We're continuing our topic of Black Hat SEO techniques that will cause your website to be banned or seriously penalized by search engines. Today's topic is about "Doorway Pages".
A Doorway Page is any page added to a website simply to target a specific keyword phrase, but instead of being useful to the reader it usually has very little content on it and leaves the visitor feeling dissatisfied.
Some SEO companies have automated software that will create dozens of doorway pages for your site. For this process you only need to plug in your list of keywords and the software will search the internet for brief information or definitions of those keywords and create these nonsense pages.
For example, an automatically created doorway page for the phrase engagement rings would have your store name, address and then might scrape the first sentence from Wikipedia's page here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engagement_rings:
"An engagement ring is a ring indicating that the person wearing it is engaged to be married, especially in Western cultures. In the United Kingdom, Ireland and North America, engagement rings are traditionally worn only by women, and rings can feature diamonds or other gemstones."
Naturally this is not valuable to the reader. If they wanted to read Wikipedia, they would go to Wikipedia. They also do not need to be told what an engagement ring is, so much as see examples of them so they can buy them. This practice will also be detected easily by the search engines as duplicate content so to avoid detection the automated process will attempt to rewrite the copied content. Here's an example:
"In North America, Ireland and United Kingdom, traditional engagement ring are worn by women only, and featured ring can be diamonds or other gemstone. An engagement ring is a ring to indicate that the person wearing is engaged to be married in Western cultures."
That rewrite should be difficult to read and that's really what a doorway page would look like if you use automated software to create them. The grammar and syntax is very wrong and certainly Google will detect it as an attempt to spam the search engine results. It basically looks like it was translated from one language into another, and then back again.
This is a dangerous practice and it could get your entire website banned from Google, Bing and Yahoo. If you hire an SEO company to build content on your website, you need to make sure they are not using the above tactics.
As a jewelry store we do not suggest you create random, useless SEO pages to target keyword phrases. Instead we'd like to see you use your phrases throughout your website in a natural way. One good strategy for the phrase engagement rings is to simply have a page that explains the types of engagement rings you carry then link that to all the specific engagement ring sub-types, like pave, vintage/estate, solitaire, etc..
On the other hand many stores want our recommendations for creating doorway pages or landing pages that are town specific. Let's take a look at someone you probably hate, but nonetheless does a fairly good job: James Allen.
JamesAllen.com has a series of doorway pages created for major cities in the US. Here's the one for Houston, TX: http://www.jamesallen.com/Houston/
At the top of that page they included a photo of the city and 110 words that are nothing more than a brief synopsis of the city that looks more like a list of words written in sentence format. The rest of the page has brief introductions to all their main services: diamond search, wedding and anniversary rings, diamond studs, diamond pendants.
This is an easy strategy to emulate, and you could do it for the local towns around you. You simply need a recognizable photo from each town and a write-up. You should use names, places or local expressions that people might actually search for.
The JWAG office is in Totowa, NJ which is a small town next to the City of Paterson. Paterson was once a bustling center of textile mills, but its glory years are far gone. Some areas of Paterson are complete slums, some are recently redeveloped and some maintain their historic beauty from 100 years ago. One such old neighborhood is referred to as "the Totowa section of Paterson" because it was once part of Totowa Borough. To this day it has a neighborhood charm similar to Totowa and that expression is well known locally.
We're mentioning this to reinforce the point that only you would know about the fine details of your local community and the local expressions. You include this local knowledge on these town specific landing pages to establish your sense of belonging within the community and obviously to aide in your local search ranking.
If you decide to hire an SEO firm to add pages to your site make sure they do enough research or you provide them with enough material to create quality pages for you. It's harder work than simply scraping content off another website, but those efforts are valued by search engines because your site took the time and effort to provide unique, accurate content.