djbaxter

Administrator
Administrator
Moderator
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
3,521
Reaction score
1,664
Google Warns: City Landing Pages Can Be Doorway Pages & Against Guidelines
by Barry Schwartz, Search Engine Roundtable
Dec 12, 2019

Google's John Mueller had to warn one SEO that he should not go ahead and build out 1,300 city based landing pages, with the strategy of trying to rank for your keyword phrase + city name. He said that would be a doorway page and against Google's guidelines.


Google's help document defines doorway pages as:
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.
One example Google gives is "Substantially similar pages that are closer to search results than a clearly defined, browseable hierarchy."

Since 2008, Google has said city/state landing pages are doorway pages and Google reinforced it twice in 2015.


Read more...
 

Wirenut

Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2019
Messages
105
Reaction score
39
I always thought that city base landing pages aren't considered doorway pages.

I am a service area business with 15 very small towns in my service area. Having a separate and unique pages for each one of those towns is the only way to come up in the search listings for those towns, as far as I understand it.

I wonder if they will start penalizing sites with town based landing pages? If so, how else would companies like mine get business outside of our own town?
 

UKSBD

Member
Joined
Nov 19, 2015
Messages
88
Reaction score
39
I always thought that city base landing pages aren't considered doorway pages.

I am a service area business with 15 very small towns in my service area. Having a separate and unique pages for each one of those towns is the only way to come up in the search listings for those towns, as far as I understand it.

I wonder if they will start penalizing sites with town based landing pages? If so, how else would companies like mine get business outside of our own town?

I would say there is a difference between 15 pages for local towns with unique content and 1,300 pages with very similar content.

I think they are referring to when the content is very similar but just the town/city name changes on every page.
 

Mindquest

Member
Joined
Jul 10, 2013
Messages
75
Reaction score
11
Had a thread asking this same question a couple months ago.


@JoyHawkins @Marie Haynes Joy & Marie have you seen an increase in sites getting penalized for doorway pages?
 

Eric Rohrback

Moderator
Joined
Oct 3, 2012
Messages
1,021
Reaction score
343
I think the key phrase we need to pay attention to as it relates to how Google determines whether these are doorway pages is "Substantially similar pages." With local landing pages you really need to be creating unique content that is related not only to the area, but to the specific office for the business. If you're a service-business, then you can still talk about things like past case studies of jobs you did in the area, common issues that you've seen that are local-specific (and how you solved them), and a ton of other creative content.

Local pages could be doorway pages if they all have the same content, but you're spinning the location. MOST websites aren't doing this, but there are quite a few offenders out there. The site COULD get penalized, but as long as you make the page valuable to potential users then you're going to be OK.
 

keyserholiday

Moderator
Local Search Expert
LocalU Faculty
Joined
Jul 27, 2017
Messages
436
Solutions
1
Reaction score
533
I consult for a company that optimized for several of the surrounding areas. The problem was the client turned down all of the leads that were too far away from his home. It actually had negative effects on his GMB listing as he kept getting negative reviews for turning down these leads.
If you are going to do it a SAB business make sure that you are willing to capitalize on those leads or it’s all for not.
Joy said you should dominate your city for all of your terms before you branch out and attempt to rank in other cities and areas.
 

Wirenut

Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2019
Messages
105
Reaction score
39
I consult for a company that optimized for several of the surrounding areas. The problem was the client turned down all of the leads that were too far away from his home. It actually had negative effects on his GMB listing as he kept getting negative reviews for turning down these leads.
I don't know why he would promote his business to areas then turn down the leads, seems counter productive.

FWIW, I get calls from outside of my service area on a daily basis and have never received a negative review from turning any of them down. Maybe it's because I don't advertise to those areas. Or maybe I am just more polite than your client. Seems odd for him to get so many negative reviews...

Joy said you should dominate your city for all of your terms before you branch out and attempt to rank in other cities and areas.
Many areas don't have "cities" in the conventional sense. The areas are made up of lots of very small towns. Ranking first for everything in 1 town isn't going to bring in enough leads. It's also a lot harder (ie. more expensive) to do than making many town based landing pages, which have a 1 time cost and then continue to bring in new work indefinitely.
 
Joined
Dec 10, 2019
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
I think the key phrase we need to pay attention to as it relates to how Google determines whether these are doorway pages is "Substantially similar pages." With local landing pages you really need to be creating unique content that is related not only to the area, but to the specific office for the business. If you're a service-business, then you can still talk about things like past case studies of jobs you did in the area, common issues that you've seen that are local-specific (and how you solved them), and a ton of other creative content.

Local pages could be doorway pages if they all have the same content, but you're spinning the location. MOST websites aren't doing this, but there are quite a few offenders out there. The site COULD get penalized, but as long as you make the page valuable to potential users then you're going to be OK.

100%.

The defining characteristic of a doorway page is it doesn't deliver on its promise in the SERP. So if your plumber near sheboygan page was a wall of dummy Sheboygan text with nothing unique and a big green button to click funneling your users to your plumber in milwaukee page (with your Milwaukee address), boom - doorway. Bad, because 1) users are duped 2) if they bounce back to the SERP and find your stupid page targeting Sheboygan Falls ranking right after the user is out of luck again.

This is more a query fulfillment issue than an "am I going to get smacked with a manual action" issue IMO. But if I was a Google rep I'd be spreading the fear as this kind of thing makes their product worse.
 

JoshuaMackens

Local Search Expert
Joined
Sep 12, 2012
Messages
1,950
Reaction score
579
They are doorway pages. You won't know if you have a penalty. Algorithmic penalties are hard to diagnose. The traditional ones (panda, penguin) are easy because so many people were affected and so many case studies and successes from fixes have been seen. However, with an algorithm like doorway pages, it's much harder to tell. About the only way would be to a) have before/after ranking reports from before you added the doorway pages and then after the results. If there's a significant drop it could be doorway pages. b) have an SEO professional look at your rankings and try to determine if you should be ranking higher than you are. Even then, that's a best guess.

I would agree there's a difference between a few city landing pages vs 1,300 of them. However, where does that number stop? 5? 15? 100? There's no way to tell.

If you're doing city landing pages I would recommend a) don't do a lot of them b) vary the content as much as possible with the helpful tips people have already given.
 

Tyler Hammer

Member
Joined
Jun 17, 2020
Messages
9
Reaction score
5
This discussion is old but is something I get questions about all the time. I think this article did a good job explaining how to make city landing pages the right way. How to Rank in Cities Where you Don't Have an Address

Ideally you wouldn't need city landing pages to rank in cities around you, but I have not heard another tactic that works. Your options are to open an office in the city you want to rank in or make content for that city. Doesn't anyone know another tactic that works?
 
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
J Google+ business page targeting multiple cities/landing pages novice question Google Local 101 3
LocalHero Google My Business - 2 Locations in one city Local Search 8
R Google maps no longer shows city boundaries Google My Business & Google Maps 5
J Incorrect City for Google Points of Interest Carousel Google My Business & Google Maps 3
cjonesmn Google City/ZIP vs USPS - The same? Local Search 0
Linda Buquet ▶ Google's Massive Effort to Help 30,000 Cities Put Local Businesses On the Map Google My Business & Google Maps 6
John Tabita Attorney appearing in Google Local results without a physical location in the city Google My Business & Google Maps 2
Local Search News Curator Google Places Guidelines No Longer Prohibit City in Your Category Field ? Should You Google My Business & Google Maps 1
Linda Buquet Google+ Local Centroid - NOT City Center! Affects Ranking! Google My Business & Google Maps 14
Linda Buquet Hot for Local! NEW Google Keyword Planner - KW Research by City Local SEO Tools & Software 40
Linda Buquet How to Rank in Surrounding Cities In Google Local Local Search 13
G MAJOR Google Local KW & City Stuffing - Watch me Nuke This One Spam on Google 9
Linda Buquet List of Official Google+ City Pages Google My Business & Google Maps 7
Linda Buquet Local SEO Warning: City in Title Tag - Former Google Spam Team Member Speaks Out Local Search 22
R Using an Alternative City Name in Google+ Local Page NAP Local Search 12
R Rank a Google Places Listing for 1 City in Surrounding Cities Local Search 6
M Google Maps Rankings are not Stable Google My Business & Google Maps 2
stankolev What is the maximum number of categories single Google My Business listing can have? NAP, Categories, Dashboard Data 1
Chris Ratchford Google Ads- Local Pack- one GMB location only? Paid Search and Local Service Ads 1
Don Archer Google business listing with 482 Real Review Missing. How do I get them back? Help & Support for Google Local 1
Nikki Stine Are negative Google reviews due to supply shortages considered 'off-topic'? Local Reviews 2
Jeffrey Taylor Adding a new category to Google my Business Google My Business & Google Maps 4
david.victor Attribute used as Category by Google on Maps NAP, Categories, Dashboard Data 5
M Google Search Console Errors "Coverage and Breadcrumbs"? Google My Business & Google Maps 4
Lachlan_Wells Accept/Discard Google Updates - Does this feature work for you? NAP, Categories, Dashboard Data 3
E "Duplicate" Profile That Google Claims We Already Manage? Google Duplicates & Merges 5
T Can a Credit Union Create Google Posts Without Falling Under Prohibited Content? Google My Business & Google Maps 4
djbaxter Google My Business Bug Dropping SAB Businesses In Independence, Kansas Service Area Businesses 1
JamesGreenaway Google Insights query Google My Business & Google Maps 1
RobertCarnitas Google Posts Live on GMB, But Not Showing in GMB Dashboard Google My Business & Google Maps 1
rickvidallon How Do You Access The Buttons In Google My Business For Online Services? Local Search 4
NexstarNickR Google Star Rating: LSA vs. GMB All Things Google My Business [PRIVATE] (LocalU) 2
Phil Rozek Google Maps reviews get "New" label for reviews less than 1 month old Local Reviews 5
JoyHawkins Get Live Inventory Displayed on Your Google My Business Listing Google My Business & Google Maps 9
JoyHawkins Google Testing 2-Packs on Mobile Google News: Important Changes & Features 4
Paul Gregory Google Maps default location bias distance and the Google Maps Places API Google Algorithm Discussions 2
Chris Ratchford Google Analytics - setting up goals for click-to-call Organic SEO 2
L Google ranking in Legal Field Organic SEO 1
Cherie Dickey Something funny going on in Google Maps... am I missing something? Google My Business & Google Maps 1
hajnasiewicz Google Marketing Kit: Create Video Local Content 3
S Google LSA Lead Board - How to manage? Paid Search and Local Service Ads 1
krystaltaing Google My Business Bulk Verification Limit Reached? Multi-Location Issues 0
K Unable to get verified in Google for SAB Local Search 14
Matt Chauhan Google Maps showing category that doesn't even exist Local Search 1
djbaxter Brightlocal Tool shows Large Google Local Search Algorithm Update March 10, 2021 Google Algorithm Discussions 1
D Local Services and Google my Business Paid Search and Local Service Ads 2
F Google Maps Citation confusion? Google My Business & Google Maps 3
K Google requiring storefront photos Google Duplicates & Merges 4
Rich Owings Google community challenge to update 100,000 businesses Google My Business & Google Maps 0
cleverlyengaged Advice on Landmarks/POI/Unclaimed Google Map Locations? Google My Business & Google Maps 6

Similar threads

Login / Register

Already a member?   LOG IN
Not a member yet?   REGISTER

Most UpVoted Answers

Trending: Most Viewed

LocalU Podcasts

  Promoted Posts

New advertising option: A review of your product or service posted by a Sterling Sky employee. This will also be shared on the Sterling Sky & LSF Twitter accounts, our Facebook group, LinkedIn, and both newsletters. More...
Google Product Exert


Top Bottom