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“Doorway” Pages Soon to Be Locked

Google is closing the door on another once-common SEO technique, the use of so-called “doorway pages” to grab an extra share of web traffic. The search engine says it’s launching a ranking adjustment—also known as an algorithmic penalty—to knock those pages out of search results.

What is a Doorway Page?

A doorway page is generally a topic-specific page that exists only to get search traffic. Once someone arrives at the doorway page they have to click through to the main site to get much useful information. That’s why they’re called doorways; they only lead you further into the site.

Doorways exist for a couple reasons. One dates back to the days when keywords were the centerpiece of SEO, and ranking a keyword was a must. In that era it was advantageous to create a separate page for every search term you wanted to rank for. For example, if your site sold office equipment, you might want one doorway page optimized for “color printers” and another for “laser printers”—even though both would ultimately direct the user to the same printer section of your e-store.

The other reason is a bit more underhanded. Doorway pages aren’t always located on the same domain as the main website they support. By creating a variety of doorways at different domains, you could actually get in the search results more than once. Imagine if 4 of the first 10 results on Google led straight back to your website. This larger search “footprint” crowds out your competitors.

Why Google Is Closing the Door

There’s a reason Google doesn’t like (most) doorway pages. Two reasons, in fact:

  1. Those that artificially expand the search footprint are basically spam, and they create a poor users experience. As Google says, “if a user clicks on one result, doesn’t like it, and then tries the next result… and is taken to that same site that they didn’t like, that’s a really frustrating experience.”
  2. If you haven’t gotten the message yet, Google really only wants to show pages with valuable, relevant content. If the doorway page exists only to pass you on to another page, then that page is the relevant one, and the doorway is just in the way.

The upshot is that not all doorway pages will be affected. If a doorway really does add something meaningful about its topic, and is a destination in its own right, it probably won’t be touched by the ranking adjustment.

Will This Impact Your Site?

So, how does this affect you? Well, for starters, it’s important to look at the difference between a doorway page and a landing page. Many law firms, for example, have landing pages for each of their different practice areas (construction accidents, car accidents, etc.). These pages will be fine if they provide real information on the topic and don’t just pass the user on to your general “personal injury” page.

But if the same law firm had, say, a mini-website to capture traffic for “hit and run accident,” it might be in trouble. The test would be whether the mini-site is valuable in its own right or just pushes you toward their “car accident” page at the main website.

The good news is that even if you do make use of doorways, this is not a red alert situation. Your site won’t be penalized. That one page, however, will drop out of the search results and you will lose its traffic, which is likely only a small percentage of your total site traffic.

And you can get that traffic back. It just involves putting high value content on your website on end-destination pages for each of your topics (practice areas, product types, etc.). A strong hit and run landing page, for example, will not only capture back some of that lost traffic, it will also do a better job of converting the people who find it.

Could you use a page like that? That’s what we do. Call us for a free consultation today.