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Thread: Creating Local SEO Content (Avoiding Doorway Pages)

  1. #11
    xds40 is offline Member
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    Re: Creating Local SEO Content (Avoiding Doorway Pages)

    This conversation started with the OP asking about creating "similar content and swapping keywords out". Then turned into "geo-targeted pages = doorway pages.

    If you are creating crappy pages and are just swapping a few terms its risky and Google may see it as a doorway page. If you create quality content the is relevant to the location and the services you offer in that city, you are fine.

    Thumbtack is another great example of poor content but they are ranking for competitive terms across the entire country in hundreds of cities.

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    Re: Creating Local SEO Content (Avoiding Doorway Pages)

    I think the value that Yelp and Thumbtack add is the user-generated content like photos and reviews. It is really hard for the average SMB site to mimic that. I had a large franchise ask me this same question recently and I still advised, proceed with caution. I think the more pages you create with this approach, the more risky it gets since things in mass tend to be less likely to go undetected.


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    Re: Creating Local SEO Content (Avoiding Doorway Pages)

    This conversation started with the OP asking about creating "similar content and swapping keywords out". Then turned into "geo-targeted pages = doorway pages.
    Hmmm. This is a good thing to discuss. In my mind, these are the same thing. Creating "similar content and swapping keywords out" still sounds like doorway pages to me.

    I think it is definitely possible to create different pages for each city/neighbourhood you service but it has to go way beyond swapping keywords. Like xds40 said, creating "quality content the is relevant to the location and the services you offer in that city" is fine. The question though is what constitutes quality content?

    I think when we have discussions about doorway pages, we need to throw the big sites out of the discussion. The reason why I say this is that I think it's possible that Google has built some kind of "big brand awareness" into the algorithm. Or, it may not be built in but something that has been Machine Learned. Let me see if I can explain that...

    Let's say I'm searching for a plumber in NYC. Now let's say that Thumbtack has a page for every single NYC neighbourhood that is essentially the same but swaps out geotargeted keywords. Let's also say that a local plumber has pages that are essentially the same for each NYC neighbourhood with geotargeted keywords swapped out.

    How does this look for a searcher? As a searcher, let's say I see these kind of results in my SERPS:

    -Thumbtack.com - Plumbers in Manhattan
    -Thumbtack.com - Plumbers in Queens
    -Thumbtack.com - Plumbers in Brooklyn

    -localNYCPlumber.com - Plumbers in Manhattan
    -localNYCPlumber.com - Plumbers in Queens
    -localNYCPlumber.com - Plumbers in Brooklyn

    What is the difference? The difference is that I recognize Thumbtack (or Yelp, or a few others) and because I have been to that website and found it useful I'm more likely to click on one of those results. But, because I don't regularly need to look up plumbers, I don't recognize localNYCPlumber.com. So, I'm really not likely to click on any of those results.

    Google doesn't want to crowd the SERPS with results that I'm not likely to click on, so after some time, most likely those localNYCPlumber results are going to disappear unless it is really obvious to Google that that page has something better to offer me than Thumbtack. This is why, IMO, it is SUPER important that a geotargeted local page created by a local business that is not a big brand aggregator has to offer a huge amount of value.

    That was a really long explanation, but my point is that the big aggregators are going to be able to get away with doorway-like stuff more easily because users will tolerate it and will still click on those results when they are presented in the search results.
    mborgelt likes this.

  4. Members who thanked Marie Haynes for this post:

    Eric Rohrback (12-08-2016),JoyHawkins (12-08-2016),Scott Rawlins (12-08-2016),Tim Colling (12-08-2016)

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    Re: Creating Local SEO Content (Avoiding Doorway Pages)

    Marie,

    Your insight is incredbile. Thank you for the lengthy reply. You made some very valid points

  6. Members who thanked JoyHawkins for this post:

    Marie Haynes (12-08-2016)

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    Re: Creating Local SEO Content (Avoiding Doorway Pages)

    Marie,

    This is a great discussion. I am learning something.

    I feel like there is the tension in people's understanding of this.

    Some are kind of old school, "So long as I have a page that has the targeted geo keywords, and is sufficiently different not to be seen as duplicate - I'm good".

    You seem to be saying that, because of google measuring "engagement" on search results, these pages won't last very long. I think you would say, the pages have to have all the keywords, and somehow be engaging. . . .

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    Re: Creating Local SEO Content (Avoiding Doorway Pages)

    I agree that this discussion is a great one with tons of valuable advice on here.

    I've found that there is often a huge discrepency in what Google says and what actually works. So Google may say don't do X, but you'll see that X works amazingly for a long period of time (maybe years) before it slowly stops working as well. I feel like this might be the case with doorway pages as I still see these types of pages rank phenomonly on Google but have a feeling in a couple years they won't.

    Same with Maps spam. Google says don't do it, no one listens, everyone does it, the crap ranks everywhere. I believe Google's response is going to be monotizing it which seems to be the case given Jim's post.

    So whenever I see Google start saying "don't do this", I instantly think that it will probably continue to work as a strategy for another few years but eventually will not stick.
    mborgelt and Tim Colling like this.

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    Red face Re: Creating Local SEO Content (Avoiding Doorway Pages)

    Hi Ryan,

    I have a few thoughts that may help. I agree with Joy when she says "I would avoid these types of pages unless you have unique info like case studies or testimonials". But since you said 100% of the content is unique I would say it might be safer.

    You will notice that many businesses are allowed to have location pages; a page for each physical office / store location. Example: Best Buy St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida

    However, service-area businesses that do not have a physical office / location in each city may choose to create "service-area" pages. If these pages are created specifically for the residents of each city because it provides them with custom content and knowledge, these may be helpful to create. I would be cautious in creating hundreds of them though. The large amount of pages does seem spammy. I would look at your traffic and see where most of your visitors are coming from and prioritize the top cities you want to target. Then maybe make a reasonable number of service-area pages.

    At the very least, here are two great posts from Phil Rosek that can give you some awesome ideas on how to create unique, localized content for each page.
    25 Principles of Building Effective City Pages for Local SEO
    16 Ways to Create Unique “Local” Content for Cities Where You Want to Rank

    Just my two cents. Hope it helps!
    Tim Colling and Ryan77 like this.
    Dani Owens
    SEO Contractor & Consultant // Pigzilla

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    Re: Creating Local SEO Content (Avoiding Doorway Pages)

    Like Joy, I think this approach may still be working but is quickly dying. To go completely left I would offer a different solution.

    I'm going to take a wild guess and assume that your goal in creating these pages would be to rank for these cities? If this is the case then you have several options for achieving that goal and it would be best to leverage several of them together than beating one strategy to death.

    I would advise you to write a great, long, image-filled blog like this that people in that area would find extremely useful. That is the easy bit.

    Then you should take time to find some people in the area that would appreciate your content who write blogs, have strong social media following, etc. Establish a relationship with them then share your content with them. Before you know it you'll not have great local content but also valuable, location-relevant links going to them without having to worry about violating any guidelines.
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