Ethics of Doorway Pages

First of all, we need to understand the topic at hand. Once you’ve at least skimmed through that article, you will get a brief idea of what I’m going to write about. Ready? Let’s get started then!

I’m inspired to write this after the recent BMW-Google brouhaha. This reply from BMW’s spokesperson got me thinking:

He said that BMW created the doorway, also known as gateway, redirect, or cloaking, pages because some items on its site were created using Java and so those items weren’t being detected by search engines. “The doorway page is only designed to give a search engine an idea of what’s on the page behind it,” he said.

He said that the content on the doorway was the same as the content on the page that visitors were redirected to. “Not all doorway page techniques are misleading users,” he said.

The interesting thing is that what he said is very much true. Although, I’d like to point out that in my opinion, a huge majority of doorway pages are created with deception in mind and thus, is pretty much “evil”.

Doorway pages are often used to bait search engines to index pages generated for certain key words. However, when humans visit those pages, they are either redirected to totally different pages or the pages are dynamically coded to produce totally different content. Most often than not, the pages for human viewing contain advertisements or links to affiliate programs which the webmaster profits from.

What the BMW rep conveniently failed to address though was what the doorway pages were doing. From what I can tell, BMW.de was blacklisted not only because of its use of doorway pages, but the search terms that these pages are optimised for.

I believe that the doorway pages, if taken strictly into context, is probably not the reason for BMW’s delisting. What the BMW rep didn’t conveniently address was what search terms the doorway pages was optimised for. Seriously, what was Gebrauchtwagen (that’s used car in English) doing in a website of a company that’s into car manufacturing? And repeated 42 times at that.

Surely that was not about Java pages crashing the search engine, as quoted in the ITworld article I linked earlier. Heck, any idiot would know that this is a blatant lie… and coming out from a representative of supposedly an SEO company, my thoughts were “Does this guy even know what he’s talking about?”.

BMW should be thankful that it got relisted in such a short time. There are tales of repented webmasters that got their sites blacklisted for a very long time due to their “experiment” in blackhat SEO.

Here’s some related posts by Matt Cutts: