Query: How fast can new content on Hubpages and Squidoo start getting significant traffic and earning income? Which platform is best for publishing on trending, buzzworthy news and events?
When Hubpages introduced Idle Status, I wrote a hub about how Idle Status worked and possible ramifications. I drew comparisons with Squidoo’s WIP status.
A debate came up in that article’s comments about new hubs vs. new lenses. Squid∩ forum discussions helped me understand how the two sites deal with a newly-published article. This is important, because it determines whether a new article can get any search traffic or catch the wave of a traffic spike from a trending topic.
What happens to a newly-published article on Squidoo:
- A newly-published lens is visible to visitors who are sent to it via a link
- Search engines will index it if they see a link to it and crawl it
- So it’s possible (and not difficult) to get search traffic coming in, before…
- Around midnight, Squidoo turns the lens red on the dashboard and marks it as WIP, but does NOT put a noindex tag on it.
- And about 6-8 hours later, Squidoo runs the lensranking algorithm, features the lens, removes the WIP status, plugs the lens into Squidoo’s directory, at which point search engines will find it if they haven’t already
What happens to a newly-published article on Hubpages:
- A newly-published hub is visible to visitors, but has a NOINDEX tag
- A search engine may find it if you share the link, but will NOT index it because of the NOINDEX TAG
- This will remain true until Hubpages removes Pending status AND search bots return to the page and recrawl it.
- Also, if you edit the hub after it’s been published, it will reset the Pending clock, and it could be another day before Hubpages moves it out of Pending status.
My experiment: new lens vs. new hub
Thursday at midnight, I created a hub about the Friday morning shuttle flyover of California. The next day, when I realized it wasn’t getting search traffic, I created a lens about the same topic on Friday afternoon after I got home from watching it (written from scratch, so there’s no duplicate text.)
Publicity: On first publish for both hub and lens, I tweeted the URL using the event’s official hashtags and shared a link to it in a Squid∩ forum post. I retweeted the hub on Friday after I edited the hub and added my photos.
Remember, the hub is one day older than the lens. Also, the hub was published the night before the event, whereas the lens was published after it. Nevertheless, three days after the event:
- Hub traffic from GA as of Monday 8:30AM - 130 pageviews, 79 unique, from sources: 49 Squid∩, 40 hubpages, 21 Twitter, 10 from Twitter widgets on online newspapers set to display latest Tweets from #spottheshuttle hashtag, 10 direct (probably me reloading).
- Lens traffic from GA as of Monday 8:30AM – 163 pageviews, 114 unique, from sources: 104 Google search, 29 Squid∩, 6 direct (I emailed it to relatives), 15 Twitter (including Scoop.it), 8 other search engines.
- The hub finally came out of Pending Mode on Sunday, over 48 hours after first publish.
- As of Monday 8:30 am, 56 hours after publish, the hub is still not in Google’s cache, although a Google search shows that Google indexed Tweets pointing to the hub AND a link to the new hub on my profile page:
Obviously, this is a very small sample size. We can’t extrapolate much from the actual numbers of visitors from different sources, but they can tell us what’s possible for a new hub or a new lens:
- A new hub won’t get search traffic. However, a new hub gets internal traffic (visits from other hubbers), due to the fact that Hubpages has a “followers/activity stream” inviting other hubbers to come by.
- If you promote a new lens immediately after first publish, it will be indexed by Google and has the potential for instant search traffic.
- By using official hashtags related to the event, I not only received direct Twitter traffic during the height of the buzz, but also, traffic from automated Twitter widgets displayed on various websites — newspapers, Scoop.it — displaying the latest Tweets for a topic they were covering.
This whole experiment is basically addressing, “Can you make money publishing on a trending/buzzworthy topic that gets an initial traffic spike which peters out later?”
PRIOR to Hubpages implementing Idle status, the answer was “Yes, but only on Hubpages, not Squidoo.” I had hit upon this as a great Hubpages strategy, sucking in thousands of visitors during the height of an event (e.g. the Mars rover landing) which petered off to 5-20 visits a day longterm. Hubpages pays for ad impressions and ad clicks, so a traffic spike like that could result in a crunchy payout. Whereas on Squidoo, the answer was “not unless you can drive affiliate sales,” because a new lens isn’t eligible for advertising revenue until the first of the month AFTER it’s published.
Pending status changes this. On Squidoo, you might at least get some sales from a big, trending-topic traffic spike, especially because most of the traffic will be search traffic which came specifically out of an interest in that topic. Whereas on Hubpages, you’ll get social traffic and a lot of hubfollower traffic, who may be coming because they like your writing rather than because they are really interested in the topic. Ad clicks and sales are less likely with this audience. (Also, in practice, I’ve only gotten one sale EVER from a Hubpages Amazon capsule, as opposed to dozens per week on Squidoo.)
Basically, now neither site is an effective platform for publishing fresh, new, buzzworthy content on a trending event. Either you get zero search traffic for the first week or so (Hubpages) or zero advertising revenue (Squidoo).
My hunch is that Hubpages will respond to member concerns about Pending Status = NOINDEX and fix this problem. However, as long as “Pending” status means no search traffic for days or weeks after first publish, I am disinclined to publish new hubs.
Which is good news for Christene, my Zujava referrer: it’s time for me to start learning what kind of content works best on Zujava.
[UPDATE: It occurs to me that once “Pending” status is removed from a Hubpages hub – a day or two after first publish — you can probably force Googlebot to recrawl the hub by submitting its URL to Webmaster Tools. But it may take another day for recrawl, and it won’t help with other search engines.]
Update2: I just tested: what about a new lens from a non-Giant Squidoo account? Same result…
- I published J.R.R. Tolkien’s Artwork at 8:10 PM Tuesday night.
- On first publish, sourcecode shows no sign of “noindex,” and lens is blue, not WIP, on dashboard (Screencap at 9:26PM)
- To get Googlebot’s attention, I Tweeted, cross-linked with related lenses, and link dropped on Squid∩ and Dreamwidth.
- Googlebot crawled at 9:08 PM (Screencap).
- As of 9:47 PST, lens was still blue, still NO noindex tag.
- At 10:40 PM, lens turned red on dashboard (screencap)
- BUT a search of the sourcecode at 10:40 revealed no sign of noindex (screencap). I checked again at midnight; ditto. Compare with sourcecode (screencap) of this old, fallen-into-WIP lens whose sourcecode includes noindex/nofollow meta-tags.
- First search traffic from Bing at 1AM. (Which shows why we shouldn’t only consider Google).