Doorway Pages

Many businesses today rely on website traffic to secure quality leads or sales. Because websites that rank at the top of search engine results pages receive an overwhelming majority of clicks, digital marketers must take every step possible to produce a top ranking for targeted keywords. In the internet’s early days, the use of doorway pages was a legitimate, proven way to move a website toward the top of search engine results pages. However, Google’s algorithms have been fine-tuned over the years to detect this type of manipulation in the rankings. In many cases, doorway pages can backfire and send rankings plummeting or even result in a website not being ranked at all. Before creating doorway pages, it is crucial that you fully understand what they are and how they can hurt your website.

doorway page

What Is a Doorway Page?

A doorway page, which may also be called a gateway pages, bridge pages, jump pages, or entry pages, is one that is specifically designed to manipulate search engine results. Google Webmasters sometimes use bridge pages or doorway pages to improve traffic. It is a page on your website which has been created to rank for specific search queries. This manipulation is also referred to as spamdexing because of its impact on search engine indexes. It involves loading the page with specific phrases while redirecting those visitors to another page immediately via a meta refresh command. Often, this redirection is done without the visitors’ knowledge and is considered black hat SEO. Other types of redirection include server-side redirection and dynamic pages.

A doorway page is not meant to be useful to the visitor. Often, the redirection occurs without the visitor seeing the content on the doorway page. With this in mind, the content on these pages is usually low quality and packed with keywords. However, some doorway pages use tricky links or copy content from a related page that has ranked well on search engine results pages. It is important to note that this use of duplicate content and the use of a meta refresh command are both likely to result in a drop in rankings. Even the use of content-rich doorways can have a negative impact. These offer some design elements and encourage the visitor to click a link rather than automatically redirecting them to another page, but they use black hat SEO as well.

Often, there is confusion between doorway pages and landing pages. A landing page stands apart from a doorway page because it is designed to optimize the visitor’s experience. Landing pages have helpful content, are easy to navigate and are well-designed. In comparison, many doorway pages misdirect visitors through cloaking techniques. One strategy used by doorway pages is cloaking. A cloaked page is one that presents different versions to search engine crawler bots and human visitors. This cloaking is accomplished through the use of server scripts. Cloaking typically results in a website being penalized in SERPs or removed from indexing altogether.

Doorway pages often have the following characteristics:

  1. Thin or low-quality content: Doorway pages usually have little to no useful content for the user, as their main purpose is to rank high in search ranking results and direct traffic elsewhere.
  2. Keyword stuffing: These pages often include excessive use of targeted keywords to increase the likelihood of ranking higher in search results.
  3. Multiple, similar pages: Doorway pages often involve creating multiple, similar pages targeting slightly different keywords or phrases, all with the purpose of funneling users to the same destination.
  4. Redirects: searchers who land on doorway pages are often immediately redirected to the main website or target page, sometimes through the use of JavaScript or meta refresh tags.

How Doorway Pages Work

Cloaking is one of the most common methods used by doorway pages for misdirection, but there are other strategies used for doorway pages as well. Cloaking means that a page has two versions. One is the side that visitors see, and the other version is intended purely for bots to crawl over. The two versions of the same page are created using server scripts, and these scripts enable the server to determine if a human or bot is visiting the page. When a bot is detected, the cloaked version is displayed. The cloaked version may be packed with keywords, including irrelevant keywords, to produce higher placement on SERPs. The visitors’ version of the page is often used for monetization purposes, so the content may be irrelevant to the keywords targeted on the bots’ version of the page.

Doorway pages can also redirect visitors without their desire or knowledge of doing so. The doorway page in this case is often never seen by the visitors because a meta refresh immediately redirects the visitors to the main page. The doorway page, however, is usually optimized to produce higher rankings. The keywords targeted on doorway pages are often unrelated to the content on the main page.

A content-rich doorway page works differently in that it is designed to rank well on search engine results pages. However, these pages often make excessive use of title-attributed links and images that are packed with keywords to boost rankings. As a result of this type of keyword stuffing, the pages may be penalized in results pages even if they are well-designed and useful to the visitors.

The Consequences of Doorway Pages

Search engine algorithms are specifically engineered to support a superior user experience. Engines like Google and others want users to find the most relevant content for their searches and don’t automatically redirect a user to a different page that is unrelated to their search without being exposed to spam, duplicate content or other irrelevant content. The algorithms are specifically designed to identify websites that use various manipulation techniques in order to achieve higher rankings, including those with doorway pages. These identified websites may face various consequences, such as a sharp drop in rankings. Because of violations of search engine guidelines, the search engines may even stop indexing the website’s pages altogether. This means that the website will no longer appear in search engine results. In both of these cases, the website’s organic traffic will nosedive.

Some websites are designed specifically to draw traffic, such as for monetization purposes. Many websites, however, target a specific audience. Often, the goal is to get the visitors to take a specific action, such as signing up for a newsletter or clicking a link. The user experience is crucial for producing the desired result. Doorway pages often result in a negative user experience. This is often because the content on the page does not match what they were looking for. As a result, visitors may quickly click away, and they may never return. In addition, a high bounce rate can cause a website to fall further in rankings.

Prevention for Doorway Pages

The negative impacts of doorway pages can cause serious and even irrecoverable harm to a website. Understandably, it is best to avoid using them to manipulate rankings. At the same time, you need to optimize your website to get higher rankings and more traffic. While many uses of doorway pages are intentional, there are instances when they are not. One of the most important initial steps to take to prevent doorway pages is to learn about search engine guidelines and to ensure that your website is in full compliance with them. In addition, while a website should make full use of search engine optimization strategies, keyword stuffing and other black hat SEO practices should be avoided. Take time to learn about the most up-to-date white hat SEO techniques, and incorporate them to boost rankings appropriately.

A doorway page usually has low-quality content and provides little to no use for visitors. By creating high-quality content for each page, you can reduce the chance of your website being dinged as doorway pages. Carefully review each page, and ensure that the content is beneficial for your visitors’ interests and needs. Each page should target related keywords and make proper use of links, titles and attributions. In addition, the meta data should accurately describe the page’s content. If any of your web pages have a high bounce rate, this may be a sign that improvement is needed in these areas.

Search engine algorithms today detect and penalize attempts to manipulate rankings. Top-ranking websites are those that comply with search engine guidelines and that offer true value to visitors. By focusing on these important aspects, you could boost your website’s rankings without concern for penalizations.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are Doorway pages in SEO?
  • What are the differences between doorway pages and landing pages?
  • What are the differences between doorway pages and cloaking?
  • Why are content-rich doorway pages penalized by search engines?
  • What is the difference between black hat SEO and white hat SEO?
  • Why are doorway pages considered bad SEO practice?
  • How do I identify doorway pages on my website?
  • How does Google handle doorway pages?
  • How can I fix or avoid doorway pages?
  • Can doorway pages ever be used ethically?

Published on: 2023-03-30
Updated on: 2023-06-28

Avatar for Isaac Adams-Hands

Isaac Adams-Hands

Isaac Adams-Hands is the SEO Director at SEO North, a company that provides Search Engine Optimization services. As an SEO Professional, Isaac has considerable expertise in On-page SEO, Off-page SEO, and Technical SEO, which gives him a leg up against the competition.