Squidoo and HubPages

I have some very exciting news to announce today. HubPages is acquiring key content from Squidoo, creating the world’s largest site of its kind.

Squidoo and HubPages have been cousins over the years. We shared the same desire to provide a platform for individuals to share their knowledge and passions with the world.

We want to thank Seth, Corey, Gil and the rest of the Squidoo team that  have worked tirelessly for nearly a decade to innovate, adapt, and grow a wonderful community of incredible Lensmasters that have generated millions of lenses and billions of visits. I’ve been a big fan of Squidoo, their mission, their Lensmasters, and their team for many years.

By combining HubPages with the best of Squidoo, we will be able to invest more in our site and community, and make HubPages a place that Hubbers and Lensmasters deserve for years to come.

We have been working together with the Squidoo team to make this transition as smooth as possible. We plan to complete the migration by October 1st. In the meantime, we put together a FAQ on the content acquisition and migration that we plan to update regularly. In addition, there will be a new forum dedicated to Squidoo transition issues, along with more announcements in the near future.

Please welcome the Lensmasters–our new Hubbers–to our community!

Update on Editor’s Choice Hubs

I wanted to provide an update on Editor’s Choice Hubs.  We started the program to recognize great Hubs.  Over the last nine months we have selected almost 20,000 EC Hubs and a handful are getting added every day.  We’ve had lots of great comments that Hubbers love the recognition, but the data hounds in the community say: that’s great, but do they get more traffic?

When a EC Hub is selected it gets moved from the author’s subdomain to the main HubPages.com domain.  When an older Hub is moved it can be a bit of a wild ride.  Sometimes Hubs jump way up and other times they come down.  Overall, they’re slightly up (~2%).

Over the last few months, I’ve had the opportunity to see several sites (outside of HubPages) that have done major movements like this and in some cases it has taken two years for a significant traffic shift after creating clusters of high quality content.  So, I think there is still a chance that we will see a major traffic move, and it appears that there is some slight traffic benefit in the short term on average.

I hope Hubbers stay with the program and hang in there with us for the long haul.  We are working on several improvements to the site.  I’m very optimistic about the future of HubPages.  Stay tuned Hubbers.

Videos Can Now Include an Embedded Timestamp!

I have quite a nifty new feature to announce today. (It’s extra special, too, because it’s Oren’s first project at HubPages. Go Oren!) YouTube videos that you embed in your Hubs can now include a timestamp! For people who are less tech-savvy like me, this means that when you add videos to your Hub, you can make the video start playing at a particular time. This feature is extra useful in situations where you want to show the reader a specific part of a really long video. By including the timestamp, the video will automatically start playing right where you want it to.

Here’s how it works. When you want to share a specific part of a video with your readers, follow these steps:

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  1. Pause the YouTube video at the spot where you want it to start playing in your Hub.
  2. Click the “Share” tab below the video. Sharing options should appear right underneath the tab.
  3. Click the check box beside the “Start at:” option.
  4. Copy the link from the box into your Hub.
  5. The video in your Hub should now start wherever you paused it on YouTube.

 

To learn more about embedding your video with a timestamp, check out the HubPages FAQ entry. Happy Hubbing!

This Hub was Pinned by Jessica Alba

5693530_f520Happy Tuesday, friends! Today it is my pleasure congratulate Hubber Peggy W on receiving the first HubPages celebrity Pin on Pinterest. Last night her Hub, Crape-Myrtles in Southern Landscaping,  was Pinned by Jessica Alba on the Dream House board of her official Pinterest page! The image on the left is the one the famous actress chose to Pin.

While Peggy couldn’t have predicted Jessica’s fascination with beautiful southern Crape-Myrtles, we think her Hub is highly Pinnable thanks to her stunning original photos and the short descriptive text on her first image. This gem is certainly deserving of the star-studded interest it has received.

Here’s to many more celebrity Pins to come!

Introducing the New Mobile Hub

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I’m super excited to announce an all new mobile Hub architecture and design for smartphones.  We’ve all read and heard about the switch to mobile and our traffic numbers indicate it’s happening quickly.    Over the last 30 days we’ve had over 14 million visits from smartphones.  A year ago in the exact same time period, we had 9 million.  By this time next year, I estimate that 50% of our traffic will be to smartphones, 15% to tablets, and 35% to desktop.  This is a huge shift that demands we focus on our mobile experience.  We aim to bring to you a service where you don’t have to worry about what screen a reader is using, so you can concentrate on your Hubs.

I’m not going to go into the details of responsive design for mobile, but I will tell you the tangible benefits you will see on HubPages.

  • Hubbers are the center of HubPages.  The new design reflects an author-centric design where topically related content by that author is easily accessible.

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  • The smartphone readability is enhanced with all mobile Hubs being single column in portrait view (vertical).  Simply put, when capsules were placed side-by-side, the text lines would often only fit two words.  This made reading mobile Hubs difficult.  Now, the full-width line lengths are much easier to read.
  • In the HubTool, there is now a mobile preview button where you can see how your Hub looks before publishing.
  • Mobile Hubs should earn more.  There are still three ads on the new layout, but responsive design now lets us use standard ads and a permission to anchor an ad at the top of the Hub.  We will do more mobile ad optimization, but we are confident that this will be a significant lift to mobile revenues.

What about the rest of the site for smartphones?

While we focused on the Hub first, many of the pages have been redone, e.g.,  signing in to My Account pages are now designed for smartphones.    Our product development style is iterative.  That means we move fast.  With such a major change, there are bugs to find and fix.  We’ve fixed many in limited testing in the office, but we are hoping our world-class community will find and report them in the Report a Problem Tech Forum.

A couple of things we didn’t do:

  • The data shows that there are very few mobile searches, and we wanted to make the new Hub design available.  We still think mobile search is important, but we want to improve it for the entire site.  A new search function is in the planning stages that will work for mobile and desktop.
  • We want a desktop design that is closely related to the new mobile design.  We are focusing on smartphones first, but we will bring the desktop and tablets along as well.

This is a big effort and I want to thank the Team and the Community for the amazing teamwork and input.

 

Editor’s Choice Accolade/Nominations and Bing Webmaster Tools Verification

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We have three quick announcements for everyone!  First, starting today we will be awarding the Editor’s Choice accolade to all Hubbers who have five or more EC Hubs!  Your accolade will be displayed on your Profile Page along with your other HubPages accolades.  Congratulations to those who receive the accolade; it’s not an easy one to earn!

Second,  several Hubbers have requested the ability to nominate Hubs for Editor’s Choice, and we agree!  Hubbers can now nominate EC candidates by submitting a Hub’s url in this Google form.  Be sure to leave the entire Hub URL (not just the title) and we will try to take a look at these Hubs as soon as possible.

Third,  thanks to our HubPages engineer, Edward Zhang, you are now able to verify your subdomain in Bing’s Webmaster Tools.  We have updated our Google Webmaster Tools Learning Center entry to include instructions for Bing.  Why should you verify your subdomain with Google and Bing?  Here are a few reasons:

  • Get an inside view into how Google and Bing view your subdomain, e.g., crawl and indexing rates
  • Analyze your link and query traffic, e.g, what sites link to your subdomain the most and your most linked content
  • Share information with Google and Bing
  • Check if you have a manual action against your account

Have a great Thursday and Happy Hubbing!

How to Check Your Subdomain for a Google Penalty and an Update to Amazon and eBay Products

In the past week, Google launched a feature that allows webmasters to check if their domain or subdomain has been penalized because of spam; publishers now have the ability to check whether or not Google has placed a manual webspam action on their account.  With this information, Hubbers can remove or fix their content and ask for reconsideration by clicking the “Request a Review” button.

To check if your site has been hit with a manual webspam action:

  1. Go to Google’s Webmaster Tools (If you don’t have a Webmaster Tools account set up, we have a Learning Center entry that can help!)
  2. Sign-in to your account and click on your subdomain
  3. Click on Search Traffic > Manual Actions in the left toolbar
  4. Google will list any manual actions that have occurred on your account

 

The webspam-detection feature is incredibly beneficial to Hubbers and to HubPages.  In the next few days, we will make a change to our product capsules because of the results that we found in our Webmaster Tools account.   When analyzing the Hubs that were penalized, one of the factors that we were able to isolate was the use of products.  Other than multiple products, many of the penalized Hubs were high quality.  We concluded that a large block of products will negatively influence Google’s assessment of an otherwise fantastic Hub.  Our analysis has instigated the following changes to product capsules:

  1. We are reducing the number of products per capsule to one on all new Hubs (your older Hubs where you have chosen a specific product will not be effected unless you edit and change the capsule).  If you have a Hub where readers would benefit from seeing more than one product, you are welcome to add another product capsule.  We hope this reduces the number of tangential products within a Hub and reduces the number of webspam actions on new Hubs.  When including products in your Hubs, a good question to ask yourself is:  will this product be incredibly useful to my reader, and would I include it even if I didn’t receive any monetary benefit?  If the answer is a resounding yes, then include it.
  2. We are reducing the number of keyword or search-driven products on all old Hubs to one product per capsule (this effects all eBay products and Amazon products that are chosen with a keyword).  Many Hubs have multiple products that are exact matches because they are chosen by a search driven keyword; reducing the number of products per capsule will help Hubs with duplicate or extremely similar products.  We realize that this may cause some formatting issues with older Hubs; we are incredibly sorry for the inconvenience, but with the new information that Google has provided, we feel it is in the best interest of Hubbers to make the change.

 

Overall, the new information that we have received from Google has been very beneficial.  We know that the changes that we have recently made have been on the right track, and this new resource is affecting the changes that we will make in the future to help reward our great Hubbers and deter spam.  Cheers!

 


Announcing Editor’s Choice Hubs

We want to continue rewarding Hubbers who create content readers enjoy with a new designation highlighting their achievements. Today we are excited to announce Editor’s Choice Hubs. These are exceptional Hubs that are selected by HubPages Editors and are available to readers on the HubPages.com domain.

Hubs provide value in unique ways.  Editors consider many elements when making the Editor’s Choice selections (from how well written the Hub is to if we have already selected a similar piece.) Good Hubbers should expect some of their Hubs to be selected, but shouldn’t expect all Hubs to be chosen.  We will be using a variety of measures to assess your Hubs, but ultimately Hubs on HubPages.com will be editor approved; hence the name Editor’s Choice.

Quick Facts on Editor’s Choice Hubs:

  • Only a very small percentage of Hubs will be selected; don’t be disappointed if most of your Featured Hubs are not Editor’s Choice Hubs.  All Featured Hubs that aren’t Editor’s Choice Hubs will remain on your subdomain.
  • Editor’s Choice Hubs will be phased in slowly over the next few weeks. It will take us time to get through all of the potential candidates, so please be patient with us.
  • Editor’s Choice Hubs will receive greater social exposure on HubPages’ social media profiles.
  • Being Featured is a basic prerequisite to becoming an Editor’s Choice Hub, but there are many more factors that candidates are evaluated on, e.g., uniqueness, quality, engagement, intent, a good search experience for the reader, and whether the content is trustworthy, reputable, and authoritative.
  • Hubs that lose their Featured status will also lose their Editor’s Choice status.
  • An opt-out option is available in My Account > Profile > Edit Profile. However, each time you toggle this setting, you will need to wait 60 days before you can do so again.  You can only opt-out at the account level, not on a Hub by Hub basis.
  • Editor’s Choice Hubs will not lose their status if they are edited; in fact, we recommend regularly editing and improving your Hubs.
  • The Editor’s Choice status is not necessarily permanent.  At any given time, only a small percentage of Hubs will be designated Editor’s Choice.
  • An Editor’s Choice accolade is in the works!

Want your Hubs to have an Editor’s Choice designation and be showcased on HubPages.com?  Here are a few criteria to shoot for:

  • Write high-quality Hubs.  Check out our Learning Center entry on Stellar Hubs for guidance.
  • Follow our HubPages Style Guide.
  • Make sure your Hub has passed the Quality Assessment Process.  Again, passing the QAP doesn’t automatically move you into the Editor’s Choice bucket.  Hubs will have to be of even higher quality to make the cut.   Shoot for that 8, 9, or 10 on the quality scale.
  • Remove any promotional links or links to websites that aren’t high quality. Linking should be natural and every link should benefit your reader; the intent of your Hub is considered during the evaluation process.
  • Use the Grouping feature on HubPages instead of including large blocks of links to your own Hubs.
  • Only include relevant and useful Amazon and eBay products and limit their number.
  • If you are writing on a topic that is already extensively covered online, be sure to go above and beyond the best articles on the web.  Rewording the same content won’t cut it.
  • Titles should be descriptive and concise.
  • Proofread:  Grammar and spelling should be perfect.
  • Use high-quality images that are either original or legally used and attributed.
  • Please note:  all of the above criteria are not mandatory for an Editor’s Choice designation, but you increase your chances of your Hub becoming Editor’s Choice if you implement these suggestions.

For more information, please visit our FAQ.

 

Summer Product Improvements: There’s a lot going on at HubPages HQ!

Today we will be implementing four enhancements to HubPages that we hope will have a positive effect on our community and readers: a new HubPages Style Guide with in-line tips displayed in the HubTool, a more streamlined HubTool, a revised Hubber Score that is more reflective of quality, and a change to how profile links work in comments.

HubPages Style Guide and Style Tips

We are excited to introduce our HubPages Style Guide as well as specific Style Tips in the HubTool.  Our Style Guide Learning Center entry breaks down the different components of online writing and best practices, e.g., proper title case in titles and subtitles, appropriate use of Amazon and eBay Capsules, etc.  In addition to the Learning Center entry, we will be showing tips that are specific to your Hub in the top right corner of the HubTool.  We hope that you find these tips useful!

HubTool Improvements

To streamline the HubTool, we have implemented a collapsable option for each section in the right toolbar.   Going forward, your toolbar will be organized under the following headings:   Needs Some Goals, Add Content Capsules, Display Options, and Organize your Content.  To view the content under each heading, simply click the arrow.  One addition to the Display Options section is the ability to add copyright information to the bottom of your Hub.  Since one of our Style Tips suggests removing custom copyright notices, we felt we should offer our Hubbers that want to include this information with a HubPages-approved copyright notice.

Here’s a view of the old HubTool right toolbar.

Each section in the sidebar is collapsable. A much cleaner look! 

Hubber Score Improvements

Our new enhanced Hubber Score substantially reflects the data we have on the quality of Hubs and the intent of the writer.  One significant change is the threshold for the following of links; only Hubbers with high Hubber Scores will have their outbound links followed.  Whether a link is followed or no followed doesn’t affect the reader’s experience, but a stricter policy on link following is an effective deterrent to spammers.  We hope this encourages our writers to only include links in their Hubs that are relevant and useful to readers.

Comment Links

We have found that Hubs with many comments were crossing Google’s Webmaster Guidelines for the number of links in a page.  To address this issue, we changed the way that signed-out readers view profile links in comments: usernames are no longer hyperlinked.  This change will reduce the number of links in Hubs and keep us within Google’s guidelines.

Ultimately, our goal is to continue to improve the site and provide our Hubbers with the best tools to create high-quality content.  Thanks for being the best writing community on the web!

Exclusive Titles to Be Retired

Howdy, Hubbers! I have a quick announcement. HubPages Exclusive Titles will be retired today. Exclusives were unique, niche titles intended to cover subjects that have not already been exhausted online. Sadly, we’ve found that these titles did not perform as well as we hoped, and they will no longer be available in the Hub Title section of the HubTool.

Why are Exclusives being retired?

  • We found that Exclusive Titles did not perform significantly better than non-Exclusive Titles
  • The restrictive nature of Exclusives made it too difficult for Hubbers to tweak and optimize their titles
  • Exclusive Titles were frequently misunderstood to be a guarantee of search traffic rather than an opportunity to write about something not covered on HubPages
  • Exclusives were not a significantly helpful tool for Hubbers in overcoming writer’s block

What does the retirement of Exclusive Titles mean for Hubbers with Exclusive Hubs?

The good news: if you’ve written Exclusive Hubs in the past, you are now free to edit their titles. You’ll no longer need to email me to request changes. Our Learning Center guide on Creating a Successful, Search-Friendly Title is a great place to start if you want to give the titles of your Exclusive Hubs a bit of TLC. For now, the “EXCLUSIVE” icon on your My Account page will remain visible to indicate which Hubs were originally Exclusives, but we intend to remove that icon in the near future.

What does the retirement of Exclusive Titles mean for Hubbers without Exclusive Hubs?

The Hub Title drop-down menu in the HubTool will soon disappear, so when you create a new Hub, you will no longer have potential titles suggested to you. But if you’ve never used Exclusive Titles or written an Exclusive Hub, the retirement of Exclusives should have very little effect on your experience.