Latest posts by Winston Ong (see all)
- Common form engagement tracking techniques with custom variables in Google Tag Manager - December 5, 2018
- What exactly is a doorway page anyway? - November 30, 2018
- Are you completely misreading time on site in Google Analytics? - July 11, 2016
Spam? An SEO landing page? A ‘squeeze’ page? When it comes to inner pages that act as entryways into your site from search results, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where legitmate and malicious start and end.
Google provides a short and broadly defined explanation of doorway pages in its webmaster support guidelines:
It seems straightforward, but where does the line between ‘doorway page’ (bad) and ‘relevant landing page’ (good) start and end?
The 3 bullet point examples seem to create more confusion than clarity. Let’s drill down:
- “Multiple pages … targeted at specific regions or cities that funnel users to one page”
Location based SEO usually involves some form of region relevant keyword targeting.
“service” in “X city” or “X surbub + keyword”
Sydney pet stores
East Melbourne dentists
The nature of user keyword searches is people often query for a specific suburb at a hyper local level. Businesses however service a large area within a city. The location relevant landing page is then created to capture the hyperlocal search as it creates a level of online relevance that makes sense for the user and the search engine, even though it is built solely for the purpose of ranking for the search query.
There is little practical evidence Google is actively punishing these page types as they are extremely common and continue to rank highly.
Further, does this definition include location pages in directories?
2. Pages generated to funnel visitors into the actual usable or relevant portion of your site(s)
This is so broadly defined, that on its face describes any type of SEO landing page.
This could also easily describe a paid search landing page which front loads before a registration flow, or hosts the call to action to access tools or an app.
3. Substantially similar pages that are closer to search results than a clearly defined, browseable hierarchy
This final example raises more questions than it answers.
Is it implying that ‘search result’ type URLs are a form of page that Google does not consider high quality? Online directories have always relied heavily on SEO for organic traffic, and the key entry point has always been generated search results.
Where directories have URL structures or generate pages in ways that are otherwise difficult for search engines to properly index, why is independantly generating a substantially similar page in an easy to index format bad?
Google’s current quality guidelines on doorway pages provide little to no clarity to distinguish between poor website practices, and legitimate landing page design and function. It seems that the intent of the doorway page guideline is actually trying to capture practices more accurately associated with guidelines such as: