Doorway pages are pages on your website that are optimised for a limited number of keywords and provide no benefit to the end user, they are merely there to manipulate the search engines. Doorway pages are just what they say they are – the doorway to the actual page.
Using doorway pages on your website is considered a black hat SEO tactic.
Don’t be confused – doorway pages aren’t the same as landing pages. Doorway pages are lots of similar pages that all lead to the same end page. They don’t provide any benefit to the end user and they aren’t optimised to enhance the end user’s experience.
If you’re worried that your landing page might be mistaken for a doorway page, err on the cautious side and label it with a noindex tag so that search engines know not to index it, and it won’t be included in the SERP. That way you can’t be accused of trying to manipulate the search engine spiders.
What is the point of doorway pages?
The creation of doorway pages is a way for website owners to try to get their site found more easily by the search engine spiders. They are populated with the keywords that the site owner wants the subsequent pages to be ranked for, all with the intention of driving more organic traffic to those pages, boosting their position in the SERP.
Doorway pages can serve a useful purpose in that they can help the owner of the website to connect the target pages to an end page, but that is all they are useful for. Because doorway pages provide no tangible benefit to the end user and the search engines view them as a nuisance, and penalise site owners who utilise them.
What do doorway pages look like?
Because doorway pages are designed as simply as possible, merely providing the ingress route to the ensuing pages, they tend to only consist of plain HTML text and have a simple, clean layout and design.
Doorway pages aren’t always visible as they are just the passageway that is automatically passed through en route to the intended page with the actual content.
Examples of doorway pages:
- Lots of similar pages all with slight variations to their content and layout and are indexed differently to reflect these differences, whilst actually all being the same page, with the same purpose.
- Pages that are packed full of keywords, backlinks and ads that are not useful to end users, they only exist to direct readers to another page on the website and to try and trick the search engines into thinking they are a useful page.
- Doorway pages can be positioned on many different sites, all directing users to the same place, thereby making the end page look more popular than it actually is.
Why are doorway pages considered black hat SEO?
Doorway pages are considered black hat SEO because they involve the manipulation of the search engines. The content that the end user sees and the content that the search engines see are two different things, all for the purpose of improving the pages’ ranking.
And violating Google’s quality guidelines results in being penalised, which typically means either a lower ranking, or being removed from the search results altogether. Completely the opposite of what you’re aiming for with your SEO efforts.
How do you know if you’ve created a doorway page?
You’ll know if you have created a doorway page by asking yourself these questions:
- Does your page exist just for search engines?
- Does your page direct traffic to a certain section of your website without providing users any tangible benefit from its presence?
- Is the page you’ve created an essential part of users’ experience of your website?
- Does the page duplicate a different page?
- Does the page only exist to include the keywords that you’re hoping to rank for?
- Can users navigate easily to these pages, or have you buried them so that users don’t need to find them?
- Are the links that you have included on the page for users or for the search engines?
How to avoid being penalised for doorway pages
If you’re worried you might be penalised for having doorway pages, there are a few steps you can take to prevent this from happening:
- Don’t have duplicate content on your site. Google hates duplicate content (another black hat SEO tactic), and penalises sites with duplicate content heavily, because you aren’t providing users with more information, you are merely spamming them with the same thing.
- Combine similar pages into one condensed page.
- Use 301 redirects to redirect any pages with similar content to one central page.
- Only add new pages to your website if they are giving users new and fresh information.
- Keep all of your pages easy to navigate. That way no one can accuse of you trying to manipulate users or the search engine spiders.
- Don’t create lots of websites with the aim of improving your ranking for certain keywords.