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A subdomains fix for Panda - Matt Cutts suggestion to HubPages

     
7:24 pm on Jul 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

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In May, Edmondson wrote an email to Google engineers...and asked whether he should break up his site into “subdomains,”...In June, a top Google search engineer, Matt Cutts, wrote to Edmondson that he might want to try subdomains, among other things.

The HubPages subdomain testing began in late June and already has shown positive results. Edmondson’s own articles on HubPages, which saw a 50% drop in page views after Google’s Panda updates, have returned to pre-Panda levels in the first three weeks since he activated subdomains for himself and several other authors.


[blogs.wsj.com...]
8:59 pm on July 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

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wow sounds like big news.
9:51 pm on July 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

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subdomains are often treated as unique domains, so I don't see how this is new advice.
11:12 pm on July 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

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The advice may have been kind of generic, but traffic returning to pre-Panda levels because of following through sounds rather new to me. And in this case it lease, it points pretty directly to Panda directly evaluating something like "quality" for the individual sets of articles.
11:15 pm on July 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

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So how many billion new subdomains do you think this article, or this thread, will result in?
11:22 pm on July 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

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What this confirms is that Panda is, at least in part, about putting different websites in a box, and demanding they fit in that box, and if they don't, then it penalizes them.

For example... if you run a site called "Blue Widgets" then Google will expect you to write about things related to widgets. If you throw in an article on food now and then, then you may get Pandalized.

This seems strange.

I realize that writing BS on a billion topics is something a lot of content farms do, but writing about different types of topics that may be a little off the beaten path is ALSO something really, really interesting blogs and legit sites do.

This isn't a realistic view of the web at all that Panda is pushing, if that's what it's doing.
11:28 pm on July 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

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It makes sense but then we don't know.

As for page views: he has also written a lot post-Panda (on Panda) and all writers at hubpages have been looking to him for what's next so pageviews and rank might be two different things. But, I don't expect a newspaper article to clarify this though.

[edited by: walkman at 11:37 pm (utc) on Jul 13, 2011]

11:33 pm on July 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I don't think the results imply that the "excellent" authors recovered because articles on similar topic were grouped together.

It seems much more likely that they were judged as quality articles, and no longer suffered from being seen as related to the "weaker" authors that were most likely seen as crap by google.

Say you have 20 excellent quality articles, but they are on a domain that is 60% crap. Panda (unfairly) strikes them along with the crap.

Put them on a brand new subdomain. They get a fresh start and Google evaluates them on their own merits. All good, no Panda.
12:38 am on July 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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The HubPages subdomain testing began in late June and already has shown positive results.

Too late to edit my previous post but does this make any sense? Last Panda, as far as we know, was run June 16th and just yesterday we heard of some comebacks, unless Hubpages is talking about yesterday.
1:25 am on July 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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The HubPages subdomain testing began in late June and already has shown positive results


I thought that sounded a bit quick to be the reason myself - at first. But it actually makes sense, imo.

Being a NEW subdomain, it starts with a CLEAN SLATE.

So, the pages on that subdomain start to rank soon after discovered. Kinda like a penalty was removed. Sorry, I know the "penalty" issue is a can of worms...
1:39 am on July 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I thought that sounded a bit quick to be the reason myself - at first. But it actually makes sense, imo.

Being a NEW subdomain, it starts with a CLEAN SLATE.

So, the pages on that subdomain start to rank soon after discovered. Kinda like a penalty was removed. Sorry, I know the "penalty" issue is a can of worms...
Hardly a fix for Panda though, since it has not run yet for that content in that sub-domain
1:48 am on July 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Hardly a fix for Panda though, since it has not run yet for that content in that sub-domain


Well, maybe a temporary fix. But I'd bet some of the new subdomains don't get hit with Panda later. Gives you the opportunity to pull the good stuff out and get an almost immediate reprieve and a reevaluation at a later date.

To those who think they are unfairly Pandalized, shouldn't that be a welcome opportunity?

I'm actually shocked this thread isn't several pages long by now.
2:13 am on July 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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This solution is only going to be practical for certain types of sites - but it does sound like a good opportunity to investigate if your content segments neatly.
5:44 am on July 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Guys, for a site like hubpages, they have to create virtual subdomains, so my question is: will google treat those virtual subdomains as unique sites?
6:19 am on July 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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article vomit

Love it.

...and the incorrectly indexed sites were ranking higher for certain search queries.

Love it more.


So how many billion new subdomains do you think this article, or this thread, will result in?

Not many by white hat publishers, our sites tend to stick to approved practices and be on topic. You'd need a site that covers all topics or has more than a handful of contributors to benefit from sub-domains, unless your name is wikipedia.

The idea of giving every author his/her own subdomain is actually a good one, google can be picky about which they favor.

[mattcutts.com...] <--worth reading, mentioned in the article.

a subdomain can be useful to separate out content that is completely different

off topic should be on sub-domain, interesting.
8:27 am on July 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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but previously its been noted that if your website one segment or section trigger the Panda, the panda will take your whole website down with it....so how come a subdomain get released when its a part of your website
8:34 am on July 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Interesting... explains why my info. subdomain (which is just the press area/ image library) can now outrank my core site. Clearly, it is not tarnished with whatever was or is on the core site and causing me beef!

But what about in-bound links if you start moving stuff around?
8:45 am on July 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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When nothing they suggested has worked so far, i am not sure how this will work given so many complexities involved in moving content to a new sub domain.
8:54 am on July 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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its just a matter of time till panda 2.3 which will slap the sub domains.
9:16 am on July 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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After reading this thread, I went into the hubpages forum (which anyone can look at) and there is a thread about this from Paul Edmonson

[hubpages.com...]

They've been testing a number of volunteer accounts, not just his account. Some of the testers have posted up graphs of their experience

They're using rel=author to distinguish different authors on different subdomains.

Edmonson made this comment in response to someone who asked about subdomains based on topic rather than username:

After much deliberation we've have chosen a path that aligns subdomains with usernames as closely as possible. This move is about letting high quality content get relief from Panda and segmenting content in a clear way for Google to judge each users Hubs. Your main subdomain page will replace your profile page.

I'd encourage people to think of their presence on HubPages as a personal brand similar to a twitter handle.


Therefore note they are NOT isolating based on topic, but on author - and most authors have a myriad of topics in their account. In other words they are betting that it is the quality of prose that is the issue, rather than the fact that their sites covers a massive range of topics.

They are 301-ing from the original pages so people don't lose their backlinks.

It will be interesting to see what happens when Panda does it's next run. It could work, as Hubpages was heavily spammed with the sort of badly spun junk that was literally un-readable (I mean serious junk) and they had lost control in that they weren't able to take down the stuff fast enough. That probably sank the site. So isolating the good authors probably helps a lot.

I'm really not sure how the mixing up of topics on each subdomain will work out. When people make blogger blogs, they usually write about one topic, say Harry Potter, rather than mixing in anything that comes into their head.

This could be a solution for Pandalised sites with UGC content - not sure it will help other sites. If you make the same mistakes in terms of content and layout, your new subdomain is likely to get pandalised again on the re-run.

But the hubpages experiment is very interesting nevertheless.
11:41 am on July 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I suspect this is not a theme issue, but a content type issue. Certain types of content have very different user metrics.

If you have lower quality articles with high bounce rate, high exit rate, low time on site, etc., moving them out to a subdomain might be a good idea. It'll take the toxicity out of the main domain, and averages will improve there.

This is like Adwords. Keywords with a low CTR and/or quality score should be separated out, because their poor metrics poison the whole campaign. Could be a case of Google taking practice from one area of its business and applying to another.
1:54 pm on July 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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If you make the same mistakes in terms of content and layout, your new subdomain is likely to get pandalised again on the re-run


Yes, but then you know you are still in violation of something, and not just waiting indefinately for a reevaluation. A VERY valuable bit of info, imo.

Not to mention you got a reprieve for some period of time.

(Thanks for the link to the hubpages forum, btw. Good follow thru on that)
2:05 pm on July 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Lets see how long the fix works before jumping on it. I say that because content location shouldn't be the cause of a penalty so moving it won't resolve the problem, it will only immunize other content from it (at best).
5:12 pm on July 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Hey gang, I thought I'd drop in and give some perspective on the timing issue. From the data I have seen, here's a few highlights on the tests Hubpages ran;

Test one was June 23 and gains were made by early July
Test two was July 1 and gains were made by July 09
Test three was June 23 gains made by July 02

and there were a few others. Point being that all the changes were made between June 23 and July 1. All gains were within a week or so. The traffic gains themselves were between 60-80%. Nothing to sneeze at.

I would go with what SGT said as far as waiting until the dust settles prior to calling this a real 'fix' for Panda. The (limited) evidence I have seen is compelling, but time will tell.

Oh, right.. for those not familiar with me (don't get by here as much as I'd like) I am that 'David Harry' character mentioned at the end of the WSJ article. I was involved in the story since Tuesday morning and have a fairly intimate knowledge of the situation. And NO, I do not work for HPs, I simply know the reporter from past interviews and he came to me for some context on the story.

I guess what makes me go hmmmmmmm is that they would bother going to the WSJ about their approach instead of keeping quiet. Oh well...

Anyway, there's a little more context for ya'll
5:18 pm on July 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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and there were a few others. Point being that all the changes were made between June 23 and July 1. All gains were within a week or so. The traffic gains themselves were between 60-80%. Nothing to sneeze at.

Unless Panda run after July 1st I don't know. As others pointed it out Google might just see new content in a new domain with no Panda score so it ranks then pre-panda.

Lets see how long the fix works before jumping on it. I say that because content location shouldn't be the cause of a penalty so moving it won't resolve the problem, it will only immunize other content from it (at best).
Next Panda should be it. Anyway, they have nothing else left to do with all those 'articles,' so they must try whatever might work.
5:33 pm on July 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Walkman, but it is reported as a suggestion from Matt Cutts and Google. Let us see whether this sticks with them.
5:37 pm on July 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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thegypsy, did you mean Test three was June 23 or some date in July?
5:39 pm on July 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I guess what makes me go hmmmmmmm is that they would bother going to the WSJ about their approach instead of keeping quiet. Oh well...


They have their own ad program complete with sales team, and I guess they are desperate to prove to advertisers that their traffic is coming back (they launched it just as panda struck).

I had a look at some of these subdomains (on that forum thread, just click on the name of someone who says they are participating) and at a glance they have all the structural problems that the original Pandalised hubpages had.

Plus, it's dead easy for a spammer to get a link from a "good" subdomain - just fan them, and a dofollow link anchored on an image goes out from the good subdomain to the bad subdomain and connects them - and there's nothing that the good subdomain can do about it. You'd think they'd have taken the trouble to give the owners of the subdomains a little more control wouldn't you?
5:43 pm on July 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I love this quote:

This move is about letting high quality content get relief from Panda and segmenting content in a clear way for Google to judge each users Hubs.


Umm... why not just get rid of the material that is NOT "high quality" content?

Then you won't have to worry about "getting relief" for the high quality content by moving it onto individual subdomains or other shenanigans.
5:48 pm on July 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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@Indy - all the intial tests done by Hubpages was started on either June 23rd or July 1.
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