A few days ago Search Engine Roundtable announced that Google did a silent algorithm update targeting doorway pages. Google decided to sweep their search results and remove any keyword-targeted, or city targeted microsites and landing pages that were ranking high and added no value to the end user.
First, let’s define what a doorway page really is. In Google’s Quality Guidelines, it states that these pages or websites are created solely to rank for specific keyword phrases and capture visitors with generic phrases. Examples of doorway pages may include:
- Multiple keyword or city-focused domain names that funnel users to different pages or websites.
- Dedicated landing pages on the site with sole purpose of capturing users with a target keyword phrase or city that may funnel them to another page on the site.
How to Identify These Landing Pages and Microsites
In order to prevent your website from being penalized by Google or losing a massive amount of organic traffic, you have to make sure these websites and landing pages add value to the end user. Google’s primary goal is to create a better user experience for their users, and when your website is trying manipulate that experience for their customers, they’re going to penalize you.
If you have multiple zip code pages, city pages, or broad keyword pages on your site that contain duplicate or thin content, chances are these aren’t providing a valuable experience to your users. Ask yourself this: Is this page or website valuable because my users need this information or is it only created to rank in the search results? Is the landing page only created to focus on keyword strategy or does the user need to know this information to purchase my product or service? You can easily tell if these pages or websites are valuable or if they are manipulative, grey-hat SEO techniques.
Why You Should Get Rid of Thin Content Immediately
- This technique is outdated. Google is constantly updating their algorithms to target websites that are “trying to get away with something”, so if it’s working now, don’t expect that last much longer.
- If the pages do start to rank it is only going to cause Google to manually review your site.. When Google does a manual review of your site and finds thin content pages, don’t be surprised when they penalize you and you have to remove them anyways.
- City or keyword stuffed domain microsites are one of the most obvious grey-hat link building tactic. Remember that huge update that happened a couple years ago called Penguin? Your site will immediately be banned when Google sees this and could be banned from their index indefinitely. This isn’t a matter of if, but when.
- This could cause you to lose leads. Since these pages and websites have no value to the user experience, your visitors may just click off the page or website immediately. Especially if it looks spammy and the content isn’t very good with no call to action. You will definitely lose leads this way.
- These websites and landing pages can cause duplicate content. When you’re writing about the same service or product across 30 pages or multiple sites, it can be difficult to not accidentally write the same exact thing. A lot of times these pages are just duplicated with the SEO swapped out per page, but the body of the content is exactly the same. Again, this is going to cause Google to manually review your website and you could lose all of that organic traffic you were so excited about getting.
When your primary intent is to manipulate Google using thin content with these spammy websites and landing pages, there is no doubt it will catch up with you eventually. Don’t think you’re smarter than Google because you thought you won with a high ranking landing page, this is only going to cause Google to look at your site manually if it passed the algorithm update.
Our advice to business owners and other SEO companies is to always think about the user, just like Google is. You can’t go wrong when you are constantly thinking about user experience rather than how you can manipulate search engines into ranking your pages higher. SEO is meant to be a long-term investment, not a short-term win. Any short-term win will result in a penalty that costs more to fix than just investing in your website by doing things the right way the FIRST time.
Was your website negatively impacted by this algorithm update? We can help. Just give us a call. Experts are standing by: 800-871-4130