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What Are Doorway and Information Pages?

A doorway page is created solely as an entrance from a search engine to your website. Doorway pages are sometimes known as gateway pages and ghost pages. The idea is to create highly optimized pages that are picked up and indexed by search engines and that, with luck, rank well and thus channel traffic to the site.

Search engines hate doorway pages because they break one of the cardinal rules: They’re intended for search engines, not for visitors. The sole purpose of a doorway page is to channel people from search engines to the real website.

One man's doorway page is another man's information page — or what some people call affiliate pages, advertising pages, or marketing pages.

The difference between a doorway page and an information page is, perhaps, that the information page is designed for use by the visitor in such a manner that search engines will rank it well, whereas the doorway page is designed in such a manner that it's utterly useless to the visitor because it’s intended purely for the search engine.

In fact, originally doorway pages were stuffed full of keywords and duplicated hundreds of times.

Crude doorway pages don’t look like the rest of the site, having been created very quickly or even by some kind of program. Doorway pages are part of other strategies. The pages used in redirects and cloaking are, in effect, doorway pages.

Where do you draw the line between a doorway page and an information page? That's a question for you to ponder and remains a matter of debate in the search engine optimization field. If you create pages designed to rank well in search engines but in such a manner that they’re still useful to the visitor, have you created information pages or doorway pages?

Most people would say that you created legitimate information pages.

Suppose, however, that you create lots of pages designed for use by the site visitor — pages that, until you started thinking about search engine optimization, would have been deemed unnecessary. Surely these pages are, by intent, doorway pages, aren't they, even if one could argue that they’re useful in some way?

Varying degrees of utility exist, and some people are in the business of creating "information" pages that are useful to the visitor in the author’s opinion only! Also, a number of search engine optimization companies create doorway pages that they simply call information pages.

Still, an important distinction exists between the two types of pages, and creating information pages is a widely used strategy. Search engines don't know your intent, so if you create pages that appear to be useful, are not duplicated dozens or hundreds of times, and don't break any other rules, they'll be fine.

Here's a good reality check. Be honest: Are the pages you just created truly of use to your site visitors? If you submitted these pages to Yahoo! Directory or the Open Directory Project for review by a human, would the site be accepted? If the answer is no, the pages probably aren’t informational.

The “trick,” then, is to find a way to convert the pages you created for search engine purposes into pages that are useful in their own right — or for which a valid argument, at least, for utility can be made.

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