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Query string generated pages... against Google guidelines?



10:53 pm on Jan 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I see this a lot, for year... but have avoided doing it myself. Is it against Google guidelines to create query string generated pages where only a few details differ per page, like the city name? All of the big sites in the niche I’m trying to get into do this, and have done so for years, they are still all there, but is it okay?


5:23 am on Jan 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

No it's not OK; here's the Official Google guidelines:

'Cookie-cutter' content - [support.google.com...]


Doorway pages - [support.google.com...]

I used to see loads of these, particularly in the web design niche, years back; I've not come across them in any niche lately - at least not ranking.

WRT to big sites 'getting away with it', depending on your own site's overall trust factor in Google, you might be able to get away with stuff that others with less trust couldn't.

It is possible to write pages for multiple areas and make the content different. If it's a bricks and mortar business then different areas could have different office addresses, different staff, different customers, delivery times, etc etc. Whatever makes the service different in that location, focus on that. Testimonials are a great 'randomiser'.

If it's an information-type service, then I would have thought it would be even easier to create something unique for each area.


8:11 am on Jan 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Frantic Fish it’s a websites for people who offer a type of service to advertise that service but travel the entire UK, so all work every town and city. So I would want to target the phrase "hire a SOMETHING Town/city"

The other 5-6 websites who dominate just change the name of the town/city per page. If I changed the town/city name, PHOTO of the town/city, maybe a google map and perhaps a very short paragraph about that town/city would that be okay with G? The result set from my database would also be ORDERD with the closest service provider at the top. Maybe collect unique testimonies from each area over time and display these on that page as well? (but I would need to get the traffic first)

We already come on page one for "hire a SOMETHING" with no town/city at the end but from research I know that people search via hire a SOMETHING town/city!

I would need about 1500 pages to cover every town/city but they would all be searching for the same thing, a list of my clients who offer their service in their area which then clicks through to each clients unique profile with lots of media, if that makes sense?

Sorry what does WRT stand for?


9:36 am on Jan 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

WRT = with regard to.

My first thought is this: do you have a service provider in each of the 1500 areas? If not then the risk involved in trying to rank there would go up in my view, because the one thing searchers hate is results that aren't results.

If you do have something to offer in each of those 1500 areas then the process you outlined might work. Don't be surprised if it doesn't though. When you're looking for local services, do you give a damn that the town you're searching in has 100,000 inhabitants and dates back to 1600 when there was a farmer's market there?

If your service providers will show on more than one page I'd be wary - remember, having too many pages that are too close content-wise is one of the things Google's Panda update set out to identify.

I guess it's up to you to weigh risk/reward for yourself. If it were my site I'd aim to bring on pages in batches as and when they are ready. I'd perhaps do something like this...

LEVEL 1: Page is just names / addresses of service provider(s), the basics. I'd probably have these 'noindex,follow'

LEVEL 2: UNIQUE mini-bio has been added for at least one provider. Allow Google to index.

LEVEL 3: Page has lots of useful content unique to that locality.

I'd have the site CMS help me keep tabs on this.


11:00 am on Jan 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

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You make some good points!

What about this idea as well, each town/city page that has a Supplier of Service BASED in that town/city is *only* pulled from the database and displayed on that page giving a unique list (bios) per town/city which isn't repeated on other pages.

And under that list I present to google for inxe I have a button with an Ajax call to "load "service providers" who travel to city/town" That way the user gets to see what’s most local straight away, a quick click to see what’s available further afield loaded via ajax and g doesn't see more than 1 identical page with JUST a area name changed? even if some pages might only contain 1-2 entries to begin with.

The only downside is some cities I have a few listings but others I have none, but I could add on a city/town page as and when I get a supplier based in that town city, as you suggested build it slowly?

I have already done this at the county level, completely unique initial result set per page (mini bio, profile photo, sample image, add to shortlist) with link to main profile but not many people seem to search UK counties vs towns/cities for services in my experience.


11:28 am on Jan 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month

the town/city name, PHOTO of the town/city, maybe a google map and perhaps a very short paragraph about that town/city

What proportion of the total page content is unique to the page?


1:08 pm on Jan 17, 2014 (gmt 0)

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>>>What proportion of the total page content is unique to the page?<<<

Nothing that can’t be found elsewhere on the site just a “cut down” version of each MAIN profile for an "at a glance" preview condensed list I suppose.

So for each listing I exact I have

200 letters from their profile page bio > read more option
1 sample photo from their profile page bio (enlarge option)
1 sample video from their profile page bio (view option)

Its important for me for the user to get a good idea of the SERVICE provider from a quick list like this without having to click on the profile unless they like what they see.

I would start the page with one H1/paragraph/h2 tag that is the same just with a different area town/city changed.

The only completely unique aspect of the pages would be no where else on the site will there be a selection of the "service providers" from just that town/city displayed together like this unless you used the search filter which G wont index anyway.

So basically like Yell does for each town/city/service but more in depth before you "click through". Since G loves yell so much that it scores number one for every service and every area I assume it cant be bad unless Yell is whitelisted?

bad idea?

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