User experience is still Google’s top priority when it comes to search, and this time, it is looking to improve the experience even further with a ranking adjustment for doorway pages.

Knocking the Doorway Pages

Doorway pages are those created to rank high for specific search queries. These are frowned upon by Google and by users because it can lead to multiple similar pages in the SERPs, where each click ends up taking users to essentially the same page.

While these pages help marketers make the most of search footprints for ranking purposes, the doorway pages also negatively affect user experience. Google makes it clear that they “have a long-standing view that doorway pages created solely for search engines can harm the quality of the user’s search experience.”

“To improve the quality of search results for our users, we’ll soon launch a ranking adjustment to better address these types of pages,” Google said in an announcement on the Webmaster Central Blog. They add that sites with large and well-established doorway campaigns may be heavily affected by this change.

Webmasters and marketers who need further clarification on doorway pages are encouraged to check Google’s Quality Guidelines.

Knocking on the Door: What to Ask

For those who are not sure if they have doorway pages, the announcement also listed some questions that define what these pages are.

– 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 present content that 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?

The problem with doorway pages boils down to bounce rates and user experience. As we discussed in a previous blog, minimizing bounce rate should be part of your goals to improve the user experience.

Knowing the factors behind bounce rates and user experience, as well as the impending ranking adjustment to crack down on doorway pages, will make it easier to explain to clients why they need a website revamp.

Keep checking back for more updates and helpful tips.

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Itamar has been on the net since the days it was still in black and white. Born and raised in Israel and now living in the Philippines, founder of SEOReseller.com and recently launched Siteoscope.com.