Are Location Doorway Pages For Businesses Acceptable?
The doorway page topic is close to the heart of most SEO companies that spam their services under each town and country. Lets first have a closer look at Google’s SEO Guidelines.
On many occasions, they have warned Webmasters not to use single word variations in titles and have warned about internal page copy that adds little or no value to the page.
The main doorway culprits are SEO services, affiliate sites and directories that optimize for a wide range of locations using singlw word variations or the links aren’t accessible via the websites internal navigation (the links are only accessible via a hidden sitemap)
Just recently Google had the following to say just prior to the release of the Doorway Page Algorithm.
Over time, we’ve seen sites try 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 these types of pages. Sites with large and well-established doorway campaigns might see a broad impact from this change.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself 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 that already exist on the site for the purpose of capturing more search traffic?
Are Doorway Pages AllowedDoorway pages are allowed if the business has branches in various locations. For instance, they can map each location in a unique folder, which would then host the relevant pages for that specific location. Coincidentally, Google penalizes there own departments when they use illicit means of trying to game the search results. Here is an interesting article on Search Engine Land about the Google team been penalized for sneaky moves. 5 times Google penalize itself for breaking its own SEO rules Anyway, back to the topic at hand. This is what Google says about location mapping.
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.
Let’s sum it up. If a business operates or is based in various locations it’s OK to create doorway pages, that’s if the content is unique to the location and is hosted on a unique URL.
So hopefully in the not so far future we will see a noticeable change in the search results.
SEO Services Illicit Means Of Spamming Doorway PagesSEO services in South Africa and other countries try jealously, desperately and insidiously to spam all locations for traffic.
The methods they use are quite simple, its single word variations. They create a template page and simply change the towns name. And as per date, their methods are still ranking even after the last doorway page algorithm.
I randomly picked out one of the “top” SEO service in South Africa that uses this method to game the search results under ALL towns in South Africa (they usually appear anchored at number one)
The first sign of doorways pages can be picked up by doing a site: search, which will bring up all pages that have been crawled. In this instance the SEO company had 3870 pages and only a hand fill were accessible via the sites internal navigation.
I did a site: search including /sitemaps and came across a regional sitemap with links to each and every town in South Africa
So it seems doorway pages still work. Google’s doorway page algorithm still has a far way to go before it can be classified as being a success.
Hidden Doorway Links
I’ve had quite a few clients contact me asking me why there search snippets contain Vietnamese spam.
The sites had been hacked and when you view the source code the hacker had used position: absolute; top: -151px, which pushed the spam links above the page content making them invisible to the human eye.
Hacks are both Joomla WordPress based. The one websites server logs showed the Joomla hack (last modified) happened in January 2014. The website itself was ranking just fine (no warnings, filters or penalties) And when doing a site search I come across thousands of other sites that were hacked in the same fashion, but yet Googles doorway algorithms had not detected the “above the fold” hack which happened quite a few years back.