Microsites have long been a trusted SEO go-to for brands and businesses looking to drive highly targeted traffic to their pages. Approached strategically, the development and use of microsites can indeed be effective.
For example, if your business is spread across a series of different locations, microsites can be used to target each main locality individually. They can also be great for launching new products, for promoting events and for running side ventures connected with your business somehow.
But when microsites are used (and overused) simply for SEO purposes, things have a tendency to get a little sketchy. In fact, most professional SEOs and digital marketers advise against the use of microsites, unless you have a valid reason for doing so (like those above).
Microsite SEO is no different to conventional website SEO. The major search engines still examine content, titles, URLs, backlinks and dozens of other important SEO signals. They are small in size, simple in their coding and can be set up relatively cheaply.
Even so, there are several major drawbacks to launching microsites that must be considered.
Interrupted User Flow
The inefficient use of microsites can interrupt the user flow in a big way. A user enters the main website, clicks on a specific product link and is taken to a microsite, then clicks on a CTA and is launched back to the main site, before once again being diverted back to the microsite to re-examine the product description.
This kind of thing is far from a rarity, and simply increases the risk that the visitor in question will bounce while being thrown from pillar to post. The whole thing could be kept much more seamless and harmonious by keeping everything together within one dynamic website.
Another issue when running microsites is tracking their performance, and connecting this data with your main site’s analytics to produce actionable insights. The more microsites you use and the more routinely you bounce visitors from one site to the next, the more difficult it becomes to understand their behaviours or even their intent.
You could also find excessive redirects work against you in SEO stakes, where elevated bounce rates are concerned.
It is not uncommon for a degree of keyword cannibalisation to occur when setting up and running microsites. Unless your microsite has been built to serve a purpose completely different to that of your main site, chances are you will be targeting traffic with similar keywords.
This in turn means that each hit your microsite receives for one of your most important keywords could have been a hit for your main site. Not a problem if the microsite has a more appropriate landing page for the visitor, but an issue if you begin channelling too much traffic to the wrong pages.
This can be particularly problematic if you hire a separate agency to handle your microsites that is not involved in developing, maintaining or marketing your main website.
If in Doubt, Seek Support
Figuring out whether you could benefit from the launch of one or more microsites isn’t easy. Extensive analysis of the pros and cons is required, along with the cost-effectiveness of giving yourself more online properties to manage.
In some instances, the answer is a resounding yes – a microsite can be worth its weight in gold. But when set up with no specific purpose in mind (other than basic SEO), a microsite can sometimes be more of a blessing and a curse.
Consult with an experienced SEO agency if in doubt, and have them conduct a thorough (and 100% objective) analysis of the pros and cons on your behalf.