Google Warns about Doorway Page Algo Update - Could Affect Local


Linda Buquet

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Yesterday Google announced an update on doorway pages.
Sounds like an algo change and penalties could be coming soon.

This could have an impact on anyone that's been doing heavy multi-location SEO. But hopefully if you've added lots of great unique local content on those city landing pages you'll be fine. 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.

<a href="http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2015/03/an-update-on-doorway-pages.html">An update on doorway pages</a>

Over time, we've seen sites try to maximize their “search footprint” without adding clear, unique value. These doorway campaigns manifest themselves as pages on a site, as a number of domains, or a combination thereof. To improve the quality of search results for our users, we’ll soon launch a ranking adjustment to better address these types of pages. Sites with large and well-established doorway campaigns might see a broad impact from this change.

Here are questions to ask of pages that could be seen as doorway pages:

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?

That's just a couple snippets. Head over to read the rest.

Then here is the actual "Doorways" page in the guidelines that spells an example related to local:

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


Bryan Heckler shared the Google post above yesterday AM at the Pro Community.

Here are some related posts on the topic:

Andrew Shotland made some good points at Local SEO Guide:
<a href="http://www.localseoguide.com/googles-about-to-close-your-local-doorway-pages/">Google's About To Close Your Local Doorway Pages</a>

Miriam did a good post over at the Moz QA forum:
<a href="http://moz.com/community/q/how-google-s-doorway-pages-update-affects-local-seo#reply_284903">How Google's Doorway Pages Update Affects Local SEO</a>

Search Engine Land: <a href="http://searchengineland.com/google-to-launch-new-doorway-page-penalty-algorithm-216974">Google To Launch New Doorway Page Penalty Algorithm</a>

The SEM Post: <a href="http://www.thesempost.com/doorway-pages-ranking/">What SEOs Need to Know About Google's Doorway Pages Search Ranking Adjustment</a>

WebProNews: <a href="http://www.webpronews.com/google-just-announced-another-new-ranking-adjustment-2015-03">Google Just Announced Another New Ranking Adjustment</a>

And a forum thread here: <a href="http://www.localsearchforum.com/local-search-news/29374-last-days-old-time-local-search-engine-optimization.html">Last days of Old-Time Local SEO</a>


What do you guys think?
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Linda Buquet

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Marie Haynes

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This could be a crazy spring. We're overdue for a Panda and a Penguin update. We know that the mobile update, which is going to be huge, will launch on April 21. And now this doorway page update is coming at some point soon too.

I wish Google could give more clear guidelines on what a local business should be doing in order to rank for specific cities or neighborhoods. I think that we probably all agree that it's not the best idea to take the same page and change the keywords slightly so that it ranks for individual cities. But, what should we be doing?

From Google's perspective I think that it makes sense to have a business rank an a location-appropriate page for each search. For example, if I am in the west end of Toronto and I'm searching for a plumber in Mississauga, I want to see the page of a plumber who services my area and not one in the east of the city. I don't see what's so wrong with having duplicate pages that are optimized for individual neighborhoods.

But then I guess that there are people who totally overdo it.

I am guessing that this update will go after some of the tricky cloaking/redirecting doorway page spam and not be so tough on small businesses with location pages, but who knows?
 

Linda Buquet

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I wish Google could give more clear guidelines on what a local business should be doing in order to rank for specific cities or neighborhoods. I think that we probably all agree that it's not the best idea to take the same page and change the keywords slightly so that it ranks for individual cities. But, what should we be doing?

I am guessing that this update will go after some of the tricky cloaking/redirecting doorway page spam and not be so tough on small businesses with location pages, but who knows?
And re your second point... Sure hope so. Hope we don't lose any babies in the bathwater on this one!

Re the 1st paragraph I quoted above. This may help some:

<a href="http://www.localsearchforum.com/multi-location-issues/16746-google-publishes-guidelines-local-sites-location-landing-pages.html">Google Publishes Guidelines for Local Sites & Location Landing Pages</a>

Everyone should read that before freaking out too much about legit location pages.
Google actually wants them in the index. (See the 2 Google docs linked inside that post.)
 

Marie Haynes

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Thanks Linda. That info on location pages is interesting. I think that there are two issues though. It makes sense that if I have a business that has a branch in several cities that I have a location page for each of those branches. But, what if I am a business that has just one location but services many branches?

I'm sure this is a question that you get asked all the time. It seems to me as if Google is saying that I can't have a location page for each city/neighborhood if I don't have a branch there.
 

Linda Buquet

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I'm sure this is a question that you get asked all the time. It seems to me as if Google is saying that I can't have a location page for each city/neighborhood if I don't have a branch there.
I have not read those for awhile and am jammed up prepping for tomorrow's multi-location webinar. Can you link to and quote the part you are referring to. I don't remember seeing that specifically addressed.

NOTE TO ALL: We just added this topic to the agenda for tomorrow's webinar.

<a href="http://www.localsearchforum.com/insidelocal-webinars/29218-multi-location-local-search-optimization-webinar.html">Multi-Location Local Search Optimization Webinar</a>
 

Marie Haynes

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OK, here is Google's page outlining the guidelines for location pages for local businesses:

https://developers.google.com/webmasters/business-location-pages/

The part that interested me was the following:

Each location's or branch's information should be readily available on a webpage. This means that each location needs to be accessible on a unique URL. Knowing the correct page for each location allows Google's algorithms to surface the page for the relevant queries.
So, I take that to mean that if I have a business with multiple branches/offices, then each of these is expected to have its own url. But, where Google is unclear (in my opinion) is what to do when I have just one location, but I service multiple cities or neighborhoods.

btw...I've just signed up for your webinar tomorrow. Great timing. You should have a full house!
 
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Looking at this https://developers.google.com/webmasters/business-location-pages/ is anything but clear or defining with the parameters for which a 1 Location Local Business that provides services to neighboring towns should operate within in direct regards to local city pages.

As usual, it is the typical game of endless tail chase and misinformation with Google and Small Business or anyone for that matter!

Why exactly are these people allowed to get away with the crap that they do considering all they do is run a dictatorship which is directly responsible for the destabilization of local business economies across America?
 

Linda Buquet

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Thanks Marie! See you at the webinar!

Welcome Campbell!

Here are some interesting thoughts from old timer Brett Tabke:

<a href="http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4743151.htm">Doorway Page Algorithm To Be Launched By Google Google SEO News and Discussion forum at WebmasterWorld</a>

Server issue by Google? I am almost positive they ran that exact same article in 2003 ;-) But seriously, if they haven't been handling this "in line" with the algo for a freakin decade, what are they doing whining about it now for?

This is such an ancient issue - that it sure makes me wonder what is going on at the Plex. If they haven't been addressing this since it was a real issue in 2002, what have they been doing about doorway and spam landing pages for the last decade?
I am going to chalk this one up to "Cutts'itis". Since Matt isn't around the QC team any more to tell them what do, they rerun a woof from 2003.

Like rish3 said, Googles own sites are filled with doorway pages and their partners are filled with doorway pages...

> it will remove a lot of clutter from the

horse hockey - haven't run into a nasty "doorway" page in the Serps in 5-8 years.
Remember a few years ago when they came out carping about "SERPS" in the "SERPS". This is the same stuff all-over-again.

> Over time, we've seen sites try to maximize their
> ?search footprint? without adding clear, unique value

Welcome ladies and gentlemen to 1995.

> To improve the quality of search results for our users, we?ll soon
> launch a ranking adjustment to better address these types of pages.

Hello Altavista 1998.

Someone said Google was so distracted chasing mobile and the "next big thing" that they had left search on auto pilot and only check in once a year to see if the servers are still running. ... this blog post is evidence of that idea.

Best advice to webmasters - don't change a single byte based on this blog post by Google.
 
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Thank you for the Welcome Linda but, I have actually belonged to your forum for over a year now except, I just could not access my account regardless of which email I tried using from my domain. Anyway, I have signed up for your webinar 2morrow and I am looking forward to the discussion.

Thanks again Linda. :)

-Cam
 

Linda Buquet

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The join date on your profile above is this month so that's what I was referring to.
Sorry with over 2000 members I can't keep up.

See you tomorrow! :)
 

regl8r

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OK, here is Google's page outlining the guidelines for location pages for local businesses:

https://developers.google.com/webmasters/business-location-pages/

The part that interested me was the following:



So, I take that to mean that if I have a business with multiple branches/offices, then each of these is expected to have its own url. But, where Google is unclear (in my opinion) is what to do when I have just one location, but I service multiple cities or neighborhoods.

btw...I've just signed up for your webinar tomorrow. Great timing. You should have a full house!
Yes, it is incredibly unclear as to what should be done for a company that services multiple cities. I'm thinking (and hoping) that this update will not be targeting local SEO despite the uproar in the community. Literally everyone is doing it and it would be a free for all if sites were slapped for having pages with /service-city-st/.

There isn't a local business for every service in every city out there. If you get rid of these pages people won't be able to find someone to provide a service. How does that benefit the user?
 

steven

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Well, I was hoping neighborhood pages on a single location business would be helpful, but now I'm not clear if it will be a waste of my time. Don't mind either way, but would be nice to know what's what.
 

Dialady

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Well if nothing else, this provides another item on the list of Google changes to share with clients. I agree it is difficult to know what's what on this one. I found creating unique content for each service and each city helps as well, but it is time consuming.

Thanks for another great update, Linda. Google is keeping me in business . . .LOL
 
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Linda Buquet

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Good job cross pollinating Eric. Thanks so much for catching that for me and adding here. I can't keep up with everything lately. :eek: Too much going on!
 

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