The concept of hallway pages probably originated back in the early days of doorway pages - if one was churning out dozens or hundreds of doorway pages, one needed a way for search engines to find these pages. And, as the doorway concept was abused and became outmoded, so did hallways.
A hallway page is a web page that either solely or largely contains hyperlinks to other web pages. Historically, its purpose was to enable a Search Engine's spider program to follow these links to the pages to which the links refer in the expectation that the Search Engine (SE) will then index these pages. In the early days of search engine optimization, hallway pages were geared primarily for spiders instead of human visitors.
Why Hallway Pages Help
To understand why hallways are sometimes necessary or even desirable we need to review certain characteristics of search engines and their spiders. Originally, when search engines found a portion of their pages via direct submittal of individual pages, they often imposed limits on the number of pages that could be submitted. Since the also found pages by spidering, submitting one hallway page with links to many other pages accomplished the objective of getting a large number of pages spidered without having to submit them all.
Today, direct page submittal is largely a thing of the past; search engines find pages by spidering. Nevertheless, there are times when it is useful to be able to link to a large number of pages to encourage spidering. A site may have a page for each of many products, or for multiple geographic locations, etc. In these cases, a "hallway" approach may provide a convenient way to encourage spidering. They may provide quick access, rather like a site map, instead of forcing the spider to follow a more convoluted, human oriented navigation system.
What Should a Hallway Page Look Like?
At one time, a hallway might have been a lengthy list of bare URLs, since it's sole purpose was to provide a spidering path. Today, that approach would be unsuccessful, to say the least.
First, it's probably not wise to put more than a few dozen links on one page. While longer lists of links can get spidered, there is less transfer of Google PageRank and very long lists may be truncated by the search engines. This seems to be less of a problem.
Second, if possible use themes for these pages - if you can create a grouping of links for pages about "Acme Widgets", or "Widget Collecting", do it.
Third, be sure your anchor text is related to the keyword(s) of the page you are linking to.
Fourth, the best hallway pages are more like a directory listing - include some descriptive text next to the link.
You might also include some non-link content on the page related to the overall theme.
Do NOT use hidden links, hidden text, or other gimmicks.
By following these directions, you'll avoid creating 1999-style hallway pages and will have useful navigation aids that will be equally helpful to human visitors and search engine spiders.
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