Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The fate of Revenue/Adsense sharing sites Post-Panda: 5 contents sites in focus

Immediately after the Panda struck, this signaled the dawn of a new web era, an era that adversely affected many things and in the case at hand- Revenue/Adsense sharing sites. In the hysteria that followed the rollout of the new search algorithm by the big G, many questions where posed by the multitude of webpreneurs, Bloggers, online enthusiasts and more who relied heavily on these kind of sites for their online marketing initiatives.

The following questions popped up at various online forums and online gatherings, and as I write this, most of these issues raised are yet to be resolved;

  • Do I need to start building Blogs, sites and more if am to continue earning from Adsense, Chitika and Amazon Ad programs?
  • Can Google penalize me for using these sites for backlinks?
  • What if I continue using revenue sharing sites, will I get banned from Google adsense?
  • Which of the Revenue/adsense sharing sites got penalized the most by Google?
  • Are these sites truly link farms as currently labeled by Google?
  • Can I get a list of the ones that survived the panda and its penguin counterpart?
  • Is this truly the end of Revenue/Adsense sharing biz model?
  • What is the best adsense sharing site post-panda?
  • Are they any alternatives that could be leveraged for survival?

These were some of the confusing questions that dominated the discussions at various IM Forums, Q&A sites, Social Media Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and even Google Plus and every other conceivable cyber-hangout where discussions of such pedigree do come up all the time.

Remember, prior to these changes any body with a computer and connection could scribble 350 words or less styled-articles using the platform of sites like Hubpages, Squidoo etc. to earn good Adsense Dollars, but this is something no longer feasible after Google pulled the rug from under our feet by introducing a change in algorithm that is second to non and invariably shook the foundation of cyberspace to this very minute.  

With this fear in place, the few savvy ones have quickly migrated to self-reliant platforms like Wordpress, TypePad, Joomla and more; while the naive ones are still lurking around Squidoo and Hubpages wondering if things will once again return to what it used to be (a pipe dream my dear!).

However, I feel quite obliged to take a cursory and sturdy glance at things since Google in its glory decided to change the rules regarding how things are done around here and most specifically in relation to the topic of discourse- The relevance of Revenue/Adsense Sharing sites Post Panda-Penguin-

So what is the fate of Revenue Sharing sites post Panda-Penguin?

The Truth is that many Ad-Revenue sharing sites especially the elite ones like Hubpages that had their rankings greatly affected after the rollout of panda, penguin and even EMD: are yet to recover from these attacks and get their sites to pre-panda status. I read the summations of Hubpages CEO on this particular hub he wrote some months ago to explain their situation since these Algo-updates; below is a snippet of his submission;

…I can tell you, that we have rated all our hubs, no indexed, and reduced ads in the content and affiliate links to a significant degree. This doesn't appear to have have helped. Although, you could argue that the site would be doing a lot worse if we hadn't done these things, but there really isn't a way to know.

The above revelation is quite stunning and could stymie the progress of things for those who still want to stay around and see if things would improve for this site; one can rightly say with every conviction that the recovery of these sites (Hubapges for example), is still something that no one can predict with certainty.

Regardless, I'll be taking a more academic approach to answering this question as regards the relevancy of sites such as Hubpages in a cyberspace heavily dominated by Google and its pet animals (Panda and the flurry Penguin).

Then what?

Well I'll be listing out five Elite Revenue/Adsense sharing sites, then I'll be looking at the Quantcast and Alexa Rankings, Social Media Metrics, frequency of article updates, forum activity and more. Then I'll also look at plausible alternatives as we look ahead in an uncertain future that doesn't in any way sound promising.

List of some Revenue/Adsense Sharing Sites and their Post-panda/penguin Rankings:

The sites will be listed in order of user preference starting from the least to the most; read on…

5. Xomba.com

Xomba_-_Google_Chrome-20130914130403

 

  • Adsense Sharing Formula: 60/40
  • Google PageRank: 4/10
  • Alexa Ranking:
  • Quantcast Ranking: 12,256 (US)
  • Twitter Strength: 2,200 followers (verified)
  • Facebook Likes: 1337 likes and counting

From personal experience, I think this site is in the final stages of its existence (I stand to be corrected), Xomba used to be a cool site back in the day when it allowed users to add bookmarks from their blogs, social media updates etc. and get to share their Adsense revenue 50-50 with the former. But after sometime, that was even prior to the Google Algo changes, the site decided to change its business model when they noticed that most webmasters and site owners now used the site to promote spams of various degrees and almost ended up making xomba a rendezvous for spam contents. These prompted the site to take up the gauntlet to sanitize the site and weed out bad and suspicious links and even suspend or in extreme cases ban probable defaulters (just like I was booted out); this action was considered timely and commendable in the wake of the negative spam attack on the site.

Now what?

Though this might be regarded as a sound move, but the reverse was the case as it heavily contributed to the downward shift and eventual decline of the site, since many users had their accounts suspended for various violations and those who stayed on became wary of the editorial strictness that made it relatively difficult to get your bookmarks and links promptly accepted to go live like it was in the past. With this site becoming less user friendly, leading to a massive exodus of Xombites or whatever the users were called, the fortunes of this site began to dwindle and I doubt if the site can boast of sufficient articles, bookmarks and ultimately earnings.

I had my own share of the harshness of this site when I was banned indefinitely for posting a bookmark that was considered too "promotional" according to what the site called it. After this, I completely exited the site and I wonder if the site is still in existence (sorry for the pun),and if at all it is (I think it is cos I’m just looking at the homepage), I wonder what services it can offer notably with the Penguin still perching all over the place looking for spam and splogs to take care of.

Social media strength:

I was taken aback when I discovered on reaching this site’s Twitter-handle a prominent green badge adorning the profile page of Xomba. What a misnomer some will say, but that is the reality. Even with this stunning discovery (verified Twitter Account), the frequency of updates seem not to be that recent which I felt was strange especially for a verified user. That was also the case on Facebook, though with an impressive number of likes. As far as Social Media analytics is concerned, Xomba is not doing so well to carry its social media followers properly, surprisingly it prides itself as a place for geeks and nerds.

summary:

Xomba might not have favored me leading to this one-sided and negative review of the site, however, I believe that the site could still be useful in some ways since it is a community-styled site with many writers still committed to the cause of the site. The positive thing here is that you can still promote your blogs, Bookmarks and more. But unfortunately for me I don’t think this xomba site holds any future in my online marketing plans, maybe it could be a different experience for you so it won’t be such a bad idea checking out the site to have a firsthand experience of things yourself.

4. Bukisa.com

Bukisa_-_Share_Your_Knowledge_-_Mozilla_Firefox-20130915090602
  • Adsense Sharing Formula:
  • Google PageRank: 4/10
  • Alexa Ranking: global rank 19,041, India-3,219
  • Quantcast Ranking: 67,970 (US Rank-unquantified)
  • Twitter Strength: 10,000 plus followers
  • Facebook Likes: 2,256 likes

Bukisa from what I know used to be a wonderful site for those seeking to earn extra Adsense dollars in the past; but that seem to have changed with the farmer update now in focus. I have not used this site though, but from the testimony of those who have, I think Bukisa was really trendy back in the day and attracted high profile writers who contributed top quality and useful articles on almost every niche you can think of; from food, politics, marketing, health and so on.

However, from the stats above, one can easily deign that this site is more popular in India than it is the US, and in my humble opinion, this so called Indian popularity kind of takes the heat away from the site, making it less authoritative in my view (sorry my Indian friends, no harm intended just stating the facts). Remember, it is far better having more page views and more CTR from the US, British Isles, Australia and Canada, because this is the kind of traffic that brings in more conversion and probably leads: a fact known in online marketing parlance.

what else?

Another thing that  makes this site less appealing is poor its social media metrics (using Twitter and Facebook), I noticed some level of inconsistency with their status updates. On Twitter for example, the last Tweet update was in May, and for Facebook- July of 2012.

So what is the implication of this?

What this means is that the site after the panda-penguin update has lost some degree of its popularity and might be going of the grid if it continues at this rate (just hope it never degenerates to this). I might be wrong on this but I hardly see any article from the platform of Bukisa making it to the front page of Google, Bing, and Yahoo’s SERP’s respectively. What this suggests is that the site lacks the pedigree to attract search bots that’ll should normally take a reconnaissance of the sitemap and subsequently spot out quality articles that deserves first page placement of the respective search engines. If at all I’m wrong, feel free to drop your comments stating your difference in opinion.

Then what do I use this site for?

This site can still be of help by way of useful backlinks and sweet link-juice for the bots, remember a Google PR of 4 is not so bad, not forgetting the communal strength of the site that could be leveraged for some traffic. If you could use some Indian audience too (which might be good to a certain degree), then Bukisa.com is your go-to place.

Summary:

I believe that if Bukisa does its homework properly by revamping the site to meet the demands of today’s web space, it could be getting of the cliff to a safer spot. This is true because the contents published here looks pretty childish and less informative. Another thing I noticed here about the site is its editorial ineptitude in accepting articles that are in variance with what Google might regard as “high quality content”. The articles also lack coherency and flow, too concise with less pictures and contextual medias to make the contents more catchy to the reader. I can go on and on but the message I’m trying to pass here to the Bukisa editorial board and the site as a whole is this- take a clue from wikihow.com and even squidoo if you are still serious in keeping the bukisa dream alive, otherwise I see this site going the way of Geocities.

3. Infobarrel.com

InfoBarrel_-_Crowdsourcing_Information__Make_Extra_Money_Writing_-_Google_Chrome-20130918163221

  • Adsense Sharing Formula:
  • Google PageRank: 4/10
  • Alexa Ranking:
  • Quantcast Ranking: 25,924 (US Rank-unquantified)
  • Twitter Strength: 2,200 followers
  • Facebook Likes:

Infobarrel.com can be regarded as Hubpages’s alter-ego in Adsense-sharing sites parlance going by the former’s operational blueprint similarity with the latter. Presently, I have just one article approved and published on this site and from my own personal experience, this site is not that cool especially for newbies (again I stand to be corrected) . It is worthy of note that the site’s editorial board are pretty hard to impress as they frown at articles and contents with poor grammar, structural weakness and feeble syntax. To get your article approved here is truly hard, because you need to properly proof read your work for plausible errors then edit your content for it to conform with the site’s standard.

I still have about three articles that are yet to make it past the editorial board. Strictly speaking, I find this practice extremely professional and worth emulating by other content directories, but the only problem I have with these guys is that after taking the pains of having your article finally approved and made live on their site, they don’t consider it wrong going against generic TOS of the web regarding intellectual property right by plagiarizing your work on third party sites. if only they published excerpts of your content on these sites, then there’ll be no qualms, but the issue here is this- they publish your article whole, and to make matters worse, they’ll not even give credit to you the author or writer of such work.

My take on the site's strength:

As far as social statistics go, using our usual yardstick- Facebook and Twitter: My findings are explained below:

On Twitter, I think the frequency of their updates tells you that this site still has a lot to offer to its users, the only snag here is for a site with such clout and hype to boast of just 2000 plus followers is saddening for a site of Infobarrel’s standing and reputation.

Facebook- that also seem to be the case here but the thing that makes this fan page more interactive is the frequency of updates which I think is pretty impressive.

Search Engine Result Pages:

Infobarrel articles are not that consistent in Google’s SERP, I think Bing gives it more consideration than the former. This makes it quite unattractive to me, because having your work published on this platform not making it to the top of Google’s SERP dampens the effectiveness of Infobarrel as a content promotional tool. The few articles that somehow made it to the top of Google’s SERP for example had the prefix or suffix: “infobarrel” attached to the search query. By implication, the site is fairly strong and contents published here might find it considerably hard to get good search engine standings and sufficient page views. On the other hand, most of the top writers here who claim to make good money use third party tools and also possess impressible SEO skillset that help their contents compete favorably with other top contents on the chosen topic of the searcher. It is sad that contents published here rarely by default hit the top of SERP pages especially those of Google, a situation every new user must take note of.

So what else can this Infobarrel offer:

I think there’s a lot to be gained writing here if top writers like Eric G of my-four-work-week are always quick to recommend this site, then I suppose it is advisable building some contents here. If not for the ad-dollars, at least the backlinks and link juice is worth considering.

Hey I forgot! A little more Amazon, Chitika and of course Adsense dollars is not a bad Idea I think:

Like I said earlier, this site could still be useful considering the volume of write ups already decorating its database; furthermore, a 70% slice of the cake to its users, I deem can help some savvy writers pick some bills here and there.

user Alert! Infobarrel is now operating its biz-model like Squidoo and hereby require all of its users to have a Paypal account if there are serious about taking their share of the pie (sorry if you live in countries where there’s no access to this service). The implication of this is that users living in Ghana, Nigeria, India etc. can only write but not earn.

Backlink too!- Though with the barrage of questions on the effectiveness of backlinks in a post-panda cyberspace with some positing that it (backlinks), should be relegated to the background as far as SEO goes;  with another school of thought (which I happen to belong to), believing that backlinks, in this case “nofollow” links, could be golden especially from a site with a not so bad PageRank(4) like infobarrel.

Another thing that can be leveraged from this site is the audience and a very matured one at that, and if this community of seasoned writers is properly utilized could bring in more traffic for your contents in the long run.

Summary:

I know of top writers who claim to have made a sizeable amount of income writing and publishing contents here, but for me the reverse became the obvious case. On the contrary if you've had it nice with this infobarrel guys, you can quote me wrong by dropping your comments at the end of this duel.

 

2. Hubpages.com

HubPages_-_Google_Chrome-20130918164423

  • Adsense Sharing Formula:
  • Google PageRank: 6/10
  • Alexa Ranking:
  • Quantcast Ranking: 96 (US rank-Quantified)
  • Twitter Strength: 2,200 followers
  • Facebook Likes:

Hubpages is one site that I can’t seem to take my sights off from because this is the site that gave me my first ever Adsense check of which I’ll ever remain grateful. This is the site where I sold my first ever amazon associate product and earned my first ever associate commission from the Amazon Associates program.

Unfortunately for us (Hubbers), the first rollout of the Panda really hit this wonderful writer’s rendezvous so hard that three years down the road, Hubpages is yet to recover from this algo-crisis.

This has led to a massive departure of top and influential writers from the platform since it became clear to this group of Hub-elites (as they were fondly called), that the site’s recovery was pretty slow and unpredictable. It became certain that if these Hubbers still wants to survive, then promptly migrating to other alternatives is the only way to go, and the onus fell on self-hosted blogs.

As if the algo-brouhaha was not enough, the site lost its Amazon associate account. Remember its operational headquarters is in California and owing to the task feud between the state of California and Online shopping portals like Amazon, the latter discontinued the account of their members based in California of which the former (hubpages), was sadly affected.

So is this the end for Hubpages?

It is not necessarily the end for this site as I still see the potential of this site rising above its adversaries (though not to pre-panda ratings). More so, the site has made and is still making concerted efforts to get things back on track with a lot of changes that they feel is necessary and also in consonance with Google’s new operational guidelines for sites appearing in its SERP.

Can you tell us more on this efforts that you are stressing?

Like I asserted before, Hubpages is a site run by top Web 2.0 aficionados, with CEO Paul Edmonson being right on top of things even if he sounds like he has lost touch in the wake of unrealizable recovery plans since the rollout of the panda. He and his team are working tirelessly to get Hubpages back to cyber-reckoning (wonder what that means?). To achieve this, they’ve lined up various programs and activities that will promote the site’s image and user interactivity. Below is a list of some of these plans;

  • 2013 Hubbie Awards for top writers
  • Educational Program for Talented writers
  • Rising Stars rewards for new Hubbers

These are a few of such efforts made so far by the Hubpages team, the underlying thing here is that, Hubpages is still a great site, though I’ve not written any hub for some time now (the last hub I tried publishing was censored for poor quality and un-related product links), I have decided to hang on and see how the drama unfolds.

What if I want to start writing for this site, what do I stand to gain?

Hubpages Editorial board have really raised the bar as far as content contribution and acceptance to it’s site goes, with the addition of superb capsules that are SEO-reliant and easily navigable even for a newbie; the prospect of getting your work noticeable makes the site still a platform worth using I think.

Again, the site’s PR as we speak looks promising (6/10), which means that a backlink from this site (not spamy ones please), can be of great help if you know how to manipulate things to your SEO benefit.

what else?

The site, despite been stripped of its Amazon associates Account remains one of the best platforms for amazon products and services promotion especially as we approach Christmas. The only issue with using this site for amazon associate promotion is that you need to provide contextual products that match the actual contents of your hub. Like I explained earlier, Hubpages has indeed raised the bar for content acceptance and if you don’t adhere to the new Editorial guidelines on using affiliate Capsules, then your Hub will be flagged for poor quality (just like my last Hub). Aside this little hitch, there’s no better place for eBay and Amazon product/service promotion than Hubpages.

Summary:

Though I’ll advice anybody using this site (especially the newbies), to be very cautious and never use it as a permanent tool for online writing and content promotion, but rather use it on a part-time basis. This is so because you might have all your hard work taken away from you in a split second the moment Google decides to penalize this site for any future unforeseen violation(s). It is rather wise to build your own blogs and use the site as a third party tool for easy backlinks and favorable PR6 link juice.

One other thing I find fascinating about Hubpages is that the inclusion of the subdomain policy (that is- user.hubpages.com), has made it easier for top writers with the ability to write informative hubs to easily distinguish their work from the generality of hubs with lesser quality found on the site. What this means is this- with a subdomain, you can set apart your quality contents from spammers who use the platform, making it a lot easier for the search bots to loop through good content and spam, this is so because it’ll actually treat the subdomains differently (just like it does with Blogger.com Blogs).

To spice this up the further, the editorial board sent me this month’s newsletter informing we hubbers of the site’s new policy of only displaying hubs from a particular user in the related hubs segment; a move I find smart.The positive thing about this new policy is this- having all your informative hubs in one place will reduce the bounce rate on your contents. Thanks to the ingenuity of the Hubpages team in bringing innovations that will keep the Hubpages boat afloat in the midst of furry animals(panda) and cyber-sea pirates (penguin).

 

1. Squidoo.com

Squidoo__Welcome_to_Squidoo_-_Mozilla_Firefox-20130915085817

  • Adsense Sharing Formula:
  • Google page rank: 7/10
  • Alexa Ranking: global-551, US-367
  • Quantcast Ranking: 208 (US Rank-Quantified)
  • Twitter Strength: 7,500 followers
  • Facebook Likes: 18,763 Likes

Seth Godin’s brainchild squidoo remains the site to beat even after the panda/penguin update. Sincerely speaking, I have an account with this site, but to be honest I have not been able to publish any lens here, a situation I hope to remedy soon. One thing that appear to be working for this site is its authority at the SERP’s which can be attributed to the high quality contents published by various lens masters who ply their writing trade here.

Another thing I noticed about this site is its wiki-styled internal page-linking that makes it easy for the search bots to navigate the site seamlessly.  That this site is currently hitting it big time in Google Search Engine Pages is something that is quite bedazzling, yes this is exceptionally shocking to many because in time past, Squidoo used to be the weeping boy each time Google penalizes sites for any perceived wrong doing. But the situation seem to be different this time as Squidoo might be said to have perfected its system as a result of the many penalties it sustained in the past.

Are you saying this site should be the new writer’s hangout?

I can’t say that for sure because I do not publish lens here, but you can ask the Potpie girl for plausible explanation, and I think she’ll gladly oblige you. Nonetheless, what I’m saying here is that Squidoo could be the cooler of all the sites discussed so far.Though in recent times they’ve been widespread complaints of deleted lenses, reduced earnings and editorial high handedness. I assume this became necessary for the site’s future survival, particularly to stem the tide of the penguin and its spam-thirsty antics.

What other thing makes this Squidoo-squid so Sticky?

The impressive Google PageRank this site boasts of (PR 7) makes it one place that’ll always recommend anytime for future writers with no clue on handling personal CMS (Content Management Systems) like Blogger, Wordpress, Drupal etc. imagine a backlink from this site, this means a lot if you understand its SEO implication.

How about Social Media Strength?

Facebook: this is where Squidoo shows its strength and I think with an impressive number of Likes (18,000), and the frequency of updates here also impressive to say the least

 

Search Engine strength:

Squidoo’s search engine credibility is something worth commending and I really revere the lens masters that have distinguished themselves by building high quality lenses that keep dominating the SERP on almost every niche topic one can think of.

Why is Squidoo this strong?

Like I explained above, the current SERP dominancy being enjoyed by this site is as a result of the editorial’s board expediency in handling the lenses published on its platform with a high degree of professionalism and making sure every lens master build contents that are informative, educative and SEO friendly. I truly respect the high quality of work displayed here in most of the lens I’ve read on various topics of interests.

One other thing I noticed about this site is the ease of navigation both for reader and search bot which I think is responsible for the reduced bounce rate of the site.

What else?

The level of innovation going on this site is another thing that makes squidoo post-panda/penguin reliant, with so many interesting modules added every time to make the site user friendly and web 2.0 compliant.

Summary:

Squidoo has been a source of so many complaints recently and as I write this, many lens masters have decided to move their online estate elsewhere as a result of the editorial harshness that has characterized the site since it became penguin wary. With this in mind, it will be safe to say that the site will be most suitable for creating PR-7 link backs to your blogs and other sites.

Then for revenue sharing purposes, squidoo can still come in handy and a little effort here can be reaped bountifully inasmuch as you conform with the site’s new content policies, especially as it concerns affiliate programs. The fundamental thing here is being skillful in leveraging on the power of squidoo to break the bounds and deficiencies that has become the bane of Revenue sharing sites since the coming of the Panda and its webbed feet partner.

Finally, Squidoo should not take away the importance of building your own free or self-hosted blog because the cyberspace has been one unpredictable place, something that is working today might not be operational the next minute. I can say this confidently because I had my blogs neglected since I had everything working for me while I was publishing contents at Hubpages consistently, but boom! the panda arrived and destroyed everything I’ve worked so hard to build for years in just a split second.

Some plausible Alternatives:

  • helium.com:
  • zujava.com
  • associatedcontent.com now yahoo

Conclusion:

That the Panda, according to the words of Google’s Webspam Chief Matt Cutts is now a part and parcel of its search algorithm is no longer news, but the message to every person still using revenue sharing sites like the ones discussed above are as follows;

  1. Never rely solely on these sites if you plan on building a sustainable online estate
  2. These sites are only useful for backlinks so wrapping your future around them (rev.sharing sites), while building contents online can be devastating. Many netizens rudely found out how risky this is after they lost a substantial amount of their earnings when the Panda struck.
  3. The future of content marketing now rely heavily on Blogs and in this case self-hosted blogs
  4. Guest Posting on self hosted Blogs might become more complex in the future as we foresee a situation where top bloggers with highly trafficked sites might decide to implement Ad-revenue sharing initiatives on their personal blogs to make their blogs more reliant and highly active for the bots.
  5. Hubpages and squidoo can possibly be rated as the two most consistent revenue sharing sites that can/will stand the test of time.
  6. Revenue sharing is an online business model that has come to stay, it’ll only undergo changes to reflect the times.
  7. The Google PageRank of the top two sites in this category: Hubpages and Squidoo respectively are prominent enough for profitable backlinks if properly exploited (I thought I said that before?).
  8. The  communal strength of Rev.share sites makes them an Important tool and also an integral part of every savvy writer and content producer.
  9. Using these sites will not necessarily lead to a ban from Google adsense, but breaking the TOS that guides publishers remains the primary reason why many defaulting adsense publishers are sent off the program.
  10. Creating quality contents will always remain the criteria for judging relevancy of sites in Search Engine rankings, no matter where such a content is published (blogs, forums, social media and Rev.share sites).

With all of these in mind, it is the belief of Google, Bing and Yahoo as the web umpires that irrespective of what and where you publish, the above listed points should serve as the holy-grail for you as you embark on your content production journey.

Finally, congrats for making it to this point and you can add more spice to this conversation by dropping your comments below.

Note: short and spam comments like-“great”, “good article”etc. will be deleted. Make your comments concise and intelligent. If you have opinion(s) that are contrary to those expressed here, such comments should be constructive and not insulting to the sensibilities of others.

Thanks for stopping by!

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