Call them what you like, Doorway pages, Gateway Pages, even Zebra Pages, Google has never liked them. In the past Google has treated these as pages that are built, but have sneaky redirects in them, then they moved the goalposts of definition slightly, and now we have a clear statement from Google not to use them, and more importantly, exactly what Google themselves believe that definition to be.
Doorway pages are typically large sets of poor-quality pages where each page is optimized for a specific keyword or phrase.
So that is clear and simple, Don’t put up LARGE SETS, of POOR QUALITY pages on your site, and optimise it for a single term. Does that mean you can’t have a page for your important terms? Absolutely not, the key there is large sets, poor quality. Google wants, desires and yearns for large amounts of HIGH QUALITY pages on a topic.
In many cases, doorway pages are written to rank for a particular phrase and then funnel users to a single destination.
Here they give us another indicator of an element within their algorithm, set out to detect these sites. This would be typical of lead generation sites, or sites that have a single action page with many of these doorway pages built in. A clear example of this would be a site that sells a single product directly or affiliate CPA with many pages surrounding it but having a single action page.
Whether deployed across many domains or established within one domain, doorway pages tend to frustrate users.
This is actually debatable, as searching for something, landing on a page about that term, and finding what you want could be argued that it is delivering a GOOD user experience. Unfortunately while the argument may be debatable, Google are not up for debate.
Therefore, Google frowns on practices that are designed to manipulate search engines and deceive users by directing them to sites other than the one they selected, and that provide content solely for the benefit of search engines.
Interestingly Google have switched back to doorway pages with redirects to a main site, they appear here to be talking about satellite sites, or micro-sites optimised for a term and then pointing to a main site. Is this a legitimate method for advertising however? IF the links are nofollowed then it could be argued yes, the site is an advert rather than a doorway site. Google appear here to be attempting to prevent businesses from advertising their wares legitimately.
I worked with a well known company a few years ago, and they had a website ‘quote me happy’ which supported their Offline advertising campaigns. It would be wrong of any search engine to prevent a company from doing this. My advice would be that if you are using such sites, then nofollow the links to the main site, and ensure the capture site has relevant content.
Google may take action on doorway sites and other sites making use of these deceptive practices, including removing these sites from Google’s index.
This is a scary prospect, as they appear here to be saying that they will take action against a doorway site AND other sites making use of these deceptive practices. So what is to stop a competitor setting them up and reporting you?
Finally in the piece, they give some examples of use.
Having multiple domain names targeted at specific regions or cities that funnel users to one page
Templated pages made solely for affiliate linking
Multiple pages on your site with similar content designed to rank for specific queries like city or state names
It is fair to say that anyone who is using a strategy of having hundreds of pages (THIN pages), that are geographically based or topic based, should review their strategy, and, if you have suffered a loss of traffic or a change to the terms you have received traffic for, then this could be the answer.