A strong SEO strategy is a key element of building a successful digital brand.
Why? Because search engine optimization refers to the process of improving features on your website and other digital assets to appear higher in search engine rankings and increase the visibility of your brand.
While there are many things that you can do to boost your SEO rankings, there are also things that can damage your SEO and even get you blacklisted by Google and other search engines.
Doorway pages are one example of a negative SEO factor that can hurt your rankings and get you in trouble with Google and other search engines.
- But what exactly are doorway pages?
- Why are they bad for your strategy?
- How do you recognize them on your own website?
In this article, we’ll answer those questions and help you determine whether or not you have doorway pages on your site that are hurting your SEO plans.
What are Doorway Pages?
They go by a number of other names, including gateway pages, bridge pages, jump pages, and entry pages.
Basically, doorway pages are low-quality, low-value pages that were built to rank high for specific keywords or search terms by stuffing in keywords.
However, rather than providing information on the keyword it ranks for, doorway pages link or redirect the user back to a different page on your site through a “doorway” and offer little value to readers by itself.
For example, imagine that you have the main page on your website focused on “Best Men’s Jewelry”. Then you create 15 different pages targeting search phrases like:
- Best Men’s Jewelry in California
- Best Men’s Jewelry in Los Angeles
- Best Men’s Jewelry in San Diego
Doorway pages provide a poor user experience for your target audiences.
Rather than landing on a page that provides them with useful information related to their search, they are redirected or linked to a page with the main content.
By trying to trick search engines into ranking doorway pages higher, website owners actually hurt their chances of increasing their brand reputation and endearing themselves to potential customers.
(Make sure to also check out Google’s official definition of doorway pages, ok?)
Doorway Pages vs. Landing Pages
One common mistake that people new to SEO make is assuming that a doorway page is a type of landing page.
A landing page is a standalone page that usually can’t be found on your website’s navigation and serves a single purpose.
Landing pages are often used as a conversion step in the customer journey and require a customer to sign up, give you information, or complete another step before receiving the content they are looking for.
However, unlike doorway pages, landing pages do provide relevant and specific information about the content topic they are about and deliver on the searcher’s intent behind a keyword or search query.
They don’t automatically redirect a user to a different page that is unrelated to their search and are perfectly acceptable by search engines like Google.
Are Doorway Pages Bad for Your SEO Strategy?
Yes. Doorway pages are an example of black hat SEO, the practices that are against search engine regulations, can seriously damage your SEO rankings and can even get your site blacklisted.
Before there were sanctions against them, black hat SEO techniques were used by website owners that didn’t care about providing value to their audiences and instead wanted quick tricks to rank high on search engine results pages.
Similar to keyword stuffing, doorway pages were designed to rank high for keywords without spending the time and effort needed to create quality content to back up the search query.
You need to focus on the User Experience
As SEO evolves and search engines become smarter, the focus has shifted from black hat tactics to promoting pages, sites, and content that enhance the user experience of searchers.
Rather than letting any page that has enough keywords appear at the top of the results page, Google and other search engines scan the content itself.
Content that is high-quality, in-depth, and engaging, and that is also trustworthy and authoritative, is what search engines are looking for.
In this sense, doorway pages are a major red flag that can get your site blacklisted, so removing them becomes a key component of a successful SEO strategy.
What are Examples of Doorway Pages?
As mentioned above, doorway pages are sometimes confused with landing pages or other types of pages that are acceptable by search engine standards.
Here are some clear examples of doorway pages that you might have on your website and not even know about.
- Different pages that are indexed individually that only have a slight variation in their content and are mostly interchangeable.
- Pages that have many different keyword variations, advertisements, and links that are only there to direct users to a different web page.
- Separate page domain names that have different geographical targeting locations but still redirect users to the same page.
- Multiple websites are used across franchises, service areas, or branches that redirect users to the same page or content.
How to Determine if a Page is a Doorway Page
While you might have a better idea now of what a doorway page is, there are still specific things that search engine algorithms are looking for that you should be aware of as well.
Google’s algorithm is often used as the benchmark to look at, so ask yourself these key questions while looking over your pages:
- Are there multiple pages that repeat locations and other product lists on your site?
- Do the links you’ve created exist only to gain higher search engine rankings, or do they have a bigger purpose?
- Are your website pages difficult or even impossible to navigate to from your website’s navigation structure or other parts of your website?
- Is the content you’ve put on a page optimized for generic keywords and phrases when the content itself is extremely specific?
- Is the main purpose of the website page to improve the user experience and provide valuable information, or is it just to gain higher search engine rankings?
It’s important to remember that while SEO is an important part of your content creation strategies and your overall digital marketing plans, your first and most important goal should be giving your readers and users the experience they are looking for and providing them with valuable information.
How to Go About Removing Doorway Pages
Here are a few tactics that will help you avoid being penalized by Google and other search engines and allow your SEO strategies to flourish.
1. Review your specific keywords
Make sure that the keywords you are using on your site are specifically related to the content on the page. Don’t focus on the broader keyword terms, and try using long-tailed keywords that are relevant to the specific goal of the page.
2. Avoid duplicate content
Duplicate content is a major red flag for Google and other search engines. Making pages that have similar content that is only slightly different is an indicator to the search algorithms that you aren’t creating new content for each geographical region or user location.
3. Make pages easy to find
Gateway pages are often difficult to find, and are only able to be found through a search engine query and not from your site’s navigation. Making your pages easy to find and improving your overall navigation strategy can help you get rid of doorway pages.
4. Don’t create multiple websites
Some companies try creating multiple sites for each product, service line, or location. However, if the content is still the same, you can be penalized by Google and other search engines.
Doorway pages were initially used as a black hat trick and can now cause major damage to your site’s rankings and visibility among your target audiences.
Getting rid of your doorway pages is a key tactic to improve your SEO and ensure that you aren’t penalized by Google and other search engines.
While doorway pages can be extremely damaging to your site, eliminating them is only one part of creating a strategy that works.
To learn more about how to plan your SEO, check out our SEO Maturity Assessment tool!
You’ll learn how to diagnose the current state of your SEO and identify which steps should be taken to take you to the next level of the maturity curve.