Are Doorway Pages Good for SEO--Just 7 of Them? Google Responds

Are Doorway Pages Good for SEO? No? What if you only had 7 of them?
SIA Team
November 22, 2021

What Are Doorway Pages?

In order to try to rank for many closely-related, extremely similar search terms, some businesses resort to the use of doorway pages. 

Doorway pages are a number of pages that are extremely similar, with the exception of a very small feature: keywords that are very similar. 

For example, these keyword phrases are all very similar:

-Toronto headshot photographer

-Headshot Toronto photographer 

-Headshot photography Toronto

These keyword phrases can all reasonably be covered by one page, but, what if you created one page for each of them, using content that’s extremely similar, with the exception that each variation was targeted to one of these keyword phrases?

Then, those pages would be doorway pages. 

The benefit to you would be that, supposedly, instead of having one chance to rank (using those 3 keyword phrases on a single page) you could, theoretically, have 3 chances to rank (using each one of those keyword phrases on their own, dedicated page). 

Are Doorway Pages Good for SEO?

Unfortunately, Google, from an SEO perspective, doesn’t agree with that: the use of such overwhelmingly similar pages could supposedly clog the search results. 

So, theoretically, instead of a searcher seeing 10 unique results in Google, they’d effectively see 8 (3 results so overwhelmingly similar that they can be practically thought of as the same). 

But...What If You Only Have 7 Doorway Pages?

That’s basically what one person asked Google’s John Mueller. The gist of his question, which I’ll paraphrase, was, “Will my 7 doorway pages get me in trouble with Google SEO and/or Google Ads?”

First of all, we have to distinguish that there’s a difference between Google Search and Google Ads: what may be okay with Search may not be okay with Ads

The video below is queued to the appropriate spot. 

To this, John responded (quite confidently) that, for a small site with 7 doorway pages, Google’s Spam Team (part of Search) would not take manual action on that site. 

If, however, the site was a large national corporation that used an unreasonably large number of doorway pages ( the hundreds or even thousands), then that might be seen as an issue for Google Search. 

As for Google Ads, John supposed that the 7 doorway pages shouldn’t be too much of a problem, but he also said that he’s not part of the Ads side of things.

A Good Alternative to Doorway Pages

Doorway pages are, in my thinking, probably 90+% similar. 

A good alternative to this would be to either use one page to target all keyword phrases that are extremely similar, or to create unique content for each page--that is, at least 51% unique--and have each keyword phrase targeted by a page with unique content. 

My one concern might be that each of these pages may--if they’re targeting extremely similar keywords--effectively compete against each other. This is called keyword cannibalism

So, when it comes to the question, Are doorway pages good for SEO? I’d say that, by definition, no, but you can create unique pages--truly unique pages--for each keyword you want to target. 

Source: Google Search Central YouTube channel