Google’s Webspam Team made an announcement earlier this week about doorway pages. While doorway pages has been against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines for a long time, the latest update points to one specific issue which could affect a lot of large sites, particularly ecommerce sites and franchise chains. It should be noted that almost in all cases, these types of announcements are made before a major algorithm update, I believe an update is imminent.

Google recommends that we should ask ourselves the following questions to ascertain where a page is a doorway page or not:
  • 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?

As you can see above, the third bullet point refers to locations and products. The truth is that a number of webmasters are using clever aggregation methods to maximize their search footprint. An example case is the use of index-able auto-generated landing pages based on ‘search terms’. If you are following Ebay closely, you will note that they are using noindex on their search pages with a self canonical.

In short, if you are trying to capture more traffic through search results pages or are using similar tactics in local search then you should revise those before Google’s next algorithm update.