Previously, I wrote about HubPages and the process of idling hubs. In short, hubs that receive little to no traffic are eventually “idled,” in HubPages lingo, which means they’re tagged with noindex meta tag. These pages are then, eventually, removed from Google’s search engine index.
Since writing that, I’ve come across a bit more interesting information…
Are No-indexed Pages Worthless for SEO?
In my previous post, I was working under the assumption that an idled hub, removed from the search engine index, was worthless from an SEO perspective. After all, if a page is not in the index, how can the links have any value?
I was forgetting, however, assertions that I’ve seen elsewhere that pages can be crawled (and therefore the links counted) without a page being indexed. And when I dug into the issue a little further, I’m not a bit more ambivalent.
When you apply a noindex meta tag to a page, that is quite different from a nofollow meta tag. A page could be “noindex, follow,” “index, nofollow,” “noindex, nofollow,” or “index, follow” – essentially any combination of index and follow. If a non-indexed page yields no SEO benefit whatsoever, then a “noindex, follow” page would be redundant.
And here’s the crux of the situation. Googlebot will visit a no-index page. It will crawl the links. Presumably they will be utilized in it’s algorithm. The only thing that a noindex tag does is tell Google not to store the text of the page in its search engine and serve it up in the SERPs.
That’s not to say that a non-indexed page is the same as an indexed page. Could be the links are devalued. But, according to Google’s own explanations in it’s FAQs, a page that isn’t indexed still has followed links on it… so presumably an idled hub could still have some SEO benefit.
When Does a Hub Get Idled?
The second question to address is when a hub gets idled. Previously, I surmised that somewhere around 5 to 10 hits per month seemed to be enough to keep a hub safe.
Since then, I’ve read some more information (including this forum thread with official HubPages responses) that sheds light on the situation. It seems that among traffic sources, only search engine traffic is considered for keeping a hub alive and featured.
This upset some people, but it makes sense. You can still refer traffic to an idled hub through other pages or social media, and these sources are no indicator that a hub is search engine material. It also means that trying to refer traffic to your hub to keep it alive is pointless.
The other good news is that the bar is very low. An average of 5 monthly search engine visits, give or take, seems to be enough to keep a hub featured. If you write searchable content, that’s not really a problem.
In terms of gaming the system, this also presents some issues. One, simple referral traffic won’t work. But, presumably, you could search for your hubs’ title once a week and click through to yield a search engine visit.
Worth the effort? Probably not. Although I could envision a script that would automate the process, I’m not sure it’s really worthwhile.
Progress, Popular Hubs, and New Hubs
So far, March is looking up. I’m certainly getting more traffic than February. I’m on pace to earn about $4 to $5. Nothing amazing, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Right now I’ve got one pretty popular hub – 20 Persuasive Writing Prompts About School Rules. It ranks pretty well for some keywords. Traffic surges up and down a bit, but it looks like it should average somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 visits per month.
Two of my hubs about House of Cards were doing ok, but their traffic seems to have dropped off in the couple weeks. Could be that interest has died down (the series was released six weeks ago), or it could be there’s no more competition driving my hubs down in the SERPs. Oh well.
Finally, I recently published a long hub about lighting, photography gear, and building a portable lighting kit. It’s similar to an article I posted on Rockin’ Photogs on how to build a portable lighting kit. It’ll be interesting to see which version does better (the one on my blog or the one on HubPages), both in terms of traffic and Amazon clicks. I also just published a hub this morning on the differences between the Canon t3i and t4i. I’ve written a lot about this topic lately, but I wrote this version of the article to target some related long tail keywords.