Should I use a Doorway Page?

It depends (a doorway page is a page visitors land on before your home page). Doorway pages are often heavy on graphics, sparse on text, or the text isn’t the best text for search engine optimization or for new prospective clients.

  • Search engines tend to give more weight to the landing page (the page they hit first). If the landing page isn’t rich in your desired search terms, and your home page content is relegated to the status of a secondary page (a page you have to go through one click or one other page to get to), you’re likely not to get maximum value in terms of search engine optimization.
  • New prospective clients, if they’re coming in from search results in search engines, typically need to do a couple of things: 1. Qualify you (Do you provide the service they are after in the area they want it?). 2. Differentiate you (Are there any tangible differences between you and the competition or other search results?). 3. Locate options for the next step (e.g. an application, order form, lead capture form, contact info, etc.). If they can’t find the information to qualify you quickly and easily, or they get distracted because the other site makes it quicker and easier, you might be turning some visitors away. You’ll know something is wrong with your site, at least, because you’ll have high hits but dramatically lower contacts actually coming out of those hits (in other words, your conversion rate is extremely poor).

Doorway pages that slow the visitor down with flashy images can work for some kinds of web sites. Multinational corporations and art-related businesses can do very well with them, sometimes. For a locally-based business providing products or services, it’s probably better to present the core information (qualifying info, market differentiators, call to action) on the landing page.

If you can do that with a doorway page, then it might be ideal – if it can present that information without a lot of distracting navigation, etc. Keep in mind though, that you should be updating your landing page fairly consistently, for better search results and marketing value. If it doesn’t have a way to pull in your blog information, or there’s not a blog section, or you’re not sharing summaries from your blog (with links) on the landing page, then it’s probably not a dynamic page – and a dynamic landing page with the right stuff will do far better, generally, than a static page with the same core content.

In short, your landing page should be robust, text-rich, dynamic, and balanced between text and graphics/video. If it can’t meet these criteria, it’s probably best to take visitors directly to your home page. Besides, if you’re setting sound and video to autoplay when someone lands on your page, you’re probably losing a lot of visitors by slowing down their bandwidth involuntarily (causing their browser to crawl) and/or startling them with unexpected and possibly undesired sounds coming through their speakers. What if the baby is sleeping, or they’re surfing at the office? Friends don’t let friends set video and sound to autoplay. Again, if you’re in the film or music business, you might want autoplay, as long as there’s a highly-visible “stop it!” button.

Whether to use a doorway form will depend on your specific context and application.

Daniel DiGriz

Daniel DiGriz is a corporate storyteller and Digital Ecologist® at MadPipe, which provides creative direction, marketing leadership, and campaign direction for firms that want a stronger connection with their audience. A Digital Ecologist® applies strategic principles from both natural and digital ecologies to help organizations thrive across multiple ecosystems. Daniel hosts podcasts, speaks at conferences, and his ideas have appeared in Inc, SmartBlog, MediaPost, Forbes, and Success Magazine.

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