What Is a Doorway Page?

Aaron Haynes
Feb 21, 2024
what is doorway page

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Have you ever clicked on a web page that promised one thing but delivered something utterly irrelevant to your search query?

If so, you might’ve encountered the very concept we will tackle today: doorway pages.

To catch you up to speed, in this guide, we

  1. answer the question, “What is a doorway page?”
  2. explore what Google considers a doorway page,
  3. and break down the potential negative impacts they can have on SEO efforts.

What Is a Doorway Page?

Doorway pages, also known as bridge pages, portal pages, jump pages, gateway pages, or entry pages, are designed to deliberately manipulate search engine indexes, a tactic referred to as spamdexing. Unlike regular pages that offer content aligning with a user’s intent, doorway pages often contain generic content that’s typically thin, duplicated, or slightly tweaked to target various, often long-tail keywords.

A tactic that falls under black hat SEO and is considered unethical.

To achieve high rankings, black hat SEO practitioners optimize for specific ranking factors to secure one of the top spots on the search engine results pages (SERPs). A top position is achieved by meeting the algorithmic preferences that search engines use to evaluate a web page’s quality. Once ranked, a search will lead a user to click on the doorway page, and without their knowledge, they are redirected to a different destination without their awareness.

So, what redirection methods are used to send the user to an unintended destination? Common methods include fast Meta refresh commands, JavaScript redirection, server-side redirection, and scripting languages like Perl and PHP.

Real-World Doorway Page Examples 👉

Imagine a website selling athletic shoes. In the early days of the internet, this website might have set up multiple pages for each type of shoe need, such as “best running shoes,” “cheap running shoes,” and “durable running shoes.” Each page would be almost a carbon copy of the others, with only the keyword being different. The content would be thin and not particularly helpful. 

In this scenario, the “redirected to” or “destination” page could be a general sales or product page that showcases a variety of athletic shoes without specifically focusing on any particular type like “best,” “cheap,” or “durable.” It could be a page where the website wants to drive the most traffic, perhaps featuring their best-selling shoes or a promotional offer. The idea is that regardless of the specific search or keyword the user initially clicked on, they end up on this main sales page, encouraging them to browse and make a purchase.

Learn more: Interested in broadening your SEO knowledge even further? Check out our SEO glossary, where we’ve explained over 250+ terms.

The Potential Impact of Doorway Pages on SEO

Doorway pages, with their controversial history, are a prime example of how certain strategies can evolve from being beneficial to detrimental.

The Good: Early Benefits of Doorway Pages

In the early days of Google and competitor platforms, search engines were still refining their algorithms, providing an opportunity for webmasters to leverage doorway pages for quick gains:

  1. Rapid traffic Increase: Doorway pages, optimized for high-volume search queries, often resulted in significant traffic spikes.
  2. Targeted marketing: By creating multiple doorway pages that targeted different keywords, webmasters would maximize their “search footprint,” cater to various audience segments, and maximize their chances of success.
  3. Competitive edge: Those who adopted this tactic early enjoyed a competitive advantage, often outranking competitors in search results.

The Bad: The Downside of Doorway Pages

However, as search engines evolved, the drawbacks of using doorway pages became apparent:

  1. Penalties: Search engines, especially Google, began penalizing websites that used doorway pages, leading to drops in rankings.
  2. Deteriorated user experience: Users often felt deceived when redirected to unrelated content, leading to increased bounce rates and a bad taste in their mouths, not something that was likely to win too many return customers.
  3. Short-lived success: The initial traffic boost was often temporary, especially once search engines caught on and adjusted their algorithms.

The Ugly: Modern SEO and the Shift Away from Doorway Pages

Today, the SEO landscape has shifted dramatically, and doorway pages are widely discouraged, actively penalized, and, as they are now targeted directly by antispam algorithms, have pretty well run their course:

  1. Ethical SEO: The focus has moved towards creating genuine, high-quality content that offers real value to users. Not to mention, back in March of 2015, Google announced “ranking adjustments” that would fight back against doorway page tactics.
  2. User-centric algorithms: Search engines now prioritize user experience, rewarding sites that offer relevant content and penalizing those that attempt to deceive users.
  3. Long-term strategy: Modern SEO practices emphasize sustainability and building a trustworthy online presence rather than seeking quick, short-lived gains.

What Is Considered a Doorway Page to Google?

According to Google, “Doorway pages are sites or pages created to rank highly for specific search queries. They lead users to intermediate pages that are not as useful as the final destination.” A succinct definition underscores the primary purpose of doorway pages: to manipulate search engine rankings.

Identifying and Avoiding Doorway Pages

To help webmasters steer clear of this black-hat SEO tactic, Google provides a list of questions to consider. We’ve paraphrased the list here:

  • Are the pages intended to rank on generic terms, yet the content presented is very specific?
  • Do the pages duplicate useful aggregations of items (locations, products, etc.) that already exist on the site to capture more search traffic?
  • Are the pages made solely for drawing affiliate traffic and sending users along without creating unique value in content or functionality?


Q1: What Is the Content of a Doorway Page?

Answer: A doorway page typically contains content optimized for specific keywords to rank highly in search results. However, this content often lacks genuine value or relevance to the user’s query. Unlike genuine, high-quality content pages that provide valuable information or solutions to users, doorway pages are designed to manipulate search engine rankings and funnel users to a different destination.

Q2: What Is the Difference Between Cloaking and Doorway Pages?

Answer: Cloaking shows different content to search engines and users, essentially tricking search engines. In contrast, a doorway page is designed to rank for specific keywords and redirects users to a different page once clicked. Both can be deceptive, but they operate differently: cloaking alters content visibility, while doorway pages redirect users unexpectedly.

Q3: What Is the Difference Between a Doorway Page and a Landing Page?

Answer: A doorway page manipulates search rankings by redirecting users from a high-ranking page to an often unrelated one. Conversely, a landing page is designed for marketing campaigns, guiding visitors from emails or ads to a page with a specific call to action. Unlike doorway pages, landing pages are transparent and don’t deceive users or search engines.

Conclusion and Next Steps

Avoid the pitfalls of doorway pages and boost your site’s organic reach with the expertise only Loganix can offer. Our seasoned team, armed with cutting-edge tools and a steadfast commitment to ethical SEO, crafts strategies that are effective and built to last.

🚀 Unlock your digital potential—explore our suite of SEO services today. 🚀

Hand off the toughest tasks in SEO, PPC, and content without compromising quality

Explore Services

Written by Aaron Haynes on February 21, 2024

CEO and partner at Loganix, I believe in taking what you do best and sharing it with the world in the most transparent and powerful way possible. If I am not running the business, I am neck deep in client SEO.