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Search Engine Positioning Going Mainstream

Lately, using doorway pages to gain top search engine positioning has become a major topic in Web circles. Doorway pages, also known as entry or bridge pages, are Web pages designed specifically to rank highly on the unique ranking algorithms of each search engine. They are often identified with spammers - at least until now.

Danny Sullivanís Search Engine Watch (www.searchenginewatch.com) recently featured the use of doorways by State Farm Insurance, the leading US auto insurance firm, to get to the top of search results for insurance related searches. State Farm did get the top positions, securing the first and second positions for "auto insurance" on Excite, Infoseek, HotBot, and Lycos, plus the first and second positions for a number of other phrases like "life insurance", "boat insurance", "home insurance", and "car insurance". Everything was going great for State Farm, its doorway pages generating an extra 100,000 unique new users in 11 months. This being the first time that a major corporation has been publicly exposed for using techniques associated with spamming, many Web promoters were curious to know what the search engine companies would say about it. What they heard was the best piece of good news they have had in a long time.

According to interviews with search engine executives in the Search Engine Watch, the search engines seem to have adopted a whole new healthy attitude towards doorway pages! As long as your doorway pages do not promote keywords or phrases that have nothing to do with your Web siteís content, and that you do not submit too many doorways with the same keyword and clog up the search results, you are free to go for it! In other words, if your doorways help search engine users to find what they are looking for without being deceived, no one will penalize you. (Watch out for Infoseek, though. It doesnít like it when your doorways redirect users to a new location without their intervention, e.g. using the META refresh tag or a CGI).

The reason doorway pages are such a hot issue is that:

Over 95% of Web users find what they are looking for by visiting the top 6 search engines. Yahoo alone handled over 55 million searches and page views in December 1997. Everybody knows that even a few good positions on even one or two important keywords or phrases can drive thousands or hundreds of thousands of quality visitor traffic to a Web site per day.

The search engines are over-flowing. They have too many pages in their indices and they do not do a very good job of giving the users what they are looking for. Often, a good Web site may be ranked low by a search engine, and a very bad Web site in the same subject area ranked high! Sometimes the only way the good site can rank higher is by using doorways.

Research has shown that people hardly ever go past the top 30 search results for any one search. The top 10 results receive 78% more traffic than those in position 11 to 30 do. The top 30 results get over 90% of the search traffic. This alone explains why some sites do so well and others so disappointingly, and why it is so critical to be ranked highly. 
Creating doorway pages is one of those elusive things in life. It can be done, but it no longer is easy to cheat the search engines as it used to be back in 1995! It now takes some considerable time studying, tracking, testing and reverse-engineering search results. Those that get it right are handsomely rewarded!

Coincidentally, this interest in doorway pages heightened just as we were launching the SearchPositioning.com Web site (www.searchpositioning.com), which features an online Automatic Doorways Generator, plus other tools, software, information, and resources useful in search engine positioning. We developed, through reverse-engineering many search results, a system that creates optimized, professional doorways for Web site promoters. By developing a system that easily allows webmasters to serve themselves online, we were able to drive costs down and provide the automatic doorways generation service at an affordable $34.95 per year for unlimited doorways and keywords. Our goal is to enable any webmaster to responsibly position their site highly on search engines. The few services that did this before we stepped in were offering customized services that are beyond the financial reach of most webmasters, well in the thousands of dollars.

Doorway pages are definitely very effective Web promotion tools. But they are also controversial, misunderstood technically and ethically, and can sometimes do more harm than good when abused. None of us really knows 100% what the best approach to all this is. I believe that sharing, discussion, and putting issues out in the open are what promotes awareness, better decision-making, and progress. I am therefore inviting all readers to contribute their experiences, thoughts, fears, ethical concerns, successes, tips, and problems with doorways. We can all learn from each other about this most important and effective aspect of Web promotion. I also wish to invite you to our Web promotion discussion forum at www.searchpositioning.com.

To get the discussion going, let me say something about one thing that everybody asks about doorways: is it fair and ethical to use them? Iíd say yes. Doorways are not inherently good or bad, it is how they are used that is. In good use, they help people find what they are looking for. They also solve some serious weaknesses in search engines. You could, for example, have a site on parenting. But because your site may be made almost entirely of dynamically generated pages (database or CGI driven), behind a membership system, be highly graphical, of have long editorial text that scores poorly with search engines, your site will go unnoticed by search engines. It may be the best site on parenting, but the engines will rank it very poorly. Doorways here can give you the justice you deserve. And until search engines learn to properly index dynamic content, images, pages with long text, password protected pages, and, best of all, learn to rate and weight in the entire siteís content and factor it into the search results, doorways are the best solution for many webmasters.

If you want to learn more about doorways, visit www.searchpositioning.com.

David Gikandi

support@searchpositioning.com
SearchPositioning.com
http://www.searchpositioning.com
Positioning is 95% of your business! 

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