More info about Google's latest algorithm update and how it could impact upon your website with our quick guide to 'Doorway Pages.'
Google has recently announced that they are releasing a new “ranking adjustment” in their algorithm aimed at targeting doorway pages. This recent announcement follows on from their update that from the 21st of April, Google will officially start counting mobile friendly factors as part of their mobile ranking algorithm. These two updates will ensure that April is a very exciting time for SEOs and webmasters alike.
What is a doorway page?
Doorway pages are an outdated tactic currently only adopted by black hat, and sometimes misguided, SEOs to rank highly in search engine rankings for specific keyword searches that are not usually on the site itself. These pages usually contain a fast meta-refresh, a redirect or a clickable link that brings the user to the page that the website or page the webmaster actually wants the user to visit. In light of the recent announcement of the doorway page update, Google quietly clarified its definition of doorway pages within their guidelines:
“Doorways are sites or pages created to rank highly for specific search queries. They are bad for users because they can lead to multiple similar pages in user search results, where each result ends up taking the user to essentially the same destination. They can also lead users to intermediate pages that are not as useful as the final destination.”
Why doorway pages are considered bad SEO?
Google’s official statement declares: “We have a long-standing view that doorway pages that are created solely for search engines can harm the quality of the user’s search experience.” Google is dedicated to providing its users with the most relevant search results for their search queries and Brian White of the Google Webspam Team highlights that doorway pages can be “a really frustrating experience” for users. Doorway pages are usually used to create a larger search footprint for sites without necessarily providing anything unique to the user experience. It is possible that Google will use similar signals to the Panda algorithm to determine whether a page is a doorway page including: bounce rates, click through rates, time spent on page or even low levels of links or social shares. However, webmasters need to make sure they do not confuse doorway pages with landing pages. Landing pages provide unique and valuable content for users and engage users towards reaching a goal or conversion. Doorway pages are created purely for search engines or ranking for generic keywords and will regularly not be part of the standard navigational user experience.
Does my site have doorway pages?
Google has released five questions to help webmasters determine whether their web pages are classified as “doorway pages”:
Question 1: 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?
Question 2: Are the pages intended to rank on generic terms yet the content presented on the page is very specific?
Question 3: 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?
Question 4: Are these pages made solely for drawing affiliate traffic and sending users along without creating unique value in content or functionality?
Question 5: 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?
Google aims to deliver the best results for their users and one of the predicted outcomes from the doorway update is more variety in search results. Smaller sites with unique, high quality content will be hoping that the doorway update will reward their sites with higher rankings as duplicate domains are removed.
If you are currently using a doorway page strategy, we would recommend switching to a dedicated landing page strategy instead. If you are unsure if your web pages are classified as “doorway pages” or want to talk to an expert about Google Algorithms, then Only Digital can help. Contact us today on 0800 612 9890.