What does Hallway Page mean in SEO?
Are Hallway Pages a great way to get a lot of your website into Google's search results fast or a low down Black Hat technique that could see you penalized and set back any SEO hopes you have by weeks or months? Let's clear this up!
What is a hallway page
Its basically a page on a website that is no more than a list of links to other pages on the site. The idea is that if a search engine crawler visits this page it will see all the links, follow them and index them. That's a far faster way to get the pages you want discovered, found.
Technically its true and although there is a myth that Google will only follow the first 100 links on a page I've seen numerous examples where it actually followed several thousand links from a single page.
But if letting the big search engines know what pages you have is your game both Google and Bing offer services where you can upload a sitemap.xml file with all the pages you want them to know about in it and they'll usually pop along and take a look pretty swiftly.
Are hallway pages Black Hat SEO?
No. If you think about it a page with a list of products or blog posts or articles is a hallway page and that means most of the websites on the Internet have them. In fact almost all home pages are hallway pages of a sort.
You may have heard that hallway pages are a bad idea because many people confuse them with Doorway Pages. Doorway pages are pages that try to pretend to be about something but when you open the page it automatically redirects you to something completely different.
So if I created a page and did all the On-Page SEO needed to optimize it for the phrase 'pictures of kittens' but when you actually click a link to open the page a piece of code redirects you to my gambling website that's me using a doorway page.
Hallway pages or sitemap files
Just going back a bit. I said earlier if you want search engines to discover all your content, or the pages you want discovered, then submitting a sitemap.xml file works better than hallway pages. However I very rarely do this because you end up missing a golden opportunity for some basic site feedback from the likes of Google.
If your website is well designed then it should be really easy for robots like Google Bot to find their way around quickly and understand the overall structure. The acid test of this is just to register your website on your Google Search Console and wait to see how well it does this.
The Google Search Console will tell you how many pages it has crawled and specifically tell you if there are any it has decided to ignore, along with the reasons why. If Google can't find all your pages within a month of registering your website (regardless of whether it decides to index them or not) then there is something wrong with your website design.
Where I do use the sitemap.xml file is on large established websites where new pages aren't that obvious. So on a blog, for example, new content is obvious because it is featured on the home page which Google bot visits more regularly than your other content. On an eCommerce website however a new product might end up buried deep down somewhere and submitting an updated sitemap will help flag that up to Google.
So Hallway pages are pages on a website that list links to other pages on a website. Nothing wrong with them, most websites have them in some form or another and you won't get into any hot water for having them. But ultimately creating hallway pages "so search engines can discover your content" is a bit pointless. Your website design should make it easy for the crawlers and if you need to flag up new content a sitemap.xml file is the way to do it.
I'm Tim Hill, a Search Engine Optimization and Online Marketing specialist. I created this site to help others understand that SEO is not a mysterious black art!.
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