Search engines are constantly updating their algorithms to make sure that users find answers to their queries as quickly and easily as possible. Google specifically wants to provide the best possible experience to their users, and brands want this too. From Google’s Pigeon last summer to last month’s mobile ranking signals, the search giant has made strides to ensure that searchers are in fact finding value in their search results. Now, two months after Google’s update to doorway pages, local marketers are still trying to understand the relevance of these new guidelines.
What is a “Doorway Page”?
Simply put, a “doorway page” is a site or page specifically created to rank highly for particular keywords on search engine results pages (SERPs). Most commonly, you can see this happen with websites ranking for city names and offering no value past this. This is frustrating users because doorways take users to useless, valueless or irrelevant intermediate destinations.
Doorway pages can be set up in a few ways. There can be multiple domain names or pages targeted at specific regions or cities to loop users to the same page. There can also be pages to funnel users into specific, ‘relevant’ portions of a site. Or, there can be similar pages that only identify with SERPs and have a difficult-to-navigate site hierarchy.
Google Shuts the Door on Doorway Pages
Regardless of the type of doorway page a user encounters, they can ruin the user’s search experience. With the examples above in mind, Google has taken some steps to ensure that these pages are penalized.
Back in March, Google launched a ranking adjustment to better address doorway pages in the first place. Sites that were not adding distinctly valuable and relevant content were targeted with this ranking adjustment. Google also included "avoid doorway pages" as an official Google webmaster guideline. With these two changes in place, marketers who knowingly established these irrelevant properties would have to restrategize using these key questions:
Is the purpose to optimize for search engines and funnel visitors into the actual usable or relevant portion of your site?
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?
Two months later, we are still seeing local marketers scratching their head at this update. But these adjustments shouldn’t have been news for these brand managers. Google simply injected them as a dose of reality for marketers taking shortcuts to instead focus on the end-all and be-all: the user’s local experience.
Brands Need to Open the Door to Local Pages
If you’re an enterprise brand marketer trying to understand how this update fits into the context of your local presence, the answer is that your local pages will help you generate value. In marketing, your local pages and listings content will determine your relevance to users. These are concrete destinations where users can find answers to their questions quickly and effectively. If your brand is or was using doorway pages to simply rank, it's time to move past shortcuts of duplicating content and re-routing users and establish clear ways, mobile-optimized ways to providing that value to nearby searchers.
As we have mentioned, every web property that you claim and control serves as a touchpoint for you to create positive moments with users. Unlike rankable keywords, your content (and markup), calls to action and value are what will bring users from an online search to an in-store visit and purchase. Think local flavor. Think individuality. Think about how to consistently benchmark and provide searchers with information that they expect to see.
There is only one surefire way to ensure your brand’s website isn’t negatively impacted with the constant search ranking algorithms updates, and that is by providing valuable content. While optimizing your content for search engine love is important, nothing is as effective as receiving love back from your searchers. Compared to brands that simply duplicate their local page content, brands that have taken the time to optimize each local page with location specific information have nothing to fear.
Stay ahead of competitors by ensuring your brand is receiving the it deserves love from searchers with our simple 3-step formula.