There are innumerable internet trends out there—some stick, some don’t, some are beneficial, many are not.
Internet marketing is an enigma for people who don’t do it every day, and it’s easy to get swayed into a trend that may or may not help your company. Also, because the internet is a rapidly evolving environment, sometimes by the time you hear of something, it’s already out of date.
One thing that drives us crazy here at BxB is the number of digital marketing firms who prey on businesses’ lack of knowledge. These firms create fear with misleading info, offer pointless or even harmful services and tactics, and make unrealistic promises all in the name of making a sale. For the vast majority of businesses, microsites fall into all of these downfalls.
What is a Microsite?
A microsite is essentially a website with a unique domain name separate from your main website. You should create a microsite if, and only if, it actually serves a unique purpose and does not represent the same content, services, and products on your main website.
This means 98 percent of the time you should NOT build a microsite, which is especially true if you serve a local market. Let’s go into some of the key reasons why they are bad and you should not build them.
Not a Way To Improve Rankings
Google has been clear it does not want companies to put up multiple websites trying to rank for the same services or products.
However, in some cases, content is deliberately duplicated across domains in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings or to win more traffic. Deceptive practices like this can result in a poor user experience—when a visitor sees substantially the same content repeated within a set of search results.https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66359?hl=en
Years ago, companies would do this so they could dominate in search results for certain keywords. Google penalized them and the rankings dropped. Having multiple sites up is a basic black hat activity that, at best, can confuse your audience and, at worst, can negatively impact all the sites you have up. Additionally, this will not improve your rankings.
Microsites Split Your Web Traffic
Since a microsite is built on a separate domain, you are splitting your traffic. This fragments your traffic and will diminish the search authority of your primary website. You essentially will also be competing with yourself for rankings and negatively impact the click through rate (CTR)—all of which in the end hurts your primary website’s long-term performance.
Sometimes Used as a Link Builder
Link farms are considered one of the worst black hat search engine optimization (SEO) tricks out there, and they are punished by Google.
According to Google, “Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.”https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66356?hl=en
Having several microsites that are intended to create links to your main site is considered exactly that—a link farm. Microsite links are also often viewed as low quality by Google. If the content on the site mimics that of your main site, it could also appear as duplicate content. This means one of your sites will not rank well anyway, negating the advantage you are trying to create.
Who Wants to Maintain Multiple Websites?
Having multiple websites means more time and money. Additionally, a lot of these companies who build microsites don’t allow their clients to keep the domain names they use. This means when you stop paying for them, you lose the effort you put into that domain. Worse yet, many times these companies will allow one of your competitors to use the domain!
The other thing we have seen too often is where the company who creates the microsite changes the Google My Business, Facebook, and other directory links for the business to point to the microsite. This practice will again diminish the search authority of the primary site and can cause confusion for the original company’s brand and audience.
Both of these activities—allowing competition to use domains and changing directories’ links to anything other than the company’s main site—cross a line we think is unethical and just not nice.
Just Don’t Do It!
Your resources are better spent on improving your current SEO strategy, building strong, meaningful content and links, and focusing on getting all possible traffic to your main website for improved analytics and to build a strong CTR.
By not building microsites, you will build your company’s brand, not confuse your audience, and make your main website and domain name more effective. This creates an invaluable asset for your company in the long run.
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