Google Panda Update Victim HubPages Tweaks Approach to Boost Search Visibility

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HubPages, one of the big victims of Google's Panda update announced that it is making some changes aimed at getting back in Google's good graces to bring its content back up to a better level of search visibility.

"Enhancing readers' experience on the site will improve our visibility with searchers, and reward those Hubbers who spend the time and energy to publish truly remarkable Hubs," writes HubPages' Jason Menayan. "We are about to implement a few more changes to improve the overall experience of our site, aimed at removing content that offers dubious value to the HubPages community of writers and readers."

Of course this is not the first time HubPages has addressed content quality for its users. In fact, shortly before this most recent roll-out of Panda (the global/English language one), a Google staffer actually wrote a guest post on the HubPages blog, giving users tips on how to make their content better for AdSense. Then the site got hit by Panda again.

Now, HubPages is removing its "News Capsule" feature.

The feature, originally deemed a way to make hubs (HubPages articles) more relevant, has now been determined to add little value to users and the page. Menayan says the links it generated often were only distantly related to the topic.

The News Capsule from HubPages on Vimeo.

They're also tightening up on affiliate links. With the exceptions of Amazon and eBay, they will no longer be allowed in HubPages articles if they point to sites that sell eBooks, promote dubious offers (like watching TV online for free), contain a lead capture form, contain pop-ups, pop-unders or other features that interfere with site navigation, or redirect users to unwanted sites.

"Redirects themselves are innocuous, but we will be able to track the full path of redirected links, and if any of the redirects pass through or to a prohibited link, then that redirected link will also be prohibited," says Menayan. "So, if a link passes through a clickbank link (a prohibited affiliate link), for example, then that specific link on that Hub will be not allowed."

In addition, all affiliate links are being disallowed in certain topic areas that are becoming "saturated with low-quality Hubs published by affiliate marketers".

This is in reference to topics like acai berries, forex, and six-pack abs, though articles about these topics will still be allowed - just not with affiliate links.

Finally, HubPages will send out automatic alerts to authors if their hubs don't comply with the new guidelines.

Earlier this week, HubPages CEO Paul Edmondson raised an interesting point about the Panda update and its impact on HubPages vs. its impact on Googles' own YouTube (that would be the opposite impact - YouTube was a clear winner, as were several other video content sites).

"It appears HubPages has been impacted by this while YouTube has not, despite HubPages having a more strict content policy," he wrote.

YouTube itself then dropped an interesting stat in an unrelated blog post of its own, saying only 30% of All YouTube Videos Make Up 99% of Views.

Another interesting point of note is that eHow (The Demand Media-run content site, 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.

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

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