Sometimes, webmasters have no other option but to use BlackHat SEO techniques. And often, it is Google that forces them to do so, especially in the case of doorway pages. Confused? Read further to understand what I’m talking about here.
It is because of the strict algorithms of Google, sometimes webmasters create numerous, different pages which at times might be similar. It is because if they create innumerable similar pages, Google’s algorithms can consider them as doorway pages. As a result, they can be penalized.
Hence, the best alternative available to them is to avoid creating such pages at all.
But doing so can limit their business ideas right?
Most of the articles you read online will tell you why it is bad to create doorways pages and the damage they can bring to you and your business.
However, in this post, we will discuss some actionable tips and solutions to combat this problem. The reason you must read it is that it will let you know all of these by allowing you to create similar pages, which target multiple services or cities.
This can be useful to all, and particularly to those offering the same service in different locations. Most of the times, they fear that if they create multiple yet similar pages, Google will consider them as doorway pages and penalize the site.
So, let’s understand what doorway pages actually are and the ways to overcome all obstacles related to it.
Doorway Pages – What are they and what’s the Confusion!
You might have come across multiple definitions for doorway pages. The main reason behind this is that Google has not yet announced any official definition for the same.
When webmasters ask Google experts about doorway pages, they receive different answers, which ultimately lead to confusion. It is because every definition adds something new to the discussion, thereby making things more confusing.
So, we define doorway pages as what we consider the most suitable ones!
1. Definition 1:
This definition is from the official page of Google, which describes doorway pages as pages or websites designed to solve specific search issues or rank high. Such pages are not good for users as they can result in numerous similar pages for one search result. Since numerous pages are listed for a search query so users are not directed to one solution, and hence, get confused.
Also, they can result in intermediate pages. Some of the examples of doorway pages are:
- Having numerous pages or domain names, which target particular cities or regions which funnel users to a single page
- Similar pages with closer to the search results and not clearly defined
- Pages designed to funnel visitors into the real website or relevant part of the site
Since this definition is from Google’s official guideline so breaking it can lead to a penalty. It is known that almost all pages online rank high on a particular search query and is designed to rank high on search queries.
If you are using numerous domains with the same matches for search queries you must boycott yourself as equity from backlinks which you earn will spread. It means you need to work more for each domain. Moreover, if you are building the same links, there is a risk of getting into trouble like being considered as Private Blog Network.
2. Definition 2:
As per this definition, there are a few things to consider to list pages as doorway pages. It considers doorway pages as:
- Pages that aim to optimize for funnel visitors and search engines into an actual relevant or usable portion of the website. Alternatively, they must be an integral part of the user experience of your website.
- The pages that rank on generic terms but have very specific content.
- Pages duplicate aggregations like products, locations, which exist on the website with an aim to capture search traffic.
- The pages designed to draw affiliate traffic and send without offering unique value to functionality or content.
- The pages, which exist as an island and are impossible or difficult to navigate to from other parts of the website. There must be links to these pages from other pages in the network of websites designed for search engines.
The new thing disclosed in this definition is that product pages or location must consider doorway pages if they don’t exist in another place. Moreover, such pages must not be isolated and must be accessible from the site’s navigation. 3.
3. Definition 3:
This definition is from Wikipedia that gives a more detailed explanation of doorway pages.
As per this definition, doorway pages are websites, which lead visitors to the same pages, through cloaking or redirects. Such pages can be identified easily because their content is copied from other sites.
But according to Wikipedia, such pages are introduced to gain higher ranks in search engines without using cloaking or redirection. Such pages are known as content-rich doorway pages, which look similar to a website.
4. Definition 4:
This definition is from one of the SEO experts, which states doorway pages as a big collection of pages where keywords constantly tweak in order to gain a higher rank for particular keywords.
According to the expert, a page is a doorway or not depends primarily on the reason for which webmaster has created it. This is true to some extent. If a page is designed solely for search engines, it probably is a bad page for the user.
But this is true to some extent for old search engines. It is because modern search engines utilize metrics that experience a lot. Hence, creating doorway pages for modern search engine means considering the user’s experience. Presently, a page can deliver a rich user experience and can still get ranked high.
So, What Exactly a Doorway Page is?
By reading all the above-mentioned definitions, you must have got a clear idea of what doorway pages are. But at the same time, you might have got confused.
It is because these definitions don’t explain what Google considers harmful in doorway pages.
So, here we have tried to offer you a better explanation of doorway pages.
Doorway pages are multiple, similar pages, which target similar keywords or variations of numerous phrases and keywords. These pages are created in bulk by replacing some parts of keyword phrases. The main aim of such pages is to target numerous keywords very fast, without adding real value or affecting user experience.
Basically, these are landing pages with low-quality content. They focus mainly on beating focus and not on helping a human.
However, the value-added can vastly differ. For instance, when users end on doorway pages and get good business, the doorway page is of great value to him.
The aim of Google is to actually avoid large numbers of spam pages which are there without a purpose and are simply clogging up online with useless stuff.
Important Criteria Harmful Doorway Pages Must Meet
There are a few criteria, which harmful doorway pages must meet.
- They must not be accessed from anywhere on the website or website’s navigation.
- They must redirect the user instantly to another location.
- They must not be presented in a hierarchical or structured manner.
- They must be created in numerous domains.
- They don’t offer value at all.
- They are based on spammy content practices like hiding the content or spinning it.
Ways to Handle Doorway Pages Challenges:
There can be various kinds of doorway pages and hence the ways to handle them also differ a lot. There might be numerous websites, which is full of doorway pages and yet is able to outrank a few of the authoritative sites in that domain, which are into business for over years.
In order to test the authenticity of doorway pages, I checked to see if a few things happen. For this, I used Matt Cutt’s suggestions and utilized the spam report form for reporting the website that has been ranking for a few years now. The result was nothing much changed.
The thing skeptical about this site is that it was a low-quality one and filled with identical content, except for the city names. Still, it ranked higher than websites, which were quite older than it. Even it had its physical locations with Google Maps and adjacent location webpages. One thing I want to recommend you is that this site does numerous social media spams and manual link building via blog commenting.
Does this mean that the website is bad?
For me, the website was bad as far as its web design is concerned. But when it comes to testing things and see what happens, they clearly fit the criteria for the doorway pages. But it does not harm or affect the user enough for Google to penalize the same. And even till this day, it ranks high!
Even if you ask experts, they will take some time to think and revert on the topic as it is quite sensitive.
So, here comes another question. How BlackHat SEO techniques and spammers affect everyone when the webmasters play fairly.
The Best Alternative to Doorway Pages:
While sharing the alternative, I do not suggest you violate the guidelines of Google or use spammy techniques in the SEO strategy. This method is a personal recommendation and you have your own choice to whether to use it or not.
There have been some doorway pages alternatives, which I have heard before. They come from search engine optimization experts or content marketers.
One alternative to them is to create Essay Pages and develop original or high-quality content on them.
The second alternative was regarding location pages and how they are considered as doorway pages. To avoid it, you must also build greater structures, even distinguished entities that are unique.
Despite doing all this, such pages remain doorway pages.
If such pages are considered as essay pages, landing pages, or if structures are build and links are provided to them, they are still within patterns of what is been described by Google as a doorway page.
Moreover, the second alternative can even make people build subdomains rather than a single page and it does not even cover every bit of information. It is because it refers only to businesses with verified locations. Also, they include local SEO tactics like links from Google MyBusiness listings.
Furthermore, most local businesses don’t have numerous locations. Hence, the doorways pages issue is more likely applicable to businesses, which can offer services remotely or travel.
This brings us to other strategies like canonicalizing all locations pages to a one, general page, where the list of numerous services can offer and locations you work in. This is suggested by Google as an alternative to duplicate content problems for E-commerce websites, particularly when there are multiple pages for a color variation.
Though Google correctly indexes the content on every page and displays another page. Still, a problem stays, which is Click-through Rate or CTR. The length of the title is limited. If a product is searched like the yellow product and you have a title that displays green, red, violet, and yellow product but only Google displays it as green, red, violet, then the CTR will reduce. Might be you are ranking on the first page or first result, but if your title is not as per the customer’s search query, there are very fewer chances he will click on it and check your website.
Your site cannot deliver the desired results until Google offers a feasible option to dynamic or variable titles in search results without indexing numerous URLs and displaying the ones, which are required. In this situation, the best solution is creating separate pages. All other alternatives are harmful and extreme for webmasters.
Hence, there is nothing as an ethical solution to doorway pages. But there are a few rules you can follow to protect your content from getting penalized by Google.
- Avoid using numerous domains
- Avoid cloaking or redirecting as it is a bad spam technique for the users.
- Create a proper structure or hierarchy of the pages.
- Avoid using duplicate content.
- Don’t create bulk pages and if there are then monitor them correctly.
- Create pages consider user’s experience.
- Get some quality links, especially from local sites.
On a Concluding Note:
There is no genuine alternative to doorway pages and using spammy techniques must not be practiced. However, you must not avoid creating such pages at all. Even location pages are not doorway pages, especially if they have unique content.
Be careful while designing such pages as at the end how they will perform and what results will they deliver depends solely on Google. Just make sure that your pages solve the issues of the user and don’t harm them at all.