DoorWay Pages SEO Penalty – Return of Google Panda

Google just announced another big change in algorithm, and this time it’s targeting doorway pages. I will explain doorway pages in a bit, for now this news is important for all the bloggers, and affiliate marketers. This news sounded like a part of Panda, as this target pages with low-quality pages. I talked about low-quality pages, earlier here.

According to search engine perspective, a low-quality pages could be a page with less or irrelevant information, at the same time it could be archive pages, which are never the direct answer to a single query. To add more perspective to it, let’s look at the official announcement by Google webmaster team.

According to them:

Doorways are sites or pages created to rank highly for specific search queries. They are bad for users because they can lead to multiple similar pages in user search results, where each result ends up taking the user to essentially the same destination. They can also lead users to intermediate pages that are not as useful as the final destination.

  • Pages generated to funnel visitors into the actual usable or relevant portion of your site(s)

Above point explicitly says, that when a user query for a result, they land on actual result page, after clicking on a link from the resulting page of domain.

That is how tags, categories, and author archive works. Even in my case-study of recovering from Google Panda, I specifically mentioned tags, and categories are one primary culprit for Panda penalty. So if you are on WordPress, I would recommend you to no-index tags and categories. If you are on BlogSpot, ensure that your labels are not indexed in search engine.

Doorway Pages SEO could destroy your affiliate site:

Doorway Pages SEO
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Remember when Google rolled out exact match domain penalty, whose target was to penalise exact match domains, which have few or more low-quality content, and created solely for taking advantage of keyword in domain.

Similarly in Doorway pages SEO, webmaster team mentioned:

  • Are these pages made solely for drawing affiliate traffic and sending users along without creating unique value in content or functionality?

That means, this penalty will affect those micro-niche or affiliate sites, which are created for generating affiliate revenue, without providing any value to the reader. This is a good news for those affiliate marketers, who have affiliate site with high-quality, and original content. At the same time, this is bad for many affiliate webmasters who create crappy affiliate site, without adding any value to the reader.

If you have an affiliate site with few quality content, I recommend you to improve all your low or medium quality content, to make it high-quality, and useful for readers.

Apart from all above there are few more kind of pages which fall in the category of Doorway pages. You can see them in the below screenshot:

Doorways pages example
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Like last few algorithm roll-out, there are chances that this algorithm change might affect legit websites too. If that happens to you, don’t be too surprised, as it happened in the past with others. At that time, Just look at the factor which you can work to improve the quality of site, and wait for someone to share his experience of recovering from Doorway pages penalty.

It will also be interesting to see, if doorway pages algorithm will effect landing pages, which are created to capture email leads, and in turn send a free downloadable eBook. Because such pages, doesn’t directly answer the queries, and lead you to another action/page.

Here is an example of one of many such indexed pages from Hubspot, which is also one of my favorite resources for learning.

 

 

How to check your site for Doorway pages:

The easiest way to check your site Doorway pages from Google point of view is. Go to Google.com and type site:domain.com

Replace domain.com with your actual domain name. This will show all the indexed pages from your blog/website. Check if any of your archive pages (tags, categories, author), or search results pages are not indexed in search engine. If it is, you should no-index them.

Make sure to go to the last page of the search result, and click on omitted search results, and again check the search results till the last page.

According to Google, many unethical SEO companies create doorway pages on a client site, and load it with keywords and links. Here is exact words:

Another illicit practice is to place “doorway” pages loaded with keywords on the client’s site somewhere. The SEO promises this will make the page more relevant for more queries. This is inherently false since individual pages are rarely relevant for a wide range of keywords. More insidious, however, is that these doorway pages often contain hidden links to the SEO’s other clients as well. Such doorway pages drain away the link popularity of a site and route it to the SEO and its other clients, which may include sites with unsavory or illegal content.

There is no definite date for the launch of Doorway pages penalty, but I would suggest you to take action right away, and ensure your site doesn’t get penalize when such algorithm rolls out.

Useful stuff to read:

Do you think indexed email capture will be treated as Doorway pages from search engine point of view? According to you, What other factors a webmaster should consider keeping their website safe from Doorways page SEO penalty?

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Authored By
A Blogger, Author and a speaker! Harsh Agrawal is recognized as a leader in digital marketing and FinTech space. Fountainhead of ShoutMeLoud, and a Speaker at ASW, Hero Mindmine, Inorbit, IBM, India blockchain summit. Also, an award-winning blogger.

15 thoughts on “DoorWay Pages SEO Penalty – Return of Google Panda”

  1. Prabhudatta Sahoo

    Thank you very much for Sharing this Harsh, one of my blogger friend here mentioned that he was getting low traffic than usual since couple of days and one of the reasons I mentioned that he was indexing his tags and categories as well. He said these does not matter even after I reminded him not to he kept doing so and seems like he was affected by this change of Google algorithm. Basically the bottom line is that when your article truely is original and not duplicated you will get good ranking. Thanks again for this piece of information Harsh. I am sure it will help bloggers who still are under the assumption that if they keep on indexing one thing or another more than one time the ranking will be better, which is not true.

  2. Great write up Harsh. I never index my landing pages which is a mistake I see a lot of people making. Landing pages should be all about CRO, great CTAs, and getting your message across, not trying to rank in SERPs. If it doesn’t have great content, you shouldn’t index it. That Hubspot page is a landing page and only that in my opinion. It shouldn’t be indexed otherwise your just asking for trouble. Eespecially because people tend to copy paste a lot on their landing pages. It’s hard to tell though at this point exactly what Google will consider a doorway page. I guess we will see 🙂

    1. @Brian
      It will be interesting to see what all kind of pages, and sites will be impacted by this algorithm. I believe this also will give a great push to content marketing, as that would be the almost only way left to get ranking in SERPs. (Since doorway pages are out).

  3. Hey Harsh thanks for this nice info. This makes some sense what is doorway pages and I also checked whether my blog has doorway pages with your method. I am pretty have that I don’t have these type doorway pages. Thanks again.

  4. Hi

    yes i seen some changes with my site two days back i never thought that was new update of Google when i got email from Shoutmeloud now i Relised that its changing in Google i had made some changes with my categories and now i am trying to index them

  5. Thanks Harsh Sir for the update.

    I see many SEO executives make such pages to target some sort of keywords. All may be penalized by next update of Google.

    What kind of pages we(blogger) should create?

  6. Thanks for this informative post.Could we save ourselves upto some extent by disallowing the category pages in robots.txt.

    1. @Neelanshi
      You should not add /category/ in your robots.txt, as it would prevent crawling of the pages, and it would hurt deep-indexing of your website. You should add no-index tag using any SEO plugin. If you are using SEO by Yoast plugin, you can refer to this guide: https://www.shoutmeloud.com/how-to-set-up-yoast-wordpress-seo-plugin-configuration.html

      Once you have no indexed your archive, go to Google webmaster tool, use URL removal tool, and add yourdomain.com/category/ and from drop-down select folder. This will remove all category links from web-index within 24 hours.

  7. This seems to be a big hit for guys in forums like Black Hat world where you can find tons of “micro niche guys”. There were lot of tutorials and techniques about tiered link building for such types of sites. What is a big surprise for me is that Google did this algo change several years after the first panda release.
    I assumed the first algo change (years ago) will target these one-page low quality sites. Instead Google targeted content farms first.
    I wonder if this algo change will affect also tiered link building itself.

  8. Hi Harsh,

    As you mention above that (tags, categories, author) are the part of doorway pages. Are you sure because i have website (Real Estate) and i attached a WordPress Blog. Where i use tags So i think its not the part of Doorway pages.

  9. Thanks for the in time information Harsh.

    I no-indexed ‘tags’, ‘author’, ‘archive pages’ when I started my blog last year but kept the ‘category’ taxanomy to be indexed. After reading your post, I just now added ‘category’ to the no-index list.

  10. Ahmad Fahrurroji

    Hi Harsh,
    This is such a great information for me, I just know from you about no-index tags and categories that used in WordPress site. But, I still look many people out there use indexing of tags and categories.

  11. What are the chances it will target sites which auto generate location plus service pages with dup. content on maybe 500,000 pages. Like Homeadvisor, angieslist, yelp, ect. Those sites are the biggest offenders of spam imo.

  12. What do you think about translated blog pages/post appearing on Google SE
    for e.g. I used a plugin transposh language translation plug initially the traffic gone up but now its decrease

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