Google plans ranking algorithm change to penalize doorway pages

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

Doorway pages are used to help rank a website for a particular keyword or phrase that is not heavily mentioned on the site itself. These pages are specifically crafted for search results and are not usually linked to anywhere on the site itself.

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.

Although the technique was already considered spammy by some search engines, Google said today that it plans to tweak the algorithm further to penalize those pages in results:

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.

Google has also clarified its definition of a doorway page along with adding questions to help you understand if what you’re using is a categorized as one.

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Doorways are 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, where each result ends up taking the user to essentially the same destination. They can also lead users to intermediate pages that are not as useful as the final destination.

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Here are some examples of doorways:

Having multiple domain names or pages targeted at specific regions or cities that funnel users to one page
Pages generated to funnel visitors into the actual usable or relevant portion of your site(s)
Substantially similar pages that are closer to search results than a clearly defined, browseable hierarchy

Source: Doorway pages, TNW Blog