Doorway pages are simple HTML pages that are customized to a few particular keywords or phrases, and they are programmed to be visible only by specific search engines and their spiders. The purpose of these doorway pages is to trick the search engines into giving these sites higher rankings; this sounds okay until you realize that they are not static destinations. Instead, doorway pages are specifically aimed towards search engine spiders - once a searcher lands on a doorway page, they are instantly redirected to the "real" website.
What's the problem?
These sort of pages are, in a nutshell, bad SEO. The basic philosophy of search engine optimization is very simple, and it does not include building invisible (at least to users) pages full of keyword gobbledygook in the hopes of getting ranked just a bit higher in the search results. Plus, search engines spiders are becoming more intuitive, and these pages can be ignored, or even banned altogether.
Most if not all search engines have guidelines prohibiting the use of doorway pages, or at least the general idea of them. This sort of content is considered "spammy", and spammy SEO practices might work in the short-term but in the long run they can get your site flagged for review and censure. Plus, using these kind of techniques tends to bring down the general trustworthiness of your site.
Will they help my site?
Unfortunately, many, many pseudo-SEO consultants will tell you that doorway pages are the “only” way to get your site to the top of the heap; and will recommend you buy costly software that will churn these pages out, and fast.
However, all these pages just create useless clutter in the search engine results, making the search process even less effective. In addition, these magical software packages expect a lot of work from you, the user. You have to come up with keywords, key phrases, keyword density, fill out templates, Meta tags, etc. It makes me tired just thinking about it. Honestly, if you’re willing to do that for doorway pages, an unethical and short-sighted way to approach search engine optimization, then you might as well optimize your site for search the right way.
Perhaps you are facing the unique dilemma of a site that does not have any keyword-dense content or effective Meta tags. You might be thinking that the only way for your site to get ranked is to buy that expensive software and start cranking out pages and pages of content. To this particular situation I would say this: Fix Your Site. Don’t settle for the so-called “easy” solution. Every page of your site needs to be optimized for search.
What search engines are looking for
Search engines all are looking for the same basic thing, which are good sites filled with good content. Simple. It’s not rocket science. There’s really no need for tricks that redirect users to the “real” site. If you have a site with thoughtfully placed keywords and key phrases, well-written content, and effective Meta tags, then you don’t need a doorway page.
Not a part of a good SEO strategy
If you have a site, and this site is on the Web, and you’re done your SEO homework, it eventually will be found. Every well-optimized site already has a natural entryway; which is just the main page. And, of course, (if you have more than one page) you will have an efficient navigation system that users can use to get to the rest of your site.
Doorway pages are tempting to use, since they actually do attract both more search engine spiders and search engine users. However, search engine optimization is best viewed in the long term, and these pages are not part of a successful, long-term, search engine optimization strategy.