Are City/State Landing Pages Also Doorway Pages? Google Thinks So

Jul 18, 2008 • 8:03 am | comments (5) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Search & Web SEO Spam

A Google Groups thread has discussion on the topic of dynamically creating pages to target localized searches. For example, this particular webmaster wants to be able to target 28 different zip codes for his client's A/C business. He summarizes what he wants to do:

Johns A/C does work in 28 different zip codes. He creates 28 webspages, page names reflect the township AC_service_City_zip.htm, meta tags reflect city, zip such as Johns AC serivce serving the "City" and "zip code" area. Then the body is a template and the city and zip are filled in for each city/zip area.

This way when someone does a search for AC service "zipcode" or "city" there is a good chance his page will be included.

This was a popular SEO tactic years and years ago. These days, it is much harder to rank well for terms using the automated city database methodology. We actually covered some of the databases you can purchase to accomplish this back in 2005. But is this legit?

According to Google, no it is not. In fact, Googler, Reid, said that the manner in which this webmaster wants to go, seems to be a "doorway page." Reid said:

I agree with webado in this scenario. If the body of these pages is a template and the only thing that changes is the city and zip code, this sounds a lot like doorway pages:

Why push the limit on how much duplicate content a page can have? Pages with unique content often perform the best in Google's search results, are better for users, which in turn, is probably better for your business.

Your best bet in this situation is to create useful and unique content for each page. How? Well, take a look at some of the major local portals and see how much effort they put into their localized pages.

But would you consider these to be doorway pages? Google defines a doorway page as:

Doorway pages are typically large sets of poor-quality pages where each page is optimized for a specific keyword or phrase. In many cases, doorway pages are written to rank for a particular phrase and then funnel users to a single destination.

Forum discussion at Google Groups.

Previous story: Daily Search Forum Recap: July 17, 2008


Michael Martinez

07/18/2008 04:00 pm

I would call them content rich doorway pages with little to no intrinsic value. If all they can do to distinguish those pages from each other is to change the city and zip code, the pages really are not useful. They could accomplish about the same quality of search variety through inbound link anchor text pointing at one page that includes all the cities and zip codes in its on-body copy. The link building would be tedious and not very efficient, but since the either the SEO or the client doesn't seem to want to do the job the right way, I would recommend the links over the duplicate content.


07/18/2008 10:35 pm

They simply add 1 field in the table of their database, for a summary about the city including links to the wikipedia page and official organisation about this city/region. That should really differenciate each pages.

Bill Kruse

07/19/2008 11:29 am

Something I'd be inclined towards trying out is putting together an entirely sound SEO'd page on the subject for the client and then saying on it in the region of the footer something like "Proud to be serving (key phrase) in the following areas;......" and then list the areas you want to be known for the service in. If that got nowhere - well, it would get somewhere, I know it would because it's a technique I use myself with success - as an alternative, then, somewhere on my site that was dedicated to (key-phrase) in general, I'd have a page each about Area A, Area B etc. detailing the distinguishing features of the Area and mentioning on each page that (client) serves (key-phrase) and make the text appropriate, if it's new to the area then you put (client) is proud to introduce (key-phrase) to (Area) and sees a bright new future locally for the industry.. if it's somewhere that already has it then you say something like (client) is proud to be associated with the fine tradition of (key-phrase) in (Area)... and so forth... and then you link from each page to all the others using the anchor text (key-phrase)(Area). I imagine it would give results if it were conscientiously done. BB

No Name

07/20/2008 12:03 am

BB, ...very, very interesting.

Nick Stamoulis

07/21/2008 01:42 pm

This post bring up a great point, that as the engines have evolved, this type of strategy used to be effective back in 2005, not so much these days...

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