Google recently announced it’s going to start systematically cracking down on doorway pages. Doorway pages are defined as low-quality pages (or groups of pages, or entire websites) optimized to rank well for specific keywords that act as a door between users and content. Characteristically, they offer little value to visitors and serve the sole purpose of boosting SEO value.
An official announcement on the Google Webmaster Blog warns that “sites with large and well-established doorway campaigns might see a broad impact from this change.”
Translation: Your page may not rank anymore if you have doorway pages and you could take a traffic hit. If your site contains doorway pages, you need to either:
- Remove them if they offer little value to visitors
- Revise them to make sure they offer clear value to visitors
How can you tell if your site has doorway pages?
These hub pages act as a gateway between one section of your site (likely a homepage) and other content-focused landing pages.
For an ecommerce site, this might look like a page optimized for a product category that doesn’t directly link to any items, but instead points people to another page that contains them.
Don’t make users jump through hoops.
An ecommerce site that sells office furniture might have a doorway page optimized for the search term like “office desks” that contains the phrase in the content and title tag. However, the page is just a hub. It may contain links to other pages, deeper in the site, which list out the office desks for sale. However, the doorway page doesn’t provide any valuable content or original information about the product category that would impact the buying experience. Rather, it inhibits the user’s buying experience because it adds an unneeded step to get to the products.
Why is Google targeting doorway pages?
Gateway pages obstruct users from accessing the information they ultimately want when clicking on product categories. Google said this isn’t just impacting on-site browsing, it’s also disrupting search experiences.
Doorway pages don’t just impact on-site browsing, they also disrupt search experiences.
When websites optimize doorway pages for search terms (like “office desks” as mentioned above), they have the opportunity to take up more SERP real estate. A site with strong SEO around the term “office desks” might have the doorway page, the product category page and the individual items pages ranking in search results. The end user sees multiple links from the same site and assumes they’re all full of good information. Upon clicking one, he realizes the page doesn’t contain any office desks, and goes back the results page only to find more links from the same site.
All in all, this results in a frustrating experience and Google wants users to have easy one-click access to the information they want. It plans to introduce a ranking adjustment that penalizes sites using these schemes to get ahead.
As always, this reiterates the importance of creating content for your visitors. Moving forward, search rankings will focus on whether you’re offering users a positive experience on your site, rather than your ability to optimize a page with technical search signals.