Two months ago, while everyone was distracted by the run-up to Mobilegeddon, Google announced that they would be updating their definition of “doorway pages”, and adjusting their algorithm appropriately. They also published updated guidelines for SEO professionals and webmasters to follow. We’ve recently begun to see search results affected in a way that suggests this update has been implemented.
Doorway pages are pages that are designed to appear valuable to Google’s algorithm, but in truth offer little value to a user. Low-effort pages that target geographical areas in order to capture traffic for local businesses are perhaps the most infamous version of the doorway page. Oftentimes these pages are not connected to the main website via internal links, and so are unreachable by navigating users. Some offer no clear connection to the website’s subject, and so no clear value to the user who is interested in learning more about a topic. They are designed only to come up on Google’s SERPs due to their geographical relevance.
Brian White of Google’s Search Quality team announced in March that Google would be updating their definition of doorway pages to include a stricter definition of the clear and distinct value a page must offer a user in order to be included in SERPs. We’ve recently seen sites with known doorway campaigns fluctuate and drop in their SERP rankings.
It is highly advisable for webmasters and SEO professionals to consult Google’s quality guidelines with respect to doorway pages and review any pages that might violate the guidelines. Appropriate action may include deleting the pages altogether. However, a better option is to revise the pages to adhere to Google’s quality guidelines– offer clear and distinct value to the user. Also be sure that these pages are reachable by internal links, so that a visitor can get to them without knowing the URL or relying on a search results page. A page existing as a disconnected “island” is considered a doorway page, per Google.