Will your gateway pages set you up for SEO ruin? Most likely, yes. With ranking adjustment algorithms specifically designed to address doorway pages on their way, it is high time to follow Google’s advice in dealing with multiple sites and pages leading users to one similar location.
To give you a working definition, doorways are pages or sites that have been specifically created to rank highly for searches. What’s wrong about them is that they lead to multiple, yet similar pages in search results and end up taking users to the same destination; worse yet, they lead to intermediate pages that may not be as useful to the searcher as the final destination.
Examples of doorway pages include multiple domain names/pages targeted at specific locations (such as regions or cities), and then funneling users to a single page; pages deliberately generated to take users to actual usable content or relevant portions of a website; and substantially similar pages, closer to search results than a browseable hierarchy.
Since there are still no “broad impact” evidences indicating that the gateway update has already been released, you may still have time to augment and completely avoid its effects by:
- Taking down your empty pages and refraining from pushing new pages or making them live until unique content is actually available;
- Cleaning up site navigation so human visitors can more easily find their way around your website. This means removing pages solely designed to drive site traffic, but are loosely integrated into your navigation;
- Avoiding duplicate content;
- Holding off deployment of pages that rely on staff or customer generated-content until they have enough legitimate activity to justify them; and
- Avoiding multiple sites, if possible, or ensuring that separate domains can be justified, in that they offer dramatically different products/services. Similar links to the same contact form for different domains are probably risky.