Content Marketing Blog

Will your site be hit by Google’s doorway page update?

Google announced overnight that it would be making an adjustment to its search algorithm aimed at doorway pages.

These pages offer little real value to users and are usually created to win specific keyword searches before sending visitors off to a particular landing page or third party site.

“We have a long-standing view that doorway pages created solely for search engines can harm the quality of the user’s search experience,” Google said in a post on its Webmaster Central blog.

“We’ll soon launch a ranking adjustment to better address these types of pages. Sites with large and well-established doorway campaigns might see a broad impact from this change.”

Collateral damage

While the intended targets of this latest update are the cynical spammers looking to game the system and attract more visitors than their content deserves, there will be concern among all website owners about the real world impact of the change.[pullQuote position=”right”]Previous algorithm changes have hit some websites hard, even if they weren’t intentionally gaming the system[/pullQuote]

Previous Google updates have caused a fair bit of collateral damage. Panda, for example, sought to downgrade sites with lots of thin, duplicate content that were flooding search results with links to poor quality pages.

And while plenty of ugly-looking article directories and low quality content farms were hit by Panda, sites with less mischievous intentions were also caught in the fallout.

Recruitment companies publishing the same vacancies as their competitors or e-commerce sites that used generic product descriptions provided by manufacturers were hit overnight and saw their rankings and traffic drop dramatically.

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Google’s response was that Panda was mostly punishing the same pages as users were manually blocking or rejecting in trials. The company urged recruiters, e-commerce businesses and any other sites with duplicate content to rewrite it. When they offered a better user experience, their rankings would return.

Any site hit by a Google algorithm change will know that recovery can be a long process, particularly for smaller sites. That’s why many website owners will be bracing themselves.

More variety in search results

[pullQuote position=”right”]Smaller sites, with specific, high quality content, will hope the doorway update gives them a fighting chance against powerful competitors[/pullQuote]
One of the predicted outcomes from the doorway update is more variety in search results. One of Google’s big concerns ahead of the first Panda update was that users were becoming frustrated by the ability of single domains to dominate the first page of results for certain keywords.

Worried that this frustration would prompt users to look elsewhere to start their web journeys, Google has looked to ensure that very similar pages don’t find their way on to the same results page. That could be good news for smaller sites offering more specific content in niches dominated by big, powerful brands.

For Australia and New Zealand though, sites will likely need to wait a little longer to notice the change. Google usually rolls out algorithm updates in its larger markets first, so it may be some time before the adjustment filters down to this part of the world.