How to detect and fix the doorway pages in a web

Google banning the search results of webs that use backdoors is not something from this year, as with Panda updates these practices were already being punished. But this very month, the company from Mountain View established new guidelines to improve the detection of doorway pages to benefit the user and his or her experience with the search results.

What are doorway pages?

To fix this problem, first we have to know what to detect or look for, as not everybody is a SEO professional working daily to improve the visibility of different webs.

Doorway pages are made with the purpose of ranking on a keywords list and similar searches, rather than becoming a hierarchy of products/services/natural pages. Google and its robots work with synonyms and words that mean the same, e.g. car and automobile are the same, so we do not have to create 2 pages because with one of them we can appear in both results.

Another important point is whether all these pages that we can identify as backdoors have similar content, and if they all address or have links to the same webpage. Naturally, we should work this only page to reach the users, and there is not much use of the first pages for a user.


Detecting pages with duplicate content is easy, but how can I detect backdoors?

When we are clear about what we have to look for in our web, we have to identify what is causing trouble. For this we can use these three types of pages as examples:

  • Similar pages that, instead of abiding by a natural hierarchy of products/services/pages they respond to different search results related to a keyword (e.g. flower, fresh flowers, white flowers, flowers for present, etc.)
  • Similar pages targeted for different locations or cities where the content does not change, only the name of the city (e.g. car rental Madrid, car rental Barcelona, car rental Móstoles, car rental Getafe, etc). If you want to learn more about local SEO you can read more about this in this post.
  • Pages that are not easily accessible for users from the home, menu or navigation for which they were conceived so that in the end all the traffic ends up in our page or one of our most important pages (e.g. if I have a web for reservations in restaurants I must not create pages like reservation for breakfast, reservation for lunch, reservation for tea and reservation for dinner. We can rank with one reservations page, then the user will choose the time it suits him or her best).


What changes has Google implemented?

In mid-March Google announced on the blog for webmasters an update on doorway pages as a measure to keep fighting against domains that make web spam.

A warning not to go unnoticed, as it was a message indicating that the new changes are already implemented and that in the following weeks it will detect domains with doorway pages that the older versions could not identify.

This update aims to improve the ranking of these pages, which they catalogue as a spam tool.


How can I solve this problem?

Like in the majority of cases, the best is to make unique, exclusive and valuable content for users. It also has to match what we offer, not trying to reach a wider public without offering anything different.

But if for some reason we find this kind of content in the domains the manage, there is a solution. As we said previously, we have to detect all the doorway pages of a web. I recommend to group them all by similar content, same category, etc., which will be useful in the future.

After we have the list we have to enter Google Webmaster Tools, and under the search queries we choose “Main pages.” With our list, we identify the URLs, impressions and clicks they have. We have to identify whether there is more content, category, purpose, etc., since this will have a better ranking. Depending on the groups we have made we will see one, two or several main pages.

For all those that do not identify as main, we have to make a 301 redirection to the one we have detected. For the example of the flowers, imagine that the page “fresh flowers” is best ranked. Then we have to redirect all the other pages to this one.

After this is done, Google will detect that we no longer try to make web spam, so we will get back the SEO ranking we had. The next step is battling with the competitors for the first position :).

Image via Balakov.

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