New Year, New Sites

Hello, Hubbers! Today, we are pleased to be able to share with you our plan for 2016. We’re still as determined as ever to break out of Panda, and we will continue to raise the quality of writing on HubPages by investing in and improving our two quality systems: the Quality Assessment Process (QAP) and HubPro editing. However, we believe that HubPages has another challenge that’s weakening our overall quality efforts and reputation: its general-content nature. These days, search engines and readers are better able to understand sites that are about one topic rather than a hodgepodge of just about everything. Thus we have decided to launch a series of niche sites over the course of the year, starting with two as early as next week: TatRing and PetHelpful!

In the medium term, traffic to the new sites will fluctuate. This is expected, and we will aim to build sites in areas where we think we have a shot at becoming successful. Long term, we’d love to see these sites grow into passionate communities, and we’ll be adding features over the coming months to help make this possible.

The remainder of this blog post is composed as a FAQ. If you have a question that isn’t answered below, feel free to post in the related Forum thread.

How is this all going to work?

HubPages will continue to exist as a website. All new sites will be part of the HubPages Network of User-Generated Content Sites. New sites will have unique domain names, but they will be operated by HubPages. They will be comprised of high-quality existing and newly published Hubs. Every Hub that is moved to a new domain will have a 301 redirect in place.

Please review the revised Terms of Use and Privacy Policy— they will go into effect on February 9th, 2016.

Why is HubPages pursuing a multi-sites strategy?

To put it simply, we believe this strategy is our best chance at a sustainable future. We think search engines can understand the organization of niche sites better than general content sites, giving them a structural advantage in SERPs. Furthermore, we are confident that our new domains will start with a clean slate in search and not be affected by algorithmic penalties like HubPages seems to have been. Vertical domains can also become stronger brands because they are more memorable to readers. For example, a visitor is much more likely to quickly grasp the idea behind a site like PetHelpful over a site like HubPages; the former is a site about pets for pet lovers and the latter is much more ambiguous!

Will HubPages.com continue to exist?

Yes! It will continue to be the home for Hubs that don’t get moved to niche sites. Additionally, for now, Forums, Q&A, My Account, and profile pages will all remain on HubPages. All articles will continue to be written on HubPages using the HubTool.

What are the new sites about?

tatring_vector-1
TatRing is the first site we’re launching, and it is for artists and enthusiasts sharing knowledge on tattoos and piercings.

pethelpful_vector-1
PetHelpful, a site for animal lovers, enthusiasts, and pet professionals sharing expertise and knowledge on pets, will follow.

Additional sites are being planned, and we will announce them when ready.

What Hubs will be moved to the new sites?

The moderation and editing teams are working together to hand-select and edit Hubs to move to the new domains. Hubs that are defeatured are not being considered at this time, but Hubbers are encouraged to update and improve their Hubs so they can become eligible for review. Lastly, new Hubs will be prioritized during the selection process.

Hubs must, at minimum, meet our criteria for being Featured. You can read about these standards in detail in this newly published FAQ entry. During the selection process, [already Featured] Hubs that have problematic elements (e.g., products, links, low-quality images, etc) may be snipped so that they meet the editorial standards on the new domains.

What gives my Hub the best chance of getting moved to a niche domain?

A single, great Hub may not be selected if the account isn’t in good standing or appears to be untrustworthy. To increase your chances of getting selected:

  • Use a real name or pen name (avoid business names or keyword-driven names)
  • Write a biography for the topics that you are covering, demonstrating expertise and passion
  • In your profile bio, show your interest in the topics you write about

Will I be able to sign in to the new sites?

For now, sign-in will be limited. You will be able to sign in to each site using your HubPages account. The available signed-in features are:

  • Hub commenting
  • Author Center tools on Hubs themselves

Unfortunately, for now, you will have to sign in and out separately on each site. Also, Facebook sign-in is not supported on the new sites.

Can I opt out of this?

There will not be an opt-out option.

Can I still earn money from Hubs that are moved?

Yes. Your Hubs will continue to earn money when they are moved. All of your earnings will be rolled up in My Account > Earnings > Earnings Reports like they are now. The revenue share will not change, nor will the ad layout on Hubs.

Will Google Analytics continue to work?

Yes, Google Analytics should continue to track your page views properly.

New Quality Features: Snip Editing and Account Level Quality Alerts

Hi everyone! It’s been a while since our last product announcement, and I am excited to introduce a couple of new features and give a sneak preview of another that’s coming soon. Two features are being released today: Snip Editing and My Account Quality Alerts.

Snip Editing

Often times, Hubs get defeatured for minor issues— an inappropriate product, a glaring (but innocent) typo in the title, a promotional link or blurb, etc. We see these issues as problematic, but also easily fixable. Up until now, Hubs with these issues have been defeatured. Recently, we started sending Hubbers custom emails when Hubs are defeatured to point out exactly what is wrong. While we are glad that we can provide you with personalized feedback, we’ve found that this process can be time-consuming—both for Hubbers and HubPages moderators. So, we came up with the idea of Snip Editing.

How Does it Work?

Snip Editing is done by HubPages Moderators. With the new tools, they can fix spelling errors and typos in Hub titles and remove problematic links and capsules (for example, unrelated products, low-quality images, and inappropriately-used Ratings Capsules.) The tool does not give moderators the ability to add or change content. In fact, moderator snipping is done only on Hubs that are very close to meeting our standards, but would be defeatured due to one or more of the issues described above. In most cases, we will be removing spammy elements from Hubs so that they could more quickly become or stay Featured.

Moderators will only snip a freshly edited Hub once; after the first time, it is your responsibility to keep your Hub in compliance. If you add back problematic elements (links, products, etc.) your Hub will have a very high chance of becoming defeatured.

Will I Receive a Notification After a Snip Edit?

If your Hub had elements snipped, you will receive an email. The email will contain a link to a diff (a document with red and green highlighting) that will show you exactly what was changed. Those of you that have already participated in HubPro will be familiar with this document.

In addition to the email notification, snipped Hubs will also have the green pencil icon displayed next to their titles in My Account > Statistics. To make this icon more user-friendly, we decided to create two variations:

  • The existing, green pencil icon permanently appears next to any Hub that’s been edited (whether with HubPro Basic, HubPro Premium, or Snipping). Clicking on this icon takes you to the edit history page, with access to all of your diffs and before/after images of your Hub.
  • The same green pencil icon as above, but with a red exclamation point will appear next to any Hub that’s been freshly edited and has not been reviewed by you. Once reviewed (i.e., when the icon is clicked), the icon will change to the existing design without the red exclamation point.

My Account Quality Alerts

Similar to Hub Style Tips and Warnings, we are developing a few notices to alert you to quality problems we’re seeing at the account level rather than on a particular Hub. These notices will appear at the top of My Account > Statistics and will contain specific suggestions for how you can go about addressing the violations. To start, there are four types of alerts:

  • Keyword Stuffing —  we have detected a pattern of overly-optimized keywords across many Hubs in your account
  • Products —  we have detected that you have a low word-to-product ratio (< 300) across many Hubs in your account
  • Grammar —  we have detected a pattern of grammatical errors across many Hubs in your account
  • Comments —  we have detected ten or more unmoderated comments in your account

All of these warnings are designed with quality in mind. Because HubPages needs quality to continue to succeed in today’s environment, we urge you to take these warnings seriously. The first three issues from the list above— keyword stuffing, products, and grammar—all impact Hubber Scores, so addressing them is one way to improve your scores. Comment moderation does not currently factor into Hubber Score, but high-quality comments affect a Hub’s overall credibility—it’s best to keep them clean!

Coming Soon

In addition to the two features being released today, we are currently working on an interface that will show you the clickthrough rate data for various elements (links, products, etc) inside of a Hub. Having access to this granular information will allow you to better understand your readers’ behavior and improve your Hubs. For instance, you might find that a particular product capsule is rarely engaged with by your readers and decide to remove it. More on this soon!

 

We hope you like these new features. As usual, let us know if you have questions or notice any issues!

 

 

 

 

The Topic Page Redesign

Happy Thursday, folks! Today we released a pretty significant design update to the HubPages Topic Page. There’s more coming soon, however, we’re excited to share the work we’ve done so far. I encourage all of you to head over to the new homepage (which is now accessible to signed in users!) to see for yourselves, but I’ll give you the full rundown of the changes here:

  • The new reader-centric homepage is now the main Topic page and it is accessible to both signed in and signed out visitors.
  • All Topic pages (including the homepage) offer three content listings: Latest (default view), Best, and Hot. Some of you might remember this. 🙂
  • Signed in Hubbers see a blended content list that includes Hubs, Questions, and Discussions. Signed out visitors see Hubs only.
  • All HubPages readers now have access to fresh content on HubPages.
  • Navigation on the new Topic pages is consistent with Hubs: the right sidebar contains the list of subtopics that can be expanded.
  • Each content listing item contains a brand new category heading that is clickable. We are more heavily promoting categories to illustrate the breadth and depth of content on HubPages.
  • Each content listing has been updated to include the publication date. Author follower count was removed. Thumbnail images are 125% larger.
  • The breadcrumb structure has greater consistency with Hubs, and “explore” was replaced with “HubPages”.
  • The paragraph descriptions at the top of every Topic page were removed.

What are the benefits of this redesign?

There are a number of important benefits to this update. Most notably, improved site navigation and structure (the underlying HTML) should yield traffic and SEO benefits over the long term. To elaborate, the structural changes we’ve made should augment our credibility with Google and hopefully result in improved visibility in SERPs. If you’d like to learn more about this, Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide is a great starting point. Second, readers can easily discover the latest and greatest content published on HubPages with improved navigation and usability.

Wait, but how do I get to the Feed?

You can access the Feed via the explore menu in the header or by going there directly. Clicking on the HubPages in the header and in breadcrumbs will bring you to the new homepage.
Lastly, we think the following quote from Google’s SEO Guide elucidates our goals and motivations for doing this work:

“Search engine optimization is often about making small modifications to parts of your website. When viewed individually, these changes might seem like incremental improvements, but when combined with other optimizations, they could have a noticeable impact on your site’s user experience and performance in organic search results. “

Stay tuned for more!

Coming Soon: About the Author Biographies

I’m super excited to announce a fun new way to highlight your skills and build trust with your readers: About the Author Biographies. Bios help you demonstrate your expertise on and/or passion for a particular subject while you have your reader’s attention— on the Hub itself. Many Hubbers have already been placing biographies in Text Capsules, but soon you’ll have the ability to put them in the author section on Hubs, just like this:

Screen shot 2015-06-25 at 4.01.48 PM

Desktop view

Screen shot 2015-06-25 at 3.24.02 PM

Mobile view

We know that many Hubbers have a variety of interests. That’s why bios can be customized for any subject area. Like Hub Groups, there are two places to manage bios: the HubTool (great for on-the-fly Hub editing) and My Account (ideal for managing all bios and assigning them to multiple Hubs.) A lengthier explanation of how the feature works will be available in the HubTool Learning Center entry soon!

There are two important technical limitations with respect to bios:

  • Each account can have up to 25 bios stored at a time. You can delete unused bios and update existing ones whenever you like.
  • Each bio must be a minimum of 80 characters long and a maximum of 140 characters long. This range exists to ensure that there is consistency in bio lengths across Hubs.

What Are The Rules?

We want bios to augment the credibility of Hubs and the site as a whole, not the other way around. That being said, we’re going to have a fairly permissive policy when the feature rolls out, but HubPages moderators will have the ability to turn bios off on an account-by-account basis. Bios will be turned off on accounts that:

  • Attempt to spam, e.g., use the space to ask readers to click on their profile or try to insert links—both aren’t allowed and a single offense is enough to hide bios across all of their Hubs.
  • Place unrelated bios across several Hubs (e.g., the Hub is about surgery, but the bio is about baking cookies).
  • Place generic bios across several Hubs, where the bios are not useful to readers.
  • Place bios with many grammatical and/or mechanical errors across several Hubs.
  • Place nonsensical bios with the intent to troll across several Hubs.

Furthermore, it is important to use this tool responsibly and not mislead readers into thinking you are an expert on something you are not. As we all know, some topics are less serious (e.g., cats wearing hats) than others (e.g., brain surgery). For bios that don’t require a high level of specialization, feel free to write whatever you think demonstrates your credibility on or enthusiasm for the subject and use proper formatting.

Additional Guidelines

  • Bios should be specific but concise.
  • Be honest about your qualifications and interests.
  • Biographies should make sense in context. Reference the topic of the Hub when possible. For example, a bio on a Hub about student life at UC Davis should read more like this: “Sally graduated from UC Davis in 2009.” Rather than this: “Sally graduated in 2009.”
  • Bios should be written in the third person, i.e., “Stacy graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1987,” not “I graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1987.” We recommend using your real name or a pen name rather than your username, as it is more professional.
  • Complete sentences are strongly preferred. Also, don’t ask questions.
  • A bio should match the topic of a Hub. Don’t say you’re a dog trainer on your chocolate chip cookie Hub. Don’t include information about yourself on topics unrelated to the topic of the Hub.

Examples of Good Bios

  • On a Hub about the Skyrim video game “Allen has been playing Skyrim for three years. He completed the main quest three times on three different races: Altmer, Nord, and Khajiit.”
  • On a Hub about stomach cancer treatment options: “Emily has been a practicing oncologist for 20 years. She graduated from the University of Virginia Medical School in 1995.”
  • On a Hub reviewing the Apple Watch: “Ken has been an Apple fanboy for years. He loves to test Apple products and write reviews about them in his Hubs.”
  • On a Hub about Korean Pop Music: “Christy is an avid lover of Korean popular music, also known as K-Pop. A fan since 2011, she follows several popular bands.”
  • On a Hub about filing taxes: “Don has been a Certified Professional Accountant (CPA) for several years. He regularly meets with clients to help them manage their finances.”

Examples of Bad Bios

  • On a Hub about anything: “Please visit website MyTravelSamsNStuff” —  this bio is purely promotional and trying to skirt our rules against linking.
  • On a Hub about Skyrim or other video game: “Allen has been playing this game for many years.” —  this bio isn’t specific enough or make sense in context. What game has Allen been playing?
  • On a Hub about anything: “Hi. Do you like my Hub? I like you. Please click on my profile above!” —  this a troll bio that is also promotional.
  • On a Hub about a complicated medical procedure: “I like keeping up with the latest medical devices.” —  this bio does not demonstrate enough credibility for a topic that requires a high level of specialization.
  • On a Hub about anything other than cats: “Hi, I’m Paul. I live in Berkeley and have two cats.” —  this bio is too generic to be of use to readers. This type of information is better suited for a Profile bio rather than a Hub bio.

That’s it for now! Over the next few weeks, be on the lookout for About the Author!

An Update to HubScore

Happy Thursday, Hubbers! Today I’d like to announce some updates to the HubScore algorithm. As you may already know, HubScore is the score that is assigned to an individual Hub. It is displayed privately in My Account > Statistics and is not visible to other Hubbers or search visitors. Up until fairly recently, HubScore was intended to measure both a Hub’s quality and activity— things like the amount of traffic it receives, comments, shares, and Hub Feedback. These days, we want HubScore to be mostly a reflection of the quality of a Hub and not the amount of traffic it receives. Sometimes those two things are correlated, but many times they are not.

Before I get into the changes, I want to highlight the fact that HubScores and the factors used to compute them are updated regularly to improve their accuracy and usefulness. Please expect fluctuations—  both HubScore and Hubber Score are dynamic and will change often, particularly as we collect more information about your Hubs. Apart from fluctuations, there may also be anomalies from time to time. Anomalies are more common with HubScore than with Hubber Score. This is because we have more data at the account level, so Hubber Scores tend to be more reliable and stable overall.

Please keep in mind that HubScore was never intended to be be looked at in a vacuum or as a grade for a particular Hub. In fact, it’s much more useful to look at the range of scores across all of your Hubs so that you can prioritize the ones that need improvement (when reviewing your lowest-scoring Hubs, for instance, consider whether they are making readers happy; is there something you can change to do a better job at answering their queries?) To further illustrate this point, please take a look at the distribution of HubScores across all published Hubs on HubPages:

HubScore Distribution

As you can see, a score of 70 is above average and considered pretty good! OK, so what are these changes to HubScore? The table below shows the factors that made up HubScore before the update, the factors that will be deemphasized as part of the update (i.e., traffic), and factors that will be emphasized as part of the update.

Screen shot 2015-02-26 at 3.51.18 PM

If you notice your HubScores adjust in the next few days, it is probably a result of this update. And since HubScores are used in calculating Hubber Scores, the latter might change as well. We just want to give you a heads-up so that you don’t worry if/when you notice your scores change

That’s it for now!

An Update on Spam and Product Capsules

Happy New Year, Hubbers! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season. As we get back into the swing of things at HubPages HQ, I want to share a bit about what’s in store this upcoming year. Our focus continues to be on improving the overall quality and health of the site. To that end, I’d like to talk about product capsules.

Our policies on product capsules have become stricter over the years, and we will continue to tighten the rules on how products can be used on HubPages. At this point we have definitive evidence that on average, Hubs with fewer words per product have less satisfied readers.

This graph shows the average search visitor rating (1-10,  "How good is this article?”) by words per product.

This graph shows the average search visitor rating (1-10, “How good is this article?”) by words per product.

Thus one of the biggest changes we implemented recently was in the way that the Quality Assessment Process evaluates product-oriented Hubs. If you’re not familiar with the phrase “spammy elements” by now, you should be! Spammy elements are things— products, links, text— that tend to make Hubs (even totally innocent ones) spammy, regardless of the intent of the author.

Hubs that seem spammy detract from HubPages’ mission to be the best place to publish original, in-depth, media-rich pages on topics you are passionate about. While we have a ways to go, we want all Featured Hubs to reflect this mission statement. Sadly, many Hubs do not use products judiciously. They tend to:

  • Lack depth
  • Borrow too much information from the seller or manufacturer’s site (e.g., Amazon)
  • Use products excessively
  • Use products that are unrelated to the content

OK, so what do these points mean? The first two are related to one another and have more to do with the content in product Hubs than the product capsules themselves. If you include products in your Hubs, make sure that they supplement your content and not the other way around. One litmus test you could run is this: if you were to remove all of the product capsules from your Hub, would the remaining content satisfy your readers? Would the Hub even make sense? If not, you know you’ve got a problem.

The last two bullet points above are probably familiar rules, but they continue to be important. When we use the word “excessive” we are not thinking of a magic number or a specific Hub-to-content ratio. It all depends on context. A Hub may have 20 products and still be excellent (admittedly, it would take a lot of work). In general, though, you should avoid placing description-less products in big blocks (e.g., two or more in a row). This makes Hubs appear spammy even if they aren’t. Similarly, only use products that are directly related to your Hub’s content— or, in many cases— to the reader’s search query. For more tips on best practices, please check out the Appropriate Use of Product Capsules section of the HubPages Style Guide.

We have a few more tips to help you decide whether or not your Hub should include products:

  • Only include products that are directly mentioned in the Hub, recommended by you in context, and useful to the reader. Ask yourself: if you were a reader, would you want to be shown this product and would it be valuable to you?
  • In a Hub that’s a curated list (“The Best Ski Poles for Kids”), you should show first-hand knowledge about the items on the list (the different ski poles and their nuances). Simply researching the topic and pulling information from Amazon or other sources is not enough. Curated lists with products need information that comes from hands-on or unique experience.

To further help illustrate the difference between spammy product Hubs and OK product Hubs, we have compiled a list of examples. The spammy product Hubs were specially created by HubPages’ moderators, and you may recognize some of the authors of the OK product Hubs as successful fellow Hubbers.

Spammy Product Hubs

Example 1: The content in this Hub is fluff and there are an excessive number of description-less Amazon products:
http://hubpages.com/sample/aj0hb

Example 2: This is a product review Hub (about multiple products) where the content is a regurgitation of Amazon’s product details page(s):
http://hubpages.com/sample/aj0Il

Example 3: This is a product review Hub (about multiple products) where the content is stolen from Amazon:
http://hubpages.com/sample/aj1Ce

Example 4: This is a product review Hub (about one product) where the author is more interested in selling the product than informing the reader:
http://hubpages.com/sample/aj1DN

Example 5: This is a product review Hub (about one product) where the review does not seem balanced or genuine:
http://hubpages.com/sample/aj3pa

OK Product Hubs

Example 1: The author actually bought and used the products in this Hub. They are being recommended from personal experience:
http://hub.me/acvpb

Example 2: This is an in-depth, instructional Hub on making a bracelet where the reader needs the products to make the bracelet:
http://hub.me/aiRx7

Example 3: This is an in-depth, project-based Hub (similar to the bracelet Hub) on decorating a nursery where the reader needs the products to complete the project:
http://hub.me/ahheh

Example 4: This is a product review Hub (about multiple products) where most of the products being recommended have been used by the author or suggested by her daughter. Products are used sparingly and content is original and in-depth:
http://hub.me/aj2QA

We hope those example Hubs are helpful. Next, we invite you to discuss and ask questions in this staff-monitored forum thread. Paul E, Robin, and I will be around to answer your questions. Thanks for your help keeping HubPages awesome and spam-free in 2015!

Heads Up —  New Hub Design Coming Soon!

I’m super excited to announce that the Hub will be sporting a brand new look later this week! Our primary goals with this redesign are to remove ads from the main content area of the Hub and improve the overall reading experience. We also want to give more real estate to Hubbers, like we did with the mobile design roughly a year ago.

Because this will be the first iteration of the new design, we plan to do a few weeks of testing afterward to see how the changes are received by HubPages’ readers. Consequently, the first version will not be permanent and we’ll likely be making refinements based on the data we collect after testing. We would also love to get your feedback on the new design, so make sure to share your thoughts in the announcement forum later this week!

Here’s a list of the major changes you can expect to see on your Hubs:

  • The sidebar will be widened so that the main body of the Hub is 970 pixels (from 728 pixels).
  • The author section will be more prominently displayed at the top of the new sidebar. If you provided it, your real name will be displayed beside your username (like on mobile). Your avatar will also be much larger.
  • A More by the Author content module will be displayed below the first ad in the sidebar. It will look similar to the Hub of the Day module in the Feed and will feature one Hub.
  • A Recommended Content module will be displayed below the second ad in the sidebar.
  • The Hub title will be enlarged and span the width of the entire content area.
  • The Breadcrumb structure on subdomain Hubs will be reverted back to how it was before September 2013 —  it will direct readers to HubPages Topic Pages rather than a filtered view of your Profile.
  • The Ad Program ad layout will be revamped:
    • Ads will be removed from the main Hub content area.
    • The Related Searches unit in the sidebar will be removed.
    • The new sidebar will have three 300×250 ads (separated by the content modules above), two of which will anchor as the reader scrolls down the page.
    • There will be some new ads below the main Hub content area.
  • The AdSense Only ad layout will be updated as well:
    • Ads will be removed from the main Hub content area.
    • The Related Searches unit in the sidebar will be removed.
    • The new sidebar will have two 300×250 ads (separated by the content modules above), one of which will anchor as the reader scrolls down the page.
    • There will be one 520×280 ad below the main Hub content area.
  • The social buttons will remain anchored as the reader scrolls, but they’ll be displayed horizontally.

And, here is a sneak peak:

🙂

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 2.54.15 PM

It’s Time to Upgrade Your Google Analytics Account

Universal Analytics

Hey Hubbers! Universal Analytics (UA) is the latest version of the Google Analytics platform. Many Hubbers use Google Analytics to track and analyze traffic trends to their Hubs and personal websites, and if you’re one of them, listen up! You can read all about Universal Analytics here, but here’s the gist: UA introduces a new set of features that change the way data is collected and organized in your Google Analytics account. Upgrading is a good option if you already use Google Analytics to collect data from your Hubs and want to combine your historical data with any new data you collect via Universal Analytics in the same reports. One important thing to note is that transferring happens at the property level, not at the account level.

UA is the default for newly created properties, but old properties will need to be upgraded individually. Because the upgrade process requires Google Analytics users to transfer in their respective accounts, Hubbers will need to complete Step 1 below. If you aren’t sure about whether your HubPages subdomain property is using classic Google Analytics or Universal Analytics, you can check here (click on the arrow to the left of “In your account”).

How to Upgrade

The upgrade process happens in two steps:

  1. Account holders transfer existing web properties to Universal Analytics. This is done in the Google Analytics admin interface. Please note: the transfer takes minutes to initiate, but you should allow 24-48 hours for it to complete.
  2. Developers implement the new UA tracking code on their sites. You can skip this step since HubPages will take care of implementing the code.

Here’s What You’ll See In Your Admin Analytics Page

Select the HubPages property (it will likely be ‘subdomain.hubpages.com’ in your account) from the drop-down menu, and click on Universal Analytics Upgrade.

If your account is not set to use UA, you should see a blue Transfer button. Click on it to begin the transfer.

If you don’t see a blue Transfer button here, that means your property is already upgraded into UA and all you need to do is visit My Account > Earnings > Settings > Analytics to confirm.

A ‘Transfer in Progress’ status message will appear. That message will change to ‘Transfer Complete’ within 48 hours.

UA_Admin_Transfer_In_Progress

We have already completed the upgrade process for our master account. However, because many Hubbers use the older version of Google Analytics, we are running both the old and new tracking codes on many pages across the site. On August 20, 2014, we plan to remove the classic Google Analytics code from the site. When you’ve completed the steps above, please confirm in My Account > Earnings > Settings > Analytics. If you have any questions, drop by the forums!

 

The Winning Social Buttons Are Live!

Screen shot 2014-06-11 at 3.16.54 PM

Over the last two weeks we’ve been experimenting with the design and placement of the social sharing buttons on Hubs. Using a tool called Optimizely, we ran split test experiments on several variations of the buttons, with the goal of maximizing the rate of social shares. We’ve finally settled on our winner and the new buttons are already live on all Hubs!

As you might expect, there are countless things that can be tested— colors, shapes, sizes, logos, and more. We really liked the simple, sleek social logos, so we decided to start there and focus our testing efforts on the following:

Placement

  • Below the Hub title
  • Below the Hub content
  • Above the Hub Praise bar
  • Sidebar (original placement)

Colors

  • Monochrome (black and white)
  • Colors (white foreground logo on a colored background)
  • Grey with colors becoming visible on mouse hover

Shape

  • Circles
  • Squares

Counts

  • Buttons with counts
  • Buttons without counts

So, what did we learn after two weeks of design testing? Here are the highlights:

  • The sidebar placement converted twice as well as the other placements we tested. It was a clear winner.
  • Colored buttons were clicked on 20% more often than the monochrome buttons, and marginally more than the on-hover color buttons.
  • The square-shaped buttons performed slightly better than the circle-shaped buttons.
  • Displaying share counts did not have a statistically significant impact on the rate of shares. Buttons with counts were clicked on at roughly the same rate as buttons without counts.

For now, the square-shaped, colored buttons will live in the sidebar, but we intend to use the data collected on their performance in different locations to inform more significant future design changes. Stay tuned!

Lastly, and as previously mentioned by Christy, our primary reason for switching to static social buttons was to improve the load time on Hubs. Static buttons load much quicker because they don’t need to make a Javascript call to each source to retrieve the share count. Based on our observations, the new buttons perform 24% faster on the first fully-loaded view and 38% faster on repeat fully-loaded views, so it looks like they’re here to stay.

 

Introducing: The HubPages Amazon Program

Hubbers, starting today there is an exciting new way to earn from Amazon products on your Hubs: the HubPages Amazon Program. Some of you may recall talk of the Amazon Program way back in late 2011, when we originally hoped to launch it. Unfortunately, we had to pause development work at the time, but we are very excited to finally be able to offer the program to HubPages Earnings Program participants!

How the Amazon Program works:

Hubbers who participate in the HubPages Earnings Program now (or are eligible to) have the option to earn from Amazon products directly through HubPages. The program will track referrals from your Hubs and the resulting purchase activity on Amazon. You will accrue into your HubPages Earnings Program balance from this activity, based on a commission from transactions on Amazon that occur after a referral from your Hubs.

To register for the Amazon Program, you will need to:

  • Enable the HubPages Earnings Program (i.e., provide a PayPal address and tax form)

  • Associate an approved Google AdSense account

  • Verify your phone number

  • Have at least one published Hub

Benefits of the Amazon Program for Hubbers:

The Amazon Program offers a very high Amazon commission tier because the volume of sales across HubPages is aggregated for the benefit of the entire community. Because of this, most Hubbers will earn more via the Amazon Program than they would on their own. Another advantage to switching is that earnings across the Ad, eBay, and Amazon Programs will be consolidated, helping you reach the $50 payout threshold faster.

Here are some answers to questions we think you will have about the transition:

I already have my own Amazon Associates ID linked on HubPages. What will happen to that?

We understand that some users may prefer to earn from Amazon directly, which is why transitioning to the HubPages Amazon Program is not mandatory. We do, however, encourage you to consider switching to the Amazon Program if you *do not* currently earn at a high Amazon commission tier.

I already have Amazon Capsules published. Do I need to edit those?

No editing of existing Amazon Capsules will be required. HubPages will take care of all the back-end work to make sure that the Amazon Capsules you have already published transition correctly with no additional work required on your part.

Amazon links created via the Amazon tab in the Text Capsule linking tool will automatically be updated with your HubPages-issued affiliate ID. Amazon links added ad hoc (copied and pasted from the Amazon site) will not.

Please note: due to caching, the affilliate IDs across all of your Hubs may not switch immediately. Please allow up to four hours for the conversion process to complete.

How do payments work for the Amazon Program?

Earnings for the Amazon Program will be pooled together with earnings from the Ad and eBay Programs to help you reach the $50 payout threshold faster. However, Amazon Program earnings will be credited to your HEP balance a month later than the Ad and eBay Program. The reason for this is to protect ourselves and the community from fraudulent practices that have the potential to arise with a shorter payment cycle.

What about open balances with Amazon if I switch?

Open balances with Amazon after the switch will be paid out per the Amazon Associates Program guidelines. Note that if you are using your personal Amazon Associates ID elsewhere on the web beyond HubPages, such activity may still contribute to your balance in that external account.

Can I switch back to my personal Amazon Associates ID after signing up for the Amazon Program under the HubPages Earnings Program?

Yes.

May I use my HubPages-assigned Amazon ID outside of HubPages?

No.  The ID that HubPages assigns to your HubPages Earnings Program account is authorized for use only on HubPages.  You are not permitted to use it off of HubPages or to provide it to others as downstream affiliates of you.

I am already enrolled in the HubPages Earnings Program. I am already part of the Amazon Associates Program via my own affiliate code. What are my options?

Your personal Amazon Associates ID will continue to work. You can switch now to participate under HubPages and take advantage of the high commission tier provided by HubPages. You will be able to switch back to your own Amazon Associates ID at any time.

I am not enrolled in the HubPages Earnings Program. I am already part of the Amazon Associates Program. What are my options?

Your personal Amazon Associates ID will continue to work. If you would like to participate in the HubPages Amazon Program and get the high commission tier, you will need to sign-up for a HubPages Earnings Program account.

Note that while you do not need to participate in the Ad Program in order to participate in the Amazon Program, you do need remain in good standing with HubPages and compliant with any rules that may be set by Amazon. This includes having an up-to-date account in the HubPages Earnings Program.

I am already enrolled in the HubPages Earnings Program. I do not want to join the Amazon Program. What do I need to do?

You do not need to take any action. The default status for the Amazon Program is “off”.

We encourage you to stop by our main FAQ to learn even more about the Program and visit the official Forum announcement where you can ask questions and report bugs. We hope you enjoy the Amazon Program!