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Google Update on Doorway Pages: What does it mean for Local SEO?

Google Ranking Algorithm

In case you missed it, this past Monday, March 16th, Google made yet another need-to-know announcement related to digital marketing. This being the latest of several announcements by the search engine giant in the past few months of the new year. This algorithm change by Google filters out unnecessary doorway pages from SERPs. Before we proceed, please note the true impact of this update is unknown. However, fellow SEO’s should take notice. But, what are some key points to notice exactly?

For starters, in the announcement Google explains, “doorway pages that are created solely for search engines can harm the quality of the user’s experience”.  For a business with multiple locations, implementations of multiple landing pages for each company location still makes sense. However, there are looming speculations surrounding the idea that the latest update will frown upon these pages if they’re too similar. If a user’s journey is to click on a result, bounces, attempts another only to find themselves at the same site essentially creates quite a conundrum for the user. To mediate this experience, Google’s new “ranking adjustment” will be implemented to address landing pages of this type.

How about local service area businesses with geo-specific landing pages that contain similar content? Well, if a company that provides services to two separate areas, there should be two separate pages. One for the company in one service area and one for the company in the other service area. However, a website with 240 geo-targeted service pages with identical content besides the geographic keyword could, and probably will take a hit. 

Also, my peers in the Local SEO world have speculated this update could affect directories such as Yelp who appear in multiple times in the same SERP with similar content. doorway pages example

In the announcement we were left with some great questions to think about when using doorway pages, here are a few:

  • 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?
  • 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?

Google wants businesses to keep these questions in mind when created new content and new pages. With their announcement, it appears they will be cracking down on pages solely created to capture search traffic.

However, don’t panic. Again, there isn’t a clear answer to what exactly the impact of this update will have. However, it might be a advantageous to comb over some of your pages and begin to seek answers to some of these questions above.

Picasso is a Local SEO Account Manager at Chicago Style SEO. Connect with him on Google+ and Facebook.

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