Doorway Pages – Dodgy or Misunderstood Tactic?

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June 3, 2024

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UK, Manchester

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Doorway Pages – Dodgy or Misunderstood Tactic?

The Murky World of Doorway Pages

Ah, the elusive and oft-misunderstood topic of doorway pages – the dark horse of the SEO world. As an SEO specialist at an agency in Manchester, UK, I’ve seen my fair share of clients grapple with this conundrum. Is it a tactic to be feared and avoided at all costs? Or is it simply a misunderstood technique that deserves a second chance? Let’s dive in and uncover the truth.

The Rise and Fall of Doorway Pages

Back in the early days of SEO, when the search engine overlords were a little less sophisticated, doorway pages were all the rage. Webmasters would create these seemingly innocuous pages, optimized to the nines for specific keywords, solely for the purpose of ranking high in the search results. The idea was simple – lure in the unsuspecting searcher, only to whisk them away to the ‘real’ content on the website.

Google has defined doorway pages as those that “lead users to intermediate pages that are not as useful as the final destination.”

The Infamous BMW Case

Remember the infamous BMW case back in the day? BMW was busted for creating a slew of doorway pages that were essentially just text-heavy pages stuffed with the German keyword “Gebrauchtwagen” (used cars), hidden behind a layer of JavaScript. Sneaky, right? Well, Google wasn’t amused, and the automaker ended up with a rather hefty penalty.

The Crackdown on Doorway Pages

After the BMW fiasco, Google really started to crack down on this type of behavior. Their algorithms became far more sophisticated, able to detect even the most well-disguised doorway pages. Google’s spam policies now clearly define doorway pages as a form of manipulation that can lead to “multiple similar pages in user search results, where each result ends up taking the user to essentially the same destination.”

The Dilemma of Landing Pages

So, where does that leave us in the modern SEO landscape? Well, there’s often a fine line between a legitimate landing page and a potential doorway page. After all, both are typically optimized for specific keywords and may not be directly accessible from the main navigation.

The key difference, as the folks at Levity Digital explain, is that a doorway page is essentially a network of pages all leading to the same destination, whereas a landing page is a single, standalone page with its own unique URL or tracking link.

The Dos and Don’ts of Avoiding Doorway Pages

So, how can you ensure your website avoids the dreaded doorway page trap? Here are a few tips straight from the Google Developers handbook:

  • Don’t create multiple pages on the same subject – consolidate into one comprehensive guide.
  • Avoid duplicate content across your site – keep things fresh and unique.
  • Ensure your pages are easy to navigate and offer genuine value to users.
  • Make sure your keyword usage is natural and directly relevant to the content.
  • Embrace the E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) approach to create high-quality pages.

The Verdict: Dodgy or Misunderstood?

At the end of the day, doorway pages have a rather unsavory reputation in the SEO world. While they may have been a popular tactic back in the day, the team at MCR SEO firmly believes that the risk of being penalized by search engines far outweighs any potential benefits.

So, are doorway pages dodgy or simply misunderstood? In our experience, they’re best avoided. Focus instead on creating genuinely valuable, user-centric content that ticks all the boxes for quality and relevance. That way, you can enjoy sustainable, long-term success in the ever-evolving world of search engine optimization.

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