Subdomains: Hubpages Way Out Of Google Panda Purgatory?

Jul 14, 2011 • 9:27 am | comments (23) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Subdomains & Google PandaYesterday, the Wall Street Journal blog posted an article named Site Claims to Loosen Google "Death Grip".

The article describes how Hubpages was hit hard by Google's Panda update and finally, after five months, they are noticing a recovery. They cite the main reason for their recovery is the strategy of moving their low-quality content from the main www of their site to subdomains, essentially bring up the important quality content they have on the www. This would make Google believe that the site is no longer Panda worthy and move the Panda penalty or filter to the subdomains and remove it from the main www.

As I explained at Search Engine Land, subdomains can be seen by Google as a completely different domain and thus this can make sense.

I followed up with Google and Google said:

Subdomains can be useful to separate out content that is completely different from the rest of a site - for example, on domains such as However, site owners should not expect that simply adding a new subdomain on a site will trigger a boost in ranking.

Clearly, Google is warning many webmasters hit by Panda to not try this method unless they are the size of a WordPress type of site.

That being said, do I really believe Hubpages has seen a Panda recovery?

A WebmasterWorld thread has discussion around the story and many believe this can't be a Panda recovery because of the dates. The article said, "the HubPages subdomain testing began in late June and already has shown positive results."

The issue is, we know Google's latest Panda update was on June 16th or so, i.e .Panda 2.2. So if they began their subdomain test in late June, how could they see improvements now? Especially since Panda is updated manually. There are some rumors there was an update in the past couple days to Panda, but I am not convinced. Even if there was an update, the story takes time to research.

Anyway, I am not convinced - what about you?

For more on Panda, see our Panda page.

Update: David Harry has some additional insight into this story over here.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

Previous story: Google Ignoring Your Page Titles?


LebSEO Design

07/14/2011 01:59 pm

barry according to my analytics .. i see a change on June 28-29  on 2 of my aff sites

Black Seo Guy

07/14/2011 02:11 pm

I still use them and I try to write good content because I don't want to be pushed to the back.. "Black Seo Guy "Signing Off"

Ron Carnell

07/14/2011 02:35 pm

"They cite the main reason for their recovery is the strategy of moving their low-quality content from the main www of their site to subdomains, essentially bring up the important quality content they have on the www."   That's not the way I read the WSJ article, Barry. Edmondson said he activated subdomains for himself and several other authors; in other words, he moved his high-quality content to subdomains, not his low-quality stuff. It doesn't say if he initiated redirects, but presumably he did. Once the higher quality content was freed from the Panda stricken main domain, it apparently started ranking again. Which makes sense, I think. It is not, however, something I would consider a long-term solution.    


07/14/2011 02:43 pm

I'm assuming that as soon as the next Panda round makes its way to those subdomains, they'll get zapped as well. For now, they are in pre-Panda mode. If they survive the next round or two of Panda, then maybe they've found a workaround, but I wouldn't bank on it, if I were them.

Dan Whitehouse

07/14/2011 04:32 pm

No word of a lie, I actually wrote a proposal referring to exactly the same thing two days ago. I was very skeptical about the idea of moving low quality content to sub domains, but if it works then it works. I'll be sure to see what's what with hub pages fully and refer to them in my recommendation. Ta!


07/14/2011 05:29 pm

I was doubtful too about the thought of moving poor quality content to sub domains but after reading more about it I feel like it might not be such a bad idea after all.  


07/14/2011 06:48 pm

I removed some 150 low quality , non visited or less than 100 words posts from MWD, I seen the traffic coming back about 2 weeks after (back in march). For past 5 days looks like I am getting back the traffic from keywords I ranked high for. I think that removing low quality content is a must , but does not mean that that's the only fix. Temp screenshot:


07/14/2011 08:09 pm

As a freelance writer that writes for revenue sharing websites, I find the whole issue of subdomains interesting, it looks like the site would have to be big enough to really see a benefit from the change. Hubpages just may be the solution that other content farms were looking for but as many have already said time will tell because apparently Google will be shifting the algorithm every 4 to 6 weeks.

Joe Youngblood

07/14/2011 11:29 pm

new pages on a new subdomain would not yet have been assessed by panda, since it has yet to run.

Joe Youngblood

07/14/2011 11:32 pm

exactly. but what we might see is that the poor content get nailed (just those subdomains) and the good content doesn't get touched.


07/15/2011 12:30 am

Maybe. But if I was betting on it, I'd bet that won't happen.


07/15/2011 02:33 am

There is definitely a new Panda update as I see 50% traffic drop. I don't understand what is wrong with Google. Instead of banning low quality, content scrapper websites it is punishing a genuine site. Is it our duty to take care of our copied content? If it is so, when will we be able to concentrate on writing? I spend half of my time hunting down scrapping website..

Frases Romanticas

07/15/2011 08:18 am

Quite Interesting Article Berry!! Makes me wonder how simplistic the Google URL ranking factor must be. And this is one more SEO factor (along with load time) to check out before deciding where to have one’s blog hosted — evidently you’re better off if they put you in a subdomain where you’re not dragged down by weaker blogs using the same service. This could be a big deal for blog hosting companies and ISPs.

Michael Martinez

07/15/2011 06:47 pm

It is way too soon for them to be claiming recovery.


07/15/2011 07:01 pm

"Clearly, Google is warning many webmasters hit by Panda to not try this method unless they are the size of a WordPress type of site." I would not describe this as a "clear" warning. To me, it seems like Google told you that domains "such as", that have substantially different content in subdomains (user's blogs), could use subdomain separation to good effect, to avoid the natural confusion of viewing aggregated content generated by different authors writing on different topics within a single domain, for example. But there is no implication that a site needs to be "the size" of, in my reading. As with all of Google's advice with regard to quality writing ... if it's good for the visitor, it's "good". Technical issues, such as the use of subdomains to separate content, are irrelevant unless the aggregate value of the entire domain's content is questionable. In that case, the occasional "good" content's value could easily be diminished during the ranking process, as Google has already made the determination that an entire domain's content is "bad". With a site nowhere near the size of, I can easily see the value of placing unrelated content on separate subdomains to good effect. Simply compartmentalizing such content makes it more "good", as it is less confusing to be in a container with similar content than it is to be in a container with a bunch of unrelated content. And for those of you considering moving "bad" content to subdomains ... forget it. "Bad" content is still "bad", no matter which URL is used to call it. You could attempt to game Google by pretending "bad" content = "good" when it's all bunched together, but it will never equal "good" content, and will ALWAYS be a drag on your domain's ranking in one way or another. Even if HubPages isn't doing it ... why not try making "good" content, instead of trying to weasel "bad" content around?


07/16/2011 04:26 am

If you're just starting out in SEO, you're going to need authority linking to get you in the game. An authoritative site can leverage anchor text links much more than a site without much authority. 

Christian Greiner

07/16/2011 06:04 am

I agree that it seems a little too soon to tell, but it makes sense doesn't it? My question is "why stop there?" Wouldn't it make even more sense to move all the low quality pages to another domain - like Or, and this is a REALLY novel idea, what about deleting or not approving the low quality pages to begin with?

Andy Sawyer

07/16/2011 12:25 pm

Good post about moving content from hub pages to subdomains and Panda's response.  First time visitor to your site.  Good stuff.


07/17/2011 11:25 am

Thankx for posting this tips on how to loose grip on google panda


07/17/2011 11:54 pm

I think this makes sense, I think that a lot of the time sites try to take advantage of the subdomains that is messes up their sites in the long run.  I quit using hubpages, but it seems like I shouldn't use it for awhile is that safe to say?


07/20/2011 03:51 am

Wait, so Hubpages moved some of those pages to subdomains?  Wouldn't they rank worse?  That stinks for users who have been affected because then it would be like opening up a blogspot blog. 

Conrad osmond

07/21/2011 02:06 am

Courier Services are definitely choosing hub pages to spread the word about the courier services business. Bocsit Courier Services in Boston, Ma is at the fore front of couriers trying to get the message across.

Upgrade Software

07/22/2011 06:59 am

I agree, as I too am not convinced at the validity of this solution. It seems a bit premature to be screaming from the rooftops, especially since Google stands in audible range. Personally I am going to wait for more evidence to be gathered before jumping into my site with a sub-domain wrench and spanner.

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