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Creating Doorway Pages
By Sumantra Roy

Doorway pages are pages which repeat a particular keyword a number of times and are designed to get a high ranking in a particular search engine. Since each search engine uses a different algorithm to rank pages, those who use this technique of creating doorway pages to get a high ranking for a particular keyword have to create separate doorway pages for each search engine.

Before I discuss how you can create such doorway pages, I must tell you that I am no fan of these doorway pages. Firstly, if you are targeting a reasonably high number of keywords, you'll have to create hundreds of doorway pages. Keeping track of these hundreds of doorway pages can quickly become an administrative nightmare. Secondly, since the search engines change their algorithms every now and then, you'll also need to update the different doorway pages frequently. In this case, you can soon find yourself spending more time on search engine optimization than on carrying on your normal business activities. Thirdly, the search engines themselves, by and large, don't like such doorway pages. If they manage to detect that you have created such doorway pages, they will often penalize or even ban your site. Hence, I would recommend that you think of doorway pages only as a last resort - consider using them only when everything else fails. And even then, think thrice before using them.

If you have decided that you really want to create such doorway pages, your objective would be to locate a top ranking page which has optimal placement of the target keyword. You would then emulate the way this page has used the target keyword in your doorway page. Here's how you should go about creating doorway pages:

Step 1: Go to the search engine that you are targeting and search for the keyword that you are creating the doorway page for. Once the search engine has displayed the results, download and save the top 20 pages in a temporary directory in your hard drive. Also, download and save the first two pages of results as displayed by the search engine.

Step 2: Now it's time to eliminate those pages which have changed since the time the search engines spidered them and those pages which are using page cloaking. Page cloaking is a technique (a technique which I do not recommend that you even think of using) by which you can show one page to your visitors and one page to the search engines. It is achieved by using CGI scripts.

Firstly, have a look at the title of the first page displayed in the search engine results and the actual title of that page when you open it in your browser. If there is even a small discrepancy between the title that is shown by the search engine and the title that is displayed in the browser, delete that page from your hard drive.

If the titles are the same, it is time to look at the Meta Description tag. Apart from Fast, Google, Lycos and Northern Light, all the major search engines support the Meta Description tag. If you are targeting a search engine other than the four mentioned above, see whether the description that is displayed by the search engine is the same as the first few words of the text that is present in the Meta Description tag of that page. If there is even a small discrepancy, delete that page from your hard drive. However, if you are targeting one of the four search engines mentioned above, see whether the description that is displayed by the search engine is present in the body of the page. If it is not, again delete the page from your hard drive.

If the title and the description match, open that page in a text editor and search for your target keyword. If you do not find any occurrence of the keyword in that page, again delete it.

Repeat this process for each of the top 20 pages that you downloaded. This will eliminate most of the pages which are either using cloaking or which have changed since the last time the search engines spidered them.

Step 3: Most search engines now use link popularity as a factor when calculating the rank of a page. It is not only the number of links that counts - the quality of the sites that are linking to that particular site is also important. Most search engines will give a certain amount of preference to sites which have been registered by The Open Directory and Yahoo!. This implies that a site may get a higher ranking compared to another site if the first site is listed by The Open Directory and Yahoo! but the second site isn't, even though the second site may have had better placement of keywords. Hence, since our objective is to locate the pages which have optimal placement of keywords, it is important to eliminate those sites (among the sites which are not using page cloaking and which have not changed since the last time the search engine spidered the site) which are listed by Yahoo! and The Open Directory.

In order to check whether a site is listed by Yahoo!, simply go to Yahoo! and type in the domain name of that site in Yahoo!'s search box. For instance, if one of the pages which has come up at the top is http://www.mysite.com/mypage.html, simply type in mysite.com in Yahoo!'s search box. If that site is listed by Yahoo!, it will be shown in Yahoo!'s Web Directory. Note that a listing under Yahoo! Web Pages does not mean that a site has been listed by Yahoo! - a listing under Yahoo! Web Pages only shows that the site has been listed by Google. If a site is listed by Yahoo!, it has to come up in Yahoo!'s Web Directory.

In this way, type in the domain name of each of the top ranking pages in Yahoo! and eliminate the pages belonging to the sites which have been listed by Yahoo!. For reasons which I will outline later on, don't delete those pages as yet - simply transfer them to a different directory of your hard drive.

Step 4: Once you have eliminated the pages belonging to the sites which have been listed by Yahoo!, it is time to eliminate the pages belonging to the sites which have been not been listed by Yahoo! but which have been listed by The Open Directory. In this case too, simply type in the domain name of the site in The Open Directory's search box. If the site has been listed by The Open Directory, it will come up in the search results. In this way, eliminate all the pages belonging to the sites which have been registered by The Open Directory. Again, don't delete them - transfer them to a different directory in your hard drive (but not the same directory where you transferred the pages from the sites which have been registered by Yahoo!).

Step 5: Once you have eliminated the pages belonging to sites which have been registered by The Open Directory and Yahoo!, you should be left with a few pages. Since, as I mentioned earlier, link popularity is an increasingly important factor these days, it implies that a site with higher link popularity may be ranked higher than a site with lower link popularity, even though the second site may have had better placement of keywords. Hence, the page that you emulate should be the one with the lowest link popularity since this page has managed to come up at the top primarily because it has optimal placement of keywords.

Now the question arises as to whether you should be concerned about the link popularity of an individual page or of the site which owns the page. The research that I have conducted indicates that barring a few exceptions, the search engines consider the link popularity of the site as a whole - not the link popularity of the individual pages. The search engines make an exception when dealing with sites which are hosted by the free hosts like Geocities, Tripod etc. For the free hosts, it is the link popularity of the individual pages which count.

Hence, assuming that the page is not lying in one of the free hosts, you should check the link popularity of the site which contains the page and not the individual page. If you are targeting search engines like Excite which do not allow you to measure link popularity, I recommend that you measure link popularity in AltaVista.

Once you have measured the link popularity of the individual sites, the page that you should emulate is the one which belongs to the site with the lowest link popularity.

Step 6: Now it's time to create the doorway page. Create a new HTML file and add text to the body of the page. The way you create the text of your page would depend largely on what you want the visitor to do after reading this page. In some cases, you may simply want the visitor to go to a home page or another specific page in your site after reading this page. In this case, you should write the text in such a way that the visitor is attracted to the page that you are targeting. You would also want to provide links to the home page or the specific page that you are targeting at strategic places in the doorway page. Or, you may want the visitor to click on the link to an affiliate program that you are a member of. In this case, you would stress the benefits that the visitor gets by purchasing the product or service that the affiliate program is selling. You would also want to provide links to the affiliate program at strategic places in the doorway page and/or at the end of the doorway page. Whatever it is that you want your page to do, there are some general rules to follow:

1) The first thing to remember is that some search engines don't recognize the Meta Description tag. These search engines will often simply take the first few lines of text in the body of your page and display that as the description. Hence, you must ensure that the first few lines of text in your page are attractive to human beings.

2) Make sure that your paragraphs are not too long - each paragraph should be no more than 3 or 4 sentences long. This is because people on the web simply don't have the time or the inclination to read long paragraphs.

Step 7: Now, fire up your copy of WebPosition Gold.

Start a new Page Critic mission. Enter the complete path of the doorway page that you have just created in the second text box in the "Page Setup" tab of the Page Critic window. Enter your target keyword in the third text box. Make sure that the "Summarize Analysis Data" option is not checked. Now click on the Settings tab, and choose the search engine for which you are creating the doorway page. I also recommend that you uncheck the "Display Top Average Scores for this engine" option. In the "Comparison File Name or URL" text box, enter the complete path of the page which you had selected for comparison using steps 1 to 5. Now click on the Start button and save the mission when you are prompted to. WebPosition Gold will soon display a page which will compare the statistics of the doorway page that you have created with the statistics of the page that you are using for comparison.

Now tweak the doorway page so that the statistics (i.e. the Frequency, Words, Weight, Average Prominence and Starting Positions) for the different elements (i.e. the Title, the Meta Description, the Meta Keywords, the Heading, the Link text, the HyperLink URL, the Alt tag, the Comment, and the Body Text) of the doorway page are as close as possible to the statistics for the page which you are using for comparison. If you don't know the meaning of terms like Frequency, Weight etc., simply click on those words in the heading of the table to get an explanation of those words.

I am not suggesting, of course, that you simply copy what is present in the comparison page - that will be a copyright violation. What I am suggesting is that you modify the doorway page in such a way that the statistics for the different elements in the doorway page are similar to those in the comparison page.

When you see a discrepancy between the statistics for a particular element of your doorway page and the comparison page, simply modify that element of your doorway page, save the file, click on the Start button of the Page Critic Window and compare the statistics again. Do this until the statistics for all the elements of your doorway page are as close as possible to the statistics for the comparison page.

Step 8: Once you have created the doorway page for one keyword, follow steps 1 to 7 to create the doorway page for another keyword for the same search engine. Repeat this process for each of the keywords that you are targeting.

Wrapping things up:

If you remember, I had recommended that in order to locate the page which you should emulate, you should remove those sites which have been registered by The Open Directory and Yahoo!. Now, sometimes, it may so happen that all the top 20 sites have been registered by The Open Directory. In this case, of course, you would be left with no page to emulate. What you should do in this case is simple - don't remove the sites which have been registered by The Open Directory. Simply find the link popularity of each of the sites which are left after Step 3 and choose the page belonging to the site with the lowest link popularity.

Again, if you find that all the top 20 sites have been registered by Yahoo!, you should do the same thing - don't remove the sites which have registered by Yahoo!. Simply find the link popularity of the sites which are left after Step 2 and choose the page belonging to the site with the lowest link popularity.

Also, note that this process of creating doorway pages is not applicable for AOL, Lycos and Netscape because the top sites in these search engines are derived from The Open Directory. Hence, to get a high ranking in these search engines, you should get yourself listed by The Open Directory.

The doorway pages also don't work with MSN because the top sites in MSN are derived from LookSmart. Hence, to get a high ranking in MSN, you should get yourself listed in LookSmart.

Sumantra Roy is one of the most respected and recognized search engine positioning specialists on the Internet. For more articles on search engine placement, subscribe to his 1st Search Ranking Newsletter by sending a blank email to mailto:1stSearchRanking.999.99@optinpro.com or by going to http://www.1stSearchRanking.com

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