Doorway Pages Guidance Updated For Google's Algorithm
If you use doorway pages, or are thinking about it, don't do anything until you read the latest guidance from Google on how they're updating the ranking signal for this in the algorithm.
Google will often roll out announcements at the end of a work week, but they quietly published this blog post yesterday warning webmasters and SEO personnel about the folly of using doorway pages to rank content higher than it might deserve.
While I read this very early yesterday morning (pre-coffee), Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Roundtable published this article today, and one yesterday, explaining this in a little more detail.
What Are Doorway Pages?
These have been around for quite awhile, but Google didn't make a lot of noise about them, unlike how they created the Panda penalty (poor, thin content) and Penguin penalties (link schemes), so it's most likely you may not have heard of them, or even thought about them all that much.
These are sites or pages that are created to rank high, and drive visitors to a common destination. They aren't meant to provide useful, unique, high quality content to help you, the web searcher, find what you need.
- Having multiple domain names or pages targeted at specific regions or cities that funnel users to one page
- Pages generated to funnel visitors into the actual usable or relevant portion of your site(s)
- Substantially similar pages that are closer to search results than a clearly defined, browseable hierarchy
If you're curious about whether your SEO team/contractor has built and launched doorway pages, ask and answer these questions from the Google Webmaster Central blog:
- Is the purpose to optimize for search engines and funnel visitors into the actual usable or relevant portion of your site, or are they an integral part of your site’s user experience?
- Are the pages intended to rank on generic terms yet the content presented on the page is very specific?
- Do the pages duplicate useful aggregations of items (locations, products, etc.) that already exist on the site for the purpose of capturing more search traffic?
- Are these pages made solely for drawing affiliate traffic and sending users along without creating unique value in content or functionality?
- Do these pages exist as an “island?” Are they difficult or impossible to navigate to from other parts of your site? Are links to such pages from other pages within the site or network of sites created just for search engines?
If you answer "Yes," then it's in your best interests to take these down, or substantially re-write them to comply with Google's recommended guidelines and best practices to create useful content that really helps out your web visitor.
I've been teaching about the evils of doorway pages for several years now, and I am glad to see Google emphasizing how they really don't like them.
Speaking of which, I'll be updating the course material on this and the other announcement regarding adding in mobile ranking signals to the main algorithm come April 21.
Want to learn more? Let's get together for an SEO class, and you'll come away with all the search engine optimization knowledge, skills and abilities you'll need to get your pages to rank better in search results.
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Until we meet the next time, keep it between the ditches!
All the very best to you,
image courtesy of: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Stone_doorway_view_Rock_House_Stokes_County_North_Carolina.JPG