‘Doorway pages’, or SEO-friendly entries which are designed solely to drive traffic via search engines, are to represent the latest target in Google’s war on web spam.

The group announced on its Webmaster blog that action will be taken on pages which appear in a user’s search engine results but all point to the same site. 

Google claims to have seen evidence of site owners attempting to enhance their “search footprint” through doorways without adding “clear, unique value” to the user experience. 

Thus, to improve the quality of their browsing, the engine is set to enforce a ranking adjustment that could downgrade the culprits once and for all. 

What are doorway pages?    

To help work out whether they’re hosting a page which could take the tag of a ‘doorway’, Google has included a list of guidelines and definitions for what exactly will be punished.

The first question asks:

  • “Is the purpose to optimize for search engines and funnel visitors into the actual usable or relevant portion of your site, or are they an integral part of your site’s user experience?”

This could be a matter of perception, but other guidelines and rules listed by Google make a better attempt at defining a doorway.

They say:

  • Are the pages intended to rank on generic terms yet the content presented on the page is very specific?
  • Do the pages duplicate useful aggregations of items (locations, products, etc.) that already exist on the site for the purpose of capturing more search traffic?

There’s also a warning for site owners which use certain pages to draw affiliate traffic. Again, such pages could be counted as doorway entries if they do not sport unique content or functionality.  

Finally, and in one of the most obvious examples of the sort of entry Google wants to penalise, the guidelines sound a warning for pages which can only be accessed via search engines, and not through the site itself. 

Continual improvements

Although Google’s latest announcement has been tipped to wreak havoc on e-commerce websites, Google has long fought against site owners which use the group’s search engine to increase their traffic without adding to the user experience. 

Many commentators have already pointed out that doorway pages are generally considered ‘spammy’ by some engines, and Google admits that its new changes form part of a long-term effort to eradicate doorways to sites.

The group adds that it is “continually” working on ways to minimise the impact of spam on its own users, driven partly by experts looking to play the system.