When is Using Microsites a Good Idea

Microsites are often abused and looked down on as a tactic in the SEO world. They get used for the wrong situations, the wrong reasons, and to solve the wrong types of problems. In this post, I’ll talk about some of the bad ways Microsites get used and some of the ways you could use them to your advantage.

Link Pyramid

Creating an artificial link pyramid with the specific goal of creating fake link equity for your main website is never a good idea in the long term. While these types of projects get a lot of attention in the beginning, that attention and dedication of resources can wain after a number of years or months and, in the end, you end up with an outdated website that is of little value to any one. In the end, it becomes little more than an extra maintenance point, gets dropped, or gets forgotten. If you are going to use a Microsite as a link pyramid, you need to incorporate a content audit and update your plan every 6 or 12 months … FOREVER. You should also plan on a redesign every 3-4 years. Additionally, the project should grow by 10-20% with new content or pages every year. If you are going to go with this strategy, I strongly suggest a local or annual event, like a parade or town show. For maximum link building potential, find a subject that avoids looking commercially motivated, one that serves the public. If you want to include some monetization so it supports itself, that’s ok–just keep it low key. Using WordPress is a double edge sword: it’s easy to get up to speed but has a lot of maintenance, so understand what you are getting yourself into. If this website ever gets to be over 100 pages, unless there is a huge archive, it’s probably too big.

Reputation Management

Creating sites for reputation management is probably one of the best uses for Microsites. You create really small, tightly-focused sites about a person or aspect of a company. These sites are, by their very nature, low maintenance. Again, adding 10-20% new content is probably a good plan, as is a 2-3 year redesign to keep the place looking lived-in. A prime example of this in action appears for [McDonald’s] and [Burger King]

Burger King SERP (click to enlarge)

McDonald's SERP (click to enlarge)

By creating Microsites for kids projects, jobs, and healthy content, they are able to displace negative content that exists about them off the first page. This may not work if you are a murderer or guilty of notorious crimes on the scale of Bernie Maddoff but, for most people and situations, it’s extremely powerful.

Charity and Educational

Does your community, local church, or sports program run a website? Do they need to? If so, Microsites are a good place to get in, roll up your sleeves, and test some low risk tactics.  They’re also a good place to network with local businesses owners you may need a favor from in the future. If you volunteer to run the website for the softball team, soccer team, and charity auto show, you will get to know some really connected people in your neighborhood who will owe you a favor. You can also get in contact with the tech people for other websites in the community who can help give those projects links and who can help you down the road with your local projects.

So what are the takeaways from this post:

  • Understand that Microsites have a purpose, but it’s a support and secondary role
  • Design them to be as low maintenance as possible–but understand there is no such thing as a zero maintenance project on the web
  • Use it as an opportunity to network and get to know people who can help you get links in the future

photo credit: Shutterstock/Sven Hoppe

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