Technical SEO – Doorway Pages (Warning)

Like all things, there is a right way and a – get you banned – way of doing things.

Make sure you aren’t setting yourself up to fail by using blackhat SEO techniques.

Doorway pages are almost a necessity for some businesses, but you need to do them correctly.

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Doorway (bridge, portal, jump, gateway or entry) pages might work for a short time but could get you a google slap. These pages are blackhat and have no place in your SEO strategy.

These pages are created for the sole purpose of attempting to manipulate the search engine indexing algorithm.
A ‘Google Slap’

While this term is often used in reference to paid advertising, this also happens with organic rankings when Google spot “Blackhat SEO” techniques being used on a website.

It’s technically a Google SEO Penalty, but Google Slap works well here too.

This will effectively downrank your page and its content.

If this happens often enough, let’s say, by using bulk generated doorway pages, for example, Google could stop your entire website from showing in any search results by blacklisting it.
How to Spot a Doorway Page
How to Spot a Doorway Page

A gateway page is most often viewed as optimising for a couple of keywords on a simple page and then forwards to the page you want people to find.
Google’s Definition of a Doorway Page

Having multiple domain names or pages targeted at specific regions or cities that funnel users to one page
Pages generated to funnel visitors into the actual usable or relevant portion of your site(s)
Substantially similar pages that are closer to search results than a clearly defined, browseable hierarchy

A lot of companies/agencies will do this for multiple keywords with essentially the same content but just changing the name of a town for example.

This will be considered duplicate content and goes against Google’s TOS.

Google is too smart to fall for this, just don’t do it.

What To Do Instead

Doorway pages are against Googles TOS because they want to protect the user experience.

They do not want pages ranking for the sake of getting traffic to a page that is unrelated to the search.

Therefore, you can legitimately create gateway pages for certain instances without going against the spirit of the rules laid out by Google.
Avoid blackhat for «doorway pages»

First, you still need to avoid all the recognised blackhat techniques associated with doorway pages:

Using Multiple Domains
Redirection
Cloaking

Make sure your pages are:

Included in the hierarchy of your website
Original (content)
Helpful to the user
Following all the content good practice guidelines

Then, if you want to have pages and services for your business in different areas (a common reason for property professionals and estate agents needing doorway pages) you don’t fall into the trap of taking shortcuts and being penalised.

To make sure your content is recognised as genuinely useful by the search engines, your SEO backlink strategy should focus on hyper-local links from businesses in the area you’re creating cannibalised content for.
Summary of Using Doorway Pages

If you have a business in multiple locations offering the same service on the same website, treat each area as if it were a different website.

Of course, it will still all be under the same brand and website name, but imagine you are creating unique, useful, well-written content for each area with its own off-page SEO.

This way, even though you may have several actual doorway pages, they look natural, are useful to the user and are unlikely to be flagged and penalised.

Is it more work?

Yes.

Is it worth it?

YES!

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