Creating Local SEO Content (Avoiding Doorway Pages)


Ryan77

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Hi.

I'd like to create additional local SEO content for my client's site and will avoid doorways pages, of course, but was curious whether creating new 100% original 1000 word local landing pages with a semantically similar term would qualify as a doorway page?

There are currently several hundred page one rankings for '[city] PLUMBER' pages.

So I was wondering about creating similar '[city] PLUMBING' pages with 100% original content and whether these would be seen as doorway pages.

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Here is Google on doorway pages:
https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/2721311?hl=en&ref_topic=6001971


1. Having multiple domain names or pages targeted at specific regions or cities that funnel users to one page

- This would not be an issue because each page is a landing page with valuable, original content, hours of operation, schema and map,with clear calls to action.


2. Pages generated to funnel visitors into the actual usable or relevant portion of your site(s)

- This would not be an issue because each page would be usable with clear calls to action.


3. Substantially similar pages that are closer to search results than a clearly defined, browseable hierarchy

- I'm not completely certain whether this is going to be an issue, or not. I understand that it is substantially similar but not duplicate, though do not completely understand 'closer to search results than a clearly defined, browseable hierarchy'
=====

Each current local page is a part of the LSI silo of the site as a whole. The local pages link to the service pages which, in turn, link to the home page.

My thoughts are to create something such as mentioned in the following article which refers to 'local content silos'.

http://searchengineland.com/local-seo-multi-location-businesses-224732

If you scroll down you see this:
/locations/
/locations/location-a/
/locations/location-a/gallery/
/locations/location-a/reviews/
/locations/location-a/directions//locations/location-a/clients/
/locations/location-a/news/
/locations/location-a/news/article-1/
/locations/location-a/news/article-2/
/locations/location-a/social/


I have already created a couple hundred service pages such as 'drain repair [city]'. And the list is not unlimited. So this is one way I could add 100+ more pages possibly.

Any thoughts on this or how to create additional local content would be appreciated.

Thank you,
Ryan
 

Ryan77

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Hi, Joy.

That's a helpful article, thank you.

So something to make the content on these new pages truly unique, other than original yet similar content, would be the best case scenario.

Perhaps if I made them unique to 'commercial plumbing' as there is search volume available for this keyword term. This way the focus is on plumbing for businesses in particular. Do you believe this would differentiate the content well enough?

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From the article:

This means that you should have something genuinely useful that you can put on these pages. Some recommendations:


Proprietary data – e.g. what the most popular flowers are in this location.
Local differentiation – e.g. are some of the products delivered to this location sourced locally?
Genuine local expertise – could any employees or subcontractors in this area contribute?
Reviews for this location
Reassurance – e.g. if you think a user is looking for a local florist because of delivery concerns, say how long the flowers will be traveling for
=====

I suppose I could test a couple of pages with 'commercial plumbing [city]' to see what happens. With Penguin 4.0 more granular at least there shouldn't be a concern about these new pages penalizing the entire site. Yet, they could dilute the strength of the others or perhaps confuse the SE's. hmm...

Any further thoughts?

Thank you,
Ryan
 

JoyHawkins

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I would avoid these types of pages unless you have unique info like case studies or testimonials (like a business you helped in that city and what you did for them). This article also gives some good ideas: https://t.co/xSRHX8JeRf
 

Marie Haynes

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After reading this thread it sounds like these are doorway pages but you're trying really hard to convince yourself that they are not. :)

I think it's ok to have individual pages for "service in [city]" provided that it really makes sense for users to have these as separate pages. I don't think it's enough to just have unique wording on the page. So, the question is whether you can produce these pages in a way in which each page adds value on its own.

If you have 100 different pages for "commercial plumber in [city]" and they're all essentially the same page with slightly different wording, that's not a good thing. But, if you can make these pages so that they are all uniquely helpful for people who are searching for a plumber in their area it might work out. I think this would be hard though as I'm guessing that there is not much difference in what kind of content a searcher would expect to see if they were searching for a commercial plumber in Detroit as opposed to Atlanta. I could be wrong though - If there are significant differences in what plumbers can provide in different cities, then this might work.

But who knows...perhaps you could populate each page with a case study of a plumbing job in that area along with facts pertinent to the area. For example, you could have a section called, "Interesting facts about plumbing in [city]". In that section you could talk about how the city has the sewer system set up or how many gallons of water each household uses and things like that. But, if it sounds like that is an impossible thing to do for each city, then I'd say this is not going to work.

A concern with having all of these pages would be how it looks if you get a manual review. Again, it's not just enough to have the wording unique for each page so that an algorithm can't detect that they are almost duplicates of each other. If a human being can look at the pages and determine that they're essentially the same page with just the city information being different then I'd be concerned that you could get slapped with a thin content penalty.
 

Ryan77

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Hi, Marie.

I appreciate your post.

I definitely don't consider 1000 word landing pages with original content to be doorways as they are unique, valuable and useful to the local prospect each on their own.

Though I think the search engines may because of the semantic overlap between plumber and plumbing.

Based on Google's input this point was somewhat unclear in regards to their definition of doorway pages:

3. Substantially similar pages that are closer to search results than a clearly defined, browseable hierarchy

Yet, we have written multiple sets of 23 local based pages for various specialized services each with similar but 100% unique content and have ranked on page one for perhaps 20/23 of them each time within two weeks making the thin content penalty or doorway pages possibility non-issues based on this experience.

Which is why I saw potential for doing so with this keyword term '[city] plumbing'. But it's more significantly related as a keyword focus than these specialized local services which is why I've asked for feedback and appreciate it.

Thank you,
Ryan
 

xds40

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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.
 

JoyHawkins

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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.
 

Marie Haynes

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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.
 

HoosierBuff

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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. . . .
 

JoyHawkins

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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.
 

dannanelli

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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!
 

mborgelt

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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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