Google’s making a big change
Google optimization is a leading method of bringing traffic to your website these days. It’s in the best interest of anyone with a website to make their information easy to find online and because of that, businesses go to great lengths to rank high and increase their visibility on Google search pages.
Google’s always on the hunt to trip up websites that are trying to get away with shady SEO practices. They’ve recently made a few big announcements regarding some of these practices, one of them being doorway pages. There will now be a “ranking adjustment” when Google finds a doorway page.
What exactly is an unacceptable doorway?
There’s a lot of confusion on what Google will determine is an unacceptable doorway page and what is simply good optimization for your site. Google’s verbatim definition of doorway pages is as follows, “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.”
Fair enough. Nobody wants to encounter those things when searching.
Determine if your site will be penalized
Google announced last week via their Webmaster blog that they’re launching a new doorway page penalty. Google has laid out a series of questions for you to consider when determining if you’re using doorways that might be against Google’s policy:
- 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?
- Are these pages made solely for drawing affiliate traffic and sending users along without creating unique value in content or functionality?
- 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?
Some businesses with websites will read a few of those questions and think, oh noes! Will there be any cases where doorway pages are deemed acceptable? Are intermediate pages ever ok? Many questions remain unclear.
Good rule of thumb
If Google search engine users click and instead of getting the information they searched for, they get an obnoxious doorway page or they get sent to the same destination over and over because multiple pages have the same information in the search result, then it does indeed affect the user search experience. Google’s job is to give their users a good search experience and if doorways are getting in the way, then bye bye doorways. Websites are kind of at Google’s mercy in this regard.
A good rule of thumb is, if you’re creating pages for the actual search engine and not for your readership or audience, then you will get sniffed out. There’s a difference between using a doorway for a good reason and just trying to get more clicks. It’s uncertain exactly how strict Google will be with doorway penalties but this is something you will need to consider when optimizing your website.