Earlier this year, there was a lot of excitement about ‘Smart Pages’ and the way in which you could use them to generate huge amounts of traffic to your website from the main search engines.
If you aren’t aware, a Smart Page is quite simply a web page that has been designed in a particular way to include many keywords/phrases that are relevant to your website. The idea being that the design of this one page is so attractive to the search engines that it will get a high ranking for a particular keyword. The page itself doesn’t display anything, if anyone clicks on the search engine listing, it just redirects to your main website.
Instead of having to spend time optimizing your main website pages for various search terms, Smart Pages allow you to have hundreds of individual pages, each one optimized for a different keyword or phrase.
Over the past few months, there have been many discussions and debates about Smart Pages and whether you should use them or indeed whether they even work. Some say they work but search engines will ban you if you use them, others say that they work and search engines have no problem with them and some just say that they don’t work.
When all the fuss about Smart Pages was going on earlier in the year, I was busy with other projects and didn’t have the time to test the theory for myself. However, I have had a bit more time recently and now that the initial excitement has died down, I decided to give Smart Pages a go.
Whilst it is possible to create Smart Pages manually, this is quite time-consuming, so instead I purchased a piece of software that would create multiple Smart Pages for me in minutes. I set about creating 20 Smart Pages for various keywords related to a couple of my websites and uploaded them to my server. Once I got to grips with how the software worked, it took me about 15 minutes to create these pages.
Note that I put the Smart Pages on a ‘spare’ domain name rather than my main domain and just pointed them to the main domain. The reason that I did this is because it is still not clear whether search engines approve of Smart Pages and I didn’t want to take any risks with my main sites.
About 3 weeks later I checked my web stats and found that some of the pages had achieved first page rankings on Google for the specified keywords!!
In fact, of the 20 Smart Pages I had created, 5 were now listed on the first page of search results for the respective keywords and 4 of these Smart Pages were in the 1st or 2nd position.
The thing with Smart Pages is that you need to be very specific – it is no good going for a general keyword/phrase such as ‘furniture’. Instead, target something much more specific such as ‘wooden garden furniture’. Whilst you will have fewer people searching for these phrases, you have a much better chance of getting your Smart Page on the first page of the search engine listings and a top ranking for a keyword that 1000 people a month search for is worth having (if you have 20 such pages, that gives you exposure to 20,000 new customers each month).
My summary therefore is this:
In my experience, Smart Pages DO work IF you stick to specific keywords. It is unlikely that Smart Pages will get you top rankings for general keywords/phrases and there is no guarantee that they will work every time (but 5 first page rankings from just 20 pages is not bad going). Since creating the initial pages, I have created quite a few more, with similar results.
I have not been able to get a straight answer from anyone ‘in the know’ as to whether the main search engines will penalize your site for using Smart Pages and therefore I would NOT recommend that you use them on your main domain, just in case. It is very easy to set up a secondary domain and just point your Smart Pages to your main site.
Smart Pages may well be a technique that ‘works today and won’t work tomorrow’ but my view is that if you can use them to get a bit of extra traffic to your site for the time being, then why not?