Google Doorway Page Update: The Death of Service Area Local Landing Pages?

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Recently the Google Search Quality Team made an update to their view of “Doorway Pages”. This change could have a significant impact on businesses that provide webpages with local content for multiple locations such as service area businesses. Read on to find out if your local web content will be viewed as undesirable doorway pages or if you pass the Google test….

First of all, let’s clarify what Google classifies as a “Doorway Page”. Google defines doorway pages as follows:

“Sites or pages created to rank highly for specific search queries. They are bad for users because they can lead to multiple similar pages in user search results.”

Do your local pages pass the Doorway test?

doorway

At first glance this sounds like it could be the end of Local Business Landing pages (i.e. having multiple, separate landing pages set-up to drive traffic for different city / service areas). Businesses such as Plumbers or Lawn Care providers and multi-location businesses in general often rely on these types of webpages.

Before local marketers jump out a window, let’s further explore if these pages do go against Google terms!   Googles gives us a list of questions to determine if our Local Landing Pages can be seen as a doorway page. Let’s examine these.

  • Q1. “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?”
    • As long as your local landing pages are creating in a non-spammy way with useful and unique content, this should be a pass. Important business information must be on the page. The page must have more value than just driving traffic.
  • Q2. “Are the pages intended to rank on generic terms yet the content presented on the page is very specific?”
    • If your local landing page is trying to rank for a term such as Denver plumbers instead of plumbing in general, then you pass this test.
  • Q3. “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?”
    • This one gets tricky but as long as your content is truly original and unique (not just changing the city name across multiple pages with duplicate content) then you pass this test.
  • Q4. “Are these pages made solely for drawing affiliate traffic and sending users along without creating unique value in content or functionality?”
    • Most local businesses do not use affiliate marketing and pass this test right off the bat.
  • Q5. “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?”
    • As long as your local landing pages can be found from your site navigation or through internal linking, you pass this test.

Generally speaking, if your business is providing local pages that offer benefit to the user, a clear purpose, and unique and localized content in a non-spammy way — you will not be affected by the most recent update. If you still have questions content SmartSearch for a local search audit for your service area or multi-location business.

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