What are Doorway Pages?
Doorway pages are web pages that are “optimized” for particular keyword phrases and only exist to capture that keyword phrase in search engine results.
The most common use of doorway pages is when a website is trying to rank for the names of cities and has pages or domains names like “Chicago widget,” “New York widget,” etc… Those pages are just there to enter the words “Chicago” and “New York” so search engines will rank them for those terms.
Google actions taken on doorway pages
Google defines 1 doorway pages as “sites or pages created to rank highly for specific search queries.” Google has taken many actions to ensure web admins understand not to use doorway pages and to ensure they will not rank well in their results…
- Google announces a “ranking adjustment” for doorway sites/pages
- Google defines doorway pages giving them their help page
- Google includes “avoid doorway pages” as an official Google webmaster guideline
Google offers further guidance by providing two questions that webmasters should ask themselves to determine if their pages are doorway pages…
- Is the purpose of optimizing for search engines and funneling 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 particular?
- Do the pages duplicate useful aggregations of items (locations, products, etc.) that already exist on the site to capture 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 from other parts of your site? Are links to such pages from different pages within the site or a network of sites created just for search engines?
Google doesn’t like to rank these pages/domains because users do not like them. If someone is searching for “Chicago Lawyer Web Design” they are likely looking for a law firm web designer in Chicago.
Just because you can ship your product to a city doesn’t mean you should rank high for that city. This frustrates many businesses whose products are available to be shipped nationwide.
Just because you can ship there doesn’t mean you can rank there.
Many businesses have trouble ranking for local queries (e.g. [Chicago widgets]) because they don’t have a physical location in every city. How can they tell Google that they’re relevant for these queries?”
In all honesty, you can’t rank equally well for every city worldwide because your services are not equally beneficial for all those cities.
Creating doorway pages that are all the same with just the city name changed will not be effective. It will be detrimental to your Google rankings. If you are a business person, then you know complaining about it won’t help. What will help in moving forward productively?
Productive steps you can take to rank for other cities – even if you are making affiliate pages
As this guideline states, making doorway pages won’t help but will hurt you. What should you do?
- Understand you can not rank in all cities equally, don’t complain about it, overcome it.
- Have a fabulous product or service that people don’t care where they are, and they just have to have it. Apple doesn’t have pages like “Chicago pads” because they don’t need them. People want an iPad wherever they live.
- Start with one city.
- Concentrate your efforts on being a valuable place for people in that city to buy or use your products
- If the only difference in the title of your different city pages is the city’s name, you are in trouble. Stop thinking “Chicago widgets” is an ideal title. It is not. There are a million other pages with that title. Get creative. What is a compelling title for that city?
- Advertise in the city you chose to rank for. Consider classified ads, local papers, or radio spots in those cities.
- Create useful, compelling, and engaging pages for the city you chose.
- Interact with people from that city. Consider targeted offers like “New York orders get 10 percent off”.
- Research, know and understand the city you are targeting.
- Consider targeting cities that are generally not targeted. If someone put as much effort into “Newark, New Jersey widgets” as they did for “New York City Widgets,” then they would likely enjoy more success. This is because everyone and their brother are targeting New York City, but fewer are targeting Newark.
- If these efforts help you gain orders from that city, and the charges are profitable, start in your next city.
- Remember that taking these steps is considerably cheaper than opening a physical store front in every city you are targeting. Stop complaining. You can make it happen. Everyone else is complaining. This is an excellent opportunity to be better than your competitors and take productive steps forward that will be profitable.
How to tell if you have doorway pages on your website
If the only difference between the titles of your city pages is the city’s name, you have doorway pages.