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Hubpages – Can You Still Make Money in 2011?

I started on – because of Hubpages I made my first $100 online and got paid out by Google’s Adsense program. In fact the precursor of this blog was built to support my hubpages – not the other way around!

Until recently I highlighted my pages explaining how I made money on Hubpages – the posts were genuine – but I also made money from those writers who signed up using my affiliate ID – personally I’d moved on from Hubpages, Hubpages is no scam, but I prefer  to put time into my own sites – but my hubpages were still making me hundreds a month – until recently.

Panda Update and Hubpages

I’ve already written about how the Panda updated failed to deliver quality to the searcher – and still my niche sites are  ranking pretty much where they were before the so-called update.

But Panda was originally nicknamed “Farmer Update” by SEO’s – because the update seemed to particularly focus on large content sites – sites like HubPages.

The official figures – as provided by Quantcast – seems to support this:

Traffic drop on as measured by Quantcast

Looking at my own analytics for the same period – its the same but different :

hubpages traffic drop April 2011
Analytics on my main Hubpages Account - same period as Qantcast

My point is that – over all comments about the site – you need to look at your own stats and apply the data. The peak on 1 March was because my Wellington Earthquake hub ranked well in NZ before the local news papers woke up to the fact that locals were panicking about about a barely felt shake in the wake of the wall-to-wall coverage of the previous week’s major Christchurch quake.

Ignoring this outlier – my traffic seems to have only slightly dropped – unfortunately that drop is much more dramatic when I look at my Adsense stats for the last couple of months compared to the same period last year (my traffic is seasonal so the only fair comparison is the same time of year).

Its against Adsense TOS to give you details but I can tell you that my eCPM  is down over 50%.

My best ranked hubs have dropped – but are still on page 1 or 2 in most cases. However the drop in traffic from position 1 to position 7 or 8 is huge – as anyone who has been there will attest to.

Experiment to See If I Can Get My Rankings Back

I’m lucky because I have two cases study where I have hubs and sites which target the same keywords.

Case 1: Adsense Niche

In this case my hub has been in #1 position for a couple of years – after Panda 1 in early Februrary it dropped to position #2, in April’s Panda 2 (Panda roll-out worldwide) the site dropped to position 4 for its main keyword. This is a seasonal niche that peaks in the US summer so I want it back!

I also have a niche site sitting in position 7 for the same main keyword  – frankly I haven’t built a link for either the hub or the site for at least 2 years – its not the world’s most profitable niche – but its perfect for the purpose of answering the question.

Will backlinks still work for Hubpages?

Now lets be clear in the past – hubpages didn’t need backlinks – or not very many – if you had a trusted profile and wrote a good long hub – the hub in question above is nearly 2000 words you could get the hub to rank for a non-competitive keyword using a combination of site authority and internal links.

In May I will be building 60 links to each of the hub and the niche site. The links will be based on a mixture of the main keyword and related cousins – using  Keyword Academy methods.

Case 2: Product Hubs

I have a product orientated site which I have also used hubpages for back links from. I’m going to try adding a new hub on the product – backlinking it from related hubs and then backlink the hub to see if it will rank – this is on a different user from my main one – so will be interested to see what happens.

Issues with HubPages reactions to Panda/Farmer Update

Some would say that changes to Hubpages TOS has caused more damage to their earnings on HP than the actual Google changes.

1. Hubpages has launched their own Ads program.

I’ve signed up for the HP Ads program to see if it will give me a better return than Adsense. I signed up all my accounts about 10 days ago but my two more niche focused identities are reverting to Adsense – I’m not going to hit the $50 payout without decent traffic. In contract my main profile has made that $50 minimum in 10 days  – I’ll leave it on for another month to see how the eCPM compares to Adsense. I have a lot of popular hubs on that account that get traffic but few clicks so the HP ads may work for this account.

2. Hubpages  may be struggling to stay in business.

There has been pandemonium in the Hubpages forums but I doubt that its even 1/2 of what is happening in Hubpages HQ – the company has got to be hurting a lot and probably wondering how to make payroll. Whether they  survive the next few months – will be of interest – there is always lots of knee-jerk changes being made. In the meanwhile I advise anyone who has content on hubpages to back it up.

3. Hubpages is losing a lot of “marketers” because of their changes to TOS

Recent changes in hubpages have varied from the incomprehensible (banning pixelated images), to the odd (reducing the number of Amazon and eBay capsules allowed), and from  the sane (banning duplicate content) to the not sane (banned affiliate links).

This is losing some hubbers a lot of money – some at least are unpublishing and removing their content. Its very hard to know how significant this is – but it could be that hubpages is losing a lot of high ranking content and suffering from a lot  broken links both internally and externally – this would certainly hurt my websites – so I imagine its hurting hubpages too.

Unfortunately the hubbers they are loosing were the ones who knew how to promote their content – those that are left are the “write it and they will come” camp – which worked so long as someone was promoting the site – if no one is…

4. Hubpages has reduced the number of Adsense ads on hubs

The loss of a the well-placed links unit on hubpages is unfortunate – I continue to make great money from link units on other sites.

At the moment I ma pretty sure that Hubpages isn’t a good way to make money anymore – what I’m trying to establish though is if it still has enough authority to be useful backlinks – watch this space.

31 replies on “Hubpages – Can You Still Make Money in 2011?”

Hi Lis,

Glad you brought this topic up 🙂

Like many (if not everyone?) my hubs took a hit fron the two panda updates, a mild hit with the first update and a bigger hit with the second update. I am no expert in these matters but it would now seem that getting ones hubs to rank is probably the same work as it takes to rank our own sites, since the “hubpages” overal site power is diminshed.

It left me asking myself a few things – first and foremost – is it worth continuing putting time and/or money into backlinking my hubs, especially if you are paying for outsourced unique articles and/or taking the time to write unique articles yourself. Personally, I have been put off this idea. However, I am going to use a combination of “well-spin-articles”, and send them to sick submitter where I can send them out to many article directories (over time, not all at once of course). This way I can justify my time spent backlinking my hubs because it will be a lot less of my time spent. It’s an experiment, and I will see how it goes! Since all (but one) of my hubs have tanked from the first page to the 3rd and 4th pages in google, I got nothing to lose anyhow, and I will focus on PR and BMR for the rest of my backlink building for my own sites (especially the ones that survived and actually thrived after Panda).

Thats why I decided to spend some time on this and find out Darren – no one seems to be doing any real experimenting they are just running around panicking (including HP staff) – I’d like some facts!

I started my experiment 2 days after Panda 1. Lost traction for main keyword phrase (went from 1 to 8) and completely vanished for the semantically related ones that were sending good traffic. Not in the results at all for one – 97 for another. I have too many hubs to do this with but I chose 4 that were the most profitable. No gains in almost 2 months of aggressive linking.

Interesting Mark – the thing is mine haven’t got that far done in most cases …

Neither have my middle competition ones. The high competition ones are buried in the backwoods. But – that was the attraction if hubpages. When their internal links were good Juju – you could go for more competitive terms. Some stuff will still work there. My religion hubs are doing better. 😆

Interesting experiment Darren- let us know how it goes – I agree if its as much work to rank a hub as your own site – you are far better off with your own site.

Hey Lis, yep – will do. I am working away on it now, spinning like a top! I don;t want to give up on my hubs yet until time, and facts 🙂 , get more clear. I will check back in with how things are going.

SOmething else to take into account (and this might be a bunch of crap in my head), but hubpages maybe put on a time penalty for a while? Maybe the more experienced about theses things can pitch in with their opinions on that one. Either way, link building efforts will show their affects down the line, one way or another.

Hey Lis,

This should be interesting, my hubpages have seen a drop, about a third less traffic and a third less income, my strong hubs are still doing well, in other words the ones I have backlinked, the ones I never sent any links to have pretty much lost all their income but overall it hasnt been too bad. I tried out hub ads for a while and I made much less than with adsense, so I switched back. Im not including my amazon sales from hubs in this but overall my amazon earnings have remained fairly stable so not much difference there.

Im not pulling my content as long as its still earning but Im not going to put time into backlinking the non performing hubs.

Alana – yeah the income drop is similar to mine I think – and yes the stronger hubs haven’t dropped as far – they are the ones I want back! The trouble with backlinking is that if you don’t do it you almost certainly won’t get anywhere (with the new HP) – in which case you might as well put content on your own sites.

BTW nice to talk again – long time no hear- how is infobarrel going?

Hey Lis, yeah its been a while, in truth I didnt stay long over at IB, started freelance web design and working on my own sites, interesting thing this month with my hubs is that im on track so far to make the same as i did in the month pre panda on adsense alone not sure what to make of it yet but affiliate sales up too, you notice any changes recently?

Yeah I’ve had an outsourcer building hubs and backlinking them for the past 6 months. It’s probably been the worst timeline decision ever since it was around that time that hubpages started to be a lot harder to rank, and now with the panda update I’m only using the site to build pages that I also want for backlinks.

I wish hubpages worked as they used to. I always saw them as a bit of my nest egg (ie if I ever decided to sell and get out of the game I’d still have a little flow of money coming in with 0 work or expense).

The funny thing about the panda update (and a little sad for us) is how WordWolf traffic has been growing…

Oh well… It’s all the name of the game… I just need a little inspiration for my next project!

Hi Lis!

Long time, no type. I hope all is well in your part of the World 🙂

I have been wondering how Panda/Farmer impacted Hubpages on a broader scale (several of my Hubs saw a small decrease in Google traffic) and it great to see someone with a strong HP presence publish some real data.

Thanks for all you do and the insight you provide!

On another note … did Panda have much impact on site developed using the KA approach?


Hi Jim – yeah long time no see!
My other sites which are all based on keyword academy approaches with variation – are doing just fine – some up some down – all normal – the only stuff of mine that Panda touched was HP!

Yeah 2 steps forward one back – I’m thru the angry/frustrated phase now- onto the “new projects for world domination!”

Hi Lis,
I’ll be interested in the results of your experiment. Given the amount of crazy stuff going on at HP, I’m guessing that they will find it difficult to regain their former position.
Either they haven’t got a clue, or they’re very cleverly getting rid of a lot of people and hubs that won’t fit in with their own advertising scheme.

Anyway, If anyone has a lot of hubs that they want to download to their own computer, I’ve made a short video that shows you how to do it using Firefox and the Scrapbook addon.
After you’ve downloaded the hubs, the content will still have the HP HTML tags in it.
You can clean this up by pasting the hub content into a good text editor that can strip out the HTML content, and leave pure text.
I use Notetab Pro, available at but many other editors will do this for you.

Anyway, here’s the video about backing up your hubpages content;

Eric G.

Thanks Eric for the link – I was hoping you would post it so I didn’t have to bother – I’ll link it in the main article too

Yeah who was it that said never confuse incompetence for strategy – or words to that effect!

Hi Lis,

I’m doing the same thing right now with my hubs. I fully agree that while the Google update may have been a major bump on the shins for HubPages, their reaction seems to be actually shooting themselves in the foot. I’ve had several hubs based around some decent Clickbank products, and I’ve basically copied and pasted the text of those hubs, deleted all the info, and then left a 750 word text article behind as my “updated” hub to use as a backlink while the 3,000 word article gets moved to my own site. Just looking at it now, there’s little doubt in my mind that I’m going to end up having to delete about 50 hubs because they’re now more valuable on my own site. I’ve been making some backlink runs at hubs where I also have a website because I’m very curious if it now takes more work to rank a hub than a website – which if it did would make the next step pretty obvious, IMO.

Now don’t tell anyone Shane but my CB product hubs are so far OK – but all the links are via a redirect not directly to the hoplink domain … just saying … But yeah your own site seems to be where we are all going to end up – though some of us have been building them for a while

Hey Lis,

Is there a quick and dirty way to back up your hubs?

I’m hoping there’s a better method than “Save page as…” multiplied by a couple hundred hubs.

P.S. That photo of you working on a beach in Thailand is making me sad/jealous… Kindly remove it 🙂

Hi Lis,
I am going to be watching your experiment with bated breath. I have see mixed results with my hubs, but many of the hubs that were doing really well with Ebay and Amazon, have not done well with the new text to product ratio.

My traffic is sitting at about 1/3 of what it was previous to Panda.

Yeah I must say that I haven’t done much with Amazon or ebay – in fact I was just going to ramp up Amazon – oh well! Can you text links for Amazon – ie direct links to the product page – that is often quoted as the best CLR from people who do serious Amazon – but I’m not sure if you are alllowed to on Hubpages?

Direct linking to the Amazon product page was allowed under the pre-Panda Hubpages TOS, and so far none of mine have been taken down. But I wouldn’t be surprised to wake up and find them gone one morning.

If Hubpages had sat tight, they’d already be on the way back up. The initial shock of Panda was pretty strong stuff, so I can see why they panicked, but panicking gets you nowhere in this business.

Glad your sites are doing well, Lissie, and looking forward to the data you’re going to get.

Yeah I may try a few new ones – see what happens 🙂 Yeah running a business in panic mode is not a good look

Lis, I’ve been keeping an eye on Hubpages (vs. Squidoo) in the whole Google Panda update, looking at the same data that you have — I think Quantcast is a better indicator than the Sistrix/Searchmetrics studies of Panda’s impact.

I have one perspective to offer, of which Squidoo members who also write on Hubpages are aware, but Hubbers may not be. In summer 2007, Squidoo got caught by Google with an anti-spam penalty and had to institute a lot of new policies (and filters) to block what Google had penalized. There was a lot of confusion, frustration, and dismay. Some affiliate marketers weren’t able to work with the new system. Many members left; many analysts declared that Seth Godin’s “purple albatross” was dead. Even those of us who weren’t affiliate marketers (back then, that is) saw a dip in traffic for two months. But Google took note of Squidoo’s aggressive spam removal and new filters, and slowly the traffic came back — and kept going up.

That Squidoo slap was a site-wide penalty; it hit original, educational articles as well as the most mindless spam. The Panda update has some site-wide factors in it, apparently, which are depressing everyone’s traffic. The good and bad news is that I believe all the Draconian measures Hubpages is taking are likely to get it back in Google’s good graces, as Squidoo’s 2007 changes did. (Significantly, Squidoo seems almost untouched by the first two rounds of Panda, probably because we already went through this.) This is going to be a rough and rocky period, and Hubpages changes will make it impossible for people to do some of the things they did before. You just knocked back on your heels. But not out. IF Hubpages — the company — can survive the hit to its income, it should see at least some returning in a month or two. Of course, that’s no help if it’s locked all your Hubs and it’s too much work to try and figure out the rules. But long-term, while this is a blow, I’m fairly optimistic that Hubpages will recover.

geekgeek thanks for your helpful comment – I actually started on hP about the same time as the Squidoo slap – which was why I went with HP rather than Squidoo – so your perspective is a useful one.

Readers might want to read geekgeek’s extremely good lens on How Panda’s Update has impacted Hubpages and Squidoos traffic – the 3rd page re internal linking structures I found particularly enlightening

Hey Lis, It would be nice, if we could see a year’s worth of stats. That way, we can see any seasonality fluctuations in your hubs. I don’t have many hubs, but most of my niches start to slow down this time of year.

Hey Lis, great analysis. I think the big problem is just putting your content in a place where you don’t have control over the whole presentation. Many people with great hubpages were pulled down by people who didn’t focus on quality, as well as the strategic decisions by the company itself. Developing and managing your own site isn’t that complicated, and it gives you the control you need to present the best quality you can.

If it wasn’t this, it would have been something.

I agree Fraser – and I think now Google is putting more emphasis on ALL the site’s content not just an individual page – which I think is Hubpages downfall – I’ll be avoiding them and similar sites in the future and concentrating on my own!

This will be interesting. I have just started writing some hubs and working my profile to try and get some backlinks to a site of mine.

Will be cool to see what your outcome is


I so agree with you, you were the reason I signed up for hubpages (under you), while I was still building traffic, my traffic has dropped after panda update (plus me ignoring it for 2 months as well)

The recent changes and attitude of some hubbers have made me little concerned, most people are nice but there are some who quite right down mean. It takes away community experience I felt earlier.

For time being, I am also going to work on my site and create others.

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