Are gateway pages and doorway pages really the best way to get high search engine rankings?
By Jill Whalen
How many of you think the best and/or
only way to get top placements on the
search engines is to create gateway
pages (aka doorway pages or bridge
pages)? If you raised your hand, you
are certainly not alone, but you are
If you check out most search engine
positioning companies' Web sites, you
will find that most of them promise to
get you high rankings by creating
gateway pages for your site. These are
pages that the positioning companies
create independently of your current
pages, which they load with keyword phrases then submit to the
Many of these companies use automated programs such as
WebPosition Gold (WPG), which features a template that the
company fills in with the "proper" amount of keywords and other
text. The program's Page Generator function then generates a
page that supposedly will rank high for a particular engine.
These positioning companies will even go to the trouble to create
different gateway pages for each search engine, using the WPG
Page Critic function. This tool tells Webmasters what keyword
density each engine supposedly wants to see (based on past
results), and how many times you should put particular keyword
phrases into the text and meta tags of the gateway pages.
Worth the Effort?
Sounds like a lot of unnecessary trouble, if you ask me. Consider
this: Each and every search engine wants to see the same thing
— Web sites that are filled with good, useful content. All engines
base their ranking algorithms on this.
For certain, there are slight variations in the number of times a
keyword should appear and/or how many words should be on a
page, as WPG's Page Critic tells us. But generally speaking,
these numbers are not going to make or break your ranking.
If I paid attention to these automated programs, I'm sure I'd find
out that most of my clients' sites have an "incorrect" keyword
density for specific engines. The program would tell me that
certain pages have too many keywords, and that others don't
have enough. My answer to that is: hogwash!
In reality, these pages rank high for numerous keyword phrases
regardless of the "proper" keyword density, because they are
filled with great content.
If you already have a Web site, and it's more than one page, then
you have your own built-in, natural gateway pages. Each and
every page of your current site is a doorway to the rest of your
To be sure, there are sometimes technical reasons why each
page of a site cannot be a gateway. However, there's no excuse
for having your main page be so technically challenged that the
search engines can't find it and read it.
With your main page as your jumping-off place, you simply create
other informative (static HTML) pages that link from the main
page to the rest of the site. These are not gateway pages in the
original sense of the word, because you're linking to them from
your main page, and you actually want people to visit them.
These pages should give useful information about your site, your
business, and the people who run it; and of course, these pages
should be easy to navigate.
A Costly Lesson
Creating gateway pages that are not linked to the rest of your site
and don't provide important information about your site are not
necessary, and may even harm your site's rankings.
The main thing typical gateway pages do is create clutter in the
engines. What? A search engine optimization specialist who is
worried about cluttering the engines? You bet!
I have to use the engines as much as the next person, and I'm as
frustrated by the lack of good content and hard-to-find Web
sites as everyone else is. There's no way that I want to contribute
to that, and for this reason, I have always advocated against
using gateway pages.
I'm probably one of the few search engine placement experts who
is extremely happy that many search engines such as AltaVista
are starting to take a stand against gateway pages by not
allowing them and by deleting them from their databases. Believe
it or not, this development has put a number of search engine
placement companies suddenly out of business. However, if they
were doing it "the right way" to begin with or were willing to learn
the right way, they'd still have a lucrative business.
Repeating My Mantra ... Again!
Those who know me and my other articles on this subject know
my mantra, which always bears repeating:
If your site has content that naturally uses your relevant keyword
phrases, and you follow simple guidelines on how to create your
titles and meta tags, your Web site will rank high.
No gateway pages necessary. No separate pages for separate
engines. No keyword density percentage numbers to give you a
headache. (They always give me one!) In the simplest terms
possible: You do not need to reinvent the wheel! Use your current
site's pages to the greatest advantage, and high rankings will
come to you on a silver platter!
I'm sure some of you are shaking your heads and asking, "What
if my site doesn't have much useful content or doesn't use my
keyword phrases effectively? Shouldn't I create gateway pages
that do this?"
The answer to this is quite simple. Fix your site! If your site
doesn't have useful content that naturally utilizes the keyword
phrases for which you should be ranking high, then it's missing
the essential elements of a good Web site and needs to be
altered accordingly. Not only is this a solid search engine
strategy, but it's also important for getting people to click further
into your site and ideally, for making some sales.
When it comes to providing good content for high rankings, you
should focus mostly on your main page. However, all major inside
pages should also be edited as necessary to ensure that each
key area of your business is well represented in the search
engines. If you design your Web pages with these things in mind,
high rankings will be sure to follow.
Please send me any questions about this, and we can answer them in the RankWrite Roundtable newsletter. You can e-mail me at
firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions or column ideas.
© Jill Whalen. dba Whalen's Web Whiz. All rights reserved. Do not
duplicate or redistribute in any form.