Hub Pages Change their Rules in Reponse to Google’s Update

So Hub Pages have made some sweeping changes to their publishing rules that will affect all users (Hubbers, as they like to call them). Well, it was going to happen and to be honest, I’m really glad they finally came to their senses. So what are the changes?

Here is an excerpt from an email I just received from them:

…it is now a requirement on HubPages to have at least 50 words for each eBay or Amazon product you feature in a Hub, and it is no longer permissible to place RSS, Link, News, Amazon, or eBay capsules as the first full-width capsule in a Hub.

We have also changed our policy regarding duplicated content. While we used to allow Hubbers to have some duplicated content (e.g. to publish their off-site writing and blog posts to HubPages as well) so long as they did not link back to the original source, we have now simplified the rules so that no duplicated content is allowed on HubPages, period.

No big surprise about the duplicate content thing. It is a big no-no from Google’s point of view and really anyone who was going to the trouble of creating a Hub Page and then copy/pasting a page of text from their own website was being pretty naive. Two reasons for that.

  1. Google hates duplicate content so duplicates get removed from their index pages
  2. If you put your website’s content on a big authority site like hubpages.com then they are going to “own” the content in the eyes of Google simply because that site has more authority than yours, meaning your site could end up taking a penalty from Google resulting in a drop for your site (or its page) in their index.

They don’t seem to have addressed another potentially big problem that may well have had a big influencing factor in getting the whole domain devalued in the Google index. That is the nature of the content that is being published on hubpages. Most topics are fair game and rightly so, but there are a few topics, particularly those branded as spammy, that Google are cracking down on. They include things like weight loss (or more particularly the acai berry and hoodia side of that subject), penis enlargement (yes, we are all fed up about hearing about it), getting your boyfriend/girlfriend back (this has reached epic proportions), certain feminine viral infections along with male virility drugs, smokeless cigarettes and of course the old chestnuts of adult topics.

There are more and to get a good idea what they are, just head over to squidoo.com and check their list of banned topics to see what they are.

That last statement may make you stop and think for a moment why Hub Pages were penalized and Squidoo were not. In 2009, Squidoo were badly penalized by Google because they were allowing so much spam to be published on their site. They reacted back then by creating a list of banned topics and systematically removing all lenses that fell under them. It took a while, in fact the best part of a year before Squidoo lenses started to rank well again in Google’s index but they did and they still do.

Reason?

They don’t allow certain spammy topics that places like Hub Pages and Ezine Articles (another casualty of the recent Google crackdown). Funny, neither do eHow, who also came through the crackdown unscathed.

Anyway, I digress and these theories have already been written about elsewhere so I won’t go expanding on them too much. The point of this post is to let my 3 readers know that Hub Pages are doing something positive about their current lacklustre performance in the SERPs because of Google’s “Farmer” update as it has become known.

Whether they are doing enough remains to be seen.

Terry Didcott

Will Google Really Count Social Links? I Don’t Buy It!

I’m quite taken with Internet Marketing, especially as it is provides my living and it doesn’t matter where I am in the world, I can still make it as long as I have my laptop, a connection to the net and some coffee. Who wouldn’t be over the moon to be able to say that all the hard work I put in for my own good over the last few years is now paying off very well, thank you. So what is this post about? Well, it seems there may be a threat to the way many Internet Marketers make their living.

I’m not talking about the list builders who live off noobs to this business chasing the get rich quick dream like a bunch of blood sucking leeches, but those of us that make our money from affiliate commissions gained from attracting buying traffic to our websites and directing them to a variety of real products that companies are selling and picking up a pay-cheque for those buyers we send to them. We do this of course by working hard to place our websites high up in the search engines index by what is known in the business as SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. Briefly, it is building highly relevant websites around a large group of those products and then building links to those sites. There’s more to it than that, but up until now and probably for a while longer, the more relevant links you attracted to your websites, the higher you would feature in the search engine results because they placed a higher level of authority on your site because so many other site owners linked to yours.

The threat seems to be coming from what is known as social links. In short, the rumour being spread around is that Google, who are the main search engine and the one we marketers aspire to reach the top of, intend to count social links obtained from popular social sites like Facebook and Twitter and add this to the level of relevancy they give to our sites. 99.99% of people don’t know or care about any of this, of course.

But for those that are concerned, I have a sneaky feeling that if this really is going to happen, it will be pretty temporary. Why?

Think about it (if you are a marketer with SEO knowledge, that is). Google has spent years battling against spammers who continually try to game their index so they can get their garbage sites to feature top for competitive, high value keywords. Spammers use a number of automated techniques and sometimes get a foot in there for a while. But the boffins at Google who write and tinker with their famous algo generally get the upper hand.

Google’s mission is to bring Internet users the best search experience possible by placing the most relevant websites at the top of their index for all keywords searched on. I know I’m right about that.

I also know that the getting of links to websites can be gamed to a certain extent. Its done by the use of placing links in blog posts of other people’s blogs that you guest post on, which is actually the norm, completely above board and acceptable. That process can be accelerated by using other people to write your articles and even automated to a certain extent, but the results are that real content has to make its way onto real blogs for this to work. It takes a lot of time, effort and hard work to achieve good results, so much so that almost nobody tries all that hard. For Google, this is not really the problem.

The problem is the automated linking systems and other blackhat techniques that are designed to game the index. Most of these the algo tinkerers have all but got on top of. Which leaves us with a fairly robust search engine that delivers mostly relevant results.

So why on earth would Google want to totally upset this particular apple cart by including social links in the algo’s mechanism for ranking sites?

Anyone who knows this stuff will know that automating the creation of social links is way easier than getting real links from blogs. Every SEO with enough knowledge to be dangerous will be all over this like a cheap suit. Blackhatters are probably already writing (or have written) automation tools to auto-generate so many social links as to place a ton of spam websites on the top of Google’s index the second they start counting them. There will be social groups and supposedly hidden groups set up in places like Facebook with the sole intention of generating thousands of social links to an army of websites.

Why would Google allow something like this to happen?

I’m sure they know full well what the consequences of counting social links (or “likes” or whatever they call them) will be. The answer? One of two things will happen:

1: Google goes ahead and count social links, “likes”, tweets and suchlike. Their index implodes under the weight of all the spam rising to the top like effluent rising to the top of a septic tank.

2. Google are really yanking your chain.

I like the second answer. I believe they already know all this and started the rumours deliberately. That way SEO’s everywhere will divert their time and attention to building social links, stopping them building the links that really count.

2a. Oh yeah, the algo boffins will be laughing their asses off at all the headless chickens scurrying around building social links like their lives depended on it!

Why am I writing all this, when clearly no one will believe it?

Something to do with all the time I’m saving by NOT wasting it on Facebook…

Terry Didcott