Location pages in Google’s crosshairs after October spam replace

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Inside the previous couple of months, service space enterprise (SAB) web sites began to see rank fluctuations aligned with the rollout of Google’s helpful content and spam updates round late August via October.

Chatter round these fluctuations picked up within the native website positioning group throughout this era in varied boards, together with the Google SEO Mastermind Fb group.

The widespread theme with websites that had been impacted probably the most gave the impression to be associated to duplicate content material, particularly location pages – in different phrases, doorway pages.

Nonetheless, websites weren’t getting straight penalized by rank. As a substitute, pages had been being mechanically deindexed, which in flip brought about ranks to drop for queries associated to the corresponding location pages.

Deindexing of location pages

Schieler Mew, admin of the Google website positioning Mastermind group on Fb, posted this video explaining what he noticed with over 200 SAB websites.

Within the video, he explains that websites with comparatively low authority or a scarcity of useful content material all through the positioning noticed a deindexing of their “duplicate content material” location pages en masse.

Scheiler and I jumped on a Google Meet, the place he shared some information and screenshots under of what had occurred in Search Console to those websites.

The very first thing that was seen was a big shift in the course of September concerning listed pages. This appears to line proper up with the completion of the useful content material rollout.

Digging into it, the subsequent screenshot is all of the pages that had been deindexed seemingly in a single day.

GSC deindexed pages

Lastly, the report on the timeline of the affected pages.

GSC mass indexing timeline

The mass deindexing of pages that closely contributed to geographic rating vanished, taking the rankings with it.

This gave the impression to be the case for quite a few different pages, though there have been a couple of outliers.

Web sites with seemingly larger authority or location pages that used distinctive content material weren’t deindexed.

This leads me to imagine that the useful content material and spam replace algorithm appear considerably unfinished. On this case, it tackled the simplest goal – duplicate content material location pages on websites with low authority.


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How the useful content material and spam updates contributed

Most SEOs had been underneath the idea that these updates had been targeting AI-generated content. (Recall that in an office-hours hangout in April, John Mueller referred to it as “spam” and made it clear it was towards Google’s insurance policies.)

On November 7, Danny Sullivan squashed this in a tweet, stating:

  • “We haven’t stated AI content material is unhealthy. We’ve stated, fairly clearly, content material written primarily for serps relatively than people is the problem.”

That is once I began placing two and two collectively.

SAB websites are dropping in rank proper across the rollout of each the useful content material and spam updates, and we all know it’s primarily focusing on pages which have content material written for serps relatively than people.

What sort of pages would an area SAB have that just about each website positioning within the trade creates?

Location pages.

Understanding doorway pages

A doorway page is actually what Danny Sullivan was speaking about within the above tweet. It’s a web page written to rank for a particular key phrase however supplies little to no worth to a person.

An instance of doorway pages within the native website positioning trade is location pages. In different phrases, a web page that exists for the only real goal of rating [city #1] + [service A] multiplied by the variety of cities and/or companies the enterprise is attempting to rank for.

These could be created quicker if the content material is duplicated and solely the key phrases are swapped out. Moreover, you’ll be able to write customized content material for every web page, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a doorway web page.

SEOs on this sector hate to confess it, however location pages are doorway pages. Mueller confirmed this in February.

Doorway pages have all the time been towards Google’s insurance policies, however there had by no means gave the impression to be a solution to suppress these algorithmically.

The one punishment gave the impression to be guide actions, and till this 12 months, SABs appear to have been placed on the Google backburner – so nobody actually ever noticed any penalties for doing this.

Current Google updates to native website positioning

In the previous couple of months, waves have been made throughout the native website positioning group, not simply with doorway pages, together with:

For probably the most half, Google has addressed a couple of of those points, such because the suspended enterprise profiles and reviews hovering in purgatory – often giving credit score to “bugs.”

In some unspecified time in the future, SEOs must ask themselves why all of the sudden there are such a lot of bugs in a particular sector.

Except for the bugs with GBP profiles, Google has additionally made some apparent and strict adjustments to how profiles at the moment are verified.

It began with the default verification technique switching from postcard to video. Then, in some situations, video being the only way to verify.

This, combined with enterprise profiles all of the sudden being suspended over minor issues, began to lift flags that Google was lastly tackling the website positioning spam within the SAB group.

Quick ahead to September this 12 months, SEOs in communities and boards began to see declining rankings for location-dependant key phrases and pages.

All of this being stated, it seems to be like Google is significantly cracking down on native companies which can be violating their spam insurance policies.

Can location pages nonetheless work?

The quick reply is, “sure”, nevertheless it’s solely a matter of time earlier than location pages fade into archaic website positioning practices like hidden textual content or meta key phrase stuffing.

Google deindexing duplicate content material location pages is simply step one within the conquest to punish websites for utilizing doorway pages that don’t profit people.

It’s unclear whether or not or not Google will institute rank penalties for doorway pages sooner or later or proceed to not index the pages.

My principle is that this can be a short-term repair. Location pages are one thing native SEOs ought to be leaving previously.

On the finish of the day, Google desires content material to exist to offer a optimistic person expertise, to not affect rank.

As a shopper, I’ve by no means discovered a location web page to profit my person expertise. That is how we must always assume when creating pages and content material.

First, take into consideration the way it might help the person after which how it may be optimized to assist your rank – in that order.

Different optimization choices to rank in close by cities

Suggesting that location pages could also be coming to an finish isn’t trigger for native SEOs to throw their arms up on optimizing for neighboring cities and areas.

There are different issues we are able to do this put the aim of the content material again within the route of serving to people first.

Goal your main service space in your H1s and web page titles

Chances are high you or your shopper have a primary space they need to goal.

Be sure that this metropolis is talked about in your H1s and web page titles. This can make it clear to Google from a content material standpoint the place your main space of service is.

Be sure that to have a common service space web page

Be sure that to have a common web page that tells customers the place you or your shopper serves.

Checklist out all counties, cities, or neighborhoods and embrace a map that visualizes that service space.

Create undertaking pages

That is my favourite. In the event you or your shopper have project-oriented work like landscaping, roof restore, development, and many others; create pages for particular initiatives that had been accomplished.

Deal with it equally to a weblog or gallery. Add earlier than and after photos, explaining the job or undertaking particulars.

Point out what metropolis it was situated in, how a lot it value, some challenges, and many others.

This technique won’t solely present potential clients what your organization is able to and the kind of work you do, nevertheless it’s additionally an effective way to rank your service and town the place it was carried out.

An instance of a undertaking web page for a landscaper could possibly be titled “Fashionable Highland Stone Retaining Wall in Minnetonka, MN.”

Native newspaper press releases

Attain out to native newspapers within the surrounding areas and subject a press launch.

Brag about your organization concerning a previous or upcoming charitable contribution or low cost you give. Newspaper and native publishing websites sometimes hyperlink again to your web site.

Be part of a number of native Chambers of Commerce

These sometimes have an annual price related to each you be a part of, however every metropolis you or your shopper is focusing on has one.

If it’s in your finances, be a part of them for the location-relevant hyperlinks and geographic authority.

The place can we go from right here?

Google’s enforcement of service space companies is lengthy overdue, nevertheless it looks as if the motion is now being taken. 

Some location pages nonetheless work so long as the positioning has excessive authority and good general content material. It’s duplicate content material location pages which can be getting deindexed.

Total, SABs at the moment are underneath Google’s magnifying glass. If SEOs aren’t getting hit with penalties but, I’d put cash on it being one thing that can be occurring within the very close to future.

It’s essential to keep in mind that Google is all the time evolving. Though one thing like distinctive content material should work for location pages, I wager that Google will sort out this subsequent.

Google’s SpamBrain AI is up to date now and again. This time, it could be evolving to focus on simply distinguishable doorway pages.

It’s solely a matter of time earlier than it understands a location web page as a standalone doorway web page with distinctive content material.

As SEOs, we should evaluation our native enterprise websites, stick with the core rules of native search,  and do some housekeeping per Google’s insurance policies – earlier than their algorithm staff pays us a go to. 


Opinions expressed on this article are these of the visitor writer and never essentially Search Engine Land. Workers authors are listed here.


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About The Creator

Jake Hundley

Jake Hundley is the founder and co-owner of Evergrow Marketing, a digital advertising and marketing company that focuses on the garden care and landscaping trade. His background and strengths lie primarily in digital technique, PPC, and website positioning, particularly native website positioning. Jake additionally consults with enterprise firms leveraging their first-party information using CDPs as a Consumer Accomplice Supervisor with Leverage Lab.



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