Yet there are a few solid, sensible reasons to create one or more microsites. However, they need to be created for the right reasons and done in the right way. Try to get too tricky and the strategy can blow up in your face like the Three Stooges working in a munitions factory.
You and a Microsite
A microsite is a small website, with its own domain name that’s usually well under 10 pages deep. Further, it exists for a specific purpose and this purpose includes a reason why it shouldn’t just be part of your main website. Here are the best reasons to create one or more microsites:
- New Product, Market or Application.If your business starts to promote a new product or service that is sufficiently different from your main line of products of services, you may want to handle it with a microsite. Similarly, if you find a new market or new use for an existing product, it might be good to spin it off your main site and into a microsite.This is especially true if you think that this new product or service would benefit from a different design aesthetic than is communicated in your existing site. It might be a bad idea to dilute the look and feel of your main website to accommodate marketing this new product or service.
- Long Tail Keywords. This relates to the previous idea. One or more microsites can help you optimize for powerful long tail keywords, the very descriptive keyword phrases that target specific consumers or specific members of your desired audience. You might use these long tail keywords to find customers and then link back to your main website. However, do not link more than a couple of times. It’s dangerous and we’ll discuss that more in a moment.
- Reputation Management. Microsites can be useful in situations that demand you to manage your online reputation. Sometimes they are launched for the sole purpose of creating more instances of the company name in cyberspace. Hopefully those additional instances will push negative mentions of the company down the search engine results pages (SERPs). The more SERP territory you control, the better, always.Another variation of this is to create a microsite that invites feedback, comments or reviews about your products and services. This puts you in control of three things:
- It allows your main company to control more of the top of the SERP.
- It lets you “corral” and control comments.
- It affords you the opportunity to positively respond to and resolve customer issues.
The Danger of Microsites
Once microsites were considered a way to generate buckets of back links to a main site and therefore increase the main site’s ranking within search results. With the advent of smarter algorithms at the search engines, this “black hat” search engine optimization (SEO) technique no longer works. In fact, it can cause search engines to penalize the main site.
There are other dangers as well. If not done for a very good reason, microsites can dilute your brand presence. If you get mentioned in a blog, should the blogger link to your main site or your microsite? Also, some traffic that would otherwise go to your main site will be bled off to the microsite.
This danger of dilution carries over to social media as well. Search engines measure social media mentions. If social media interactions are being split between sites, it will weaken your main site.
A microsite is like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “little girl with the little curl.” When they are good, they are very good indeed, but when they are bad, they are horrid.
“E-commerce Website Design,” © 2013 Kip-koech, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.
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