"I own several .net and .org domain names matching my .com domain names. I am paying for but not using these .net and .org domain names. I'm wondering if I can use the domain names as "doorway" page URLs, to my main sites? I know .net means network and I think .org means not for profit organization. Is there a Web site listing the rules for using your domain names? Will the search engines ban me for using a .net or .org domain name on a commercial Web site? I'm sure I'm not the only person who isn't using their alternative domain addresses. Any other information you have on this subject will be appreciated."

James Whitten


No, you should not use those domains as doorway domains. I have seen some people register a new domain, create an index.htm or index.html file which is optimized for some keyword, and then simply ask visitors to go to their primary domains. Many of the search engines are now ignoring or penalizing web sites which are using this doorway domain tactic.

What the search engines want is good content. That's the reason they tend to take a rather dim view of such doorway domains. If you want to make use of all the domains that you have registered, what you can do is to have significant content in all these domains, i.e. the other domains should be proper web sites in their own right. Also, make sure that the pages in the new domains are not exact replicas of the pages in your primary domain. The search engines don't like such mirror domains either. My suggestion is to have quite a few pages with good content in the additional domains. Each of those pages should repeat a few related keywords a number of times. This can get you a higher ranking for those keywords in the search engines.

Another mistake people make is to optimize the index.htm file for a particular keyword and then use the Meta Refresh tag to automatically redirect visitors to their primary domains. The search engines absolutely hate this and may penalize both the domains for doing this.

However, don't get me wrong. There are plenty of legitimate reasons for using the Meta Refresh tag. For instance, you may have registered the ".org" and ".net" domains not to get a higher ranking in the search engines, but in order to prevent other people from registering those domains. In this case, you may want to redirect people who come to the ".org" or ".net" domains to your ".com" domain. The simplest way of doing this is to use the Meta Refresh tag. In this case, however, make sure that you do not submit the ".org" and ".net" domains to the search engines.

However, even then, some of your more unscrupulous competitors may submit the ".org" and ".net" domains to the search engines in order to get you penalized. To prevent this, you need to have a robots.txt file in the root directory of the ".org" and ".net" domains which would instruct the search engines not to index any of the pages in those domains. See my article on this topic to find out how you should create a robots.txt file.

With regard to your other question as to whether the search engines will ban you for using a ".net" or a ".org" domain for a commercial web site, rest assured that they won't. There are plenty of people who have registered the ".net" or ".org" domains in order to protect the identities of their ".com" domains. This won't get you penalized, as long as you don't make the mistakes I outlined above.

January 3, 2001

Sumantra Roy, president of 1st Search Engine, is one of the most respected and recognized search engine positioning specialists on the Internet. Sumantra's articles on search engine optimization have been widely published and quoted in different web sites and newsletters on the Internet. His unique formula for establishing the most appropriate keywords for a site has been used by WordTracker, the most popular keyword research tool on the Internet. This formula is also used by many other search engine optimization companies for establishing the most appropriate keywords for their clients' sites.

Search Engine Guide > Sumantra Roy > Search Engine Positioning by using Doorway Domains