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Doorway Page Algorithm To Be Launched By Google

     
12:45 pm on Mar 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Google has announced yesterday that they are launching doorway page algorithm:

An update on doorway pages
16th March 2015
http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/an-update-on-doorway-pages.html [googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.co.uk]

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.
12:51 pm on Mar 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I recommend reading the above article in full as Google in there gives five points on what they consider doorway page.

This algo change may have a big impact on turism industry, especially for accommodation/place type of searches. I know of a number of site operators who extensively use variety of AccommodationLocation.TLD domains. All these sites use the same template, presumably look up the same database, and still rank pretty well for location based accommodation searches. It will be interesting to see whether they are affected and how.
1:08 pm on Mar 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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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 ]
    etc...
  • 1:17 pm on Mar 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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    I have to say, I'm a little confused. With their new guidelines, I'm not sure how to differentiate between a doorway page and a landing page.

    Anyone have thoughts on this?
    1:55 pm on Mar 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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    I have already commented on this in the Google Updates and SERP Changes thread.

    I'm not sure how it will pan out, but those of us - like myself - who have a website with a general theme (and subgroups within that theme) might feel at least mildly concerned.

    Google - they are not alone in this - do not have consistent success in matching landing-page to search query, so in some senses any page on my site might in effect be a doorway to a better-matched page. Their description and "questions to ask of pages" don't sound to me as if they have made a clear enough distinction between e.g. generic and specific terms: if I only sell blue widgets should I be trying to rank for widgets at all?

    Of course, one hopes it won't be a train wreck, but I am not reassured by the last couple of years.
    2:24 pm on Mar 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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    I just checked an old site and found a bunch of old pages sitting there attracting traffic. These might tip the site over into the doorway page definition. I plan to leave them there as they may or may not trip up in the new algo.
    2:25 pm on Mar 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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    I'm a little concerned for my event sites, so we're going to make some architecture changes that we probably should have made a while ago. Long term? I dunno. Maybe faceted navigation.
    2:37 pm on Mar 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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    My take on this: If Google merely goes after the most egregious examples of doorway pages, it will remove a lot of clutter from the SERPs. (E.g., pages created for specific keywords and keyphrases that have little or no content and exist solely to attract search traffic.)

    Also, this should be a positive change for site owners who don't clutter up the SERPs with made-for-SEO doorway pages. If Doug's doorway pages get dinged, other people's pages (maybe your legitimate pages) will move up to replace them in the rankngs.
    2:52 pm on Mar 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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    The updated the explanation of a doorway page. This makes more sense than the 1st link in the OP.
    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.

    Here are some examples of doorways:
    •Having multiple domain names or pages targeted at specific regions or cities that funnel users to one page
    •Pages generated to funnel visitors into the actual usable or relevant portion of your site(s)
    •Substantially similar pages that are closer to search results than a clearly defined, browseable hierarchy
    3:14 pm on Mar 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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    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.
    3:45 pm on Mar 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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    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?
    3:50 pm on Mar 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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    Another Google owned site using doorway pages...

    And, guess what...they are on the first page for the obvious terms :)

    [zagat.com...]
    [zagat.com...]

    This is clearly "SERPS IN THE SERPS". At best, they wrote a single sentence of original content for each page.
    4:08 pm on Mar 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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    Brett I was thinking the same thing.
    4:28 pm on Mar 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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    I had noticed recently some of the content farms like eHow have started to heavily employ doorway pages across different domains all feeding to the main site. I wonder if the algo change is in response to this.
    4:40 pm on Mar 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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    Great point on the GYBO pages rish3! Thanks for that!

    I just shared with all the Local Search Consultants that are concerned about legit location landing pages for multi-location businesses.

    I do hope some of the spammy local sites get dinged. Like plumbers and attorneys with 80 city landing pages.

    But I kind of agree with Brett on this after reading his comments. Much ado over nothing?

    Linda Buquet
    4:46 pm on Mar 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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    I don't plan to get overly concerned about this announcement, but just a little more attentive. I just double-checked and those old doorway pages I mentioned are actually dated last century!

    I suspect they are likely to get hit harder by the the mobile algo more than the doorway clampdown. Some of these pages have ranked all this time, going unnoticed by Google. Just as Brett said, what have they been doing! Perhaps, because visitors don't click back to Google search, and enter the site, it's not raising any flags.

    In the meantime, thanks for the fish, Google, and when the pages lose traffic i'll review it again, although i will be watching more closely in the coming months.
    4:52 pm on Mar 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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    I have some taxonomy pages for cities and counties that mostly don't rank anyway. I figure I might as well NOINDEX those. We took the date taxo pages out of Google a couple years ago, and that didn't seem to hurt anything.
    5:18 pm on Mar 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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    Rish3, I don't think those Zagat pages are what Google would ding as doorway pages, because they contain useful content. The GYBO pages, on the other hand, would fit under the "doorway pages" heading.

    FWIW, I just did a test search on "free business web sites [state name]", and the GYBO page was outranked by 10 other pages. Presumably it will drop lower after the ranking-adjustment update launches.
    5:23 pm on Mar 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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    Rish3, I don't think those Zagat pages are what Google would ding as doorway pages, because they contain useful content.


    It's perhaps an edge case? The Zagat pages contain exactly one sentence of original content. Everything else on the page is either duplicated boilerplate, or excerpts of existing pages...much like a wordpress tag or category page. It's the kind of thing people are worrying about for their own sites, category pages on ecommerce, tag pages, etc.
    5:34 pm on Mar 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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    FWIW, I just did a test search on "free business web sites [state name]", and the GYBO page was outranked by 10 other pages. Presumably it will drop lower after the ranking-adjustment update launches.


    Try the much more lucrative: free web hosting [state name]

    Ove

    7:32 pm on Mar 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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    We have always used doorwaypages or just a page with content for the value of the site and to let google understand the site. Whats the definition of doorwaypage ? and whats the definition of spam ? if .com/product is a bad doorwaypage or not i dont know how we should built a site it seems impossible then. I would not change anything until i see the result of what they say, spammy doorway pages have always worked more or less, i think it how we build them that counts. And like Brett said we have heard this for ages now.
    9:03 pm on Mar 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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    Actually, I have seen some really outrageous examples of keyword stuffed doorway pages... "national" companies targeting a huge number of service-query/location combinations and getting away with it... doing well in localized searches. These were discussed in our Supporters area as recently as Nov, 2014... and I'm assuming they were built to take advantage of vulnerabilities in the Pigeon algorithm, and would come under this guideline...

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

    Sometimes the pages cross-link enough that they may not appear algorithmically to be isolated in the way that traditional doorways are. It will be interesting to see how they do. (Many of the pages I've seen that rank have absolutely no value other than as doorways... it's not like these are localized content pages.)

    There's also this guideline...
    Pages generated to funnel visitors into the actual usable or relevant portion of your site(s)

    The way this guideline is worded, one might wonder whether legit ecommerce category pages within a site are likely to get hit. There are legit category pages of marginal value currently ranking that I assume might be vulnerable.

    Google is announcing this in advance, which deserves some attention in itself. I'm thinking it should suggest that there are perhaps ways of fixing some potential problems (I'm thinking specifically about product category pages here), and alert site owners ought to take advantage of the notice.
    9:17 pm on Mar 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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    Google has announced yesterday that they are launching doorway page algorithm:


    I don't see this anywhere in that article?

    What it actually says is...

    "Google’s Search Quality team is continually working on ways in which to minimize the impact of webspam on users. This includes doorway pages."

    There is nothing that says they are launching some new algo. To me when they say "Google’s Search Quality team is continually working on ways in which to..." That just tells me that they know they are losing in that area and are going to screw a bunch of white hat sites in an attempt to slow down the black hats.

    If you have a large high quality site, be very worried, if you are a black hat no worries, carry on as usual. If these changes whack a site just build 25 more to replace it.
    9:29 pm on Mar 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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    @Kelowna: There is nothing that says they are launching some new algo.

    "we’ll soon launch a ranking adjustment to better address these types of pages"

    Guess it depends on what a "ranking adjustment" is.
    9:45 pm on Mar 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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

    The way this guideline is worded, one might wonder whether legit ecommerce category pages within a site are likely to get hit. There are legit category pages of marginal value currently ranking that I assume might be vulnerable.


    I found that nugget in the guidelines a little odd, here's a thought google, maybe if you could rank the "actual usable or relevant portion of (the) site" correctly one might not need to use doorway pages to get searchers to the information they want. Just saying.
    10:51 pm on Mar 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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    The Zagat pages contain exactly one sentence of original content.

    These pages should never rank anyway, but we all know that Google's rules do not apply to anything they own or have a financial interest in.
    2:39 am on Mar 18, 2015 (gmt 0)

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    The Zagat pages contain exactly one sentence of original content.


    More to the point, they contain a fair amount of useful content.

    Going to Houston? Looking for a steakhouse? The Zagat "steakhouses in Houston" page provides a handy list. If you want to click on a given steakhouse for more information, you're free to do so, but even if you don't, you've got a list of Zagat-rated steakhouses in Houston that would be useful whether or not the steakhouse names were linked to other pages.
    3:57 am on Mar 18, 2015 (gmt 0)

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    Good point EditorialGuy. It is not like the articles repeatedly tackle the same themes over and over again the way penalized sites like eHow did. I mean there is some serious diversity in the topic selections & they aren't the least bit repetitive.

    best outdoor happy hours in houston
    after work happy hours in houston
    a new happy hour hookup
    3 new happy hour deals in houston
    3 must try weekday happy hours in houston
    new happy hour in montrose
    best cheap happy hours in houston
    a new happy hour debuts in houston
    hot hotel happy hours in houston
    new happy hour menu at the palm
    etc.

    Plenty of happiness to go around...
    4:37 am on Mar 18, 2015 (gmt 0)

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    More to the point, they contain a fair amount of useful content.


    Maybe. It presents excerpts of reviews that match "steakhouse" and "city". There's no editorial assurance that they are the "best" steakhouses. Just snippets gathered together with a single sentence that conveys little.

    Again, like a tag or category page that wordpress presents out of the box.

    If there were some separate text that actually conveyed some idea that these were actually selected as the "best", versus just tag matches, perhaps.

    Certainly, there's a way to interpret Google's current description of a "doorway" page as matching this sort of thing.

    And, I won't be surprised later, when this adjustment takes place, that web pages that are more obviously adding value (like, for example, with substantive editorial content related to the matching excerpts) ... get the google slap. With no discernible way to determine who gets the slap, and why.

    Edit: Whatever opinion you have on the Zagat pages, it does sort of make you wonder what criteria this "ranking adjustment" might use.
    6:04 am on Mar 18, 2015 (gmt 0)

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    Whatever opinion you have on the Zagat pages, it does sort of make you wonder what criteria this "ranking adjustment" might use.


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