What are doorway pages, and should I use doorway pages?
Doorway pages are Web pages designed and built specifically to draw search engine visitors to your website. They are standalone pages designed only to act as doorways to your site. Doorway pages are a very bad idea for several reasons, though many SEO firms use them routinely.
As a rule of thumb, if you can’t reach the page by following the site navigation, then it is a doorway page. You are not supposed to “visit” the page. Instead, you are just supposed to find it in the search results and then click through to get to the site in question. In essence, a doorway page is no more than a one-page click-through advertisement for a website. However, when you are searching, you don’t want to visit one-page click-through advertisements for a website. You want to visit websites. Think of doorway pages as giant banner ads, only worse. You’re searching for “widgets” and instead of getting a widget site, you get a page that says, “click here for widgets.” You just did that! Now they’re asking you to do it again. Are you going to click?
The fact is that doorway pages don’t do a very good job of generating traffic, even when they are done by “experts.” Many users simply hit their back buttons when presented with a doorway page. Still, many SEO firms count those first visits and report them to their clients as successes. SEO Firm: “You got 140 visits to your site today!” Client: “But no one visited our products pages!”
Can you spot the doorway page?
Look at the site map below. There are three doorway pages on the site. Can you spot them? You should know that Google can spot them just as easily.
Is it a Doorway Page or just another Web page?
Is the page an integral part of the contents of your website?
Do you link to the page in your site navigation?
If “Yes, Yes, ” then the page is not a doorway page. If “No, No, ” then the page is a doorway page.
Google has some very clearly stated opinions about doorway pages. We suggest you read them before even thinking about using doorway pages in your Web marketing efforts.
“Quality Guidelines – Specific Recommendations:
Avoid ‘doorway’ pages created just for search engines, or other ‘cookie cutter’ approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content.”
From: Google Information for Webmasters – My Web Pages Are Not Currently Listed
“Reasons your site may not be included:
You employ doorway pages. Google does not encourage the use of doorway pages. We want to point users to content pages, not to doorways or splash screens.”
“If an SEO creates deceptive or misleading content on your behalf, such as doorway pages or ‘throwaway’ domains, your site could be removed entirely from Google’s index. Ultimately, you are responsible for the actions of any companies you hire, so it’s best to be sure you know exactly how they intend to ‘help’ you.”
“What are the most common abuses a website owner is likely to encounter?
Another illicit practice is to place “doorway’ pages loaded with keywords on the client’s site somewhere. The SEO promises this will make the page more relevant for more queries. This is inherently false since individual pages are rarely relevant for a wide range of keywords.”
Google – Report a Spam Report
“Trying to deceive (spam) our web crawler by means of hidden text, deceptive cloaking or doorway pages compromises the quality of our results and degrades the search experience for everyone. We think that’s a bad thing.”
AltaVista also clearly states its position on doorway pages in their Help section.
From: AltaVista – Help – FAQ – Adding & Removing URLs – Does your engine detect and penalize for word stacking, cloaking, multiple page submissions, and other kinds of spamming?
“Here are some specific examples of manipulation that may cause us to block a site from our index: … Machine-generated pages with minimal or no content, whose sole purpose is to get a user to click to another page, … Pages whose primary intent is to redirect users to another page.”
So, why do SEO firms build doorway pages?
Some SEO firms may be relying on commercially available software to help them perform their tasks. One common example is WebPosition Gold, which has a very useful position checking feature. Unfortunately, WebPosition Gold also has a “Page Generator” feature that will create doorway pages as fast as you can type (or copy and paste), then upload them to your site, and even submit them to the search engines. Avoid those features.
If you ask them, people working at firms which employ doorway pages on their clients’ sites will likely tell you that they didn’t have any other options. The client refused to allow them to edit any of the content on their website. Or the entire site was dynamically generated or built in flash and doorway pages were the only way to go, etc. No matter what the reasons, firms building doorway pages have committed themselves to playing a cat and mouse game with the search engines. Your site is the mouse.
To learn about other search engine optimization tricks that can get your website in trouble, read What is search spam, or SEO spam?.