Microsites are popping up all over the Internet as companies branch out to target niche audience bases, promote individual product campaigns, and aim to drive more online traffic and lead generation. While a microsite generally acts as its own branded entity, with an individual voice and end goal, a company can cross promote across its main page and its microsite. The purpose of a microsite is to “function as a discrete entity within an existing website or to complement an offline activity” (Wikipedia). Therefore, while it has its own purpose that may not be directly related to its “parent site,” its ultimate purpose is to drive users back to the main site, or promote business that benefits the parent company.
SEO….Yes or No?
While microsites are clearly beneficial in minimizing clutter on a company’s main website, there are disputing arguments over whether or not microsites have SEO benefits for their parent page. According to Brick Marketing, you should not create microsites for the sole purpose of SEO benefits. Not only does a microsite FSEOspread your content out, it may actually cause your company page to rank lower in SEO searches, as more established domains receive higher traffic. If most of your new content is being published on the younger microsite counterpart, it won’t rank as quickly as it would on a more reputable main site. That being said, for the microsite it is possible to produce unique rewritten content and use tags rel = canonical and rel = “author” to point out the source. This way the microsite will not necessarily be ranked higher than the main site (but this will depend on numerous factors and keywords).
Because the implementation of a microsite means starting a new site from scratch, your timeline from launch to traffic growth and discovery will be prolonged. The effect from the microsite is sizable if it is used in mid-term and long-term perspective (in other words – starting in about 6 months after it has been launched). Your microsite needs to serve a unique purpose, so if its intention is to drive traffic towards a particular campaign the company is promoting, then it can prove beneficial, but it should not be used as just another landing page for your site. However, microsites can be useful as a landing page for the PPC traffic (and for other ad campaigns) if for some reason it is impossible to direct traffic to the main site.
You may also want to consider the effects of brand segmentation when implementing a microsite, and how you will connect the microsite to your main page. By basically creating a separate brand through your microsite, you will need to consider how this will split up user and social metrics, which help determine content value, and therefore SEO rankings (Linchpin SEO).
What Kind of Value Can Microsites Show?
So perhaps microsites may not be the optimal go-to for SEO, but they do add value to your brand if they are able to provide users with an experience they would not have otherwise had through the original site. It is possible to organize more user-friendly navigation, taking into account the specific topicality, making it easier for visitors get the necessary information they are looking for, compared to the main site which contains a range of different topics. Microsites provide more flexibility and act as another outlet for brand reputation management, and provide the opportunity for tailoring a site to the design scheme and voice of your campaign. Keep in mind when implementing a microsite whether your campaign is geared towards the B2B or B2C space, as this will affect the look, feel, and messaging of the microsite.
So, before making the move towards microsites, some questions to ask when considering whether a microsite is still worth implementing include:
- Will it compete with your main site, and ultimately have a negative effect on your SEO rankings?
- Will it serve a purpose that your main site cannot?
- Can you create a unique user experience or reach a target audience that would not have otherwise been captured?
- Do you have the resources to maintain a separate website, develop new and innovative content for this site, and effectively socialize this website across different platforms?
By Jess Spar