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Should YouTube Have Gained Visibility From the Panda Update?

HubPages Doesn't Think So

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Should YouTube Have Gained Visibility From the Panda Update?
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Google’s global roll-out (in English) of the Panda update seemed to leave some of Google’s own properties on the winners list, along with a handful of video sites. YouTube, which falls into both categories was a clear winner, based on the data we’ve seen from SearchMetrics.

Should YouTube be getting more search visibility in Google? Tell us what you think.

HubPages, one of the content sites negatively impacted by the update is asking why YouTube did so well, and HubPages got hit, while they both have similar models in terms of user-generated content, each with its fair share of lesser-quality content.

It’s a fair question.

HubPages CEO Paul Edmondson posted the following questions/declarations in a Google Webmaster Central forum thread:

  • What are the best practices for open publishing platforms due to the recent Panda update? In particular, where high quality content on a domain has been negatively impacted on average as much as any other content? Is it a question of content moderation, site architecture, both or something else?

    While we believe the democratization of publishing and earning potential is an important part of the progress of the Web, we want to avoid a situation where a portion of content negatively impacts the rankings of high quality content. It appears HubPages has been impacted by this while YouTube has not, despite HubPages having a more strict content policy. In Google’s view, what is the recommended moderation standard that open publishing platforms should enforce?

  • Open publishing platforms tend to use one of two domain models. WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger organize mainly by subdomain, while HubPages and YouTube organize all the content under a single domain. Is there a recommendation on the best practice for open platforms regarding architecture?
  • In an effort to give Google clues, HubPages’ internal linking structure promotes the best content. For example, we program the “related articles” suggestions with content that we think users will find useful, and we submit sitemaps with a set priority so Google knows the most important content. We also understand the challenges of fighting off spam, spun articles and various forms of attacks; we believe we do the industry’s best job of fighting spam in an open publishing environment where every individual can have a voice.

Interestingly enough, Google has already even gone so far as to write a guest post for HubPages’ blog, providing tips on how to make content better for AdSense.

So far, Google hasn’t responded to Edmondson’s forum post.

Google did, however, drop an interesting stat in an unrelated post on the YouTube blog: 30% of all YouTube videos make up 99% of views. Here’s the quote from YouTube’s James Zern: “Given the massive size of our catalog – nearly 6 years of video is uploaded to YouTube every day – this is quite the undertaking,” he said of transcoding videos into the WebM format.. “So far we’ve already transcoded videos that make up 99% of views on the site or nearly 30% of all videos into WebM. We’re focusing first on the most viewed videos on the site, and we’ve made great progress here through our cloud-based video processing infrastructure that maximizes the efficiency of processing and transcoding without stopping.”

Another interesting point of note is that Demand Media (which operates eHow, which escaped the wrath of the initial U.S. Panda update, but was hit in the most recent version) is the biggest supplier of video to YouTube. eHow videos on YouTube still often appear in Google search results.

HubPages announced some new changes to its editorial policy, to crack down on affiliate links in articles. They’ve also decided to eliminate a news box, which ironically was originally designed to make pages contain more relevant information. A HubPages writer going by Ellen B. shared some interesting information in the comments on one of our articles, discussing the site’s content policies and impact of the Panda update. She writes:

Some years ago I attempted to take my notes from a college art history seminar I had taught as a graduate student — my own notes, my own lectures — and convert them into Hubs so I could earn a little adsense money from them. The only link I had was to my own travel diary of a trip I took to Greece, as a photo credit to demonstrate proof that my photos were my own (and, yes, some visitors might be interested in my trip to Greece, where I nattered a lot about Greek art).

They were wildly successful on Hubpages, but eventually every single one got shut down as overly promotional. I was selling NO PRODUCTS on them.

Meanwhile, I wrote similar informational, educational articles on Squidoo, and some of them earn $30+ a month. There are more ads, which I honestly don’t like, but I can’t knock the traffic and take-home pay. My Squidoo pages include links to many more educational resources and sites I’d recommend to students studying Greek art.

The Panda update knocked Hubpages traffic below Squidoo’s. This honestly surprised me. But one thing I wonder is whether they’re shooting themselves in the foot. As far as I can tell, you can barely link out to anything… even before this latest policy was put in place. Linking to sound, informational, un-spammy, and above all RELEVANT content which is related to your topic provides value and content. Hubpages won’t let its users do that. Squidoo does. There’s also Squidoo’s long-time aggressive internal system of banning, deleting, and taking down spammy topics and duplicate content, but I think Hubpages has similar policies… or does it?

I’m unsure why Hubpages got hammered harder than Squidoo. It’s a good idea not to keep all eggs in one basket anyway, so learning and posting on both is surely a good idea. Also, it’s good that the two sites operate differently, so you’ll never get burned on both. Yet I fear Hubpages may be learning some of the wrong lessons from all this.

Dana, another WebProNews reader, writes:

I write for Hubpages, and my traffic has not recovered yet either. I had a huge drop initially, and then my best hubs have slowly risen to about 3/4ths of what they used to be.

I am very pleased with Hubpages’ strategies to make Hubpages a higher quality site, as there are many many serious writers there.

As we speculated regarding eHow, it’s entirely possible that Google’s domain-blocking feature has contributed to HubPages’ search visibility woes. When Google announced the most recent roll-out of Panda, it also announced some tweaks to the U.S. algorithm, that it said impacted about 2% of queries, including the addition of domain-blocking as a ranking signal in “high confidence” situations. With eHow, it seemed likely that the site would be among the top-blocked sites, simply because it is generally one of the first named in discussions about “content farms”. Something similar may have happened with HubPages. The site was initially impacted by the U.S. Panda update, so if enough people blocked the domain from their results, Google could’ve considered it a “high confidence” situation. Again, just speculation.

It’s hard to imagine how many people may have blocked YouTube from their search results, but given that it’s the most popular video site on the web, and the fact that Google owns it, it’s not so hard to imagine Google keeping YouTube out of the “high confidence situation” category, even if there is a large amount of less than stellar-quality videos on the site.

For Earth Day on Friday, Google used a doodle with two pandas in it for its logo.

We’d be interested to hear your thoughts about YouTube with regards to search quality. Should YouTube have gained from the Panda update? Comment here.

Should YouTube Have Gained Visibility From the Panda Update?
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  • http://Xomba.com Nick Veneris

    We share Paul’s frustrations. I think many of us affected by Panda are willing to do whatever it takes to remedy the problem. Hopefully, Google will respond.

  • http://hubpages.com/profile/Research+Analyst Research Analyst

    I have been writing for Hubpages for 3 years now and it was really upsetting to see so many good writers leaving the site due to the Panda update. I hope things improve and gets better.

  • http://www.kokoarena.com mbanusick

    I just think that good articles should not be influenced by the bad ones..

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/search-engine-optimization-firm.htm Nick Stamoulis

    What an interesting thought. It might be because YouTube is all video based, so search spiders can’t really crawl the videos themselves, only the descriptions and titles. How can they penalize something they van’t see?

    • Allen

      I’m with Nick on that one. In fact, I don’t think you can compare a video site with a content site – they’re two different beasts.

      Sounds like Mr. Edmondson is getting antsy watching his company’s stock nosedive.

      I think history comes into play a little too – as a small part of it anyway. The longer you’ve published crap, the more of a slap you take.

      Cheers!

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

      They’re ranking them.

    • http://www.whoisbid.com whoisbid

      The spiders can see more than the descriptions and titles. If we do some experimenting we will see that Youtube are often trying to use software to identify what is in the video. I made videos about website statistics using round objects which Youtube indentied as the sun.
      As for the Panda Update I believe that the problem is a bit deeper than most people imagine. You can only fit a certain amount of content in Google’s first page e.g. Adwords, Youtube, Google Shopping, Google Location and the rest of the stuff which points to natural search. It is the same problem that a website has when it wants to sell many products. We have to choose which ones are more important because having too many products and services on “our” first page dilutes everything.

  • http://www.maildistributioncenter.com Direct Mail Services

    Hi!
    Thanks for this great article.
    Google updated panda impacted Hub pages negatively.why?
    What should webmasters have to know and shouldn’t be penalized by this update?

  • http://www.hypertextsystems.com/blog Hypertext Systems

    Should Google favor Youtube? Absolutely!

    It’s Google’s property. If you owned a McDonalds franchise, you wouldn’t eat at Burger King. If you truly believed in fair play, you’d take your off your Buy American bumper sticker.

    You need to be realistic. Human nature dictates you protect your own. That’s never going to change.

    In the search engine wars, it’s not about being fair, it’s about being the most relevant. The instant another search engine is more relevant to my needs over Google, I’m leaving Google.

    I think farm sites like ezinearticles and hubpages got wacked because they got complacent and were willing to ride the coattails of Google.

    Google is #1 because they take risks. They anticipate what people may be wanting next. Sites that got nailed by Google were sites that didn’t anticipate what Google searchers were wanting next.

  • http://www.seowebexpert.co,uk SEO Dave

    I think we all know why Youtube didn’t get affected by the Google Panda Update …

    Mind you, I suppose in fairness to Google/Youtube, videos are so important from an SEO point of view these days.

  • Joe

    Don’t forget – Google is a private company and really they have no obligation to anyone but themselves. Despite this though, they do value their users, and for the most part do an excellent job of putting relevant content in front of them.

    I think the order of the day here is this – diversity breeds stability. If you rely on Google for all your traffic, you risk getting bitten.

    Also, there are so many people trying to play the SEO system that search engines have to move very quickly to stay ahead of the game. If hub pages are looking for answers, maybe they should ask the thousands of SEO companies who try to bend the rules. There will never be a totally unbiased, transparent search engine. The system wont allow it, and neither will our current business model.

  • http://www.theartfulcrafter.com/ Eileen

    IMHO, Panda is unfairly punishing Googles’s competition, as well as harming a lot of smaller viable and quality sites by deeming them to be “content farms” (or so it seems – who really knows?).

    If Google search is just a marketing arm for Google’s vested interests, that should be disclosed so people could decide to search using another engine where they’ll get an unbiased result.

    You’ve probably guessed. My site is one that has been badly hurt by Panda. Did you know that pandas, though they look really cute, are actually pretty nasty animals?

  • http://www.ownstlucia.com/ Cynosure Inc.

    The videos don’t exist in isolation but rather are surrounded by comments which is essence comment so thus same yardstick can be applied to it. So if quality content is defined by grammar, sentennce structure, then youtube fails miserably. If user generated is dimmed to dilute the quality of a page or site them what makes Google the exception. If the changes were made to produce more relevant searches and videos are part of SERPs should it not be subject to the same standards. Anything less is nothing short of Hypocrisy. You want to put in measures that favour your products but please don’t patronoise the SEO community.

  • http://www.get-business-online.com/ Gal Baras

    Once upon a time, there was a nice company called Google, which simplified and improved the web experience for all. These day, Google is getting closer and closer to being just another IBM/Microsoft/CA that sacrifices the greater good for the personal gain of shareholders.

    Unfortunately, Facebook isn’t going to save us, so who’s up next?

    Anyone?

  • http://www.pacific101.com' Sandy

    Google updates are designed to make money for Google. Has always been so. How ridiculous that my pages are penalized for making money while Google boosts TripAdvisor to the top of the search results, who use the exact same affiliate programs I do! I lost my respect for google at least 5 years ago. They’re a farce.

  • http://www.singh101.com/ Nishi Singh

    It does not matter what we think, YT is owned by Google so it will rank automatically higher up in the search engines. It’s us lesser mortals who have to do the hard work and obey the rules. It us who have to bend backwards for big G.

  • http://cheapercosmeticsurgeryabroad.com Tim

    Okay, so both youtube and hubpages both have their share of poor content. But whether or not google owned youtube, it would have remained unaffected.

    Why? Because it is a site that people actually use. People use it to listen to music, learn a crunchy guitar riff or how to mend a bike wheel; and they also use it for entertainment and enjoyment. And we know that’s true. People upload stuff to youtube, as much (if not more) for fun as for marketing. Videos go viral. Has there ever been anything on hubpages that has gone viral? If there has I would be extremely surprised.

    It’s nothing to do with bias. So marketers do use youtube in a spammy way quite frequently, but that’s not its main purpose for the majority of its users. With Hubpages, the only direct traffic to the site is people planning to publish an article(My guess…)

    I think many in web marketing and seo see google conspiracies everywhere, when the reality is that it is only by providing good, relevant search results can google continue as a business. Business is change. Change is good. Get used to it!

  • http://www.dealpocket.com Dealpocket

    Google has recently tried to downplay Panda, noting that Panda is just one of about 500 algorithmic search tweaks Google makes each year.

  • http://www.tabletpcunion.com tabletpcunion

    I think google should reduce the amount of Youtube from the searching result.

  • http://primarkcatalogo.com/ Primark Catalogo

    I think we all know why Youtube didn’t get affected by the Google Panda Update …

  • http://cotodigital.net/ Coto Digital

    I think also google should reduce the amount of Youtube from the searching result, it’s sometime to much.

  • http://primarkcatalogo.net/ Primark catalogo

    In my opinion, panda sucks :S

  • http://elblanqueamientodental.com/ Blanqueamiento

    That’s true! panda sucks!

  • http://www.pozycjonowanie-torun.net Pozycjonowanie

    Title tag and description still hold its value. While writing these tags we must make sure that our content revolves around these tags. Tags are nothing but gist of that particular page.

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