New Monetization Opportunity with Slideshows

[UPDATE (October 8th, 2012): AdSense ads shown in slideshows were part of a test program ran by Google AdSense, the first phase of which has been discontinued. This means that, for the time being, you will not see ads on slideshows, however as soon as the feature becomes available again, we will add it back.]

Hubbers, this week we started testing a new ad format from Google that helps monetize images.  These ads are displayed on about 20% of slide views.  The revenue is shared via the HubPages impressions sharing (swapping AdSense Ids), so you’ll see the revenue in your own personal AdSense Account.

A couple of key points

  • You don’t have to do anything.  This monetization feature is on for 20% of slide show views.
  • Earnings are shared via impression sharing (60% to authors).
  • If you have slide shows, you’ll see the impact in your own AdSense account.
  • This is a beta product. HubPages is one of a few sites testing out the service.
  • We don’t have the ability to create AdSense channels for it yet in your personal account(coming, not sure when).

The ad works by placing an overlay over the bottom of the image.

Overlay ad

After a few seconds, the ad slides down just so the top of the ad is visible in the image.

This is what the ad looks like after it has slid down.  The ad can be closed by clicking the X at any time.

I’ve set up a forum for feedback on the new ad format.

We really enjoy being able to test early products so that Hubbers get increased opportunities to earn and want to thank the AdSense team for working with us.

Hub Hopper, Will Help Find Hubs to Feature

We are making changes to the Hub Hopper and it’s placement on the site to help us quickly identify Hubs to feature across HubPages Topic Pages, Related Hubs and the Best, Hot and Latest Hub feeds.  This will create a better browsing experience for readers and offer more rewards to Hubbers that create great Hubs.

We’ve heard the feedback that people would Hop more if they knew what it did.  Hub Hopping helps us identify good Hubs as well as offers a way to  flag Hubs outside of the HubPages rules.  However, all Hubs were previously eligible to flow through to topic pages and other parts of the site.  Hubbers primarily think of Hub Hopping as finding rules violations.  This new Hopper is primarily designed to help us find Hubs to feature.

We would like the community’s help to Hop through all the Hubs so that we can feature high quality Hubs everyday on HubPages.  Ideally, all new Hubs get Hopped everyday so we have enough feedback to accurately feature great Hubs.

Key Details:

  • Hubbers are going to select the Hubs that are eligible to be featured by Hub Hopping
  • The initial beta is to collect data to see how well the system works and how many Hub Hops we need to get accurate data
  • All new and updated Hubs will be added to the queue to be Hopped

During the beta period, we are only collecting data (not using it to feature Hubs yet). In the upcoming weeks the Hopping selections will be featured across the site.

We’ve set up a forum to discuss the new Hopper here.

Here’s to great Hubs,

Paul

 

 

Preparing a Test to Further Address Panda

We are nearing the last phase of our plan to address Panda, the Google search algorithm change that has hit HubPages.  I’ve shared a number of major changes we’ve made in prior blog posts, but, to reiterate, we have been working on a plan to lift the punitive aspect of Panda from HubPages, where search engine rankings are being negatively impacted regardless of the quality of the Hub.  Open publishing platforms like HubPages, by virtue of their openness, attract a wide range of content quality.  As part of the Panda update, the presence of low quality Hubs has the ability to bring down rankings for all authors.

As we work to remedy this and restore traffic to high-quality Hubs, we take all changes to HubPages very seriously and have great respect for HubPages’ authors.  Many of you have expressed feedback about Panda, about the disruption and the changes we are making, and about how we are going about it – both good and bad.  Our sole focus is to create the most rewarding place for people to publish online that focuses on earning an income by providing information and interesting content to those that seek it.  We will emerge from this as a stronger community and thank all of you for the feedback and thoughts.  Part of that feedback has been to be given a heads-up on the changes we plan to make, so keep reading for a recap and our next steps.

Our plan has focused on four things to improve traffic to high-quality authors.  First, we have improved quality on HubPages across the board by only allowing original content, we reduced the ratios of syndicated content to original, tripled the size of the moderating team to remove substandard content, and improved the type of sites we allow people to link to and promote.  Even if weren’t for Panda, we believe these steps are an overall positive to the future for people that choose to participate on HubPages as they improve the overall experience with the site. Second, we have made architectural and other changes under the covers of HubPages to get rid of pages that may be construed as thin.  These include noindexing pages like tag pages, forum posts and questions without responses, and implementing the rel=”author” tag.  Third, we’ve spoken out against Panda’s effects on HubPages’ open platform compared to Google’s own properties, and we’ve reached out to Google in the official forums, and to Google employees directly.  This effort has been fruitful in getting feedback on our overall plan.  Our changes line up with the feedback we’ve been given from Google directly and their communication to us should allow us to better serve all of you.

We are now going to start testing moving individual authors to subdomains (e.g. pauledmondson.hubpages.com).  This is a major development effort that is underway.  Putting authors on a subdomain clearly delineates between sets of Hubs by author, so one author’s Hubs won’t negatively impact another.   Paul Deeds, Jay Reitz and Tim Martin are working as quickly as possible to prepare the test. We are shooting for the last week of June to start the test on the site.  We have the infrastructure in place to evaluate the results and will then consider a broader roll-out.  We expect Hubs to get reindexed on the subdomains over a period of several weeks.  Ideally, high-quality Hubs will see an increase in rankings and traffic.  We have evidence on a small scale that this is the case and that it warrants further testing and a site-wide rollout if results are promising.

We are optimistic that the previous changes coupled with subdomains will allow high quality authors to prosper.  We will report back on the changes as soon as we can evaluate them.  We may be looking for a few participants to volunteer their accounts for testing.  If you’re interested, leave a reply in the comments below (be sure to include your username).

Addressing Panda

It’s been a bit since I posted an update on addressing Panda, so I wanted to let all of you know that we are still working aggressively on it; we are as concerned about this issue as you are, and are committed to finding a solution. Since the Panda update, we’ve been working around the clock and exploring every avenue and source of information.  We have reached out to Google several times and have spent countless hours analyzing our data, running tests, and making modifications.  Our entire goal is to lift the dampening effect on HubPages’ best authors, who are the people that create expert and enthusiast content that others on the Web enjoy.

Google has specifically pointed us to this line: “low-quality content on some parts of a website can impact the whole site’s rankings.”  Low quality has been defined very broadly.  There isn’t a list that says which page is good and which one is bad.  So, we have focused our efforts and have driven several policy changes on HubPages to help improve quality, while maintaining an open publishing environment.  Doing so with a site as large as HubPages, with many diverse authors, has certain tradeoffs.

While we desire to be as open as possible to all types of contributions, the current environment makes that challenging when one piece of content has the potential to depress other content.  We have been committed to testing and modifying the editorial policy until a balance was struck.  This is a very tricky business and like many things with search engines, the impact of a change isn’t seen right away.  We have focused on changes that we believe are good for both authors and readers in the long run, and we can understand the frustration and concerns that some of our users have experienced as result of seeing the rules change.  The web is a very dynamic environment that is changing quickly.  At times it requires rapid adaptation and innovation.  This is one of those times.

We love getting all the emails asking what people can do to help.  To those we say: keep creating great Hubs, making suggestions on how we can improve, flagging Hubs that aren’t up to our standards, and letting us know of changes you don’t agree with.  While we don’t respond to every forum thread and email, we are constantly reading and listening.  We, as a company, deeply value the opinions of HubPages’ authors.

Going forward, we hope to limit editorial policy changes as much as possible.  However, we will continue to run tests and make tweaks to improve the site.  Most changes we’ve made you don’t see, like the hidden rel=”author” tag we’ve added to Hubs that designates the Hub’s author.  Over the next few weeks we will run small tests on pieces of HubPages that work to lift the depression on high-quality content.  Improving the experience for Hubbers and readers is our top consideration as we roll out any additional changes.

We genuinely appreciate your patience as we work to get traffic to your high-quality Hubs, and are proud to count each one of you as members of our writing community.

Open Publishing Platforms are Critical to the Web

HubPages has always believed in open publishing platforms and giving Hubbers as much freedom as possible to share their knowledge with the world.  At the same time we have always taken content moderation seriously and work hard to be great Net citizens.  Today, I posted a few questions regarding best practices to the Google Webmaster Forum.  For the community of great writers here at HubPages, we will keep you informed as we work to understand the recent Google changes and how to best maintain the platform for all of the writers here at HubPages.

What are the best practices for open publishing platforms due to the recent Panda update? In particular, where high quality content on a domain has been negatively impacted on average as much as any other content?  Is it a question of content moderation, site architecture, both or something else?
While we believe the democratization of publishing and earning potential is an important part of the progress of the Web, we want to avoid a situation where a portion of content negatively impacts the rankings of high quality content.  It appears HubPages has been impacted by this while YouTube has not, despite HubPages having a more strict content policy.  In Google’s view, what is the recommended moderation standard that open publishing platforms should enforce?

Open publishing platforms tend to use one of two domain models. WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger organize mainly by subdomain, while HubPages and YouTube organize all the content under a single domain.  Is there a recommendation on the best practice for open platforms regarding architecture? 

 

 

In an effort to give Google clues, HubPages’ internal linking structure promotes the best content.  For example, we program the “related articles” suggestions with content that we think users will find useful, and we submit sitemaps with a set priority so Google knows the most important content.  We also understand the challenges of fighting off spam, spun articles and various forms of attacks; we believe we do the industry’s best job of fighting spam in an open publishing environment where every individual can have a voice.

Feedback from Google on open publishing platforms best practices is greatly appreciated.

As the Google Update Continues

There has been a great deal of attention to changes to Google’s search algorithm and I know that many of you have been wondering about changes in Google traffic to your Hubs. As a community of writers that owns their own content, we know how invested each of you are in your corner of HubPages, especially when you’ve gone the extra mile to publish great Hubs.

So far we haven’t seen this change consistently drive traffic to better-quality Hubs. On one hand, some of our best content has seen a drop in traffic; simultaneously, we have seen traffic rise on Hubs that are just as great. We are taking this seriously — behind the scenes, we have been crunching data and focusing on making sure that we are doing everything right from our side. We have an editorial policy and internal system that rewards original useful content, and this aligns with what Google wants, too.

We have several internal quality metrics that make up HubScore and we have deeply analyzed things like content length, view duration, Hub Hopper ratings, and HubScore. These elements have been compared to changes in Google referrals, and again, based on the way we rate content quality, the fluctuation so far looks random at this stage of the update.

We believe that a change of this size will take a settling-in period. We have reached out to Google and will continue to study the update. As part of our process, we strive to have the highest quality site, and to create the most rewarding place for people to publish online. We are all on the side of good content and we have no doubt that your great Hubs will rise again in traffic.

We will continue to keep you posted.

Recent Google Changes

There has been a significant update to the Google search results that we first noticed the evening of February 23.  We have always believed that the only way to long term success is by creating useful high quality content.  We also strongly believe in Google’s desire to have the best content rise to the top of search results.  We believe that HubPages’ authors’ interests and Google’s are aligned and ultimately this update will create value to both of our audiences.

Google has written about this update, and the media has covered it extensively as the entire online universe has been influenced.  For those who are concerned that their high quality original content has seen significant changes, our recommendation is to be patient – good content has a history of returning to previous traffic levels after significant updates to search engine algorithms.

Changes like this are an opportunity to be reminded that once things settle down, the cream of the content will rise to the top.  As a site that’s always been squarely on the side of good writing, we are confident that our content will continue to do well on all search engines. As we learn more about the update, we will keep you informed.

A Few Questions to Answer About HubPages

We get a ton of specific feedback from the HubPages community through the forums and sent to us directly.  Posts often inform us of features people want and areas of the site that have bugs or aren’t working right.  This feedback is tremendously important to how we plan the development work on HubPages.  This weekend, I sent a short survey to the folks that work at HubPages HQ asking them a few quick questions about our company to help us improve our long term planning.

Here are a few questions, that I’d love to have answered by our community members to help us with our longer term planning as well.

1.  If you were to describe HubPages in less than twenty three words or a short sentence, how would you describe HP?

2.  What does HubPages do that you really like?

3. Where does HubPages have the most opportunity to improve?

4. Is there a missing feature or service as part of HubPages that you need to be successful?

5. Do you tell other people that you’re active on HubPages?  Why or why not?

Please leave your answers in the comment box below.  Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions and helping us improve HubPages.

HubPages Mobile Usage and 2011 Prediction

We’ve been watching mobile usage very closely at HubPages and I think we have some interesting trends to report.  The first interesting thing about mobile usage on HubPages is there were 3.6 million visits from mobile devices in November.  The iPhone is the #1 device, with 1.4 million visits, but Android usage is growing more quickly, and even though the iPhone has a large lead, Android, with .8 million visits, will close the gap in 2011.

A point of note beyond the growth of mobile smartphone use in general, (which Nielsen predicts will be owned by one in two Americans by Christmas 2011), is

usage pattern.  Mobile usage peaks and declines nearly at the inverse of browsing the web on the computer.  Saturday and Sunday, two of the lowest traffic days on HubPages, are the highest traffic days for mobile devices.  Also, on weekday evenings when computer traffic declines, mobile traffic picks up.

screen-shot-2010-12-03-at-8-48-06-am1

We have seen significant growth in mobile consumption.  HubPages continues to grow at a good clip, (we have seen over a 7.5% increase in unique visitors to the site month over month for November), however mobile usage is increasing at a greater rate with over 17% month-over-month growth.  I think there is a possibility that by the end of 2011, mobile can be responsible 25% of consumption on HubPages.  It’s aggressive growth, but possible.

We have a belief at HubPages that mobile consumption and tools for Hubbers will be a large part of our future.  We recently released an iPhone app for HubPages, and this is only the beginning.

Guest Post on TechCrunch This Weekend

We are really thankful for an opportunity to write a guest post on TechCrunch this weekend to a follow up story they did on the One Millionth Hub.

As a result of their last story on HubPages, I received several emails about how HubPages traffic grew and we thought it must seem mysterious to people that haven’t explored writing on HubPages.  So, I offered to give Michael Arrington a demo of HubPages and show him a behind the scenes view on how authors become successful on HubPages.  He suggested that I write a guest post for TC telling the story, and I wanted to thank him  for the opportunity and for all the coverage TC has given HubPages over the last four plus years.