Are Location Doorway Pages For Businesses Acceptable
The doorway page topic, which 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 original page, and have emphasized you need to add value, specifically to location pages.
The main doorway culprits are SEO services, directories and PPC (Adwords) campaigns that optimize for specific queries but the links aren’t accessible via internal navigation, only accessible via the sitemap. That by itself will raise a red flag.
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?
Google Themselves Spam The Web With Doorway Pages!!?
Yip, that’s Google for you, spamming desperately for front page exposure, going against everything they preach, specifically one-word variation in titles.
That said and done, doorway pages are allowed if the business has branches in various cities. In an instant, like this, you would need to add each location to a unique URL, as they have. Take note they have mapped each location in a unique folder, which would then host the relevant pages and content of that specific location.
Coincidentally, they seemed to have amended the search results under the phrase “get your business online”, and have on many occasions penalized themselves when various department try to spam the search results for the front page.
Yes you read correct, Google penalizes there various departments when they use illicit means of trying to game the search results (so much for the ‘don’t be evil’ mantra they so solemnly swear by) Here is an interesting article I came across on Search Engine Land about the ‘don’t do evil’ Google team that has been penalized for sneaky moves.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand. This is what Google says about location mapping, which in essence, is the same as doorway pages.
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.
They neglected to mention if the business is located in one location but services other locations. I assume it would work on the same principles.
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 near, and so far future we will see a noticeable change in the search results.
SEO Services Illicit Means Of Spamming Doorway Pages
SEO services in South Africa and other countries try jealously, desperately and insidiously to spam all locations for traffic and are too lazy to write there own articles.
The method they use is 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 use 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 indexed. In this instance the SEO company had 3870 pages indexed and only a hand fill was accessible via the sites internal navigation.
I did a site: search including /sitemaps and as suspected I came across a regional sitemap with links to each and every town in South Africa (below above)
Only on closer investigation did I notice a small link that was found on an internal page (below image)
So it seems doorway pages still work. Google’s doorway page algorithm still has a far way to go before they classify it as being a success. At this moment in time, it’s a dead failure and even passes PageRank on hidden links.
Hidden Doorway Links That Pass PageRank
This example will prove Googles algorithm has been a total failure. I’ve had two clients contact me asking why the cache and text versions indexed by Google are showing Vietnamese spam above there page content (as below image)
It didn’t take me long to figure the sites have been hacked and when you view the source code the hacker had used position: absolute; top: -151px, which pushes the spam links above the page content making them invisible to the human eye, that’s the reason for the links covering Google’s cached text.
Now it gets interesting. I located both hacks, The one was Joomla based and the other WordPress. The server logs showed the Joomla hack (last modified) happened in January 2014. Both sites were ranking just fine, no filters or penalties. And when doing a site search I come across thousands of other sites that are hacked in the same fashion, but yet their algorithms had not detected the “above the fold” hack which happened one and a half years ago.
Conclusion: Google Doorway Page Algorithm
Short and sweet, it doesn’t work. And their method of picking up hacked pages is even worst.