Google to Increase Penalties on Doorway Pages

Doorway pages, once a favorite tool for search engine optimization, for some time now have been frowned upon by search engines. Now, Google has announced a “ranking adjustment” that will severely penalize doorways, and marketers who use doorways will feel the pain.

Doorways are standalone pages or sites designed to rank highly for specific keywords. They are intended to funnel visitors to other content that may or may not be related to the search queries they are optimized for. Successful doorways can garner multiple returns in search results that lead to essentially the same destination, reducing the usefulness of the search results.

Doorway pages shouldn’t be confused with landing pages. A landing page typically is used with a pay-per-click or other advertising program. They are designed to create conversions with a minimum number of clicks. If they do act as a funnel, it’s to direct users to more detailed information on the subject of the landing page. Even if they are indexed for organic search, this makes landing pages relevant and content-rich in a way that doorways aren’t.

If you aren’t sure whether Google will see your pages as doorways, here are questions they suggest you ask:

  • Is the purpose to optimize for search engines and funnel visitors into the actual usable or relevant portion of your site, or are they an integral part of your site’s user experience?
  • Are the pages intended to rank on generic terms yet the content presented on the page is very specific?
  • Do the pages duplicate useful aggregations of items (locations, products, etc.) that already exist on the site for the purpose of capturing more search traffic?
  • Are these pages made solely for drawing affiliate traffic and sending users along without creating unique value in content or functionality?
  • Do these pages exist as an “island?” Are they difficult or impossible to navigate to from other parts of your site? Are links to such pages from other pages within the site or network of sites created just for search engines?

Google also has updated its description of doorway pages in its Quality Guidelines.

About Lee Stral

Lee is a marketing consultant who has specialized in Internet marketing and Web site development since the Internet first showed promise as a marketing channel. Prior to founding Essential Presence, he was partner in an integrated marketing communications agency working with technology, professional service and non-profit organizations.

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