Google has announced that it’s going to be making an algorithm update to website that use doorway pages.

What Is A Doorway Page?

You may have heard of a doorway page being referred to as a bridge page, entry page or a portal page.
The idea is to rank a page for a particular keyword(s) and then use a script, e.g. a meta refresh, Java or php to redirect the visitor to another page without their knowledge. When a doorway page is used in this way it is referred to as a cloaking and this is a Black Hat SEO tactic.

Why They Exist

Doorway pages are created for the search engines and not for the end users. A sophisticated doorway page often has rich content on the page to help it rank higher in the search results and may include title attributed links and title attributed images for keyword support. In this type of doorway page a redirection script isn’t used.

How A Doorway Page Is Created

1. The Low Tech Way
Create and submit a page targeted for particular keyword phrase. This type of page may be very generic making it easy to copy or make a few changes to. The page may have a ‘click here’ link that propels the user to the destined end page or use a fast meta refresh command.
Some website owners submit a page on their website to the search engines and then use server based scripts to redirect the user to the ‘real page’. This code swapping technique was used to make it difficult for a competitor to learn how a page ranked well in the first place.
2. Agent delivery
Just as each search engine delivers an agent name, so too does each browser. Using the agent name delivery technique can ensure that you redirect the search engine to a specific page but redirect your users to the actual content that you want them to see. The idea is to keep your page code away from prying eyes, although there are flaws in this method, namely that someone can telnet to your web server and report themselves as being from a particular search engine. They then get to see what you are actually trying to display to an end user.
3. I.P. Cloaking
Rather than delivering a page by agent name, you can deliver a page to the search engines by I.P. address. This method guarantees that only something (the search engine) coming from the exact address can see the page. This is also referred to as page cloaking because your page can only be seen by the search engine spiders and not by users.

What Google Have To Say

“To improve the quality of search results for our users, we’ll soon launch a ranking adjustment to better address these types of pages. Sites with large and well-established doorway campaigns might see a broad impact from this change.”

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
Not sure if some of your pages might qualify as ‘doorway pages’?

Google’s Guidelines

– 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?

Why You May Want (Or Already Have) A Doorway Page

There can be legitimate reasons for using a doorway page – e.g. to make a url, that isn’t user friendly, be more accessible. If that’s the case, then I recommend that you make the doorway page search engine friendly by putting good content on the page to avoid it being classed as possible spam.
Some SEO agencies create doorway pages if their client refuses to allow them to edit the content on their site. If this applies to you then you need to take action now.
If you own a local business or have a client that owns a local business then you need to pay attention to this. Many local businesses try and rank for additional cities (or suburbs) by using thin content (or no content) on these doorway pages.
For example, if you are a plumber in Chicago, you’d probably want to rank for inner suburbs like Arlington Heights, Aurora, Cicero and so on. Having doorway pages for each of these suburbs would have helped you to rank for each of these locations.

How To Create A Search Engine Friendly Doorway Page

Follow the guidelines above and make sure that each doorway page is:
1. Content rich and that the content is unique.
2. Linked to from another page (e.g. the Navigation Tabs).