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Doorway pages. What not to do when planning your SEO strategy?

5 minutes of reading
Doorway pages. What not to do when planning your SEO strategy?
Category SEO

Doorway pages are one of the most annoying and dangerous practices in Search Engine Optimization. Unfortunately, they’re also very common, so you have to be careful to avoid them if you want to keep your website’s search engine rankings high and avoid getting slapped with penalties by Google. Here’s what they are, why they hurt you, and how you can avoid this scourge once and for all.


Doorway pages

Bridge Page/ Gateway Page/ Jump Page/ Portal Page/ Zebra Page/ Entry Page

Doorway Pages are websites, positioned for selected keywords (most often using forbidden techniques), which are designed to redirect the user to the landing page. The original intent of these pages was to get a higher rank in search engine results by sending traffic from search engines that would have otherwise not found the site.

The difference between doorway pages and landing pages

A landing page is a web page that has been designed for the sole purpose of converting people that have come to it from a search engine. It is usually created with the goal of convincing visitors to take a specific action, like purchasing a product or clicking on an advertisement. In order to get ranked on Google’s search engine results pages, you must have quality content and backlinks. Doorway pages, however, are webpages created for the sole purpose of ranking higher in search results. They’re often comprised of thin content that does not provide much value to users.

Content rich doorways

The doorway page technique is always changing, evolving, and transforming. Nowadays, you can find content-rich doorway pages, which resemble normal pages in appearance and are more dense in content. Their job is to make the site more user-friendly, so instead of automatic redirection, some people may have to click on a link which redirects them to the correct page. The above step should be taken to avoid breaking Google’s strict guidelines by employing the use of the META refresh command by jumping to new links.

What does Google think about them?

Black Hat SEO

Black hat SEO is the practice of manipulating search engine rankings by using methods that are not in compliance with search engine guidelines. Those techniques include spamming websites with irrelevant, repetitive, or low-quality content to improve their ranking on search engines. Buying links, hiding keywords within link text, keyword stuffing the page’s meta tags, and placing a site’s target keywords near unrelated keywords are also forbidden. The same goes for the doorway pages.

Google describes doorway pages as pages that are designed to rank highly on a search engine results page by using spammy techniques, such as the use of irrelevant keywords or repeated keywords. Doorway pages also lack content and give no information about what you might find if you click through, which may lead to users abandoning their site visit after viewing one page of content. You want your visitors coming back for more. To sum up: they are harmful to users as they can cause many similar pages to appear in search results, all of which actually lead to the same place.

How do doorway pages work?

Doorway pages are pages that typically have no content, but are designed to rank for a specific keyword. Doorways will typically consist of a large number of links to other websites, usually ones that offer the same product or service being offered on the doorway page. The goal is to manipulate search engines and trick them into thinking that your website has more authority than it really does.

How do they affect your SEO?

At the beginning, Google’s Panda update will penalize your site for having too many low-quality pages. Another way is if you use doorway pages to send users to your website from other sites with the intent to earn affiliate revenue from those clicks. Google have been cracking down on these types of websites because it makes it difficult for their algorithms to determine what type of content is appropriate. The penalty is the first problem, followed by a drop in rankings, fewer clicks, less traffic, higher bounce rate.

It is worth knowing the types of penalties imposed by Google in this context:

Ban – the site is excluded from the search results. The page, although it physically exists on the web, is not discoverable. Such a high penalty is used extremely rarely, and its reasons include:

  • using Black Hat SEO techniques,
  • extorting money using low-quality sites (AdSense),
  • Optimizing a page that collects traffic from search engines for another site with an unrelated topic.

Filter – a penalty imposed for a specified period, in the case of Google it is from a month to – note – even several years. Applying a filter consists in lowering the position of keywords by several dozen places. How much? Up to 70 items. Reasons for applying filters:

  • unnatural growth of external links with a specific anchor,
  • links from unnatural sources, e.g. low-quality directories or domains,
  • using the link exchange system (SWL) in a spammy manner.

If you already have them, what can you do?

This is a difficult problem to solve, and in some cases, it may be impossible. However, if you are experiencing doorways on your site and want to get rid of them, there are a few things you can try. Isolate the doorway page from the rest of the website. When done correctly, this will stop Google from indexing it but allow users who follow links from elsewhere to reach the content behind the doorway page.

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Last thoughts

Search Engine Optimization is a constantly evolving beast and the rules of what works and what doesn’t change frequently. Doorway pages are an example of one technique that has been proven to work in the past but is now regarded as spammy by Google. The best thing you can do to keep your website competitive and maintain a high ranking on search engines is to use techniques that have been proven to be safe and effective, like content marketing.

Aleksandra Pietrzak
Curator at the National Museum in Poznań, graduate of Art History at the Jagiellonian University and Contemporary Art at the Pedagogical University of Krakow, curator of exhibitions and author of scientific and popular texts. A lover of contemporary art, literature and travel.
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