What Are Doorway Pages in Search Engine Optimization?
Last Updated February 8, 2021 · Web Development
When optimizing your website to rank higher in the search results, you must use the right tactics. Some on-page search engine optimization (SEO) tactics are more effective than others. There are even tactics that can harm your website’s search rankings. While updating your website with new high-quality content will likely increase its rankings, for instance, creating doorway pages will place your site’s SEO in jeopardy.
Some webmasters create doorway pages in hopes of ranking higher. In the past, it was an effective tactic. Doorway pages, however, no longer have a place in SEO. If you create them, your website could get burned.
Doorway Pages Defined
Also known as gateway pages, doorway pages are low-quality web pages designed specifically to rank for one or more keywords. They are typically created in bulk. A set of doorway pages may have the same content but with slight modifications so that they target different keywords.
A common example is a set of geographically targeted pages on a local business’s website. Local businesses often create a separate page for each of the cities or counties in which they operate. They’ll publish the same content on all of these geographically targeted pages while replacing the names of cities and counties.
E-commerce websites may have gateway pages as well. If the operator of an e-commerce website sells a product in multiple variants — colors, size, material, etc. — they may create a separate page for each variant. Like with geographically targeted doorway pages, these product variant pages have the same content. E-commerce operators simply modify them with different keywords.
They are known as doorway pages because they lead visitors to the same destination. Except for minor keyword adjustments, all of the pages in a set of gateway pages are identical. A website may have dozens of gateway pages. Regardless of which one a user visits, they will see the same content.
What Search Engines Say
Google considers doorway pages to be a form of spam. In 2015, it issued a statement warning webmasters not to create them. This statement was released in conjunction with an algorithm update. Known as the doorway page update, it lowered the rankings of websites with this type of low-quality content. According to Google, doorway pages can now have a broad and negative impact on a website’s rankings in its search results.
Bing holds a similar but less aggressive view towards gateway pages. According to Duane Forrester, former Senior Product Marketing Manager at Bing, doorway pages shouldn’t be indexed. Rather, they should be kept out of the search results.
Why Doorway Pages Are Bad for SEO
Doorway pages rarely score high search rankings. They tend to rank well below high-quality pages with unique content. In some cases, gateway pages may fail to rank at all.
If search engines allowed doorway pages to rank high, they’d foster a negative user experience. Users expect each indexed page to be unique. After visiting an indexed page, a search engine user may go back to the search results to find and visit another indexed page. If it has the same content as the previous page, the user will probably leave dissatisfied.
Another reason gateway pages are bad for SEO is that they promote a higher bounce rate. Users are more likely to bounce from a doorway page than a high-quality page with unique content. A bounce, of course, occurs when a user leaves after visiting a single page during a given session.
Bounces are more common with doorway pages because they lack unique content. Once a user has visited one of the doorway pages in a set, there’s no reason for them to visit the others in the same set. A user may visit and immediately leave multiple doorway pages, resulting in multiple bounces.
Doorway pages will also divert search engines away from other parts of your website. Search engines can only spend so much time and so many resources crawling your website. With doorway pages, they’ll give other pieces of content on your website less attention.
Beware of Unintentional Gateway Pages
Even if you didn’t intentionally create them, your website may have gateway pages. Any page with mostly duplicate content that’s designed to rank for one or more keywords is a doorway page.
If you find any gateway pages on your website, you can handle them in one of several ways. Depending on the type of page, you may be able to update it with unique content. Deleting the page’s duplicate content and replacing it with entirely new, unique content will prevent search engines from considering it as a doorway page.
You can also handle gateway pages by blocking search engines from accessing and indexing them. A page isn’t a doorway page just because it contains duplicate content. Doorway pages are intended to rank in the search results. Fortunately, you can let search knows which pages they shouldn’t index.
If your website has doorway pages, edit your site’s robots.txt file to both block search engines from accessing and indexing the content. The disallow rule will block them from accessing your site’s gateway pages, whereas the noindex rule will prevent them from being indexed.
In Conclusion: Don’t Do This
Doorway pages aren’t the portal to SEO success. As a form of spam, they can have a crippling effect on your website’s rankings. gateway pages dilute your website with duplicate content without driving any real rankings. You can handle doorway pages, though, by updating them with unique content or editing your site’s robots.txt file.
Do you need some help learning the basics of SEO and avoiding mistakes like this? Link Software has provided our clients with simple SEO support for years. We can help your business or organization get started off on the right foot with search engine optimization. It’s not as hard, or as complicated, as you may have thought to start doing SEO in a safe and simple way. Contact us to learn more about how we can help.