Recently, I have noted that Seed.com has shutdown. Then, it seems that Demand Studios has shut down for all intents and purposes. Now, Bright Hub, one of the first online publishing sites I ever wrote for, is cutting so far back that many writers are no longer able to claim any article writing opportunities and those that can have few choices to pick from.
Bright Hub is the latest of the online content publishers to essentially admit defeat in the wake of the Google Panda update. I mentioned earlier this year when I wrote about whether writing for Bright Hub is worth it that traffic, and therefore revenue sharing, from Bright Hub dropped dramatically after the second or third round of Panda updates.
Unlike the traffic on HubPages (at least my Hubs on HubPages), it seems that traffic has not recovered and, like many other content publishers, Bright Hub apparently has substantially lower revenues that allow it to pay for substantially fewer articles. Perhaps Bright Hub made a rash decision in removing oodles of previously published content in hopes of cutting out whatever “low-quality” content it was that Google saw and punished the site for. Perhaps Bright Hub needs to follow HubPages’ lead and move its organization to a subdomain-based system rather than using directories. Or, maybe, whatever Google is using to rank, judge, and demote websites is just pegged right at the heart of Bright Hub.
Bright Hub Writing for Search Engines
The irony, for me at least, in the fall of Bright Hub is that in the beginning, at least in my experience, it was probably doing everything right to have built an online content empire, and survived, the Google Panda update. Back then, writers wrote about pretty much any topic that they came up with that the channel editor thought would be good content for the channel to have. That ensured that there was a wide variety of content in each area of focus, so wide, in fact, that Bright Hub actually was the authority on certain topics, while being a useful contributor in others. It also ensured that professional freelance writers looking to write on something other than the same old topics flocked to the website.
Sadly, along the way, Bright Hub went the route of Demand Studios and others. Instead of writers coming up with articles and then publishing them, editors were tasked with being keyword researchers and publishing article assignments based on an exact keyword phrase. Unfortunately, keyword research is not a panacea. My best performing article on Bright Hub last month (and for many months before that) was one I wrote myself, out of the blue, about seaport.exe when it showed up on my computer one day.
Worse, publishing rules drifted ever more toward SEO obsession land. Where writers were once encouraged to write engaging titles with keywords in mind, they were eventually told to use the exact keyword phrase in both the regular title and the SEO title, as well as being required to use it in the meta description and the teaser for the article, regardless of any grammatical issues. After Panda, of course, these requirements were dropped and everyone was instructed to once again write for the readers. In fact, numerous articles of mine were tagged for issues that they only have because I was once explicitly instructed to commit the exact “errors” that now exist in those articles.
It seems that it was too little too late.
In my opinion, the site put too much faith in the idea that Google could be appeased by removing “low-quality” articles. The biggest issue what how low-quality was assessed. Essentially, my articles that once received good amounts of traffic from Google and other search engines, but that did not receive as much traffic after the update were tagged as “low-quality” or “problematic” content.
In reality, many of those articles were solid content. That these articles were suddenly outranked by other content didn’t make them poor articles so much as either
a) false positives
b) something that was still good, but was now being outranked by something that was arguably better.
In deleting all of that content, Bright Hub lost its coverage for numerous niche articles and long-tail searches in the name of higher quality. I understand that as a for-profit business the company had to do something but it may not have done the right things at the right time. It was also suggested that Google hard targeted pages with too many ads or the wrong types of links. Maybe saving the content and tackling these issues first would have produced better results. Unfortunately, there is no way to really know.
What seems to be true is that the criticism that Google is easily gamed by content mills has been smashed. All of these article publishers cutting back to minimum operations or shutting down shows that they have been hit and hit hard and that they don’t have a recovery path in mind.
Indeed, they may be self-fulfilling the prophecy by reducing their ability to shine through and break to the top of some searches by having LOTS of great content on a topic. Instead, they all seem to have taken the concept of having one article covering any given topic or keyword phrase as sufficient. Ironically, my own experience shows this to be a self-defeating strategy. That seaport article that is my biggest traffic getter? It has a very similar cousin about how to delete seaport that was my third highest ranked article last month. Perhaps two (or more) articles about the same thing can be useful.
In the end, it seems that several of my original homes have been damaged or destroyed. I understand Google’s motivation, but it is sad to move on without old friends.