After he tightened the site’s editorial standards and made other tweaks that didn’t change its fortunes, [HubPages chief executive Paul] Edmondson made a discovery. Google’s search engine had indexed some of HubPages content as being tied to “ww.hubpages.com” rather than “hubpages.com,” and the incorrectly indexed sites were ranking higher for certain search queries.
In May, Edmondson wrote an email to Google engineers about the discovery and asked whether he should break up his site into “subdomains,” where each contributor of content to HubPages would essentially have a separate website. That way, perhaps Google’s algorithm could distinguish which part of HubPages had original content and which part had lower-quality articles that were just copies of other content on the Web. Publishing sites such as WordPress, Tumblr and Google’s own Blogger are structured with subdomains, whereas Google’s YouTube and others are not.
In June, a top Google search engineer, Matt Cutts, wrote to Edmondson that he might want to try subdomains, among other things.
Surely this is really bad news? Perhaps HubPages will be honest in how it organises content, but other sites won’t. I predict that keyword heavy subdomains will be the next big ‘SEO expert’ trend.