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Is HubPages Hanging Squids Out to Dry?

By Edited Jul 17, 2016 3 9
Making surume (Dried Squid)
Credit: Takanobu Shuji on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

If you write online, you probably already know about HubPages acquiring Squidoo.

The main problem with this "business" transaction was how Squidoo forced writers to choose between keeping their stream of income or forfeiting their previous 60-days worth of ad pool revenue.

Even though it was stated by Corey Brown numerous times that the transfers would not begin until September 2nd, 2014, writers were denied access to their content and could not delete, edit, or close their accounts after midnight ET on August 29th, 2014.

If you missed Seth Godin's announcement on Friday, August 15th and were away until after August 29th (at midnight) you had no option but to sit and watch your work remain online (for the public to view ads and buy products) while you were locked out of your own account.

Rusty Chain | a tangle of rusty chain links
Credit: Creativity103 on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

"I'm Keeping My Link Juice!"

It seemed strange to me that people were willing to jump on board to accept the HubPages deal. That is until I realized why it was so important to them.

I kept hearing, "I'm keeping my link juice."

What was so important about these links, I wondered. I mean, if your content is good, people tend to share it.

So I went snooping and found some of the strangest links that led to unrelated things and keyword stuffing in the hundreds for some tier one Squidoo pages.

Why didn't the filters on Squidoo catch these?

Was It Too Hard to Play Favourites?

I personally was baffled by Bonnie Diczhazy's response when I reported someone, a Squidoo Contributor, for sending me two of his or her pages to boost.

My exact words were to the contributor were:

"I checked out your lens [URL inserted] and here's the thing: 

Your first link titled "Blah Blah Blah" led to: a URL (with doubleclick (dot) net and strange numbers).

The word "[keyword]" is used 69 times and 281 times when I viewed source. You've quoted from the book, essentially (except for your intro). And your lens is fairly thin on original, personal content.

Sorry, can't endorse (boost) it."

Then, I checked out his or her other lens and asked:
Why does your first link titled "[Two Words]" lead back to this exact page? 
The unnamed contributor wrote me back the following:
Thanks for the heads up on my [Blah Blah] lens. I do not know where that link came from in the first line. The link back to the same page which is located in the first sentence of the [other] page was part of an experiment. I cannot remember which lensmaster gave me the idea, maybe [lensmaster] or [lensmaster]. It was intended to help Google crawl the lens.
Bonnie wrote me back the following:
 
So-and-so has been around for a long time and s/he is a good egg so I wouldn't worry about him/her too much, we all have lenses that could use an update : )
I forgot
Credit: Karen (misbehave on flickr) / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

The Latest from Google

And it doesn't look good for Squidoo pages

Beach of Irony
Some people who transferred over to HubPages on September 4th, 2014 now have no redirects from their lensmaster profile page. They are getting a 404.

Hmm, what could be going on there?

Well, it could be a glitch, but I don't think so. 

Could HubPages be trying to show Google they are trying to clean up their (Squidoo's) act?

When the latest Panda 4.1 update rolled out, Searchmetrics SEO Blog posted (Sept. 26th) the overview of those who lost SEO visibility (and by how much). HubPages lost a whopping 46%.[1]

On October 21st, 2014 I checked HubPages

Profile of Former Squidoo Person with the "No. 1" Lens

The Profile Page on HubPages of the Person with the No. 1 Lens on Squidoo
Credit: Screenshot by RoseWrites on InfoBarrel

What's a 404?

First of all, a 301 redirect is permanent. If someone from Squidoo transfered their account and lenses (articles) to HubPages, their URLs would all have 301 redirects.

Apparently, on HubPages, if a Hub (a former Squidoo URL or profile URL) is unpublished, it becomes a 404 page. If it stays that way for too long, the Hub loses its Google ranking. 

Dead End Sign
By definition a 404 error indicates that the requested resource may be available again in the future; however, the fact does not guarantee the same content.[2]

Notably, a 404 error is often returned when pages have been moved or deleted. A 410 would indicate it has been permanently deleted.[3]

The message showing on these pages now states: 

"No longer published. The article you are looking for is no longer published. The author may have chosen to unpublish it, or it may have been unpublished by a moderator because of a violation of HubPages rules."

And it gets worse for thieves online

Just three days ago I read (to my relief) that Google was releasing a new Pirate Update. It's been over two years since their last one.[4]

The main points:

  • Sites deemed to be violating copyright laws will receive a downgrade.
  • Google says it will show fewer websites with DMCA requests filed against them.

Oh Look, HubPages Still Has My Profile Though

They're Still Showing My Profile and Content (OMG)

My Stolen Profile on HubPages October 21st, 2014
Credit: RoseWrites on InfoBarrel (Formerly sousababy on Squidoo)

Google Penguin 3.0 Update

The first penguin update in over a year

King penguins, Salisbury Plain, Bay of Isles South Georgia (UK)
On Friday, October 17th, Google's latest Penguin update[5] targets spammy sites and particularly those with linking violations.

Sites that were negatively affected by last year's update (Oct. 2013) who took measures to clean up their site might see an upswing in traffic already.

The downside for Squidoo-HubPages imports is that even if Paul Edmondson et al. tried disavowing bad links within the last three weeks - it would be too late.

Perhaps the Best News I Read

Sockpuppet accounts on various media was something I knew was problematic on Squidoo. I decided long ago that I would maintain only one account (on any platform). I have only one Facebook, Google, Pinterest account too. I don't tweet.

Thankfully, Penguin will cause numerous links to be ignored. And those links will no longer give a credit, boost, or vote to those pages.[5]

And even if Google didn't specifically target certain people, sites that were artificially boosted from this activity will lose both credit and visibility.[5]

What Are Your Options?

1) You may be able to get all of your earnings back from Squidoo and no longer be held to HubPages Terms of Use by filing an IC3 (which is free to do, without a lawyer). Or you can consult a lawyer on your own.

Admin on InfoBarrel in a Tux
2) Work on your own site or blog.

3) Join InfoBarrel (the platform run by Canadians) which boasts the most generous ad share program around. You get 75% which can increase to 90% if you write regularly and gain the points.

After 1 month on here I wrote InfoBarrel Or Squidoo | Why I Prefer InfoBarrel (and all of my revenue is donated to charity from this article).

And a must-read is classicalgeek's A Newbie's Guide to Publishing on InfoBarrel.

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Comments

Oct 21, 2014 10:16am
TanoCalvenoa
I second the recommendation to give InfoBarrel a try. I'd begun putting some articles up on this site five months before Squidoo went belly up (and my contributor status, and all my awards were gone). I much prefer InfoBarrel and once the HubPages deal was announced, I immediately decided to put everything up here on IB.
Oct 21, 2014 11:34am
RoseWrites
Yeah, I'm so thankful DebW07 told me about InfoBarrel. I'm also glad you are writing on here and getting much-deserved homepage feautres for your work.

And thank you for telling me about my mistake of putting Sept. instead of Aug. in my intro. Goodness, I totally overlooked that.

Take good care,
Rose
Oct 21, 2014 5:51pm
aesta1
Rose, that is just so unethical, for people to do such a thing. I am glad that all that is over. I admire that you did all the research. I just gave up on Squidoo at the end but did not do any of the work you did.

I also thought I had time to move my lenses but when I went to Squidoo, I was told I can only do it in HP so I made a decision for what is easy. I am giving my own site more time now. Infobarrel seems really a good option.
Oct 24, 2014 10:41pm
RoseWrites
Mary, there are certainly lots of homepage featured spots available for travel articles on here. When you find time, check out the editorial calendar, there are 13 days in the month devoted to travel ones. (Your work on Squidoo would do much better on here, I think). Plus Kevin and Ryan also run the magazine Canadian Traveller (so there might be other opportunities for you, I'm thinking). Either way, HubPages has no legal right to keep your work - you weren't given any choice in the matter (you didn't give them consent to use your work, profile, and identity). Whatever you decide, I'm here for you.
Take good care,
Rose
Oct 24, 2014 10:41pm
RoseWrites
Note to readers: There were duplicate posts that I deleted.
Oct 24, 2014 9:19pm
Browna86
That is a shame about that link thing and keyword stuffing. I can't stand reading, yet alone writing, articles that are designed to be stuffed with keywords. Of the lenses written, my three grossing lenses were games for girls, urban legends by state and wartune.

That wartune lens got me a purple start after sharing a link to the article on twitter; apparently there were a lot of fans out there. Very disappointing. Still can't recall who directed me here; possibly a friend of DebW07.

Pretty sure this whole transfer thing followed by the lighting up of Squids on HP was planned. Thanks for keeping us up to date. Take care.
Oct 24, 2014 10:32pm
RoseWrites
Yeah, and the thing that strikes me as obvious now is that HubPages is finding a way to weed out the shady linkers and keyword stuffers. Initially, some of the lensmasters who wanted their "link juice" (and took the transfer) were granted a HubPages domain name that looked like this:

http://Squidoo pen name (dot) hubpages (dot) com

Now, some have resorted to buying a similar domain name such as http://www.Squidoo pen name (dot) com/hubpages (dot) html

I also discovered something about author scores. My profile on there (without my consent) now has a higher author score (it used to be 75). Now it's 87 and I never even joined HubPages. Well, apparently if a score goes below 85, all of that author's outbound links become NoFollowed.

So, I think HubPages is reshuffling the deck to show Google only the best authors and their work - but it's too late. The latest Penguin update was based on what was on the site over 3 weeks ago.

I think Google is way ahead of the online blackhatters, in this case.

Thanks again for dropping by, I appreciate your commentary so much.

Warmly,

Rose
Oct 26, 2014 12:00am
AstroGremlin
The Hub Pages deal was sneaky, too fast, and not at all transparent. Did money change hands? The announcement was arrogant and uninformative. I noticed that links to Squidoo articles via CommentLuv on my site now return 404s - not cool for the commenters and not cool that I have to clean up the broken links.
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Bibliography

  1. "Panda Update 4.1: Winners / Losers – Google U.S.." Searchmetrics. 26/09/2014. 20/10/2014 <Web >
  2. "Create useful 404 pages." Google | Webmaster Tools. 20/10/2014 <Web >
  3. Matt Cutts "Does Google treat 404 and 410 status codes differently?." YouTube. 14/04/2014. 20/10/2014 <Web >
  4. Danny Sullivan "After More Than Two Years, Google Finally Releasing New “Pirate Update” To Fight Piracy." Search Engine Land. 17/10/2014. 20/10/2014 <Web >
  5. Barry Schwartz "Google Releases Penguin 3.0 — First Penguin Update In Over A Year." Search Engine Land. 19/10/2014. 20/10/2014 <Web >
  6. Barry Schwartz "Google Releases Penguin 3.0 — First Penguin Update In Over A Year." Search Engine Land. 19/10/2014. 20/10/2014 <Web >
  7. Barry Schwartz "Google Releases Penguin 3.0 — First Penguin Update In Over A Year." Search Engine Land. 19/10/2014. 20/10/2014 <Web >

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