Doorway Pages and Why They Matter

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By Boris Dzhingarov

When it comes to SEO, ‘doorway pages’ might be a term that you have come across. But what are doorway pages and why do they matter? A doorway page refers to any webpage that is created specifically to rank for certain search queries. Typically, they are a ‘doorway’ to the main web content, hence the name. They’re not always valuable to users, and in many cases it’s a tactic that involves redirecting the user to a different site or page very quickly when they click on it.

Google has long been cracking down on doorway pages, as they violate the search engine’s guidelines and are considered to be up there with some of the most malicious black hat SEO tactics.

What Do Doorway Pages Look Like?

To determine what would be considered to be a doorway page, Google has provided some examples as part of their SEO support. According to Google, doorway pages could involve creating several subdomains, domain names, subfolders, or even multiple sites to boost search footprint. These pages are made to solely target certain search phrases in various cities and regions to funnel users to a page.

A doorway page could also be creating similar pages based on a certain search term or phrase, or creating pages that are designed with the purpose of funnelling visitors to the useable part of the website.

Some doorway pages that may not always be immediately obvious are pages that have very thin content and do not offer any original value.

Why Doorway Pages Need to Go

Google is cracking down on doorway pages as they violate one of the search engine’s main guidelines of providing consistency. Along with this, they do not deliver any value to the user, causing users to miss out on websites with useful, informative content as a black hat technique has been used to get a lower-quality website to the top of search results.

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Google is mainly focused on providing high value to users, enhancing their experience with better search results.  So, you can count on it that Google is working hard to do away with all black hat SEO tactics it comes across. And, Google is certainly not short on resources to help it achieve this, so any website found to be using doorway pages can expect penalties.

If you have been using doorway pages as a tactic for generating traffic to your website, even unwittingly then it’s essential to clean them up before it is too late. Since 2015, Google has been cracking down on doorway pages to remove them from the search results and penalize the websites and blogs that use them for increasing traffic.

Finding Doorway Pages on Your Site

There are a few main things that you can look out for to identify doorway pages on your website. In many cases companies use doorway pages without even realizing that this is the tactic that you are using. Audit your website to look out for the following:

  • Pages that mention keywords without having anything to do with it other than to channelize traffic to the website from the search results. These pages don’t trick human readers and might sometimes lead to an increased bounce rate, but they can mislead search engines. However, Google is dedicated to figuring these pages out and eventually, website that use this tactic could end up facing an algorithmic penalty.
  • Your website not following a typical hierarchy, instead ranking for certain keywords or alternations of different keyword phrases despite not delivering value to the user.
  • If you have created pages for several cities randomly to funnel more traffic to your website where you sell a product or service. For these to be doorway pages, there will usually be no useful content to benefit the reader on the location-specific pages.
  • Pages that use locations despite not having a business presence in that area, simply for the purpose of funnelling visitors through search engine results. In many cases, these doorway pages do not have anything to do with the region that is mentioned. Google disproves of this tactic, considering it spammy and misleading.
  • Specific pages on your website with similar content that links to the main page, that have been purchased with specific anchor texts. This is known as anchor text spam, and Google flags pages such as these as doorway pages.
  • An optimized website that is solely for the purpose of redirecting visitors to another website, where they will find the main content.
  • An empty page that has been created for the purpose of driving traffic to a certain part of your eCommerce store, to increase the number of conversions through organic search.
  • A website or page that has been optimized for SEO, but does not offer any valuable content to readers, or has no relevant content to the keyword or phrase that it is ranking for. Google frowns on these kinds of websites and pages as they result in a poor user experience.
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How to Turn Doorway Pages Around

If you’ve been using doorway pages as an SEO tactic without even realizing it, then there’s no need to worry. However, you do need to take some action to turn the doorway pages around before Google discovers them and hits you with penalties.

The best thing to do to turn the doorway pages around is to create and publish some excellent, high-quality content. Fill your doorway pages with content that is original, useful and relevant, and then continue allowing them to drive traffic to your site. If your doorway pages are able to provide value to the reader and enhance the user experience, they will no longer be considered to be doorway pages by Google.

If you’ve been using a redirect as part of a doorway page strategy, then change this by adding the website that you would redirect to as a link on the page, allowing readers to click on and navigate to it if they wish to.

Doorway pages are considered to be a black hat SEO tactic, and if you’ve been using them without realising, it’s time to change that before Google penalizes your site.