Google is continuing to work on more ways to improve the search experience, this time by using an improved algorithm for ranking doorway pages.
Doorway pages are collections of similar pages which all point to the same destination. These pages are used by online marketers to increase their search footprint. The problem with doorway pages is that they can detract from the end user experience, because users may be presented with multiple results that all point to the same end page.
Google recently issued a statement saying that they plan to launch a ranking adjustment that will address this problem. They explained that the change could heavily influence sites that have extensive doorway campaigns.
A Warning for Webmasters
Google recommends that if your site could be considered to have doorway pages, you consider the following, and think about whether you could lose out after the update:
- Is the intention of your page to optimise for search engines and funnel prospective visitors to the actual usable part of your website, or is the page really an important part of the user experience?
- Have you created the page to help your site rank on generic terms, when the content that is being presented is very specific?
- Do the pages duplicate locations, products or other terms that already exist elsewhere on the website, with the intention of capturing more search users?
- Are the pages used purely to draw affiliate traffic, without adding any unique content, functionality or value to your website?
- Are these pages an island that cannot be reached, or that would be difficult to reach, from other parts of your website? If links to the pages do exist, were those links created for users, or just for the search engines?
Focusing on Content
Doorway pages were an incredibly effective marketing tool during the early days of search engines, but things have changed a lot since then. Today, the benefits of doorway pages are marginal compared to the benefits of providing high quality content and a good user experience, and Google wants to widen the gap still further.
If you want to make sure that your website stays near the top of the SERPs, the most important things to focus on this year are mobile friendliness and providing your users with a smooth, content rich and high value experience. The era of tricks and quick fixes is over.