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Rethinking Doorway Pages

June 15th, 2010 | | Conversion Optimization

Whenever you look up a list of Black hat SEO techniques, you come across the technique of doorway pages. Each list I look at seems to equate these things as pure evil. Though when I first learned of the technique, I thought, “well, that doesn’t seem so bad.” Of course, you can make excuses for every technique and say “well, that doesn’t seem so bad.” The difference is how much you have to really defend a technique without exploiting and taking advantage of search engines. Doorway pages, by definition, are really good things to do. Doorway
pages, in practice, have a nefarious history of exploitation and user frustration.

What is a doorway page?

A doorway page is a page that is optimized for a specific keyword or two that leads to the rest of the website.

Sounds good, right? Well, this is how it played out:

A doorway page is a page that is generated by software that builds bogus web pages containing vague and generic content, peppered with your search terms to trick the Search Engine into thinking that the doorway page is full of useful content, thereby ranking the page high and pushing competing pages out of the way by flooding search results with junk content.

Ew. The purpose of the Black hat Doorway page was to make sure that you were only seeing their website while also feeding Search Engines lots of matching keyword content. In many instances, the page you
saw looked a lot different than the search engine saw. By disabling javascript on a suspected doorway page you can sometimes see a lot of the actual junk feeding the search engine.  In response to this technique, some search engines would de-list or ban the site or not index more than the home page. It was an abuse that needed to be curbed.

What is a good Doorway Page?

I know I’ll get laughed at by some for putting “good” and “doorway page” together, but there is an actual good way to use a “doorway page.”

1. Keep the concept. Change the Practice.
A website has much to offer. Your main page may list all that your company does, but your sub-pages can be optimized to stand on their own for specific keywords. If you have content that doesn’t sound spammy and sounds focused on the keywords at hand. Don’t have anything “generated” – do it by hand. Content is king, and those who serve the king will find favor.

2. Include Navigation
Some doorway pages were notorious for having vague navigation, if any at all. Creating comfortable usability is essential in providing a pleasing web experience while someone is trying to find an answer to their need.

3. Make the goal clear
Because most doorway pages were for the search engine’s “eyes,” these junk pages didn’t go anywhere. If your new content-rich, hand-crafted, answer-giving page has a clear call-to-action you will reap rewards of leads.

Leads? Yes, leads! The Blackhatter would build pages just to rank high in a web search at whatever cost. You, being a white hatter, build pages to provide a real relevant solution that the user will appreciate and do business with you.

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  • http://www.ppcian.com/ PPC Ian

    Interesting post! I also view doorway pages in PPC as a legit white hat technique. I like to create straight to the point pages that are really optimized for the keyword I’m buying. I’ll often have a lot of pages that are only slightly different. Of course i orphan the pages from the main site and noindex them because this would be bad/dupe content from an SEO standpoint.

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