By Elayna Paap, SEO Director

By definition, Doorway pages are pages that are created for the deliberate manipulation of search engine indexes. The name doorway comes from the intention of these pages to just “get your foot into the door” with the search engines for specific search queries. These are typically one of many pages that people use as spam entry points to a website. They offer little value to users and are only created with the intention to scheme into specific search results without truly earning visibility through high quality, relevant content. This strategy does not follow best practice and is considered black hat SEO.

Why shouldn’t you build doorway pages?

All content should be created with the intention to provide useful information to users. Sites that try to maximize their search footprint through malicious tactics that do not add clear, unique value for users can be completely removed from search results, just as BMW was in 2006 (see below). Google continued cracking down on websites that use spammy content with the Panda update in 2011.

Google’s examples of doorway pages:

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

Specific automotive example of doorway pages:

Creating a group of pages for a specific keyword target plus a variable city target just to funnel more traffic from these areas where the dealership has little to no local presence. These pages also typically include duplicate content.
Topic: used cars
Used cars for sale in Naperville, IL
Used cars for sale in Schaumburg, IL
Used cars for sale in Elgin, IL
Topic: BMW dealer
BMW dealer in Naperville, IL
BMW dealer in Schaumburg, IL
BMW dealer in Elgin, IL
Topic: BMW service center
BMW service center in Naperville, IL
BMW service center in Schaumburg, IL
BMW service center in Elgin, IL

Questions to ask of pages that could be seen as doorway pages:

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 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?


Penalty Example

In February 2006, Google announced that it had caught BMW using a black-hat strategy to boost the company’s German website, Instead of focusing on creating valuable content for the targeted keyword topics, they tried to force their way into rankings with doorway pages. Because of this practice, the site was completely removed from search results for three days. This was a potential loss of traffic of around 71,600 organic visits.

BMW acknowledged that it had set up doorway pages and stated they had no intention of deceiving users, adding “if Google says all doorway pages are illegal, we have to take this into consideration.”



Always check and follow Google's Webmaster Guidelines
Focus on enhancing the user experience and delivering better, high-quality content for search results
Optimize for local search
Update and optimize local listings with consistent information to build organic authority
Build internal linking structure with an optimized website architecture
Earn local backlinks from city targets
City pages can be created, but they must include original, unique, and high quality content
Ensure the intention of the page is useful and provides value to users


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