Google and Doorway Pages – What Businesses Need to Know
The latest in what seems to be an ongoing slew of Google updates has recently been announced. Targeting what are referred to as doorway pages, this update could have far-reaching implications for a wide variety of business. That includes the ones it is clearly aiming at as well as other somewhat innocent bystanders. In this case, those innocent bystanders are franchises.
What is a Doorway Page?
A doorway page is one that is created with the sole purpose of capturing search traffic and funneling it to another page or site. Many businesses are guilty of creating what are essentially mock pages as a strategy to outsmart Google if you will and get more clicks from search results.
Every site needs doorways in some capacity. These may be landing pages designed for certain services or products or even home pages. The problems begin when these pages are created and hosted on different domains yet all ultimately direct traffic back to one domain. Location-specific pages that may have content virtually identical to other pages in a site structure with the exception of location can also be considered doorway pages.
The Unique Franchise Situation
Businesses that operate within the franchise model have a logical need to implement a microsite approach to their websites. For many companies, it would be financially and logistically impossible to create truly unique sites for every location. Plus, one of the benefits of a franchise is the strength of the overall brand and a microsite strategy capitalizes on this.
The new Google algorithm is welcome in many cases yet it could pose something of a quandry for franchises.
Key Actions for Franchises
While much is as of yet unknown about the specifics of the doorway update, there are some things that franchises can do to proactively protect themselves against penalties. Following are a few recommendations or options:
- Check Your LinksWithin a microsite structure, the bulk—if not all—links on any local pages should be internal, not external. If you find a plethora of external links on these pages, get started changing that now.
- Implement a Single Locations Page
Depending upon the number of locations within your franchise business, you could consider moving to a consolidated service location page within your main website. This may be less feasible as the number of franchises grows. If you opt for this approach, a thorough schema markup and NAP data must be created as well.
- Review Ranking Terms
For both Google and customers, check your pages to make sure that the ranking terms for any page truly map to the content on that page. The intended targets of the doorway update will not follow this rule and being in good standing here will help to differentiate you from them in Google’s eyes.
It will be important to follow the latest news about the doorway update as it is released by Google. As implementation begins, accommodations for franchises may well be incorporated and knowing about these will be vital to your business.
Change is the Only Constant
Perhaps one of the most valuable lessons to be had from the announcement of the doorway update is the reminder that nothing stays the same in the world of SEO. The businesses that succeed in this arena are those that adapt as necessary and keep a clear eye on the end customer.