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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Circling the Wagons After the Latest Google Update

There has been quite a bit of consternation to say the least about the recent update to Google's algorithm which has been targeted at spam sites and "content farms".  Personally, I am all for an improvement in the search results that get delivered since some results are very poor and lead to many worthless sites.

That being said, I can't help but wonder what implications the Google definition of "content farm" might hold for HubPages.  I have been enjoying my little hobby of making money online and am a little disappointed by the decrease in traffic that I have seen over the last 48 hours.  I would say that my Google traffic is down about 50-60% overall.

As a result, I will probably be writing very little over the next week while I see what transpires.  I may end up having to develop my own website but don't really like the idea of paying for a domain and hosting just to find out that I can't get any visitors.  I have enough difficulty getting traffic as it is; I don't need to pay for the privilege of having difficulty.

It may turn out that this truly remains only a hobby with less effort on my part and that I would just allow the chips to fall where they may.  I was enjoying the challenge of seeing what I could accomplish, but now that there is some questions as to the rules of the game, I think it is best to just wait and see.  I do plan on being able to get some reading done this week so that is a plus.

The general consensus over at the HubPages forum is to wait a week before panicking and seeing what happens.  That certainly seems like good advice so that is what I will be doing.  Apparently, there is the belief that good content will still matter and many reports are that personal websites have not been hit with traffic declines.  Some are optimistic that an entire site won't get harmed as much as individual pages.  I am not quite so sure personally.  Again that might mean that now is the time to develop a personal website.  I will be looking into that option over the next week as well.

In the meantime, I am glad that I am not reliant upon Google for my livelihood.  I am able to just walk away at any time.  That is not the case for everyone.  I feel really sorry for those who had lost jobs and were writing to help supplement income.  In that respect, the unemployment picture may have just gotten worse.  I also feel sorry for those who may have quit employment to work more on the internet only to have this happen to them.  Double whammy!

As for me, I can certainly find plenty to keep me busy so that I don't end up watching too much television.  Besides, summer is coming along with golf and softball so my writing time would have been more difficult to come by as it is.  The bottom line for me is to just watch and see what happens in the next week or two, do a little reading, a little thinking, and come back with a plan for the future.

I wish everyone luck with these monumental changes especially those supporting themselves or family members.  I would appreciate any comments on how these changes are affecting your traffic and business, what your plans might be, etc.  Thanks for reading and sharing.


  1. Well, I guess I'll go first! :)

    Some of my sites took a small hit around the 7th of February - mostly newer sites and EMDs - but this last change on the 24th has boosted many of my sites a bit, so all in all I'd say my net gain is about zero, or a little bit up. All in all, I'm pretty happy with the last change. It has knocked a lot of hubs and EzineArticles out of the top ten, which is a good thing for me. However, I can imagine that those who rely on these as their traffic sources are going to be hit hard by the change.

    So for your sake, I hope some of your hubs come back in the rankings (I wouldn't be surprised if they did), but for those of us who build our own domains that compete with these sites, it is mainly a good thing.

    I know it's against Hubpages policies, but I would consider backlinking your best earning hubs and see if that helps. But in the end, as I've said before, I really think you need to stop relying on these third party sites and start building your own (sorry if I sound like a broken record)...

    Anyway, sounds like you have some great plans for the spring and summer, regardless. I can't wait until it gets warmer here as well - I'll be taking lots of hikes and spending time at the beach with my toddler.

  2. I have between 10 & 20 articles at several different content sites: Suite 101, Hubpages, InfoBarrel, Bukisa, and Associated Content. There are also a few other sites where I've contributed in the past.

    My earnings/page views for all these sites have gone down by as much as 50 percent. When I look at my Adsense reports for the last few days, my two blogs -- one I have on working from home in general, and one on writing -- have both either consistently stayed the same for views/earnings or have risen slightly. I also have a niche site I'm working on that never gets any views (either before or after this change) but I haven't backlinked it yet at all in the one month length of time it's been up, so I'm guessing that's why.

    Bottom line, I'm going to wait a week or two to see what happens with my content on content sites. The changes have proven that my blogs are still doing well -- if not better -- than before, so I'm going to focus most of my attention on those while also trying to figure out how to get my niche site to start seeing some traffic. I'm not going to write any more content for content sites until I see where all this is going. I think it's clear my time may be better spent on sites I own -- not sites owned by someone else.

  3. I will echo what Michelle said above and say that I think having your own sites is the way to go. It's true that you WILL "waste" money in the beginning in domains that aren't so great, but it's all part of learning and eventually you'll make a lot more. My passive website earnings - even though they're pretty small - really haven't been affected at all by this change. But I still believe that it's important to diversify, so that a single change can't ruin your business. I can't imagine how devastating that would be!

  4. I know that a decline in earnings and visits can be discouraging but I wouldn't give up on HubPages too quickly, even with the changes at Google. I think quality content will survive. This month has been really good for me at both Triond (Google earnings) and Suite101, and my earnings at Associated Content/Yahoo! Contributor Network are also on the rise. These sites are all considered content farms, yet my income has increased even without adding new content. I know everyone is panicking about the Google changes, but try not to get caught up in all the negative talk. Your content may survive the changes and continue to earn money for you. (Yes, I'm wearing my rose-colored glasses and I refuse to take them off!) :)

  5. I want to say thanks to all of you who commented. Please don't be offended if I don't respond to each of you individually. I believe that now is a good time to reflect on what is happening and see what develops over the next few weeks. In the meantime, I will share what my thoughts are in the next few days in a new blog post.

  6. If your earnings change severely enough, you could copy and paste all of your own articles to your own brand new blog, and then delete all of your accounts elsewhere. Then as you backlink them all under your one domain, they all gain strength if they are interlinked well.

    I'd like to see the Kidgas catch-all domain where you just build this huge domain based on all the work you've already done. I've automated some backlinking on my own server and will add more ways that are considered white hat, such as social bookmarking. I'd help you catch back up to where you were at! Keep trucking, sir. This is one of my favorite MMO blogs. Stay in the game!

  7. Although my Suite earnings have taken a big hit, my other sites have done well with the Google change. All in all, my overall income has increased since the algorithm change.

    Kidgas, you’re wise in taking the wait and see approach before deciding which way to go with HubPages. As far as building your own site, only you know if you’re willing to take the time to do it. I very much agree with Michelle. While it’s nice earning money from content sites, there’s nothing like having your own.

    Since you have a job and enough other things to occupy your time, this isn’t an earth shatteringly important decision to make. You can take your time and do what feels right for you. I do have the sneaking suspicion, however, that you will continue your online writing journey. ;)

  8. Jared,
    I am still in the game. I guess once you get hooked, it is somewhat addicting. I look at it as another challenge to overcome. I have thought about the ability to copy and paste for sure. No plans to do anything just yet but am biding time.

    Thanks for your insight and encouragement. I appreciate it very much. I am looking forward to what the future has in store.

  9. I saw a dip to my Hubpages traffic (the only site which is affected where I have enough traffic to allow meaningful comparisons to be made). This dip was about 25% for a few days, but it has since recovered so yesterday it was only down by about 5%, and hopefully it will increase further. So maybe yours will increase too.

  10. BB,
    I have seen a slight recovery. It is not nearly as devastating as Saturday, but I am still down by a noticeable amount on the order of 15-20%. Maybe time will cure this wound.

  11. Kidgas there is also the new Hubpages ad programme - apparently with the people who have used it so far there is an uplift of 60% in their earnings compared with when they only use Adsense. So hopefully once this is used there will be an extra increase. If you haven't heard of it yet be patient - I have heard they are rolling it out over the next few months on an invitation basis. I was lucky enough to be invited to sign up first thing this morning, so hopefully tomorrow I will see some earnings!

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  13. Yeah, this update was hard, in part because I was probably riding the amazing strength of HubPages too much when I should have worked on diversifying my income a little more. But after an original 50% drop in Hub traffic, I've gained about half of that back now. I've also taken this as a learning opportunity and worked on a lot of my own niche sites, and it seems actually easier to me to rank a good original niche site now then it was before the update. So we'll see how it all plays out by the end of the year. Keep up the good work!

  14. Master Dayton,
    It has been a difficult month to be sure. I have started working on my own site and hope to make progress throughout the year. Like you said, we'll just have to see how it all goes.


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