If you run a large company, you may be tempted to create a separate landing page for each locality that your business operates in. This seems like a great idea for SEO purposes. Users looking for your product or service alongside their location are likely to find the page. Creating a landing page for each locality will allow you to have multiple pages on your site that are all designed to rank highly for your chosen keywords also known as ‘doorway pages’.

There is a problem with this approach though. Many not-so-honest actors have used this strategy as a way to cheat their way to the top of search results. Google, and other search engine companies, have taken note of this behavior and are now actively punishing sites that use these so-called ‘doorway pages’ with lower search ranking.

What are Doorway Pages?

Knowing that you can be punished for using doorway pages doesn’t help a whole lot if you don’t know what they are. Do any of your existing landing pages fall under the category? Are you already killing your search results and not even knowing it? Let’s take a look at what a doorway page is so you can determine if you are guilty of using them.

A doorway page, when used with less than honorable intent, is designed for the express purpose of ranking for as many keywords as possible while providing very little relevant information to the users who end up on the page. The pages act as funnels into the website without providing any useful content on their own.

Even when your intent isn’t to cheat the search engine algorithms, such as a landing page for each locality, the negative impacts of doorway pages on search results can still manifest themselves. Combine that with the fact that an algorithm cannot judge your intent and it’s easy to see why Google and other search engines are cracking down on anything that could be considered a doorway page.

Why are Doorway Pages Bad?

Search engine companies dislike doorway pages for a number of reasons. The worst offending doorway pages will send people to a page that has little or nothing to do with what the person was searching for. Since these pages were designed just to stuff keywords, the actual content isn’t a concern. When users of a search engine don’t find what they were looking for, it reflects poorly on the search engine.

Less shady doorway pages still have two important negative side effects for users. Imagine you have several landing pages so that each locality can have their own. When the user goes to the site, they are likely not going to get the information that they want. They will have to move from the doorway page into the website proper in order to get relevant information. This problem is where doorway pages get their name.

Another major problem with these types of pages is that they all take up space in the search results. Imagine you are searching for something and the entire first page of results takes you to identical pages on the same website. This is far less than an ideal scenario from the standpoint of an internet searcher. Again, search engine companies do not want their service being associated with such a poor user experience.

Google’s Crackdown on Doorway Pages

Google began increasing its crackdown on doorway pages back in 2015. This blog post gives some insight into their thought process for the crackdown and how they define a doorway page. We’ll talk a little bit more about what Google and other search engines view as a doorway page in the next section. For now, the takeaway is that this is a problem that search engine companies are vocal and serious about combatting and not something that you ignore as hearsay or speculation if you want to maximize your search results.

Doorway Pages vs Landing Pages

The description of doorway pages might sound a lot like not just local landing pages, but all landing pages. Certainly, Google isn’t saying that you have to get rid of landing pages entirely. There are some key differences between a normal landing page, even a few of them used for A/B testing, and the types of things that Google will consider a doorway page. Their blog post gives us some clues:

  1. “Is the purpose to optimize for search engines and funnel visitors into the actual usable or relevant portion of your site?” A proper landing page will be the start of the user’s journey on your site as it will contain links and information that are specifically relevant to their search and be integral to the site itself. Having many copies of the same exact content with only the city name changed does not serve this same purpose.
  2. “Do these pages exist as an “island?” Are they difficult or impossible to navigate to from other parts of your site?” A proper landing page will often function as the first page a visitor gets to when they click on other areas of the site. This is less likely to be the case if every local area gets its own page.
  3. The final item we’ll mention specifically lays out the difference between local landing pages and traditional landing pages, “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?”

Conclusion

It can be hard to keep track of all of the guidelines that are in place for effective search engine optimization. Furthermore, search engine companies are continuously refining their rules, so the list of things to keep track of is often a moving target. Thankfully, there’s a way to provide location information on your website that will ensure that you are always compliant with the latest search engine algorithm best-practices.

By using a professional service for store location SEO services, you can let somebody else worry about the details of keeping your website ranked highly and focus your time on converting and satisfying the customer base that those search engine results provide you. Metalocator would love to be the ones to provide that service to you, so contact us today to see how we can help.