On March 16, 2015 Google announced that they will adjust their algorithm which will strongly impact websites using doorway pages. The explanation behind this change is that Google believes that doorway pages negatively impact a user’s search experience. This is especially true for pages with similar content but only keyword changes or for websites created with the sole purpose to lead traffic to another website.
Landing pages can be set up on a website as a destination page for specific ads or even to bring in traffic from search engines. These two uses must be treated differently especially after this latest algorithm change.
If it is a landing page for ads, there are good reasons for customizing pages that would not be SEO-friendly. For example you might want to create several pages with very similar content except for keywords which match the ads bringing in traffic. The keyword focus would improve your quality score and improve conversions. There is no need to integrate these pages in your site menu or from links on other pages since the landing pages are meant specifically to convert visitors who come in from ads. To avoid penalties to your site you must inform search engine robots not to index these pages. Use either the meta tag <META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW”> or use a separate robots.txt file to tell robots which pages not to index.
Will a NOINDEX also block the AdsBot-Google
Blocking all robots in your meta tag or robots.txt file will not block the AdWords bot unless you explicitly block AdsBot-Google. AdWords will assume that you want the page to be spidered since you put it as a destination for a paid ad. Google Adwords support confirmed this with us with the following email:
“If we are ever unable to crawl a site for any reason, we will manually review the landing page before giving it a quality score. We do not automatically give you a bad quality score if the ads bot is unable to crawl the site.”
If it is a landing page for SEO meaning that you want to attract visitors from regular search results, it must have original, useful content and have links from menus and other pages on the site. Think of it in every way as new content to be properly integrated with your website.
Building doorway pages is a technique that we stopped using many years ago for exactly the reasons mentioned by Google. Ironically, doorway pages are what launched our company in 2000! Building landing pages for Google AdWords campaigns on the other hand is still a very good idea as long as you block search engine robots from pages with duplicate content.