days, this is a normal behavior we have seen get resolved with time.  Most URLs move over very smoothly.

Today, we are going to move the entire autos category including QnA and forums.  We will be evaluating progress and planning to move the rest of the site shortly.

Please report any bugs or issues in the forums.  We will be watching.

Happy Hubbing,

Paul

11 thoughts on “Like Old Times, Something Old is New Again

  1. So links to our subdomains that have been shared elsewhere will no longer be valid? .. or will they be converted to redirects?

  2. I can recall many debates on the forums over the years, as to whether the sub-domains worked to “quarantine” individual Hubbers or not. Regardless of theory, in practice my experience was that it DID work – until some time last year, when suddenly we didn’t seem to be quarantined any more. So this change is really just removing a feature that’s unnecessary because it no longer works,and I don’t see why Hubbers should be concerned. Some may feel indignant that they’ve lost “their” little kingdom on HubPages, but that was never what HubPages was about anyway.

  3. It is my belief…that Google had an ulterior motive in slapping down sites it labelled ‘Content Farm’. It was trying to push its non-paying Knol site. The Panda went after sites that paid to force them to close. I believe the ‘Do No Evil’ guys intended to kill online writing for pay. Much of what Hubpages and other sites did to ‘defend’ themselves against the Panda were self-destructive.

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