“Our Competitors Are SEO Blackhats, and They’re Ranking. Should We Do The Same?” Google Responds

A light SEO blackhat technique involves creating thousands of doorway pages. But is that good for the long term?
SIA Team
November 25, 2021

The phrase blackhat SEO refers to a set of search engine manipulation techniques that are usually discouraged by the search engines. 

They can involve a wide range of often-deceptive practices, such as cloaking.

NOTE: While this article talks about doorway pages, the rightness or wrongness of using doorway pages comes down to scale/number. There’s no hard line between how many are okay to have, and where a site has so many of them that it becomes manipulative. 

For example, having 7 doorway pages is fine, whereas having thousands of them is not. 

In fact, I reported that Google’s John Muller had said that very thing: 

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

While doorway pages aren’t really thought of as an SEO blackhat method, they can, by definition be one. 

Especially when they’re done to the point where it seems obvious that they’re being used manipulatively. 

During the English Google SEO Office-Hours from November 19, 2021, a participant explained a situation to Google’s John Mueller

(Video below queued to the 49-minute 59-second mark.)

Basically, there are 2 competing e-commerce sites. 

The people behind one site decided that, even though they didn’t have a physical presence in many, many cities, they’d go ahead and create doorway pages for many of these cities. 

So, you’d technically have, for example, dozens, and maybe hundreds of pages that are each nearly identical, with the exception that the city names are different. 

And, they were ranking. 

So, naturally, the other competing site wanted to follow suit, and do something similar. 

But an advisor, who ended up being the participant on the session, cautioned against this, and asked John.

John’s Response to the SEO Blackhat Methodology of Using Many, Many Doorway Pages

John’s reply was:

“I think you quickly end up in the area of doorway pages…especially if you’re talking about a country like India and saying like, ‘I want to add all cities there.’ 

“It’s easy from a code point of view to create all of these pages. But then you end up in a situation where you really have thousands of pages that are essentially the same, just with different settings. And that would be considered doorway pages on our site, or from the Web Spam point of view.

“The Web Spam team might take action on that. The algorithmic side of search will probably also look at that and say, ‘Well, these pages are all very similar, and just targeting variations.’ 

And then they might take action on the site as well. So that’s something I would generally not recommend doing.”

The participant further asked about the fact that the site with the doorway pages was ranking. 

John’s response implied that even though they may see some benefit now, it may not last for long…

So, as far as doorway pages used for blackhat SEO, it’s a method that might create a giant footprint, and eventually, sites that do that may see a loss in rankings. 

Source: Google Search Central YouTube channel