This update was announced on March 16th 2015 although its accurate launch date was never stated.
The update’s purpose is to penalize websites that contain a large amount of doorway pages. Obvious examples being websites that are attempting to rank for a large amount of local expressions (“plumbers in Edinburgh”, “plumbers in Glasgow” etc., a large amount of pages like these on the same website).
Google provided several guiding questions to help determine whether your site could be affected by the update:
- 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?
- Are the pages intended to rank on generic terms yet the content presented on the page is very specific?
- 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?
- 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?
This update particularly impacts local activity based websites that don’t have any branches that correlate with the various advertised locations, and use doorway pages to attract relevant traffic from search engines.
How can we deal with this update as website owners?
First off, let us define the problem for a person who used doorway pages: (The following does not apply to spammers, but legitimate businesses that used doorway pages).
- Our service is mundane and we have no real content to publish.
- We have a single physical branch (but we’re capable of providing services to other locations).
We don’t have much to say about every area we provide service to (except that we provide service to that area).
How do we do it properly? With genuine, unique content that matches the phrases we wish to promote. Here are a few ideas:
Work we performed in that location:
- Costumer testimonials.
- A simple case study of a job we did in that city.
- Photographs of work we did in that city.
The business and the city:
- Write about what we liked about working in that city.
- Write about our employees that come from that city.
- In cases where this applies – write about a certain law or laws affecting our work in a certain location.
- For service providers that are affected by the weather – a widget indicating the current weather for that area.
- A promotional coupon code for people in that area.
There are plenty more ideas. This update can easily be handled with some creative thinking about relevant content.