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The world of search marketing has been abuzz this week as Google announced new rules about search ranking penalties for “doorway” pages. These doorway pages are considered by Google to be low-quality websites designed to funnel traffic to another website.
In a Webmaster Central Blog post from March 16, Google explained that these changes were designed to reduce frustration for search users who find themselves running into redundant search results pages.
Although Google has not shared any specific information about when the update will roll out, they did state that companies with “well-established doorway page campaigns” may see “broad changes.”
What does this mean for inbound marketers? It’s still too early to tell exactly, but the odds are good that companies who use these low-value doorway pages simply to rank highly on search engines may be in for a rude awakening.
However, this algorithm change also presents a great opportunity for inbound marketers to gain position in the search rankings. As doorway pages are penalised, marketers that focus on the core tenets of proper search engine optimisation may see their efforts rewarded more in the coming months.
With this in mind, here are some of the things to keep in mind to ensure that these new Google rules have a positive impact on your online marketing efforts.
Add value with website content
No matter what industry you are in, every single part of your web presence needs to be centred on helping your audience with a challenge or problem. Remember that you don’t need to always add value in the same way: for example, it’s perfectly fine to have a main company page that informs prospects about your services, as well as a separate page that helps people learn about your staff. As long as your website content is making a positive contribution to your readers’ experience, your web presence is doing what it should be.
Make keywords related to content
One of the specific rules that Google has set out for the penalisation of doorway pages relates to websites that are designed to rank for very broad keywords, even though the information the site contains is very specific.
For example, if you are marketing for a family care clinic in Altona, but your pages are optimised for keywords like “doctors in Melbourne” or “Melbourne medical,” you are being too broad with your optimisation efforts and might get penalised. Instead, remember the principles of the long tail: while very specific keywords may not have as much monthly search traffic, people who query them are more likely to be better qualified and further along in the sales cycle.
Don’t create pages just to lead people somewhere else
The principles of both SEO and inbound marketing revolve around getting people to spend as much time on your site as possible, which reduces your bounce rate and earns favour with search rankings.
Despite this, many marketers have decided to use these doorway pages just to send their visitors somewhere else, since Google and other search engines tend to reward backlinks with higher search rankings. This was never a good idea to begin with, but now that Google has announced they are going to be specifically targeting pages that do this, it’s especially important to drop this tactic if you are using it presently.
Make pages with specific topics a part of your main site
One of the reasons that web marketers build doorway pages is to make them separate from a main site, in theory so that search algorithms will view them separately and rank them highly along with a marketer’s main site. This gives one organisation’s web presence a larger share of the search results pages.
Now that Google has announced these doorway penalties, you should be doing the opposite. It’s fine to make separate pages about subtopics of your business, but make sure that they are designed the way that your main website is, and that it is easy for a user to navigate to and from your main page from these subtopic websites. You might even consider blogging regularly about a topic instead of creating a doorway page about it.
Google has shown for many years that they are always willing to tinker with their processes to improve user experience, and this year looks to be no different. Make sure you are following SEO best practices in light of Google’s announcement about doorway page penalties so that you can reap the inbound benefits of having a site that is properly optimised to connect you with the right prospects.
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