I’m often asked if it would be helpful to create a microsite for SEO purposes. And while there is no absolute answer that applies to all situations, I would like to provide some insight into this topic and offer up some food for thought.
Top Questions About Microsite Usage for SEO
There are a lot of things to consider when thinking about developing and optimizing multiple websites for SEO. Below are the most important ones I’d like you to consider.
First, let’s start with what is a microsite?
A microsite is simply a website that lives outside of a company’s regular website or main URL. It is generally smaller and specific to an individual topic or target audience. These microsites are many times used by enterprise level organizations who have many digital properties.
What would be a good example of a microsite?
Consider these two websites as an illustration of microsite usage. PBS.org is the main website for Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). PBS also has a secondary website at PBSkids.org that provides educational games and videos for small children. They do this because they are catering to a specific target demographic (children) and they are protecting them from their adult content such as their show Secrets of the Dead.
But what about using microsites for SEO purposes?
In years past small businesses, like lawyers and real estate agents, were famous for creating lots and lots of small websites that were focused on a specific geographical areas or types of legal cases such as a mesothelioma class action lawsuit. In very specific circumstances this can help with organic SEO and make it easier for users to locate and use the website. But this SEO benefit is definitely not the general rule.
What are some downside factors of having microsites?
Having multiple websites requires a lot more work and it spreads out your brand and online activity. Instead of building up your brand, it dilutes it.
Take me for example. I have different websites for Web Savvy Marketing, SEO Bootcamp, DIY SEO Courses, and my personal site Rebecca Gill. I did not split the SEO courses off from the main Web Savvy Marketing website based on SEO. I did so for logistical and legal reasons.
In doing so I had to start fresh with the domains for SEO Bootcamp, DIY SEO Courses, and Rebecca Gill. My Web Savvy Marketing website had a strong brand presence online, lots of inbound links, a solid social media presence, and a good following of loyal customers. If I wanted to rank anything on it related to SEO or WordPress, it would be fairly easy for me since Google clearly knows that WSM is about those things.
That all changed when I created multiple websites because I started from scratch.
Here is what I had to go through when launching additional websites:
- Purchase the domains (aka website address) and let me just say they were not at all cheap
- Establish and pay for website hosting
- Load WordPress, Genesis, and any necessary plugins
- Pay additional software licenses for premium WordPress plugins
- Locate and/or build additional WordPress themes
- Develop new and fresh content (and much more then I would have needed on a regular page)
- Create additional social media profiles
- Optimize the new content for on-page SEO
- Build up the social media profiles with followers and content
- Increase my MailChimp account limits to accommodate the additional usage
- Establish a brand new email list
- Build inbound links to the new websites
- Maintain four separate websites for software updates
- Create new profiles for Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Bing Webmaster Tools
- Follow and report on multiple websites
Phew that’s a lot of work right!?! Yes it was. Especially since I’m the only one doing it.
And to make matters worse, Google doesn’t quite know what these websites are about, so I had to build their authority and relevance from the ground up.
I’ve been working on the DIY SEO Course for months and it has taken time. I’m competing against other SEO companies, so by default, it is going to be an uphill battle. The same is true for the SEO Bootcamp website, which added even more work onto by already full plate.
Would I recommend microsites to my clients?
I think microsites are a great option for large organizations who are require enterprise website development for the purposes of compliance, target market segregation, and marketing efforts. Without doubt they provide some good options and assist in marketing efforts.
For the small business owner they are not a good solution. Most small businesses – especially lawyers and real estate agents – struggle with keeping up one website and working on it’s SEO. They cannot rank the main website well which is not going to be helped by multiplying web properties and creating more work. It doesn’t help. It dilutes their brand and distracts them.
Brand new websites are much more difficult to rank keywords on and you’ll have far more success using content on well established company sites.
If you are considering a microsite, do so for the right reasons. Make sure it produces a better user experience for your visitor and it serves the purpose of that specific target demographic.
Do not create a microsite for SEO purposes. In most cases it won’t work and the website will be ignored and eventually deleted from lack of love and activity.