You might have heard of the term – “Doorway pages” in SEO. So what is a doorway page and how does it affect SEO of your website or blog?

A Doorway page is a page on your website which has been created to rank for specific search queries. Often times, website owners would create a lot of pages, trying to rank for a specific keyword or phrase on search results. Typically, doorway pages are just a “Doorway” to the main content and is not at all useful to users. Sometimes, this tactic involves redirection to another page, and when the user clicks on it, the meta refreshes and there is a very quick redirect to another page. However, Google’s been countering these techniques pretty well so far.

Creating doorway pages has long since been frowned upon as one of the most malicious black hat SEO techniques. The name ‘doorway’ comes from the technique used by Black Hat SEO masters, just to get their foot into the door with the search engines.

Some Examples of Doorway Pages

To understand which page gets classified as a “Doorway page”, Google has given us three examples of a Doorway page in their Support article

  • Creating multiple domain names, subdomains, subfolders or multiple sites to increase “search footprint”. These pages are created solely for the purpose of targeting specific search phrases at specific regions, cities and funnel users to one page.
  • Creating pages to funnel visitors to the actual usable part of the website. For example, if the main page is “Best food for dogs”, you create 10 different pages like “Best food for dogs in Texas”, “Best food for dog in Houston”, “Best food for dog in New York” and so on.
  • Creating similar pages that are closer to search results than a browseable hierarchy.

Here is one example of a Doorway page across multiple domains seen in Google search results.

There could be other examples of Doorway pages which you may not even realize are actually doorway pages with thin content, offering no original value.

Let’s say you have a page on “Camera accessories” in your eCommerce Store. You are ranking on the first page of Google search and getting some sales out of it. But now you want to increase sales and hence create 50 different pages targeting different search phrases

  • Camera accessories for children
  • Camera accessories for Students
  • Camera accessories for old people
  • Camera accessories for professionals

And so on.

Example of a Doorway Page

If you have unique content, products or services in all those pages, then it might be acceptable depending on how users interact with the page, whether they come back to it often, user experience, backlinks and other things. If all the above things are okay, then these pages will not get classified as a doorway page. However, if all these pages have little to no original content but only a link to the main page which sells “Camera accessories”, then all of the above pages are perfect examples of “Doorway pages”.Google can figure out doorway pages through user experience metrics, backlinks, original content and lot of other factors, so spinning content or adding jargon to the page won’t help fix doorway pages on your site.

Why should you Get rid of Low Quality “Doorway Pages”?

Google is focussed on enhancing user experience and delivering better, high-quality search results, so the least you can expect from it is to get rid of every Black Hat SEO trick that comes in its way. One of the most technologically advanced companies with businesses spread across diverse verticals, Google isn’t short on technical resources in order to achieve its goal.

It is crucial that you come out clean before it’s too late, just in case you’ve been relying on doorway pages as one of your traffic generating tactics. In fact, Google has been working on getting rid of doorway pages since 2015 and has cleared up the mess to a large extent. However, if you’ve been lucky to get through that (until now), then you’ve got to think more clearly before it’s too late and you get blacklisted by Google.

How to identify Doorway Pages On Your Website?

  • If you sell a certain product or service and create pages for several cities randomly, just to funnel more traffic. Also, without having any useful content on those location-specific pages, which the reader can benefit from.
  • If you have created specific pages with similar content on your website which links to the main page, and you have purchased paid links to these pages with specific anchor texts. This is a clear example of anchor text spam and all these pages will be flagged as Doorway pages.
  • If your website does not follow a normal hierarchy and ranks for a keyword or specific alternations of keyword phrases without delivering any original value to the reader.
  • A page that uses a ‘location’ without any actual business presence, just for the sake of funneling visitors through the search results. In fact, in most cases, these pages have nothing to with the location. Google, however, doesn’t approve of this and considers it to be misleading and spam.
  • A page that mentions a keyword but has nothing to do with it, except for channelizing the traffic to their website from the search results, by misleading the search engine. So, although this won’t trick the human readers, and would show up in the form of increased bounce rate. Sometimes, the bots do get tricked into showing these pages in the search results but they will eventually figure what you are doing and you may even face an algorithmic penalty for creating doorway pages.
  • You have a website that has optimized elements but redirects to another site with the main content. However, Google has eliminated most of these types of redirecting doorway pages.
  • You have a webpage that’s optimized for search engines but doesn’t have any useful content for the reader, which is relevant to the keyword that it ranks for. Since this entire process results in bad user experience, Google frowns upon it and has been making algorithmic changes to get rid of it.
  • An empty page created to drive traffic to a certain portion of your eCommerce store, in order to increase conversions through organic searches.

What if you can’t or Don’t Want to Get rid of Doorway Pages?

You have only two options.

  • Remove the doorway pages completely for good. This is the recommended path which should fix SEO issues with respect to doorway pages.
  • Re-work on them so that they genuinely deliver value to the readers. Add unique, valuable and engaging content on these pages which offers genuine value to the user.

If that’s stressed you out, then don’t fret. Here’s the only thing you can do to avoid eliminating doorway pages — before Google nails you down and penalizes you.

Invest in some great content. Yes! Load your empty doorway pages with high-quality original content, and let them continue to drive traffic to your site. By doing this, you contribute towards Google’s goal to provide a good user experience and also transform your traffic-generating webpages into legitimate ones with original content.

If you’ve been using a redirect then you can always add your actual website (the one that you redirect to) as an external link and if the reader wishes to navigate to it, then the reader would. However, if you do not take action now, then you may have to face its consequences in the near future.

Google My Business Listings

Not everyone seems to appreciate (or even notice) how wonderfully Google has rolled out changes, which require local businesses to verify their addresses via postcard, in order to create an official page. Well, this helps Google identify and record exactly where your business operates. So, if you’ve got an office in Nevada and have been ranking for Dallas, then beware. You never know when Google’s undercover strategies would knock you off the search results.

In fact, you may also be off Google Maps and may have to stick out handbills in order to promote your business. So, unless you can afford at least a virtual address in a certain location, don’t waste your time and money, ranking for it.

Why Do Search Engines hate Doorway Pages?

  • Doorway pages violate one of Google’s guidelines, which requires consistency. Since the data that the search bot gets to see and what the reader gets to see on a doorway page is inconsistent, Google doesn’t approve of it.
  • Doorway pages do not deliver any value to the reader, resulting in inferior user experience. Google wants you to have the most relevant results as quickly as possible and has been dedicatedly working towards it.
  • Readers miss out on websites with useful content just because an inferior website used a handful of black hat SEO techniques to get to the top.
  • Abusive redirects seem to be a big turn-off for Google.

How to Ensure Traffic After Getting Rid of Doorway pages?

Once you’ve decided to get rid of doorway pages, then you need to invest in legitimate SEO techniques and for your benefit, we are listing down some of the most prominent ones.

  • Content is King, so create some good content. Run a plagiarism check on all the content that you have on your website and fix duplicate content issues once and for all. If you don’t, then Google will. In fact, none of the search engines rank plagiarized content well, so sooner or later, you’ll find yourself, yet again between the devil and the deep sea.
  • Speed up your website to enhance user experience and you can do that by using a minimalistic design and reliable web hosting. Also using responsive website design, compatible with maximum devices and browsers is definitely going to help you rank better. This is very important to rank better ever since Google has rolled out its ‘mobile-first’ algorithm.
  • Don’t neglect keywords, and although all the “Gurus” out there may be telling you that you don’t need to, but you sure do. So, make use of tools like Semrush to do your keyword research and also to uncover your competitors’ keyword strategy.
  • Run PPC Campaigns and focus on generating paid traffic with low-competition keywords and see if that helps in sales of product or services. You can easily identify such keywords with tools like Semrush.
  • Use Influencers to market your products or to gain relevant traffic as this is an easy and low-cost method of generating relevant traffic.

Doorway Pages are harmless-looking HTML pages, with hardly any content on it. Although this gets the spiders crawling, that’s a short term solution to generating traffic. As a matter of fact, search engines have been hiring “actual humans” to evaluate search results, in order to provide more accuracy and high-quality search results to users. So, with such measures in place, there’s very little hope for doorway pages to drive traffic in the near future.

In fact, they will do more harm than good and have your entire website blacklisted, rendering the subsequently posted content useless.