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).