A hosted doorway page is basically a webpage that doesn’t really offer any real content to a search engine visitor, but is an OLD black hat SEO technique for creating multiple keyword rich webpages that are used as a gateway (doorway) to the real websites content: they also act as pages to add keyword rich links to the target site.
A single doorway page will concentrate on a specific search phrase or niche with links to the appropriate content on the real site. Some doorway pages expect the search engine visitor to click a link to the real content and others use a fast Meta refresh to the real content, so automatically redirects to the real webpage before the search engine visitor realizes they are on a doorway page.
If you are part of the black hat community this old SEO black hat technique has been dealt with via Google for sometime, it’s a huge risk using this technique.
Hosted Doorway Pages
A doorway page can be on the real sites domain (not a good idea BTW!!) or hosted on another domain (hosted doorway pages). You can find software that will take a set of keywords or content and from it create hundreds or thousands of keyword rich doorway pages (the content is usually nonsense, but the search engines don’t have the ability to remove it all automatically) that automatically redirect to the site you choose. All you then have to do is upload it to a site that you don’t care if it is banned or not (less risk than adding the doorway pages to your important web site).
Some black hat SEOs will even turn other websites into a source of hosted doorway pages by taking advantage of cyber security failings in the sites design! Gravatar.com for example has user profile pages where the developer has allowed LONG pieces of content to be added to the About section of the profile and they are used to in effect create hosted doorway pages which link to Clickbank affiliate products.
When used as a black hat technique this can in theory pull in a fair amount of search engine traffic since the search engines can’t distinguish real content from this type of low quality content easily, though Google has got a LOT better/faster at spotting and downgrading website SPAM over the years.
Matt Cutts (at the time March 22nd, 2006 was a Google employee) at https://www.mattcutts.com/blog/seo-mistakes-hosted-doorway-pages/ SEO Mistakes: Hosted doorway pages says the following-
if someone comes to you and says “I’ll give you $N to rent subdomains, subdirectories, or pages from you. Just link to my doorway pages from your content,” I would recommend to say no as well. It can affect the reputation of your domain if you host doorway pages for someone else and then that other person creates spam on the pages on your domain.
and goes on to say-
I wanted to get it out there so people would understand if we started to take stronger action on this.
Suggesting Google would soon be implementing some new feature of their algorithm that can spot this type of black hat SEO. That was a LONG time ago, what do you think Google’s software engineers have come up with on over a decade to tackle this very basic black hat SEO SPM!
So anyone using doorway pages be very careful. I used manually created doorway pages in the first few months of learning SEO (way back in the early 2000s), but no longer do anything doorway like: I never liked what they looked like to visitors.
If you want some links to important content create some new content to link from, when done correctly this adds value to a site with no risk of a search engine penalty. This does take time however, so unlike nonsense doorway pages it isn’t a quick way to gain new links, but is a much better long term strategy.
Always remember great Google search engine rankings are a marathon not a sprint, try to run a marathon like a sprint and you’ll quickly hit a wall SEO wise!