Heads-up! Google’s Webmaster Central Blog has sent out a warning regarding yet another ranking change.
Just a couple of weeks ago Google announced that beginning April 21st, sites that are not mobile-friendly would suffer a rankings drop—a long overdue change that aims to reflect the high volume of users performing searches on mobile devices.
This time however, Google’s Search Quality Team has announced that it is targeting doorway pages. Brian White of the Google Webspam Team writes:
“Over time, we’ve seen sites try to maximize their ‘search footprint’ without adding clear, unique value. These doorway campaigns manifest themselves as pages on a site, as a number of domains, or a combination thereof. To improve the quality of search results for our users, we’ll soon launch a ranking adjustment to better address these types of pages. Sites with large and well-established doorway campaigns might see a broad impact from this change.”
It’s clear that Google is simply targeting SEO spammers that are trying to funnel generic traffic, but for those companies that are interested in practicing ethical SEO and are unsure whether they’ve unintentionally gone astray, Google has updated their definition of doorway pages in their quality guidelines and provided some questions to ask of pages that may qualify.
Of those questions, one seems to jump out as a cause for concern for e-commerce sites: 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?
Given this qualification, one could certainly interpret a number Yelp, eBay, and other e-commerce pages as doorway pages – and thus they may end up bearing the brunt of this update.