Finding a hidden door can be exciting. You unlock the door, hoping to discover a pile of treasures.
But, how would you feel if you find another door just after opening it, open this one as well, and find another, and another…
Now all your excitement has gone and you start to feel annoyed. This is exactly how your visitors feel after facing such situations when visiting your website.
Known as doorway pages, these techniques are used by some website owners as they try to rank for multiple keywords.
What are Doorway Pages
For those who don’t have any idea about this malicious SEO practice, doorway pages are thin and poor quality URLs that take its audiences to a page different from what they were originally looking for.
For example, if you’re looking for “famous rock soundtracks in 1990,” you may expect to see a page with a music list of that year for you to browse.
However, instead of taking you to such pages, a doorway page will take you to a different page written: “click here to see the popular soundtrack of 1990.” You click on that link and you’re on another page with the same message.
It means even if you reach your destination page, you have to go there through doorway pages.
Here are some examples of possible doorway pages:
- Pages created to direct visitors into one of the pages of your site that is relevant or usable.
- Multiple domains and pages targeting specific regions that funnel users from that place to a particular site.
- Creating almost similar pages that can be closer to the search results.
Why Doorway Pages aren’t Good for SEO
While creating doorway pages is quite a popular technique among SEO marketers, this method isn’t helpful at all.
In fact, using such techniques can compromise your ranking. Here’s why:
Bad User Experience
Ensuring a better user experience is your responsibility if you want your audiences to visit your site more often. This is definitely not possible if your site has doorway pages.
Since the doorway pages don’t show the information immediately, users get frustrated and leave that site. If your site doesn’t have enough audiences, it’s position will automatically drop.
Google Hates This SEO Practice
Being the search engine giant, Google has always been against any shady SEO practice. It always gives priority to the user experiences and rewards those sites that can make the users happy and satisfied.
Back in 2015, Google rolled out an algorithm update that penalized all the websites that used doorway pages.
From the above discussion, I hope it’s now clear to you why you should get rid of those doorway pages.
Tips to Avoid Doorway Pages Penalty
Since you’re not interested in being penalized by Google, you need to take steps so that you don’t end up creating any doorway page unintentionally or can remove them if you already have one. But how are you going to do that?
The following tips will help you to get a site without doorway pages and avoid penalties from Google.
Build High-Quality Page
The secret of building a high-quality page is a high-quality content written by an expert writer. The post you’re creating for your audiences must be comprehensive and visually appealing.
You can try Google’s E-A-T method to ensure optimum page quality.
You might be wondering what E-A-T is. It stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.
The writer of that content must be an expert on that given topic. he/she must provide the necessary credentials and testimonials to ensure your site’s authoritativeness.
And finally, the content must be well researched so that it can gain the trust of the readers.
When you have detailed and well-written content, the quality of your page will improve and you will get more visitors, meaning that you don’t have to create a doorway page.
Maintain Proper Site Structure
Maintaining a proper site structure is essential for your users, as well as for search engines. It refers to how organized your site’s contents are.
The structure of your site often deals with how your articles and pages are created, linked, grouped together, and presented to your audiences. You will only get a better result from Google if your site is easily navigable by the users.
Here are some tips on how you can improve your site’s structure.
Go for Smart Internal Linking
While you’re writing an article, you see you have some published quality articles that you can link to this one. This is one of the smartest ways to maintain your site’s structure.
Update Old Content
Most people make this mistake while managing their content, they don’t update the old ones.
With old content, you may end up with a slower page or a 404 error page. Always update your old articles with the latest information and republish it to get more traffic.
Create a Silo Structure
Silo site structure is a deep site architecture that categorizes your site’s content into several categories and subcategories. It helps Google to determine the relevance of your posts based on your topic.
Don’t Try to Fool Google
One of the biggest mistakes you can do while doing SEO for your site is to trick Google. Doorway pages are primarily created for the search engines and can be easily detected and penalized.
So, if you don’t want to receive any punishment from Google, these are the things you need to avoid.
Say No to Cloaking
Doorway pages tend to use the cloaking method to misdirect the visitors. Cloaking manipulates Google by showing different content or URLs to search engine crawlers and human users. Make sure none of your pages are cloaked.
Avoid Duplicate Content
This is particularly important since it’s one of the key reasons why your website has doorway issues. When a site has multiple pages with similar content, it can create a doorway page to funnel visitors to the same destination.
Don’t Go for Advanced Redirections
This is a black hat SEO technique used by some marketers. They install a meta refresh tag on the doorway pages to outsmart search engines.
This is highly forbidden since Google is smarter than you think. It will detect what you’re doing and take action against your site.
Conduct Regular Site Audit
The most effective way that can help you to fix all your site’s issues is to perform an audit. Whether it’s doorway pages issues or something else, you can detect even the slightest problem by doing an in-depth audit and take necessary actions to deal with them.
So, how are you going to perform an audit? Some SEO tools such as SEMrush can help you with that. It’s a popular tool that can help you with a lot of tasks such as keyword research, competitor analysis, and even site auditing.
How to Check for Doorway Pages and Remove Them
In case your website has one or more doorway pages, it’s crucial that you get rid of them. But before you do that, you need to find out whether your site has them or not.
Checking websites for doorway pages is quite easy. Go to your search page and type site:domain.com, where you need to put your site name instead of domain.
Now you can see all of your indexed pages in the search result. Look for your archive pages such as categories, tags, etc. and see if they are indexed in the search results.
If they are indexed, de-index them immediately so that you can avoid the doorway pages penalty.
Using doorway pages is one of the worst techniques you can opt for while doing SEO. It doesn’t only upset Google, but also provide horrible user-experiences to your audiences, making them leave your site for good.
To ensure your readers don’t face any trouble and you get high organic traffic, always go for White Hat SEO strategies that will keep you safe from all sorts of penalties. Also, do regular audits to find out if your site has any doorway page or not.
Sujan Sarkar is the Co-founder of OnelittleWeb, a leading SEO agency specializing in helping businesses improve their online presence and search engine rankings.