According to the Google Webmaster Guidelines, doorway pages “…are typically large sets of poor-quality pages where each page is optimized for a specific keyword or phrase…doorway pages are written to rank for a particular phrase and then funnel users to a single destination.” A doorway page might even take a searcher away from the page they thought they were being directed to and send them to a different website.
Doorway pages tend to be very generic, and are sometimes written in a way that they make no sense to a human reader, but would perform very well in the search engines. For instance, a doorway page that targets “soccer cleats” might have sentences like “soccer cleats store, buy soccer cleats at the soccer cleat store for better soccer cleats. Soccer cleats for adults, soccer cleats for kids, soccer cleats store for soccer cleats.” It reads as gibberish to a human visitor, but the search engines might be fooled into ranking that doorway page well for “soccer cleats.” Someone who searches for “soccer cleats” would be directed to that page from the SERP, and then might be prompted (or redirected) to click over to the actual website (which doesn’t rank as well organically for “soccer cleats”).
As Google says, “…doorway pages tend to frustrate users…and deceive users by directing them to sites other than the ones they selected…” Of course you want your website to perform well in the search engines, but it is far more important to focus on the user-experience of your site. After all, Google isn’t the one that is going to be doing business with your brand. Put yourself in the consumer’s shoes; would you want to hand your money over to a site that duped you like that? Instead of creating doorway pages or microsites designed to rank for a specific keyword, take the time to really focus on your onsite SEO and create useful, valuable content that a human visitor is going to want to read AND looks good in the eyes of the search engines. There is no quick way to SEO success! Creating doorway pages might even result in a penalty for your website.
It’s important to make the distinction between a doorway page and a landing page, both of which serve to drive traffic to a second website. Landing pages have unique and well-optimized content that is designed to make a visitor act. They are often used in PPC campaigns to attract a targeted visitor and prompt conversion. On the other hand, a doorway page will have little to no useful content and is designed specifically to manipulate the search engines and trick visitors into visiting a site they never intended to see.