Google “Doorway Page” Update Could Be a Problem

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A few people have mentioned a Google update that could be problematic for domain investors, and I want to share a few ways I think it could be harmful to domain investors.

On March 16th, Google announced “An update on doorway pages” via its official blog. Please read the entire blog post to see what is coming, but here is the main jist of the update:

 

“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.”

 

This could be problematic for domain investors who own and sell keyword domain names. One of the selling points is that a company can use a keyword domain name to help with search positioning and potentially add a second Google search result in addition to the current website. For instance, if I bought DomainInvestingBlog.com, I could potentially use that keyword domain name to try and rank this website and the second website for the key term and drive additional traffic to this website. That selling point is no longer good to use.

Many companies may still want to have the “category killer” keyword domain name to keep it out of the hands of a competitor or to use as a vanity url for signage or email. Many medium and larger-sized companies use SEO services, and these SEOs may advise against the purchase of an additional domain name, citing this recent Google update. Although the planned usage may not impact the SEO, the SEO service (or in-house SEO team) may still recommend against a vanity domain name purchase to be extra cautious.

New gTLD registrations may also be impacted by this update. It’s a guess, but I presume there are companies who are buying important keyword domain names in various new extensions that align with their business. They may be doing this to improve their search engine positioning at a lower cost than buying an expensive keyword .com domain name in the aftermarket. It seems like this Google doorway update would be harmful for companies who want to use a variety of new gTLD domain names to increase their search presence.

I wouldn’t be able to quantify the potential harm to domain investors as a result of this update. Some people probably won’t feel it. Based on my own experience though, if one prospective buyer opts to not buy a domain name in the aftermarket because of the update, some harm has been done. Like other Google updates in the past, we should be mindful of this one and know that it could be on the minds of prospective buyers.

1 COMMENT

  1. I thought you said it would be a slow day blogging! 😉

    It’s a complex issue, and a very interesting one.

    There are two kinds of doorway pages: those that serve a purpose to enhance and improve on the content of the main website (on the same or different domain), and those that simply funnel traffic attempting to capture a range of related keywords.

    The latter kind will suffer, per Google. This is, for example, city/travel web sites that don’t provide anything useful but display chunks of database generated snippets altering the city according to the search.

    What won’t suffer, is the door way page that builds on the existing service of the destination it links to, adding value to it. Assuming that this is the driving force and marketing approach for the companies that bought generics, it won’t affect ranking.

    What does not work, is the mere forwarding of domains, generic or not, to other web sites simply for the sake of adding eyeballs.

    • I don’t think forwarding is an issue because there isn’t an attempt by the owner in getting SE traffic. Forwarding is for type in traffic (as far as I know), and that shouldn’t be impacted.

      I read this update as a warning to XYZ Product (with XYZProduct.com as their website) who also own Product.com with a very basic info page on that second domain name, hoping they get XYZProduct.com and Product.com both listed in the top results for “product” or “XYZ Product” searches.

  2. IMO As long as the the name is developed as an authoritative platform specific to the root domain it can only then then serve the common elements of a brand name. Which will be a good update.

  3. Definitely an interesting update for sure. I believe this on parallels a previous Google update and their continuous move towards meaningful search results as it relates to “thin content.” As doorway pages presumably have thin content and are otherwise geared towards gaming the search engines with specific keywords and search phrases to rank for, this will certainly affect a lot of people/website and SEOs that have utilized this method for their clients. Bottom line here is provide high quality and meaningful content beyond one or a couple simple pages.

    For domainers and domain brokers – its really about educating potential buyers why a specific domain name works for their business/needs, and the value it can provide to them both short and long term. So in that respect – we just have to up our game, do our homework and show value beyond just a keyword domain.

    Regarding Domain forwarding – there are many reasons people forward domain A to domain B, whether they moved their site o a new domain altogether, directing traffic and “link juice” from a previous domain names that were developed (buying auction or expired domains with links and traffic), or to aggregate a portfolio to point to a single destination/page. This update should not affect domains being forwarded as they are not presenting content, are not indexed as a website, and are done at the host or dns level as a 301 or 302 redirect. The only instance this would have an effect is if the page you are forwarding to is a doorway page or has thin content.

    If a company is looking to rank for multiple keywords, they can do that on their main website working with SEO firm to take care of your on-page website structure, keyword targeting, proper coding, off-page backlinks, content syndication, social signals, website speed and other areas that contribute to search rank. Taking care of these fundamentals will certainly help any website improve on many different levels.

    Not to go off topic – but another huge update to watch out for is the upcoming mobile friendly update that Google is rolling out on April 21st. This is going to have an even bigger impact for website owners as its estimated that only 20% – 25% of the websites out there are mobile friendly/responsive. To help business website owners with this – we are providing free website mobile usability testing on a first come first served basis as the update quickly approaches.

  4. https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/2721311

    Interesting how Google defines a doorway page, there are the “sales” pages

    and the ever living “Squeeze” page.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squeeze_page

    Marketers have many types of pages and many names for them,

    From what I can tell, unless you are big company and just put content to explain what you do, Google no longer wants it.

    Guess blogging is now a NONO as well.

    When will it end?

    PREDICTION:
    A blog that has no LARGE in bound links from a TOP 1000 website, other than other blog sites or (like wikipedia) wiki’s don’t count. ARE SPAM TO GOOGLE.

    So if Microsoft or the Wallstreet journals of the world never mention you in a blog post, say good bye to a top 20 listing in Google.

    Google doesn’t care about 21 to infinity listing.

  5. Chris wrote about how it is “estimated that only 20% – 25% of the websites out there are mobile friendly/responsive”. That is probably true, but out of my 300+ sites, less than 10 are considered by Google to be mobile friendly. So, it is a big issue for some older webmasters like me.

    • Vincent – that’s great. For those using WordPress – there are easy plugin solutions like that, thankfully.. For those that are not on WP and used some of the older website building tools or direct coded HTML – much more involved solutions need to be implemented.

  6. From April 2nd to April 15th there will be the first official IPS, the first officially proclamed International Parking Strike.

    I hope everyone will participate.

    Enjoy the CPC EXPLOSION on google! :))))

    Choose the Freedom!| Fight for Freedom!

    But this is good! All smart entrepreneurs finally will say: google, go fuck yourself! I choose to be Free! My company has to be Free!

    I want to be free of opening a second shop or simply haviong a second showcase.

    Be prepared to change your nameservers day April 2!!!

    AN ENTREPRENEUR CAN NOT EVEN USE A MEMORABLE GENERIC DOMAIN AS A TAG LINE FOR HIS BRAND, FOR INSTANCE?!?
    google, GFYS!!!!

    BUT, ABOVE ALL, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU GOOGLE!!!

    Those guys have seen the use of generics domains skyrocketing in the last year, and they immediately wrote a press release 🙂 Thank you so much!!! 🙂

    Everyone could not have a better proof of where all the smart companies are going.

    They will not do nothing! That is only a BLUFF! google’ guys know will die tomorrow implementing those new rules!

    THAY ARE SCARED!!!!!!!!!!! AHAHAHHAHAH :))))))))))

  7. Funny thing is Google is a worse search engine today than it was 10 years ago. All kinds a smaller cool resources never make it to the top of the results anymore. That’s because they are not spending every moment trying to please Google. They arduous publishing great content.

    For all their meddling and sticking their finger in the pie of every business Google is a worse index now.

    • I agree, Google is not as good now as it was many years ago. But, that may be due to the huge growth of SEO and search engine spammers. Without the steps Google had taken to combat that, it would be much worse. So it may not be Google’s fault.

      Back before Google, I used to use Altavista, Webcrawler, Excite, Yahoo, Hotbot, and Lycos, and they all worked great, before the days of SEO spam.

    • Bing.com likes exact match .com names with relevant content. Hopefully more and more people will use it. I think gargoogle has updated it’s algorithm so many times it has almost broke itself.
      How about the report that said up to 98% of clicks on paid ads were from bots??? Nasty business making tons of cash from bot clicks.

  8. A bit off topic, but the topic has already been imbedded in this thread, so here goes.

    WP-Touch is a less than perfect solution. I’ve played with it. It breaks things. It really isn’t a fix. It was intended as an interim solution “of sorts”. Run some tests before sitting back thinking WP Touch will be your salvation.

    Also, before you run out and buy packaged solutions from some of the very highest rated “responsive WP design” solution providers I strongly suggest you run their “showcase sites” (the third-parties that have utilitized their packages) through Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. You may be surprised or disappointed by the results. Even the so-called best in class have issues. There is much to do @ your VPS/WHM/Server and @ your cPanel and @ your database, htaccess / httpd.config, image files and more.

    Get crackin’. It’s a real PITA . . but you learn a few things along the way.

  9. Thank you, Elliot, for giving us YET ANOTHER reason to stay away from ridiculous new gtlds. It’s as if they already have one foot in the grave and this certainly will not help them.

  10. This happened to me yesterday. Their wizz bang “SEO Guy” said that a redirect from the domain I was selling (Cityname+Service) to the clients current domain would result in massive SEO penalties.

    Misinformation costs me a lot of money.

    • And yes, they quoted this update. I tried to explain to the client in a polite way what the update actually targets, but of course they are going to listen to their web guy who obviously makes no money from the client buying my domain.

      A good portion of my sales fly out the door as soon as I hear, “how much? let me ask my web guy first”.

      As soon as I hear that, I know the sale is gone.

    • I have had that happen quite a few times.

      Pretty much when a client asks a SEO about spending 4-5-6 figures on a domain name, I know it’s a dead deal. Part of me thinks the SEO would rather have the client spend that money on SEO services, eg: “if my client is considering spending $10,000 on a domain name, he can afford to spend that on SEO work.”

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