When I was in Austin attending SXSW Interactive, I had the pleasure of meeting up with Marcy Goodfleisch for some coffee at Whole Foods flagship store, which I find to be one of the world’s closest equivalents to heaven.
Over some tasty tea and coffee Marcy asked a lot of really good questions on behalf of herself and Hubbers with whom she is acquainted. After we both acknowledged that it would be best if someone beyond just Marcy got our open, honest answers, we decided it would be best to compose a Q&A blog post featuring all the burning questions y’all have that we have yet to answer in a prominent manner.
We’re hoping this will be the first in a series and can help clear up your major questions and concerns. Enjoy!
Does Google penalize us for Hubs that aren’t Featured?
No. Hubs that are not Featured, though perhaps still known to Google, do not count against your online reputation with regard to Panda. It is as though they do not exist (though your friends and followers can still access them).
Many Hubs that are not Featured would be a liability to their owners should they continue to be Featured, simply because they may not be particularly high quality or because (even if they are of high quality) Google’s search algorithms, for some reason, decided they were not particularly important or useful and did not give them high rankings in search results (hence these Hubs saw very little traffic).
Do un-Featured Hubs lower our rankings within HubPages?
Featured status does not affect rankings, but both rankings and Featured status are a product of the quality of one’s Hubs.
‘Rankings’ on HubPages (whether or not your Hub is featured prominently on a Topic page or on others’ Hubs) are influenced by Hubber Score and HubScore.
Your Hubber Score is a product of:
- The collective quality of your Hubs (as shown through HubScore, which factors in human and algorithmic ratings received through the Quality Assessment Process)
- Your activity within the HubPages community (i.e. whether you regularly publish, provide high quality Questions and Answers, leave insightful comments on Hubs, and help other Hubbers in the Forums)
Should you have many Hubs that are not Featured because they get particularly low quality ratings, your Hubber Score and HubScores might be lower, and in this case, it does mean that your rankings will be a bit lackluster.
That said, if you write high quality Hubs that get high quality scores, and many of them happen to not be Featured, your rankings on HubPages should not be negatively affected.
What does it take to get Hubs automatically approved without going through QAP? Why are some Hubbers given this benefit?
All Hubs by all Hubbers go through the QAP. Sometimes the process is faster than other times. It depends on the time of day and our present load of Hubs to process.
How important is the HubScore (the number related to each Hub), and what, if anything, is it used for?
HubScore is a general reflection of a Hub’s success and quality (this includes human quality ratings as collected during the Quality Assessment Process). We do not recommend paying that much attention to it. Think of HubScore and Hubber Score as a rough reference point and a means of gauging the experience of other Hubbers.
How significant is Hubber Score? Can you share the factors that go into it?
Hubber Score is basically an average of your collective HubScore with a few additional behaviors (like your activity on the site) factored in.
Things factored into a Hub’s HubScore include:
- Human ratings collected as part of the Quality Assessment Process
- The amount of traffic your Hub receives, including traffic from HubPages as well as other outside sources
- The length of your Hub
- The uniqueness of the content within your Hub (copied content typically scores lower than more unique content)
- The number of comments
- Your overall Hubber Score
Things factored into Hubber Score include:
- Your collective HubScores
- Whether or not you have signed in recently
- Whether or not you are active in the community (by regularly publishing Hubs, commenting on others’ Hubs, asking and answering good Questions, and posting to the Forums)
Does Google care about HubScores or Hubber Scores?
Google does not care about Hubber Scores or HubScores, but it does care about quality, and HubScores and Hubber Scores are a reflection of that.
What’s more, HubScores and Hubber Scores affect a Hub’s placement within our internal link structure in ways that Google is liable to notice, so while these scores are not something Google explicitly ‘reads’, they are tied to factors that matter to Google’s search algorithms.
What is the best recommendation for dealing with Hubs that have are no longer Featured?
Seasonal Hubs that have not had traffic in the off season often just need to be updated (though if you have a particularly high Hubber Score, your seasonal Hubs may remain Featured for up to a year, meaning that even if they get very little traffic during the off season, they may still not lose their Featured status- more about that in another blog post).
Poor quality Hubs that otherwise offer great resources need to be fixed up (improve grammar, formatting, substance, organization, and media).
Hubs that are of high quality that do not get any traffic may need a different title or spin so that they address an aspect of their particular subject that is not already flooded with competition. With proper competitive research and adjustment, these Hubs can definitely be redeemed.
Hubs made ‘just for fun’ that were never really meant to act as useful or particularly detailed and informative online resources might just be left alone. If you want them to enjoy more prominence, they might find a more appropriate home on a personal blog or a platform more oriented toward that type of content.
If keywords are no longer reliable, what do you recommend we do to make a Hub competitive in search engines?
The Google AdWords Keyword Tool no longer shows accurate figures, so what we recommend is using it only to get a rough idea of the terminology people use when conducting queries on specific subjects.
We created a Learning Center entry detailing the new title creation process we recommend, which involves:
- Creating short, descriptive titles that mirror a likely search term
- Running competitive research on that likely search term to make sure you can beat the competition (check to make sure there are not a bunch of product or place results and that the top results are not flooded with results from popular, trusted brands or already-very-good pages and articles)
- Making sure you are genuinely passionate and knowledgeable about the subject at hand. If you are just creating a Hub because you think it will drive traffic, but do not know much about the subject or have much interest in it, stop.
What has HubPages learned from the Panda and Penguin experiences?
Quality matters. Passion matters. Thin articles designed to drive traffic and clicks don’t cut it anymore.
To make it now, you have to be even more patient, passionate, and knowledgeable than before. Ultimately, this is a good thing. True experts and enthusiasts win!
What does HubPages have in mind for the future?
Our journey to provide the best platform for creating content online continues. Our plans and projects revolve around making it easier for Hubbers to earn more, get larger audiences, build a stronger online brand, and become even more savvy as online content creators.
What is being done to rid the site of very old, very bad content?
The first thing we did with the Quality Assessment Process was address new Hubs that are being published, to ensure that, going forward, we are on the right track. All we did with already-published Hubs was remove Hubs from Google’s index that got next to no traffic, as it was quite clear that Google did not see them as worthy of getting much traffic (hence it was a quick way for us to hide Hubs that might be acting as a liability to their authors).
We are presently working through our backlog of older content with the Quality Assessment Process. This takes time and money, so the going is slow. We are being careful to ensure that what we see as high quality reflects what Google apparently sees as high quality. We are also making an effort to target and remove from Google’s index our lowest quality, old content first.
Why would HubPages or Hubbers want high-quality Hubs that aren’t getting much traffic to not be Featured?
We actually do want very high quality Hubs to be featured more or less indefinitely, even if they have low traffic. In fact, Hubs that get top ratings are permanently Featured (it is just very rare for a Hub to get a perfect ten on our rating scale).
The problem is that it is difficult for us to be confident that a Hub is superb, because for cost reasons we stop collecting rating on Hubs as soon as we’ve decided that they are “good enough”. To mitigate this problem, we are looking into ways in which we can permanently feature more high quality Hubs.
Nevertheless, even though we clearly see those Hubs as being of high quality, Google’s search algorithms, for some reason or another, have decided they do not deserve much prominence in search results (therefore they get little search traffic). Perhaps it is because they cover a topic that has already been exhausted online (e.g. getting rid of belly fat, making apple pie, etc.), or perhaps there is something else about the Hub that Google determines to be of low quality that we currently do not factor into our Quality Assessment Process.
If a Hub is not particularly exceptional, and if it is not getting a lot of search traffic, we therefore figure it would be safer to not have it count towards a Hubber’s reputation as determined by Google’s search algorithms.
The current topics on HubPages seem a bit out-of-date; is there any plan to update them?
Christy Kirwan is updating and expanding the HubPages Topic Pages right now (and has been for several weeks). We welcome new suggestions!
Does it help drive traffic in any way to have Topics associated with Hubs? What use are they?
Organizing a Hub within a leaf-level Topic Page increases its odds of being Featured on that Topic Page’s front page, so we recommend publishing Hubs within very specific leaf-level pages and on new Topic Pages (many of which are featured in the Weekly Topic Inspiration Program).
How can I be a better Hubber? How can I help the site?
Keep publishing high-quality Hubs on subjects about which you are particularly passionate and knowledgeable.
Focus on quality, not quantity
Hop and rate Hubs through the Hub Hopper
Point people toward official HubPages resources (the FAQ and Learning Center) when they have questions
This Isn’t Over!
We hope to publish more posts like this in which we set the record straight about anything you might be wondering about as we further refine and develop the new-and-improved HubPages. Should you have any particular questions that ought to be answered in a blog post like this, please send me an email.
Big thanks to Marcy Goodfleisch for sharing these questions with me and inspiring this post!