Definition: A doorway page is content created specifically for the purpose of garnering high placements in the search engines.

Issue: Google makes the following specific recommendation (among others): Avoid "doorway" pages created just for search engines or other "cookie cutter" approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content.

This article addresses the issue of doorway pages, proposes an acceptable alternative and offers some insights into the basic principles of search engine optimization.

To frame the issue of doorway pages, it is important to understand why content is so critical to search engine optimization.

First, we need to step back and take a look at the search engines themselves:

  • Google, Yahoo, MSN, and all other search engines want to provide the same thing: a prioritized list of links that point to most relevant Web sites satisfying the user's search criteria.

  • Relevance is defined as the "best content" with the "best fit" to the user's search. That's a search engine's value—providing efficient access to the information a user wants when they want it.

  • The search engine that does the best job of delivering the largest quantity of the most relevant results attracts the most users.

  • Obviously, speed, ease-of-use and "marketing" have an impact on popularity, but in the end the quality of the results counts most.

The best way for you to get long-term results is by "partnering" with the search engines. Partnering means recognizing and supporting the value proposition that the search engines provide to their end users:

  • Provide lots of highly relevant content

  • Follow accepted (i.e. ethical) search engine optimization principles

Is there an alternative? Sure, like many situations there are always shortcuts and quick fixes that purport to let you "game the system." Instead of partnering with the search providers, you can compete with them. By "compete," I mean all the effort (and dollars) expended to chase their constantly evolving algorithms and artificially increase your site's rankings.

These techniques may get you short-term results, but many are considered the equivalent of "spamming" and could get your site de-listed. From a search engine provider's point of view, anything that gets better results for sites with inferior content (and fit) is compromising its product—and the better result is temporary, because the provider will tune its algorithm to correctly rank your site (down).

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Scott Smigler has been an evangelist for a serious, ROI-based focus on the online channel since he founded Exclusive Concepts ( in 1997.