Google announced they have updated their ranking algorithm to detect a larger and better set of doorway pages and thus wipe them out of the search results, as to improve search quality within Google’s search results.
Brian White from Google’s search quality team said:
Over time, we’ve seen sites try to maximize their “search footprint” without adding clear, unique value. These doorway campaigns manifest themselves as pages on a site, as a number of domains, or a combination thereof. To improve the quality of search results for our users, 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.
Truth is, I have not heard many complaints about doorway pages ranking well in Google. But I guess they were for Google to improve their algorithm for that.
With that, Google quietly updated their doorway pages guidelines page. Now it read:
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.
Here are some examples of doorways:
Having multiple domain names or pages targeted at specific regions or cities that funnel users to one page
Pages generated to funnel visitors into the actual usable or relevant portion of your site(s)
Substantially similar pages that are closer to search results than a clearly defined, browseable hierarchy
The previous day it read:
Doorway pages are typically large sets of poor-quality pages where each page is optimized for a specific keyword or phrase. In many cases, doorway pages are written to rank for a particular phrase and then funnel users to a single destination. Whether deployed across many domains or established within one domain, doorway pages tend to frustrate users.
Therefore, Google frowns on practices that are designed to manipulate search engines and deceive users by directing them to sites other than the one they selected, and that provide content solely for the benefit of search engines. Google may take action on doorway sites and other sites making use of these deceptive practices, including removing these sites from Google’s index.
Some examples of doorways include:
Having multiple domain names targeted at specific regions or cities that funnel users to one page
Templated pages made solely for affiliate linking
Multiple pages on your site with similar content designed to rank for specific queries like city or state names
It seems Google’s definition has shrunk a bit around this.
So how do you know if your pages are at risk? Google said ask yourself these questions:
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 of now, I have yet to see mass scale complaints about sites that have doorway pages no longer ranking too well. This includes my monitoring of more “black hat” forums and social discussions. I’ll keep an eye out.
Forum discussion at Twitter & Google+ & Black Hat Forums.