Every once in a while, a prospective client asks me if I’d create a bunch of domains that are in essense, fake, and have them direct traffic to their real domain. I always say no, because this is in direct violation of Google’s quality guidelines. If you’re thinking about doing this, or if you’ve found a competitor who does this and want to know what to do, please read on.
I adhere to Google’s Quality Guidelines for Webmasters. While it’s true that Google’s massive search engine algorithm is secret, they publish detailed guidelines for those of us who design websites to tell us what to do, and what not to do. Web designers who don’t follow these are creating websites that may be penalized or removed from Google’s index. Being removed from Google’s index could cause a small business, who relies on Google’s traffic, to go belly up. Violating these guidelines can have serious consequences.
One of the big quality guideline violations, is known as “doorway pages“. Here’s how Google defines doorway pages:
“Doorway pages are typically large sets of poor-quality pages where each page is optimized for a specific keyword or phrase. In many cases, doorway pages are written to rank for a particular phrase and then funnel users to a single destination.
Whether deployed across many domains or established within one domain, doorway pages tend to frustrate users, and are in violation of our webmaster guidelines.”
Here’s an example of a doorway page scheme I ran across recently while doing some search engine optimization for a client. For the sake of this blog article, let’s say my client makes widgets in Seattle. When I was investigating other websites that ranked well for “widgets Seattle” I noticed this one site, let’s call it “SeattleWidgets.com” (not it’s real domain name) that was ranked highly. When I looked at their backlinks, I noticed they had several links from websites that should have been competitors. But when I looked at these websites, they were all actually doorway pages that had links back to the main SeattleWidgets.com site.
How did they do this? They purchased domains that included the names of different neighborhoods around Seattle and added “widgets”. These doorway domains looked like this:
You get the idea. When you went to these doorway domains, they were nearly identical in appearance, all made from the identical template. The content was similar, except stuffed with keywords about widgets and the neighborhood. But when you clicked on the links, you got redirected to the main website SeattleWidgets.com. They even tried to make it sound official, and had “A subsidiary of Seattle Widgets” in the banner area. But the phone number and address was identical. All links led to the same “real” domain. Thus, these domains were doorway pages, and violated Google’s quality guidelines.
So what do you do if you’ve discovered that a competitor has created many of these doorway pages or multiple domains that all direct traffic back to their “real” website? Answer: Report them to Google. Follow this link to report spam in the Google index. It’s quick and easy, and helping Google to get rid of these junk websites is a good thing. You’ll be helping your own business and helping others. It’s all good.
What do you do if you have one of these doorway page scam? Stop it immediately. Remove the content and set up redirects to your one “real” domain and pray that you did this in time before Google caught you. And don’t do it again.Jill
Aldebaran Web Design, Seattle
Jill Olkoski has a BS in Engineering, a BS in Computer Science and an MA in Clinical Psychology. She delights in using her advanced technical and psychological skills to help small business owners develop cost-effective and successful websites.