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Microsites: Branding Superstars or SEO Powerhouses?

By Chad PollittOct 5, 2010

HCMMOver the years I’ve been lucky enough to be exposed to all sorts of opinions on Internet marketing. The microsite argument is one I haven’t fully understood.  Since when do you have to forgo branding to do well in search?  A friend of mine that works for an agency deploys lots of microsites for clients.  These microsites have one thing in common – They’re for branding purposes only and many of them are flash.  

He argued that microsites are deployed to compliment particular offline campaigns or product launches and whether they come up in search doesn’t matter. Huh? Really?  That’s like having a billboard behind a bunch of trees.  Sure, you can instruct people to climb up the tree to get a better look at the billboard, but who would want to do that?  Wouldn’t it be better to have your billboard clear and visible from the street so that passers-by could see it?

I’ve successfully deployed over 40 microsites and used them for keyword phrase targeting and branding.  Due to the limited number of pages in a microsite they are great tools for SEO. They allow you to focus exclusively on a select few keyword phrases. These phrases tend to be highly significant to Google's Webmaster Tools.  

Many of the microsites I’ve deployed were designed to funnel qualified traffic to convert on the main website or ecommerce site. If this is part of your strategy make sure you make the look and feel of your microsite consistent with that of your main website.  If not, you run the risk of “shocking” your visitor by making them think they’re on the wrong website.

If branding and search engine visibility are important to your microsites use the below Do’s & Don’ts and watch your new incremental traffic roll in. . . 

Microsite Do’s

  • Use keyword rich URLs
  • Focus on no more than two keyword phrases
  • If you’re pushing visitors to your main website for conversion maintain the look and feel of the main website in your microsite.
  • Include a link from your main website to your microsites in the HTML sitemap.

Microsite Don’ts

  • Don’t use a subdomain
  • Don’t use flash
  • Don’t create new About Us, Blog and other web conventions (Link to those pages on your main website with no-follow tags).
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