Close Your Doorway Pages for Good

by Brett Miller on April 24, 2015

Are Doorway Pages Bad for SEO?

Why Your “City” Pages May Hurt Your Rankings & What You MUST do About it


With all the turmoil going on with Google updates in recent weeks, these guys are launching yet another algorithmic change that will target and penalize what they are calling doorway pages. Those who have pages on their site that are meant to generate more traffic by using tactics that are not necessarily admirable will take a bit hit in rankings if they do not conform.

At lot of Plumbing & HVAC companies are at risk with this change because so many of them have an outdated “City Targeting Strategy”. Because most Plumbing & HVAC contractors serve a 25-50 mile radius they want to rank in each of the sub-cities & suburbs within their service area. It has become a common practice to have pages on your site for each of the sub-cities in your service area (in some cases 10 – 30 separate sub-city pages or more). While this isn’t necessarily a bad strategy if it’s not implemented correctly Google will view those “city pages” as “doorway pages” leading to a noticeable drop in rankings across the board. So what can you do to ensure that you remain in Google’s good graces along these lines?

For those of you that believe your website may be on Google’s naughty list there are some things to check for to determine whether or not you will survive the update without your ranking being affected. Here are the most crucial things to correct if you happen to notice that your site has one or all of these issues:

  • Blank pages: If you are in the process of creating a new website or you have decided to add some additional segments make sure you do not include them on your site until they have been properly constructed. Ensure that they all have interesting and relevant content that is around 500 words before going live. Thin content or a complete absence of it on your page will surely be crawled and spotted right away, significantly lowering your Google ranking. Many different algorithms are designed to check for this and if you originally established a page one position you will immediately be knocked back and may never be found again.
  • Difficulty locating pages: Your site must be simple to navigate through. Visitors should be able to effortlessly maneuver through your site and always locate the specific pages that they want, without any complications or difficulties. If a page on your site is designed to increase traffic but cannot be found it will be labeled as a gateway page and your ranking will surely suffer.
  • Launching before you’re ready: Don’t jump the gun on setting up links for your blog, reviews and testimonials section, or any other page that is dependent upon routine participation. Wait until you have generated enough content for your blog and be prepared to update it frequently before moving forward. The same goes for customer reviews, make sure you have an adequate number of testimonials ready so you are not left vulnerable to Google’s sneaky little web crawler. Any other pages that contain things that are pertinent to your website should be looked over and evaluated before you go live.
  • Duplicate content: Whether you have several pages dedicated to targeting the same city through the use of duplicate content, have copied information that can be found in multiple areas throughout your site, or even the same customer reviews on more than one page, this will all need to be taken down. Each page must be separate of each other and consist of different text.
  • Numerous sites: Multiple sites that are constructed to target various keywords or locations, but essentially have the same information that is simply repeated again and again are not a good idea. In actuality you should be building one strong website that users can go to when they are interested in learning more about your goods and services.

With this update approaching and existing algorithms always on the look out for devious SEO strategies you must adapt and face the facts, Google will not let these infractions slide. If you think you can get away with it, smarten up, because eventually everyone gets caught. Orchestrate any needed changes and stay on the straight and narrow or Google will find you, and you will not be happy with the end result.

If you would like to speak about how we can help to make sure your city page strategy is sound, and get your Plumbing or HVAC Company ranked on PAGE ONE, just click here to schedule a time to talk with us or call 866-610-4647.


Google Fails to Keep Their Promise

by Brett Miller on April 20, 2015

Google Panda and Penguin Updates

Well Google has done it again, and surprise, surprise they make no apologies for it. When the Panda algorithm came out its design was to send out a web crawler that would locate thin, poor, or repeat content and penalize companies that were guilty of these infractions on their site. The Penguin filter was put in place to red flag sites that had excess spam particularly caused by poor quality links. The updates to these algorithms made sure that they were operating in real-time, so each site would be checked on a consistent basis and if any alterations were made in an attempt to maintain ranking it would be noticed almost immediately.

Originally Plumbing and HVAC companies that had any content on their website deemed unfit by Google or those with bad links would suffer great SEO loses and a subsequent drop in traffic, call volume, and potential sales. These updates, however, gave businesses the ability to make the necessary changes in order to meet Google’s standards.

In the beginning the Panda and Penguin algorithms were only run periodically and could take months before any website changes were noticed; causing massive trouble for companies that did not make the cut. It really affected people’s livelihood, as they counted on their placement on Google to bring in more revenue for their businesses.

A significant drop in sales caused by the delayed response within Google’s infrastructure lead to a loss of income, family problems based on serious financial strain, and even resulted in people losing their jobs or in some cases their entire company. The updates were put in place so that businesses could quickly correct their SEO mistakes before detrimental consequences were faced. The only problem is they never worked like they were supposed to.

Recently, Google fumbled over their words in an attempt to explain what was going on with their algorithms. However, the gist of the conversation was that Panda and Penguin were not running continually and still being pushed out manually with major gaps in between. In other words the announcement of the updates was a straight up lie.

It’s true that poor content and low-quality links should not be present on a website, but if people are willing to learn from their mistakes and improve then they should be rewarded accordingly.

Additionally, Google does not send out any notifications to the creator of the website when it has been run through a Panda or Penguin filter, which is borderline malicious as well as counter-productive. Updates could be sent out without any knowledge from the publisher and many will be left in a state of confusion as to what went wrong with their site.

In correspondence with the release of a new web crawler on April 21st, 2015 that will test every site to make sure they are mobile-friendly, the revelation of Google’s faux pas could not have come at a worse time, as even more website rankings will be affected. But perhaps this is the best time for us to learn that we have to really watch our backs and make absolutely sure that we are producing the best website possible.

Google says they will have this cleared up in the next few months, but how and why should we believe them? For a company that prides itself on being number one they have certainly proven that you can’t always trust what you hear, even if it comes from a multi-billion dollar corporation that masks personal gain with feigned public concern. Once again, thanks a lot Google.


Is Your Website Mobile Friendly?

Is your website mobile-friendly?
Well it better be! April 21st is slowly approaching and for those of you non-techies this marks the dawn of a new and major Google algorithmic change. Google makes slight changes to their infrastructure all of the time, but this is no small alteration and will have a massive impact on every website across the world. Plumbing and HVAC companies be warned, take the time to see if your site is ready for Google’s new mobile crawler. This system is designed to sniff out any sites that have not been set up for smartphone use and whisk them down the Google rabbit hole. Yes, that’s right if your site does not meet a certain set of criteria it will no longer rank as it should. If you are currently on page 1 say hello to page 50 if you fail to take action now. We find that around 30-40% of our plumbing and HVAC clients website visits are via mobile devices like smartphones, so all of that traffic could be lost, along with a lot of business in the process.

What are the criteria you are wondering?
You need to have content that is readable without having to scroll over, zoom, or pinch your screen to do so. Software that is not common on mobile devices like Flash will also need to be avoided like the plague. You must additionally make sure that links are not too close together, so users with stubby fingers don’t get sent to an incorrect section of the site when they click on something. Lastly, you must (and I can’t stress this enough) have a click-to-call button so prospective customers can simply hit the button and reach your direct line.

What can you do to make sure your website is mobile-friendly?
Start by ensuring that your site is responsive. Pull up the website on your computer, take your cursor and shrink your screen down either to the left or the right, if the text condenses accordingly and a click-to-call button appears you should be in good shape. Still, there are other conditions that need to be met before you can confidently say that your site will pass the new update. Google offers a mobile-friendly tester that we suggest you use to safeguard your site from the digital atomic bomb that is being dropped on April 21st. However, you can’t just test your home page and think that everything is A-Okay, you need to test every single page on your website to make sure that it is ready for the upcoming change.

When creating new sites people are using responsive web design to guarantee that they are marked with the mobile-friendly gold star. In other words a small tag that appears below your title and next to your Meta description indicating that it is user friendly when accessed from a smartphone.

Responsive web design simply makes sure that your site is streamline and responds accordingly when brought up in a mobile format. If you are rushing to get a site that was not created with responsive web design protected from the algorithmic update try Duda Mobile Web Service. The difference here is that when someone searches for your website on their smartphone they will actually be redirected to another URL that is mobile-friendly.

I always recommend that Plumbing and HVAC companies make sure that their site is mobile-friendly for conversion purposes, but now it is essential in the SEO battle that is approaching.

In closing, I want to wish you a safe and prosperous journey and hope that you will survive this new step in the ever changing realm of Google. Although it has been said this will not affect desktop or tablet rankings, it likely will in the near future, so be careful, because whether we like it or not April 21st is coming.

Are you looking for a company that can help bring your plumbing or HVAC company to the next level? We are here to help, contact us today at 866-610-4647.


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