There have been a few updates to Google's algorithm in the past two months. Two of which were publicized; the Doorway Page Update which is mentioned below by Barry Schwartz from the 1:oo minute – 2:06 minute mark, and the Mobile Friendly Site Update. There may have also been an update that hasn't been officially declared, dubbed as Phantom 2.
With the Mobile Friendly Update being the one that got the most attention, the Doorway Pages update almost went unnoticed for much of the SEO world. But it looks like some of the major business directory sites took a bit of a beating recently which may be attributed to the Doorway Pages update.
Andrew Shotland of Local SEO Guide shares some data he has been tracking here:
Perhaps SEMRush is still updating but if its organic search traffic graphs are even close to accurate it looks like May is the month that Google took care of all Local family business: Read full article…
So if this this is the case and business directories have got caught up in this algo update, how does this affect us as SEO's? According to Bright Local in a recent survey they conducted, 31% of SEO's use business directory listings (a.k.a. citations) in their link building strategy:
A lot of local SEOs clearly see citations as having dual benefit. We know about the benefit of citations to local search ranking; 55% of experts say accurate citations are ‘critical’ to local search ranking, and listing your business on important niche, local, or national directories – even without a link – has direct benefit on local ranking. But now we can see that 31% also view citations as an important link building tactic.
Citations do not have to include a link, only a mention or form of NAP. A citation with a link is seen as an added bonus. However it must be noted that although a business listing without a link on a low ranking directory will not harm your site… the same cannot be said for low quality directories where you do have a link.
If you are using citations for link building, you must be more discerning about the sites on which you are listed on.
So does this mean SEO's should stop building citations? Hardly. What it does mean is that those links may not generate as much traffic as they previously did before the Doorway Page update affected the directory sites. I certainly still plan on using citations for backlinks and NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) mentions, but expect that they will have less overall influence on ranking for local terms now.
Some additional points to consider to keep from getting caught in the Doorway Page update ourselves are also outlined here by Andrew Shotland:
5 Ways Sites Can Dodge Google’s Doorway Page Update
While Google’s mobile-friendliness algorithm update seems to have captured the lion’s share of pageview-pumping SEO posts, the doorway page update has seen relatively few screaming SEO headlines. Thus, I thought I’d give the poor, ignored algorithm its due.
Last month, Google announced that it would be releasing a “ranking adjustment” to deal with doorway pages, noting that this update would have “a broad impact” on sites utilizing doorway campaigns.
I have heard a few rumblings here and there — and I have definitely seen “Gateway Page” warnings in Google Webmaster Tools in the past — but I have seen no evidence that this update has been released, particularly no “broad impact” evidence, so there may still be time to avoid this one if you are at risk. Here are some steps you can take. Read more…
So although it isn't conclusive yet as to whether the Doorway Page update has caused directories to be deprecated, I would assume that they will have less overall SEO value going forward. Another good reason to keep a robust SEO and backlinking strategy with diversified sources.