Please Do Not Slam The Door

Today Google published “An update on doorway pages”. The post implies that Google will soon be updating its algorithm to weed out offending doorway pages from the SERPs:

Sites with large and well-established doorway campaigns might see a broad impact from this change.

While sites with spammy set ups such as multiple exact match domains that link to the same landing page are likely the targets (get ready for more Lawyer leads SEOs!), Google’s well-intended algorithm updates often go too far so brace yourselves for collateral damage, even if you think you have a good set up. Some potential issues:

  • Local directory sites with geo-SERPs that have the same content. For example, when one gas station serves two rural towns a site will have two pages – Gas Stations in City A & Gas Stations in City B – that have substantially the same content and lead to the same gas station profile. If these get hit, these sites will likely have to choose to only display results that are actually in the searched geo, which could have huge implications as to how data is displayed across the entire site.
  • Service area pages that don’t have unique content. We have long seen issues with sites that use cookie cutter text to create multiple service area pages. While plenty of sites still get by with it, I imagine this algorithm could finally snuff out this tactic. Get your content writers ready.
  • Franchise businesses – they have all of these issues in spades – particularly those who have microsites for every location. While cookie-cutter implementations make sense to easily create a lot of local sites, it’s possible Google will throw these local babies out with the bathwater.

I don’t want to be too alarmist. This update may be no big deal, but when I see Google use the phrase “broad impact”, I tend to get a bit paranoid.

And then there’s this:

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.

Might be a good time to short Yelp:

Pleasanton Nail Salons Yelp

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13 Response Comments

  • Bernadette Coleman  March 16, 2015 at 11:27 am

    Say good by to duplicate city pages…What are plumbers to do now? Thanks Andrew for the heads up!

  • Andrew Shotland  March 16, 2015 at 11:34 am

    Plumbers, lawyers, dentists, plastic surgeons, pretty much everybody

  • Jim Rudnick  March 16, 2015 at 11:56 am

    re: Might be a good time to short Yelp — I’d agree wholeheartedly, Andrew….what a waste of ranking space, eh!

  • Dave Eddy  March 16, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    Hopefully this update doesn’t hurt the poor old Service Area Businesses even more. Plumbers, HVAC, Pest Control etc.

  • Lee Johnson  March 17, 2015 at 2:39 am

    This will be an interesting update. Sad for all the small businesses who have GEO pages in the site as they will be effected the most. Yelp will need to make many changes to its pages !!! Time to get to work Yelp !!!!

  • James  March 17, 2015 at 7:14 am

    Have a feeling this will have a big impact on local search.

  • Blake Denman  March 17, 2015 at 11:53 am

    Why did you use the example of nail salons in Pleasanton?

    Are we seeing a different side to you? =P

  • Campbell McArthur  March 17, 2015 at 11:59 am

    This is just another instance of the 4th Reich that Google has established where Small Local Businesses will get screwed hard despite the fact that they do nothing but white hat SEO and DO Provide OnSite services to neigboring towns outside of the business location. Naturally we cannot forget that the CORPORATE GIANTS that Line GOOGLE’S Pockets will of course be allowed to operate with complete impunity! Doesn’t anyone else see that GOOGLE has taken over the Internet as a DICTATOR that super imposses what you CAN or CANNOT do on the Internet and the fact that for the past 6 years now they are pushing the internet into what will ultimately be a “2 Classification System” of Masters and Slaves????

  • Web South  March 17, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    This is going to huge with local service based businesses. First the mobile readiness algo and now this. Hopefully this only effects mass produced pages.

  • Richard Curran  March 18, 2015 at 9:57 am

    This has potential to be a big one for me, I had thought that Google would have done this about a year or two ago as they’ve been struggling to get a grips with local stuff for a while now.

  • Garry Davis  March 19, 2015 at 2:40 am

    It will be interesting to see the fall out in the US to get an idea of the impact in the UK. The Pigeon update in the UK has helped push down a number of sites using these techniques in the UK market. You however only need to search for “areas we cover” to find many a doorway page.

  • Sam Gipson  March 19, 2015 at 5:20 am

    To be fair, this update has been a long time coming. Those small/large businesses that have used a cookie cutter approach…the writing was on the wall with the Panda update. This is the next logical step in improving results.

  • Matt Holovach  March 22, 2015 at 5:55 am

    I would think this could be a huge opportunity for Design and SEO companies. Dealers, Franchisors, and Licensor companies use micro-sites.

    This is a benefit that they sell to dealer, franchisee, or licensees. I guess that benefit won’t be as beneficial moving forward.