What are Doorway Pages? (27 characters)

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Doorway pages are web pages created to gain popularity with a specific search engine, but their use is controversial. They target specific keywords and are not meant for human surfers. Search engines have started penalizing pages for using the refresh tag, and it’s better to focus on optimizing actual content. Best practices include using alternative methods to the meta refresh tag, building each login page by hand, and making them “human readable.” Doorway pages are becoming less effective as search engines become stricter.

Doorway pages are a type of web page created solely to gain popularity with a specific search engine. They are also referred to as bridges, gateways and entry pages. They are a bone of contention within the search engine optimization world, with some deeming their use to be unethical and ultimately self-defeating, while others believe they are a surefire way to achieve consistently high rankings.

The concept behind doorway pages is simple: a webmaster targets specific keywords to associate with their site, then creates a number of pages actively targeting those keywords. These login pages are not meant for human surfers, but rather for spiders or robots used by search engines to index websites. Many doorway pages use a meta tag, refresh, to ensure that human visitors to doorway pages don’t even see them. In recent years, however, many search engines have started penalizing pages for using the refresh tag, and webmasters have turned to other options as a result.

In the past, login pages were quite effective, with search engines rewarding the practice by offering top rankings to sites that successfully used thousands of login pages to boost their rankings. Recently, however, search engines have begun to crack down on the use of doorway pages, viewing them as a threat to link relevance. It has therefore become the opinion of many optimizers that a better long-term strategy is to focus on optimizing the actual content of your site, rather than building login pages to “fake” the content.

For those who decide to continue using doorway pages, a number of best practices have been developed to minimize search engine penalties and improve court rankings. One example is using alternative methods to the meta refresh tag to get people from your doorway pages to your main page. Javascript redirects and human clickable links are the two most popular alternatives.

Another important factor in search engines identifying doorway pages is their nearly identical layout. As a result, a number of webmasters have found that search engines are more forgiving if they build each of their login pages by hand and edit them all. This takes a little longer, of course, but the payoff is generally considered worth the time.
Finally, attempting to make your doorway pages “human readable” appears to be one of the most important factors in avoiding the wrath of the major search engines. It seems that when search engines go through doorway pages that are obviously only built for viewing by robots, they are more likely to drop the offending pages from their indexes and even ban the site’s main page. This means that pages that consist only of strings of targeted words, rather than some kind of readable and useful content that contains each of the words, are something to avoid.
Ultimately, door pages appear to be a diminishing phenomenon. They were effective and widely used when search engines were more naïve and less likely to notice things like this. But as search engines have matured and their policies have become stricter, tactics like the door page look doomed to extinction.

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