Is the age of doorway or signpost pages finally over?!
Years ago when the Internet was just fields (of HTML websites), Flash was one of the more dynamic ways to have a “cool” website. BUT the big problem back then was some browsers out of the bag didn’t support Flash, in fact many still don’t.
So what could you do to prevent losing your visitors that didn’t have Flash?! You created a Doorway Page of course!!
Webmasters back then had the same goals as they do now, maximise viewers and try not alienate any of your potential visitors / customers.
Should they not be able to view the business website because of not wanting or trusting Flash!? No, you had to put a doorway page up.
Google today announced that doorway pages are now the way of the Dodo (maybe due to the annihilation of Flash?) once deprecated it’s only a matter of time before the world turns against a once revolutionary way to animate your website.
Google today announced the following alterations to their page ranking algorithm.
Over time, we’ve seen sites try to maximize their “search footprint” without adding clear, unique value. These doorway campaigns manifest themselves as pages on a site, as a number of domains, or a combination thereof. To improve the quality of search results for our users, we’ll soon launch a ranking adjustment to better address these types of pages. Sites with large and well-established doorway campaigns might see a broad impact from this change.
So why has Google decided to penalise doorway pages and what could this mean for the Web design industry?
Not all doorway pages are created equal Google! Are they for example accounting for the genuine uses of single page redirects as well as the not so legitimate uses?!
Years ago a doorway page was as simple as this picture of a famously cool Flash website (www.2advanced.com). This image shows a simple HTML only page that contained the website / business name logo and a couple of options for traffic management. There may also be some tracking software or adverts, but mainly it was to inform people that if you hit “enter” without the Flash Plugin, the site won’t work!
I can understand why Google wants to remove these pages from their search results (Serps) I would too. The technology is deprecated and more often than not in todays internet these pages are fast and a bit of a cheeky way to enhance shared traffic quickly, cheaply and without any benefit to the end user who is just bounced from doorway page to more often than not an irrelevant page.
Google have defined a doorway page as:
Doorways are sites or pages created to rank highly for specific search queries. They are bad for users because they can lead to multiple similar pages in user search results, where each result ends up taking the user to essentially the same destination. They can also lead users to intermediate pages that are not as useful as the final destination.
Here are some examples of doorways:
- 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
Now, personally I don’t recall using the term “doorway page” but it meant the same thing as some of the other buzz words we used for this kind of HTML page. Other terms like Gateway pages, Sign-post pages, Landing Pages or Diversion Pages were used to describe what this type of page did.
So exactly who or what are you penalising here Google and more importantly why?!
Most of us still use and rely on this kind of page. Landing pages and under construction pages, although not great for SEO or traffic management, still some of us have specific marketing plans that use these kind of pages!!
We need them to manage our email lists or social media traffic and I for one am slightly concerned that this alteration to the algorithm might affect other pages that aren’t “doorway pages” but might seem like one.
Simple “doorway pages” used in a complex or large networks of websites or marketing funnels might be affected by this Google Algorithm change, so what can we do to safeguard our genuine pages?
Well I guess, moving the page from the index.html (first page of the domain) might work, normally doorway pages are set to index.html or .php. Because they are used as the entry point to a domain (in other words you’ll see a doorway page when you type or website address or click a result from a search engine) it might be a good idea if you have a genuine single page to move these to a sub domain or another place in the website.
If you are using these pages to ensure the traffic quality or qualification on your site or to deter traffic that might add unnecessary bandwidth overheads, then other methods might be more appealing now there is a genuine risk of negative domain ranking. Lead management may now need to be more cleverly filtered and qualified at the source . With the right strategy in place that’s not too hard given the host of tools Social Media is now offering to do just this very thing!
So if your home page or landing page contains more than a few words, words such as; “Enter or Leave”, maybe also “Flash or HTML” and an image. If your page is the only page hosted on your domain and leads nowhere but other pages that contain the content that was being sought out by the user, think again. Re-strategise as Google is a coming for ya page rankings!!
But also it’s possible that armed with the knowledge about doorway pages and how they are now going to penalise your SEO efforts (with Google) having a rethink of the flow of your web traffic / marketing funnel might be a good idea. We can certainly help you there. There are many alternatives to “doorway pages” and HTML files that direct your traffic better than ever before. More importantly they won’t penalise your SEO efforts at all.
We hope that you don’t get affected by this change. But if you do and you would like to talk about it reach out to me, I’d be glad to help, if I can.