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Bye Bye Doorway Pages – Google Tightens their Quality Guidelines

Google has adjusted its quality guidelines for doorway pages. Once again, a good decision for better search results. However, some questions remain unanswered: How does Google define doorway pages? What consequences does this announcement have for daily SEO work or for my website? Here are the answers!

With its official announcement from March 16, 2015 in the Google Webmaster Central Blog, Google has once again stressed that doorway pages that have been created solely for search engines, can affect the quality of the search experience. Therefore, the quality guidelines for these types of pages have been tightened again.

What constitutes a doorway page?

Before we begin with the consequences of this announcement for webmasters, let’s clarify the first question, i.e. what does Google exactly consider doorway pages.

“Doorway page (also called jump page, gateway page, mirror page) refers to a page that is connected upstream of the actual page, with the purpose of directing users to a specific landing page.”

The Webspam team provides examples for doorway pages in Google’s quality guidelines:</ p>

1. Multiple domains or pages that target specific regions or cities direct all users factually to the same page

2. Pages that have been created to direct traffic to the actual usable or relevant part of the website(s)

3. Essentially, similar pages that resemble search results rather than a defined clear searchable hierarchy



1. If you go by Google’s definition, it would roughly correspond to what is often falsely described as „Landingpage” also called “SEO page.” This includes “satellite sites” or keyword domains.
Let’s assume that I operate an online shop to sell potatoes, www.online-potatos.com. In order to increase the rankings of my site, I register three other domains such as

  • sweet-potato-purchase.com

  • potatos-from-springfield.com

  • friespotatos.com

These three domains are put online solely to strengthen the respective subcategories of my main site www.potatos-online.com. Each of these three projects link to a sub-page. That would be a classic doorway page situation, as described by Google in the first point above.

2. Now I try not to optimize for the keyword combinations “potatoes from Hintertupfingen” and “potatoes for potato pancakes.” I create content pages on my domain potatos-online.com, but only to link from there directly to the shop. And that gives us the second example of a doorway page described above.

3. The third scenario seems somewhat ambiguous. Could this be referring to sites, which are often used for affiliate marketing projects? In our case it would be something like potato-soup-affordable.com, with a long list of products. If a user clicks on an offer there, he ends up on potatos-online.com in our example.


Figure 1: Is an affiliate page considered a doorway page?

User benefits

When I search the web for a product or service, I would normally very quickly reach my goal. So when I type in “buy potatoes from Hintertupfingen” in the Google search box, I want to get results with websites that tell me where I can buy those potatoes.

Doorway pages prevent me from taking the direct route because I first land on a page, which then directs me to the actual target page. Now, if Google declared doorway pages to be webspam, it is primarily a good decision for users, because they are looking for the fastest route to their destination with the search engine. Translated into the analog world, one could imagine a furniture store that rents an empty warehouse which has a sign on it directing visitors to the actual store.

What are the consequences?

The Webmaster Central article does indeed extensively go over doorway pages, but consequences for websites are not mentioned. However, it is assumed that either the rankings of individual subpages or for greater “offenses” the entire website will plummet to the basement, not unlike other penalties. Regarding external “satellite sites,” it can be assumed, that they could lose their good positions and in the long run even disappear from the index.


Borderline cases

The definition for doorway pages is somewhat ambiguous. In practice, there are several borderline cases:

– What is going to happen with “landing pages”? These special content pages are usually created so that offers and services can be advertised to target groups through SEA.

– Price comparison sites that list in one category only the items of one provider

– Must affiliates in the future make sure that their websites refer to different landing pages-domains so as not to be interpreted as doorway pages?

The doorway pages self-test

Based on the questionnaire that Google provided, here’s a quick self-test:

  • Have you optimized the contents of some pages only for search engines?

  • Have you optimized content on a few subpages for generic keywords, even though you are actually offering specific products of an overall category?

  • Do you have subpages describing important content that already exists on another subpage?

  • Have I created a few sub pages only for certain keyword combinations, without it being actually useful?

  • Have I created pure “affiliate pages” that do not provide additional information or features, but only serve to redirect visitors?

  • Have I registered and configured domains, which serve only to link to my actual website?

  • Do I use my additional domains only for link building or do these sites have any value for users?

  • Are my subpages or landing pages accessible via internal links or are they just “islands?”

  • Are my subpages linked only via link exchange projects?

  • Do I like it myself if I have to click through doorway pages in order to get to my actual destination?

If you answered one or more questions with “Yes,” there is certainly need for action. If you answered the last question with “Yes,” you’ll probably have to rethink your entire marketing concept…


If you have strengthened your website with external doorway pages or such pages on your websites, it is now time to reconsider this concept. Check first whether your website contains subpages, which can be interpreted by Google as doorway pages. Once you have identified any such pages, you should optimize the actual landing page content. Show Google and your users that this landing page is particularly relevant to a particular topic. Enrich your copy with meaningful content. Make sure you don’t optimize for keywords, but actually for a specific topic. It is useful to ask yourself questions, which your visitors would also ask!

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is it possible that you are projecting some of your “satellite sites” higher and are keeping them as independent projects?

  • Have you already exhausted all possibilities to increase traffic to your site?


Even though it partially remains unclear how exactly Google identifies a doorway page and what the consequences for using such pages are for your website, the search engine company addresses an important issue specifically: Each SEO or webmaster should be primarily concerned with the optimization of the content on the actual website.

>> Originally published by Philipp Roos in German on OnPageMagazin on March 23, 2015.<<

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