Greekgeek's Online Odyssey - Hubpages and Online Article Writing Tips


Google Panda 2.5 Winners & Losers

No time for a detailed post, but I wanted to recommend this link partly so I can find it later when I update my own page on Hubpages, Squidoo and Panda:

Google Panda 2.5 Winners & Losers

Supposedly, Hubpages has regained a lot of its traffic. Quantcast shows it’s still down from pre-Panda, and I have seen scattered complaints from some members that their traffic hasn’t recovered.

There is the uncomfortable possibility that Google has decided their content as “shallow” and downgraded it on a subdomain-by-subdomain basis. That would account for overall traffic increase but still not to the levels there was before Panda started dinging shallow content.

Many of those who lost traffic feel their content is excellent, unique, and original, and it doesn’t deserve to be penalized any more than Daniweb. Are they right, or… in the view of average web users, rather than those of us on the inside of the fishbowl, are those pages spammy, shallow or  just not something most of the web would be interested in reading?

It would be an interesting exercise to examine a sample of Hubages profiles: which members say their traffic has returned, which say theirs remains flatlined. Are there any particular features that the “winner” hubs have in common, or that the “losers” do?

Stay tuned for your next big bad Panda.





Subdomains: That Is the Question

Thanks to Hubpages’ June 2011 experiment in subdomains as an attempt to get out from under Panda, Squidoo is in the beta testing stage of something similar. Hubpages’ subdomain experiment picked up a lot of buzz when it landed in the Wall Street Journal, and I was one of many who was excited by the possibilities, since I thought it made sense. SearchEngineLand, one of the better SEO journals out there, made cautious noises and checked with Google (see that article for Google’s response).

Based on Google’s responses and Hubpage’s traffic rebound (see below), I thought subdomains couldn’t hurt and might help, and said so. However, after more pondering, I’ve joined the ranks of Squidoo members who are concerned. Apologies for the about-face. Let me explain.


Panda 2.3, Hubpages, and a Suggestion for Zazzle Members

By the way, Google reran the Panda algorithm again on about July 25.

What this means is that every month or so, someone at Google pushes the “Panda button.” Panda then reassesses the quality of content on each domain versus the amount of junk/spam on it, and gives that site, shall we say, a Panda Rating. That Panda Rating then becomes one of the factors Google’s everyday search algorithm uses to decide how well to list a page in search engine results. Panda’s rating is apparently a fairly strong factor, as traffic on each domain tends to rise or fall together, unless individual pages on that site have acquired enough other factors (say, backlinks from highly-respected sites) to offset the Panda factor.

Good news for Hubpages members: reorganizing Hubpages along subdomains has helped many of you, by partitioning off your content from spammy members’ content. That helps convince Panda to judge your content on its own merits versus that by other authors on the Hubpages domain. So Hubpages is now slightly outperforming Squidoo, ezinearticles, suite101, and other open publishing sites (as opposed to those vetting content with an editorial board, which Panda is going to like better). We can clearly see Hubpages getting an uptick from Panda 2.3 at the end of July:

Now, wait, why did I put DeviantArt on there? A hunch. Just look at all that traffic! I think Zazzle members should have a DeviantArt account where you showcase some of your work and link to your Zazzle gallery and/or accounts on Squidoo and HP where you showcase more of your work.

DeviantArt has an advantage over sites like HP and Squidoo, as you see.   A social community that appeals to a large niche market (share your art! writing! photography!) gets tons of traffic if search engines didn’t care diddly squat for it. Members market it by pointing friends, relatvies, and peers to their stuff. Search engine traffic, for DeviantArt, is a bonus on top of the social buzz it generates.

Now, don’t all run out and create DeviantArt accounts for the purpose of spamming DA with backlinks. That won’t help much for SEO purposes. DeviantArt does not let you link directly out to some other website. Instead, when you enter links on a DeviantArt page like your profile, it’s stored in in a special in-house format, which is deciphered by a script only when a user clicks that link.

For instance, here’s our friend Flynn the Cat on DeviantArt. Hover over that link in Flynn’s sidebar and see what the URL is:

I bet that Google, at least, is clever enough to detect the hidden URL in there and crawl it for indexing purposes: “Aha, there’s a webpage at” But indexing is not the same as ranking. This link probably doesn’t count as a backlink, when Google is checking backlinks as one of the factors it uses to decide how high up to list a page in search engine results.

So why bother with backlinks on DeviantArt, if they don’t count for SEO? Pages on Hubpages, Squidoo, etc get indexed / crawled pretty quickly anyway.

Because links have two audiences: (a) search engines, which may use that link to rank your page better in search engine results and (b) humans, who will click on links that look interesting or useful to them.

In this case, your target audience is (b), people.

When writing backlinks for people, you have to give something they’ll be interested in. On DeviantArt, if they see an excellent portfolio of art, photos, or other kinds of creativity, some visitors will follow your link to see more of your creative work hosted elsewhere. Note that just because DeviantArt itself has a huge amount of traffic doesn’t mean your account will. As with Twitter, Facebook, or other social sites, you’ll only get traffic if you participate in and/or post really good stuff that attracts a following.

But if you are an artistic person like Flynn here, and upload stuff regularly, you will attract a following. You could then direct some of that following to a Zazzle store, Squidoo gallery, or blog where you showcase your stuff.

By the way, Digg, StumbleUpon, and many social media sites create outlinks the same way as DeviantArt: they are stored in a non-standard, in-house format, and then a script untangles them and sends the user to the real link. So everyone measuring links from those social sites as backlinks is missing the boat. Those may help Google index a page, but they probably don’t count much as far as helping a page rank better. As with DeviantArt, those links won’t help much for traffic unless you’re an active, contributing member of those communities who has gained a following by frequently posting good stuff of the kind that community tends to like.

Hubpages’ subdomains approach is forward-thinking

This is another of my off-the-cuff observations not backed up by evidence, but I really like one approach Hubpages has taken to recover from Panda: establishing author-based subdomains.

On the one hand, this means backlink churn. They’ve got redirects in place, but any time you shift the URLs of part of a website, there are bound to be problems. They’ll iron out over time.

But on the other hand, this makes it much, much clearer who’s written what. Is everything in one subdomain scraped garbage? Fine, penalize it. But if another subdomain has unique, well-written content with sound links to related content, don’t give it a penalty because of Jane Q. Scraper/Spammer in the next domain over. It’s the same principle as web hosting from the last decade. There’s quite a mix of websites on the hosting service where I’m posting this blog, and search engines don’t judge us the same way.

There’s one other piece of the puzzle that Hubpages and Squidoo are getting half right.

Both Hubpages and Squidoo have added a hidden rel=author link from individual articles (lenses, hubs) to the member’s profile page. Good. That makes clear that the member is the author of all those pages.

But as Marisa Wright of the HP forums reminded me, there’s something more to do. There needs to be a rel=”me” field on our Squidoo and Hubpages profiles to link to our Google profile, or Google won’t count the authorship, and our suite of articles, as our own work separate from the rest of the site, because the authorship won’t be confirmed.

Update: Squidoo has now implemented this field. (And it didn’t matter anyway, since we could add a rel=”me” link manually, but still, the field makes it easier.)

My Hubpages Articles

This is a backlink post because I just claimed my Hubpages domain and broke the miniscule bit of link juice my articles had accrued through Tweets (which Google follows to find new content, although it doesn’t consider them worth anything for ranking purposes unless you’re an “authority”).

Right now, I’m not really targeting keywords on Hubpages; I’m just writing on topics that interest me. Some may interest you. Here they be:

SEO and Web Strategies

Science and History


Hubpages is so much easier…

Wow. My goal to make 500 lenses by the end of the year may be hijacked by the fact that I can write 2 good hubs in a day. HP’s interface is smoother, faster, and less buggy.

Of course, it’s much more limited, lacking many of Squidoo’s features, and I chafe at not being able to link to anything else I’ve written, educational or otherwise, without fear of being put on probation as a spammer is vexing. (Yes, me. A spammer. Snort.)  I also hate not being able to put a small image credit on my photos due the ‘watermark’ issue. And without Amazon affiliates (not in my state), earning avenues are limited to advertising.

But gosh, it’s so nice to start getting money as soon as one has published, instead of watching all the blessings, likes, comments and feedback during the first few weeks of a lens’ existence wear off by the time it’s eligible for tier payouts.

A Good SEO Article to Ponder

One of the places I browse often for SEO wisdom and trends is SearchEngineLand. Here’s a good article they recommended: 33 Ways to Get Penalized By Google. Nothing earth-shattering there, but a good reminder of core best practices.

In other news, Fluff points out that Hubpages is back on Quantcast, and shows a slight uptick from the July 23 Panda 2.2 update. Way to go, HP! I don’t expect it ever to regain the hyper-inflated numbers it had before– I honestly do not believe its quality/spam ratio is more than double Squidoo’s– but I expect it to be fairly comparable.

Hubpages, Squidoo, and Panda 2.2

I was just checking to see how Hubpages and Squidoo are doing, following the latest tweak Panda algorithm, 2.2, which I reported on back in June. Unfortunately, Hubpages’ traffic data has disappeared from Quantcast. [Update: It’s back. Phew.]

Panda 2.2 rolled out back on June 21st. By now we’ve had enough traffic data that we should begin to see a bit of a before-and-after change from that. To my surprise, Hubpages has stopped letting Quantcast report its numbers. I would’ve expected a slight uptick from Panda 2.2, which may be the first chance Hubpages would’ve had to get back in Google’s good graces after spam stomping. ( Panda is a special calculation done separately from ranking individual pages; it’s ranking a whole domain, and that number is then applied as a boost or penalty to pages posted on the domain, like an extra ranking factor. Since the Panda calculation is only performed again when someone at Google manually punches a button, a domain has to wait to be reassessed).

So anyway. Hubpages has followed Mahalo’s lead in hiding its data. A pity.

[UPDATE Aug 13: Hupbages is back on Quantcast! And I see a slight uptick after Panda 2.2. Pardon me for mentioning Mahalo and Hubpages in the same sentence; Hubpages tries to highlight quality content and stamp out spam, even if it sometimes has to mop up the mess created by unscrupulous people taking advantage of its free publishing platform. ]

So how’s Squidoo holding up? I wish I could get a detailed breakdown of past years versus this year, since there’s always a summertime drop. But here’s the 3 year overview:

And here’s the past 3 months.

Not much to tell us, but from what I can see, no drastic change from Panda 2.2.

Just as another interesting comparison, here’s vs. Squidoo for the past six months:

Owie. Again, so far so good for the Squid, but not so happy for Suite 101, an old web 1.0 site that’s got lots of good amidst the bad, from what I remember. (It probably depends on the neighborhood.)

Stay tuned for the next Panda Punch.


I realize some of the upheaval at Squidoo right now is, once again, Squidoo’s attempt to be prepared for the next round. I think the newest layer of spam filters need some fine-tuning, and I’m anxious about the process for dealing with false positives, but I understand the need for even more aggressive spam/scraper filters.

Hubpages vs. Squidoo Traffic: Holding Steady

With all the hullaballoo lately I haven’t had much time to follow my pet project, the impact of Google Panda on Hubpages and Squidoo (there’s another lens that needs rewriting before page breaks vanish, sigh).

I just wanted to post a quick follow-up. I was actually checking to see if Squidoo traffic is down across the board, because I and a number of members have seen a very slight drop. But traffic drops every summer. But here’s Hubpages traffic vs. Squidoo traffic, measured directly via Quantcast:

The Feb 24 and Apr 11 Panda Updates are visible on Hubpages’ line. They’ve implemented a lot of changes, but it may take a while for Google to recrawl and reassess. The problem is (I believe) that part of Panda is a special algorithm that evaluates the quality of a domain/site, and from that derives a handicap which it applies to pages on the site. When someone asked how long before traffic came back after one totally re-tooled a site, Matt Cutts said the Panda algorithms have to be re-run. If I’m interpreting that correctly, it means that the site penalties are being updated less frequently the daily crawl to find/index content.

So Hubpages members need to stick tight a little longer and wait for Google to reassess what Hubpages has done to correct its problems. I’m hoping for their sakes (and mine; I’m trying to get a few irons in the fire over there) that they will have good news soon. Meanwhile, Squidoo members need to stick tight and see whether Squidoo has second-guessed itself in a wise or foolish way by implementing vast numbers of changes after successfully passing through Panda I and II unscathed. Most of them aren’t content-related, but some are navigation-related; in particular we’ve lost a vast number of internal links with lensroll getting phased out. And I’m uneasy about the extra line of adsense above the fold. We’ll see.

A quick survey of Panda news reveals nothing much, but M. Martinez has detected hints that Panda might unroll in Latin America next. To recap, Panda was implemented on U.S. Google results on Feb 24, all English-based Google results on Apr 11, and a minor Google update whose impacts I haven’t been able to see in the sites I’ve studied. I shall be interested to see what happens when Panda is implemented for French, Russian, and especially German Google.


An Extended Riff on SEO as Poetry

Or at least, keyword-based search engine optimization, which isn’t the sum total of SEO any more than backlinking is.

Under a vague sense of “buy low, sell high,” I thought I might give Hubpages another go. Some years ago, I was so discouraged (and annoyed) after they locked all my well-trafficked, educational hubs on ancient Greece for being “overly promotional” that I abandoned HP for years (It also didn’t help that I kept getting idiot comments like ‘u wrote it wrong it wuz better in the movie’ when I was recounting myths based on ancient sources). But despite the frustration over all that work down the tubes, I do understand that you’ve got to submit to the rules on a publishing site, or publish elsewhere. So I did. I moved that content to Squidoo and Mythphile.

However, I’ve been keeping a closer eye on Hubpages since Panda. I think I might learn something by experimenting there and trying out different SEO approaches, niches and/or writing styles on a site that’s built just a little differently than Squidoo. I have a hunch Google traffic will come back over time. I want to see if my hunch is right. Also, since they favor non-practical creative pieces over there a little more than on Squidoo, I thought — hey, let the inner writer off its chains and cut loose a bit.

This is triggered partly by a previous post on Squidbits and partly by seeing a writer over there divide the online publishing world between virtuous writers and SEO black hatters. I fear it’s preachy and a little arrogant to be teaching, but I wrote a hub that’s a tutorial on keyword optimization using the paradigm of writing poetry.