Google Doorway Page PenaltyGoogle announced that it’s making a change in the future to how it ranks ‘doorway pages’ and is encouraging users to stop utilizing them for SEO ahead of the changes.

In an effort to improve the overall quality of its search results, Google has announced that it will start to launch ranking adjustments for doorway pages in search results.

Doorway pages are pages that exist for no other reason than to rank in search results. Some websites may create multiple doorway pages all ranking for the same term, which do not offer any unique value on their own because of the fact that the subject matter is similar, and they ultimately drive visitors back to the same place.

It’s easy to confuse doorway pages with landing pages, but they’re not the same thing. A landing page provides useful information for the user who visited whereas a doorway page simply tricks the user into coming to the site by showing irrelevant information in search results.

For example, searchers might get a list of results that all go to the same site. So if a user clicks on one result, doesn’t like it, and then tries the next result in the search results page and is taken to that same site that they didn’t like, that’s a really frustrating experience.

Over time, we’ve seen sites try to 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 address these types of pages. Sites with large and well-established doorway campaigns might see a broad impact from this change.

To help webmasters better understand Google guidelines, I’ve added clarifying examples and freshened our definition of doorway pages in our Quality Guidelines.

Here are questions to ask of pages that could be seen as doorway pages:

1. 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?

2. Are the pages intended to rank on generic terms yet the content presented on the page is very specific?

3. 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?

4. Are these pages made solely for drawing affiliate traffic and sending users along without creating unique value in content or functionality?

5. 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?

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