Search Engine Optimization: Gateways & Doorways
In my previous article, I showed you how to create a network of relevant links using 'Mirror Sites,' all with similar content, which the spiders can follow and index, thus ranking your Website higher. The same idea is behind doorway and gateway pages. Different people have different definitions, but these are the ones I am used to:
Doorway pages are small, basic entry pages that are targeted to certain keyword sets for certain engines. If you know that SE1 likes to see keywords in the title but does not care about IMG ALT tags, then you make a page that is heavy on title keywords. If SE2 likes IMG ALT tags and comment tags, then you make another page with the same keywords favored in those areas. This way, you do not have to mangle or modify your actual site to try to make all of the engines happy. You can never make one page work for all engines all of the time. It is better to make 10 pages for 10 engines and come up on the top 10 for each, than to try to make one that works for all 10 and rank only #32. If you are lucky, you will get more than one of your targeted pages on the first page of listings on the search engines, increasing your chances of click-through again.
You make these "doorways" for people to find, to get them into your site. And, as an added bonus, you have now created not only even more links to your site, but even more relevant links. So, you have increased your chances of a high ranking two-fold, first with the keywords and second with the links.
Gateway pages (also sometimes called Hallway pages) are essentially mini portals, pages with links to all of your mirror sites, or even just to your doorway pages. And again, you will be targeting these gateways to certain search engines with specific keyword sets, same as with the doorway pages above. This will give people the impression that your gateway page is a portal to a bunch of similar sites - even though they are essentially all your sites or mirrors of your site. This is why you want to make your mirrors a little different, if they are all cut-and-paste jobbies, then surfers will notice that pretty quickly - especially when they click more than one link and get the exact same site each time. Again, there are now more links to your site, good relevant links, making it easier to get spidered and ranked higher. When all of your pages and mirror sites are completed, start submitting to the engines.
So, to answer the question or mirroring your site - yes! By all means do it. But do it by making each one a little bit different and use different keyword sets for each, though keep the pages generic, don't target specific engines. This is where the doorways and gateways come in. Now, create a bunch of doorway pages to use the mirror page's keywords to target the search engines individually. The links are there and they are perfectly relevant, as the doorways and the mirror are all using the same set of terms. Once all of the mirrors and doorways are done, you start with the gateways. Now you have gateways that lead to doorways which lead to mirrors, which is essentially your site.
You have now created a ton of doors into your building, each with a different flashing neon sign designed to attract a different group of searchers.
While it does sounds like a lot of work, it is not THAT bad. Some good software can help, such as WebPosition GOLD (www.webposition.com) (which I prefer, personally, but there are others) which can help with a lot of this work. Your main task is to essentially diagram it all out, figure out what terms to use and what pages to link to what. Then start creating. When all of your pages and mirror sites are completed, start submitting to the engines. Unfortunately, results can take up to 6 months to see, so be patient. But, it can be very worthwhile.
Now, all you have to do is keep checking, see where you rank, make some changes, tweak the pages and the terms and keep doing that until you are top 10, or even top 3. Now just keep doing what has been working and stay at the top. While it isn't quite that easy, the principles are. Just give it some time and decent effort and you are well on your way to ruling the search engines.
Good luck and happy optimizing!