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Would This Be Considered Doorway Pages?


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7 replies to this topic

#1 Darryl

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 03:20 PM

I have a client that wants to do the following and I'm just wondering if this would be considered doorway pages with the possibility of Google penalizing the Corporate Eccomerce website.

Client wants to build 13 seperate product category-themed eccomerce micro-sites all with their own registered domain name and separate IP address for hosting. The look and feel of each site would be somewhat different than the Corporate site, but would retain the Corporate Logo. Each site would list products from a specific category and when a visitor selects a specific product the visitor is re-directed to the Corporate site to a page that includes a detailed product listing, at which point they can add the product to their shopping cart.

I'm worried these type of micro-sites could be considered doorway pages to Google and I'm not sure how user-friendly this option is. I recommended these sites be fully self-contained. In other words, the site has a look and feel all its own, has some unique content and the user can do all his/her shopping from the microsite without being re-directed. Each site could link to the Corporate site to provide SEO benefit in the footer for example, but I would not automatically redirect visitors to the Corporate site while they shop.

What are your thoughts on this?

#2 Michael Martinez

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 06:03 PM

A classic doorway page is a single page on a domain that acts as a point of entry (sometimes using redirection to disguise its purpose to the consumer) to the main Website. Doorway pages are typically keyword-specific, often lack meaningful content, and are considered Web spam.

A classic doorway domain is a domain that has one page of content that often scrolls endlessly, using faux testimonials, and otherwise flooding the visitor with overwhelming calls to action so they'll click through to the real domain. Some doorway domains are more sophisticated but they are still one-page sites. Doorway domains are usually regarded as Web spam.

A microsite is a multi-page site (sometimes a 1-page site) with unique content that possesses some intrinsic value to the user. It may contain links to several sites or just to one primary site.

Microsites are usually not considered Web spam but many people in the SEO community argue that they draw off value-passing linkage and suck away developmental and promotional resources from primary brand sites.


#3 Scottie

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 06:29 PM

Generally it's a lot of work that's better put into one good site.

The only time I find the strategy you are describing to be useful is when the parent site sells a really wide variety of stuff, aimed at different markets. It can be a good idea to really round out a theme around a set of products where you can get customer involvement, offer additional info, and maybe host product-specific support. Think say, you are selling products specifically for teens in one line and products for the elderly in another. Very different approaches to selling to these demographics.

But to just change the design and run the same catalog pages? Very little benefit.

#4 piskie

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 06:45 PM

Absolutely right Scottie. I always work hard to persuade clients away from this option and have actually declined work when they have insisted on spawning micro sites all over the place.

#5 PatrickGer

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 10:37 PM

QUOTE
Microsites are usually not considered Web spam but many people in the SEO community argue that they draw off value-passing linkage and suck away developmental and promotional resources from primary brand sites.


Any idea how much link authority they would draw off? If I understand it right, then the idea is that all those links pointing directly to the main website would equal more link authority for the main site....because if some of the same link juice flows through micro-sites to that main site, some of it is lost along the way, b/c of the dampening factor used for pagerank (admittedly, I'm not an expert on how PR works exactly) and other factors (see below), even if the micro-sites did not link out to any other websites (other than the main site) and had a link from every single page that links to the main website (in order to channel as much link juice as possible to the main site).

At the end of the day some of that link authority would still be lost, b/c
- of the dampening factor used for page rank (if it gets passed from one site to another one)
- because the links (even if they're) on every single page of the micro-site pointing to the mainsite...might not be in the perfect spot to send a maximum of that link authority to the main site (if it's still (ever was?) true that the location of the link on a page influences how much link juice is passed on from an outbound link), as we can't really know in which exact spot on the page the amount of link juice that can be passed on would be maximized (or does the location of the link on a page only matter, if there are outbound links to multiple websites on that page?).

I'm really just wondering if I understand the idea why link authority would be lost along the way.

In case anyone has a good source/article for this, I could read up on to understand it (in case my reasoning above wasn't correct) I'd appreciate it, too! (maybe you have written one like that in the past, Jill?(just asking as you've pointed me to an article before))

PS: I assume there probably is no risk if ("only") 11 micro-sites link back to the main site, right? But at what number of micro-sites, would you risk that it might be considered spam by the SEs? Any idea?(just curious)

#6 Michael Martinez

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 02:56 PM

QUOTE(PatrickGer @ May 13 2010, 08:37 PM) View Post
Any idea how much link authority they would draw off? If I understand it right, then the idea is that all those links pointing directly to the main website would equal more link authority for the main site....because if some of the same link juice flows through micro-sites to that main site, some of it is lost along the way, b/c of the dampening factor used for pagerank (admittedly, I'm not an expert on how PR works exactly) and other factors (see below), even if the micro-sites did not link out to any other websites (other than the main site) and had a link from every single page that links to the main website (in order to channel as much link juice as possible to the main site).


This is a theoretical topic. There are no hard and fast rules, no documents explaining how it works -- just a lot of anecotes and opinions. Your recap was adequate but let me rephrase it.

So, in theory, you get X amount of PageRank from a link that points to a page named David. David, in turn, links to a page name Harry. Let's assume that this is the only link on David. The link from David to Harry will transfer less than X amount of PageRank.

Now, David's PageRank needs to be sufficient enough to ensure that David can, in fact, pass some PageRank to Harry. And Harry's PageRank may need to be sufficient enough to ensure that it can receive PageRank from David.

In other words, it's not just about the links. It's about what the search engine is doing with the value that those links represent.

In order to obtain sufficient value for both the Primary Site and the Satellite Sites to achieve their SEO goals (draw converting traffic from search engines), approximately equal amounts of effort have to be devoted to promoting both sites.

Just obtaining links to the Satellite Site isn't sufficient. What if these are links from alternative resources that would not normally be used for linking to the Primary site? People often short-change themselves with their brilliant SEO ideas by discriminating against "less important" stuff.

So if we assume for the sake of discussion that sufficient effort will be devoted to promoting all Satellite Sites, then we have to ask if the return on investment justifies that effort.

To do it right, you have to treat the microsites/Satellite Sites as real Websites: give them unique valuable content, create real visibility for them, market them.

Will they pay off enough to justify that expense in time, materials, and labor?

If not, then this is not an optimal strategy for enhancing a Primary Site's search visibility. In my opinion, a microsite needs to have its own unique compelling reason to exist. It's really a miniature primary site that just happens to be part of a network of valuable assets.

#7 Jill

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Posted 15 May 2010 - 11:30 AM

QUOTE(PatrickGer @ May 13 2010, 11:37 PM) View Post
In case anyone has a good source/article for this, I could read up on to understand it (in case my reasoning above wasn't correct) I'd appreciate it, too! (maybe you have written one like that in the past, Jill?(just asking as you've pointed me to an article before))


Actually, the incredibly smart and knowledgeable Vanessa Fox (creator of Google's Webmaster Central) just wrote an article on this topic:

Microsites. A Bad Idea Most of the Time.

Highly recommend reading it. Almost anything Vanessa writes is something generally inline with the overall SEO philosophy of the High Rankings forum.

#8 Scottie

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Posted 15 May 2010 - 10:46 PM

Excellent article.




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