Google has just announced that they are releasing an update to their doorway page algorithm.
Google provided the 5 following guidelines. Here they are below with some comments for your to consider, as you prepare for this next update. Below are the bullet points with some commentary for consideration, comment, and discussion.
+ 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?
One way that this can be read is as what Google is trying to evaluate by comparing caches of templates and pages across your website.
+ Are the pages intended to rank on generic terms yet the content presented on the page is very specific?
Some of the ways that search engines may evaluate this is by look that the optimization of internal link anchor text pointing to the page, meta data, and body content keyword densities. Also, pages that target the same keyword but with modifiers, such as
- cheap +widget
- discount +widgets
- affordable +widgets
+ 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 the pages just listing pages with meta data and internal links that are optimized?
+ Are these pages made solely for drawing affiliate traffic and sending users along without creating unique value in content or functionality?
It is interesting that affiliate traffic is called out in this bullet point. The interesting call out here is “unique value in content”, this possibly refers to unique content on pages.
+ 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?
This likely refers to if the page is part of the navigation or an analysis of the count of links to the page that statically appear in a block within a template type or part of the global primary or secondary navigations or if the pages is only linked to through dynamic linking.
Google has also updated their definition of what a doorway page is, see it here
Here are some interesting comments from that coverage
Defining What It Means To Be A Doorway Page
“I think the question is “what does Google consider a doorway page?” it may very well be different than what we think it is. It’s a bit scary to me, because the phrasing below might include lots of pages for enterprise-level sites: “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?” How does Google determine what is an integral part of my site’s user experience?”
What Will This Update Mean For Franchises and Local Businesses?
Sean Van Guilder:
“I think the key here is look at the user intent and usability. If the page contains roughly 80% of the same content as another location, then it will be best to have a “locations” page with NAP using schema markup. Otherwise, in my opinion, these will be viewed as doorway pages.”
“Yes we’ve all been talking about the impact of this for city landing pages for local businesses, over at the Local Search Pros G+ Community. I think lots of large chains and franchises may be doing it right, in a way that’s meant for users.
But there are tons of plumbers and other SMB sites that just spam the heck out of their service area pages. Hopefully this update will ding some of the spammy ones that are just trying to rank in other cities – without having an office there OR ones that don’t add any value to the city pages.”
Internal Links vs. Outbound Links Distribution As A Consideration
Scott Stouffer Sandy Albaytar Jr.:
ELI5: Doorway pages often have lots of backlinks from other subdomains (high External Incoming PageRank), but very FEW links from the subdomain that the page is a part of (i.e. low internal PageRank distribution).
MarketBrew’s search engine model incorporates this into its algorithms so you can see it happening in real-time. Like others said, this is an old black-hat technique that is just now officially being discussed by Google 😉
Here are some interesting comments from that coverage
Is there a big brand advantage?
I’m curious what the algorithmic definition of a doorway page is.
Ebay, for example, has those /bhp/some-search-term pages that you don’t encounter if you browse the site normally. They are clearly keyword optimized and intended solely to show up in the SERPS.
But, Google gave them a manual penalty, and then, later…lifted the penalty. Which implies that they aren’t doorway pages now.
Google also does things themselves that look like doorway pages to me. This is a Google owned and operated website, for example:
http://www.gybo.com/alabama [gybo.com ]
http://www.gybo.com/alaska [gybo.com ]
http://www.gybo.com/arizona [gybo.com ]
http://www.gybo.com/arkansas [gybo.com ]
Is there a domain authority factor
Over the last year (and more), they’ve been giving more and more weight to domain authority.
Strong, trusted domains often rank for keywords with a minimum of usable content.
Encouraging development of more doorway pages – both internal, and on parasite domains.
Thus increasing the need for a “doorway pages” update?