Technical SEO

Doorway Pages

Shahid Maqbool

By Shahid Maqbool
On Apr 4, 2023

Doorway Pages

What are Doorway Pages?

Doorway pages, also known as gateway pages, are web pages that are designed to rank highly in search engine results pages (SERPs) for specific keywords or phrases. They are typically created to drive traffic to a website.

FYI: Doorway pages are also called bridge pages, entry pages, jump pages, and portal pages.

However, doorway pages are generally considered to be a black hat SEO technique, as they violate search engine guidelines by providing a poor user experience and being manipulative in nature. 

Here are some examples of doorway pages:

  • A website that sells multiple products or services might create a separate doorway page for each product or service they offer. Each page would be optimized for a specific set of keywords but would offer little unique content beyond links to the main website. For example, a company that sells both home appliances and electronics might create separate pages for "refrigerators" and "TVs."

  • A local business might create a doorway page that targets a specific area or service. For example, a plumbing company might create a separate page for "plumbing services in Boston" and "plumbing services in New York City". These pages would be optimized for those specific search terms but would offer little unique content beyond links to the main website.

  • A website that sells tickets to events might create doorway pages for specific events or performers. For example, a ticketing website might create a page optimized for "Lady Gaga concert tickets" or "Super Bowl tickets". These pages would be optimized for those specific search terms but would offer little unique content beyond links to the main website or affiliate links.

  • A website might create doorway pages that target misspellings or variations of their brand or product names. For example, a website that sells shoes might create a page optimized for the misspelling "shose" or the phrase "affordable footwear." These pages would be optimized for those specific search terms but would offer little unique content beyond links to the main website.

  • A website that provides information or advice might create a doorway page that targets a specific topic or question. For example, a website that offers financial advice might create a page optimized for the question "how to save money". These pages would be optimized for those specific search terms but would offer little unique content beyond links to the main website.

Overall, doorway pages are generally not considered to be a best practice for SEO, as they are seen as a manipulative technique that provides a poor user experience.

Instead, it is recommended to focus on creating high-quality, informative content that provides value to users and naturally incorporates relevant keywords.

This will not only help to improve search engine rankings but will also help to build trust and credibility with your audience.

Background of doorway pages

Before March 2015, doorway pages were common until Google updated its webmaster guidelines.

It helps the websites rank faster by tricking the search engines.

Google updated the webmaster guidelines and penalized the websites for doorway pages in 2015.

The purpose was to discourage spammers and provide helpful content to the funnel users.

Google's Search Quality team is continually working on ways in which to minimise the impact of webspam on users. This includes doorway pages.

We have a long-standing view that doorway pages that are created solely for search engines can harm the quality of the user's search experience[……]Over time, we've seen sites try to maximise their "search footprint" without adding clear, unique value. These doorway campaigns manifest themselves as pages on a site, as a number of domains, or a combination thereof. To improve the quality of search results for our users, we'll soon launch a ranking adjustment to better address these types of pages. Sites with large and well-established doorway campaigns might see a broad impact from this change.


What are examples of doorway pages?

Gateway or doorway pages are commonly confused with landing pages, but they are different.

According to Google:

Doorways Google

Here are a few examples of doorway pages. If you found any of them on your website (which may occur unintentionally), get rid of them.

  • Almost identical material is present on several articles or pages of your website, but each is still indexed separately.

  • The pages have different links or ads whose sole purpose is redirecting the visitor to the main targeting page.

  • Pages have different domain names targeting different locations but send visitors to the same targeted page.

  • Other methods are used through franchise or branch websites to redirect the visitors to the main targeted page.

Doorway pages vs Landing pages

One of the common mistakes people make while optimizing their website is assuming that the landing page is the same as the doorway page.

A landing page on a website is a static page without any distractions or navigation. It requires the customers to sign up first to get particular services or purchase products.

Contrary to doorway pages - landing pages provide the specific information that visitors are looking for.

They provide real value to the searchers and do not redirect them to irrelevant pages like doorway pages.

Moreover, landing pages are not created to get organic traffic rather they are made to convert the searchers into buyers who have landed there after clicking an ad.

Doorway pages vs Cloaking

Doorway pages sometimes used the methods of cloaking as a kind of deception.

Cloaked pages show different results to humans and search engines using various methods.

The server differentiates between a bot and a human by using the visitor's IP address.

Cloaking is the worst form of doorway page where content-rich cloaked doorway pages will be shown to the search engines, while on the other hand, when humans click on the link, they will see a different version which is not helpful for them.

In this way, bots fail to identify real website content because it is cloaked behind a façade.

Cloaking gives a higher ranking to the websites for unrelated keywords, destroys the user experience, and results in severe penalties.

How do doorway pages affect your SEO?

Doorway pages are an example of black hat SEO techniques that violates Google guidelines and policies.

Website owners who do not care about the user experience often employ black-hat SEO practices.

They want to trick the search engine ranking system to get higher rankings in SERPs.

Much like keyword stuffing, doorway pages are also created to deceive the system for a higher rank without creating high-quality and valuable content for the searchers.

If there is unique content on your website about all topics, products, and services, then it is acceptable and will not result in a Google penalty.

However, Google will identify it by using various signals like how searchers interact with your website, backlinks, and other important factors.

On the other hand, if your website lacks all of these, provides no value to users,  and has posted spun content, it will be a perfect example of doorway pages.

In short, this method may cause intense damage to your website and even get it banned.

Instead of tricking up the system, you must focus on developing quality content that provides real value to the users.

Content that is high quality, engaging, and authoritative is all a search engine is looking for.

Using unethical SEO methods, such as doorway pages, you may get your website blacklisted.

Why does Google dislike doorway pages?

  • Doorway pages are against the guidelines of Google Webmaster Tools. Since the content available on the websites for visitors and web crawlers is different (if it uses the cloaking method), Google does not like it.

  • Google wants to improve the user experience of the visitors. It expects the website owners to provide authentic, useful, and comprehensive information to its visitors. That is the reason: it completely ignores the doorway pages.

  • Google has zero tolerance for abusive and inappropriate redirects that may damage the user experience.

  • Since a poor website employs spammy tactics to rank better for particular keywords, visitors miss out on chances to view the helpful material they were looking for.

How do you find doorway pages?

If you are concerned about your website and visitors or want to provide real value to your searchers, then you must be aware of the presence of doorway pages on your website.

Here are a few questions you need to ask yourself if you doubt the presence of doorway pages on your website as per Google’s guidelines

  • Do multiple pages with duplicate content, such as location or a list of items, exist on your website?

  • Do your web navigation structure comfortable for users, or is it poorly designed? Is it possible to access those pages from other parts of your website, or can they only be accessed through a network of websites solely made for search engines? 

  • Does the material on your website pages target generic keywords even though the content is highly specific?

  • Do the content on your website solely made to harvest the affiliate traffic, or is it only sending visitors to those pages without providing any value?

  • Are the links on your website only optimized for search engines and solely for directing the customers to the relevant portion? Or have you optimized it while prioritizing user experience?

Keep in mind that SEO is the most crucial component of your internet marketing plan, but it should not come at the expense of your content or the user experience. 

How to remove doorway pages safely?

Luckily, removing doorway pages is simple and easy. If you are a WordPress user, a redirection plugin will help you redirect a doorway page to the final and authentic URL.

After redirection, remove the doorway page. The purpose is to redirect the users to the valuable page rather than landing on a 404 error page.

If you do not want to delete specific pages on your website, such as archives, you can direct the search engines to stop crawling and indexing these pages by using a robots.txt file or robots meta tag.

In this way, that particular page will remain on your website - but won’t get picked by search engines.

How to get traffic after removing doorway pages?

After eliminating doorway pages, you must concentrate on implementing legitimate SEO techniques to improve the ranking of your website.

Quality content for the readers

You must have heard that content is king. After removing doorway pages, creating quality content for the readers is a good practice.

Remove any duplicated content because Google will eventually find and devalue it.

Do a proper keyword research

You cannot neglect the importance of keywords in SEO strategy. Use different keyword research tools to identify your competitor’s keyword strategy and create valuable content for your readers.

Enhance user experience

A responsive website with a minimalistic design enhances the user experience.

A poor website structure may annoy your visitors. Test your website on multiple devices, i.e., PC, tablets, and mobile phones.

A well-responsive website with a reliable web hosting service is definitely going to give you an edge over others.

Use influencer marketing strategies

Influencer marketing is one of the best and low-cost methods to generate relevant traffic and promote your products.

Use social media marketing

Use social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and others to market your products and services.

How to avoid the Google penalty?

Here are a few ways to avoid gateway pages or getting penalized by Google.

Focus on relevant keywords

Instead of focusing on broad keywords, use long tail keywords in your website content.

Be sure the keywords you use on your pages or posts are relevant to its content.

This will add more value to your content and enhance the user experience.

Avoid creating duplicate content

Creating original, versatile, and unique content for your website is crucial. Avoid creating duplicate content with slight variations, as it is a big red signal for search engines, including Google.

It informs web bots that you have not updated your content to reflect particular geographical areas.

Make navigation easy

As doorway pages are hard to find and can be accessed through a search query, you must focus on creating a simple navigation structure for your website.

You can make this whole process stress-free by enhancing your website navigation structure.

Avoid creating multiple websites

Many people try creating multiple websites targeting the same products or services. If the content remains the same, Google may give you a penalty.

To avoid this, it is ideal to add unique content to each category or product page. 

The bottom line

Gateway pages come under the black hat SEO techniques. These were developed to deceive search engines so that websites would rank better.

However, this method may significantly damage your website or even get it blacklisted from search results.

Avoiding doorway pages is the key to every successful SEO campaign. Create a website and answer the queries by keeping humans in mind, not just the search engines.

On the safer side, focus on creating informative content to enhance the user experience.

It will help you avoid Google penalties and improve your ranking gradually.

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