Microsites in an SEO World

What are Microsites
Microsites. They are a widely utilised way for brands to complement their larger marketing campaigns. From a digital marketing perspective, microsites are most commonly campaign based independent pages, or small groups of pages, that stem from the company or brand’s primary domain. Typically, they’ll have a unique domain name and generally only tend to be a one-page website (depending on the campaign and creative element).

A live example can be seen with Dominos. The primary website is https://www.dominos.com.au/, and last year in the States they announced their new Chevy Spark pizza delivery cars. These cars would be known as DXP, so to support this new announcement the microsite http://www.dominosdxp.com/ was set live. This microsite is a playful way for Dominos to promote and convey a new product.

Large brands will often create a microsite to promote charity collaborations, or sports and media sponsorships. Film production studies will often utilise microsites to promote upcoming releases. For example, The Jurassic world release in 2015 saw a microsite created to document a live camera feed of the park to show people enjoying the rides and interacting with the franchise. After the film was released, the cameras were switched off to echo the unfolding plot of the film, generating suspense and curiosity in the film itself. This has continued to be used by the film studio, updating the microsites in line with the plotlines of the sequels.

Benefits of Microsites
There are significant benefits when it comes to utilising microsites. However, not all benefits are equal and their importance is dependent on the ultimate end goal of the wider campaign.

• Brand awareness – Microsites can be an effective way of promoting or sharing important elements and ideals of your brand. Microsites offer the capacity for users to engage, interact and share; an impactful way of encouraging brand uplift and recall.

• Customer engagement – Engaged and satisfied customers are more likely to be return purchasers and have the potential to be strong advocates for the brand when they’ve had a positive experience. Microsites can demonstrate a brand’s capability to go the extra mile for its consumers by offering an entertaining, informative or emotive experience, significantly setting their brand apart from their competitors.

• SEO benefits – There are many SEO benefits with this approach if there is an effective SEO strategy in place. There are considerations that need to be made from an SEO perspective. Microsites can be highly engaging and interactive, there is a real opportunity to generate links. There needs to be a focus on the end goal, to increase the primary domain’s Domain Authority score. The type of microsite a brand uses needs to be considered and determined on how that particular site will help achieve the brand’s ultimate goals. Regardless of whether a brand uses a standalone domain or subdomain, the duration of the campaign needs to be taken into consideration also.

• Brand Tone Of Voice – Not all brands are fun or carefree. Funeral homes and financial services probably need to take things a liiiittle seriously. In this case, a standalone domain microsite can be a perfect way to get around a strict corporate tone of voice or stuffy branding guidelines. Microsites can be a great opportunity for a brand to push the boundaries and highlight creative solutions.

• Greater design control – Much like the above benefits, a microsite can allow a brand to build out something special. This may be best utilised if there are certain CMS restrictions with the primary domain. Standalone microsites can be fully customisable based on what is required, which again allows these microsites to be highly engaging and interactive for the user.

To Microsite or Not to Microsite?
If there is a creative campaign that a microsite is planned for, it is crucial to allocate time. There needs to be adequate time for link acquisitions (either digital PR or outreach). Creative campaigns generally have greater success when it comes to link acquisition. Link acquisition is still one of the stronger search engine ranking signals available, so it is important to capitalise on this where possible. If the campaign has a short life cycle; 301 redirect the microsite to the main domain once the microsite has served its purpose. This will mean that the value accrued from the microsite is passed to the primary domain or the most relevant landing page within the primary domain.

If you’re considering utilising a microsite, make sure you have a comprehensive pre- and post- campaign plan and always bear in mind the additional SEO benefits that can be gained from this activity in respect of the primary business domain.

SEO is the absolute foundation to a brand’s website and any and all digital marketing activity should focus on this as one of its core objectives. There are clear benefits to having a microsite. Provided it can complement a brand’s campaign, microsites have a unique ability to creatively and positively impact a campaign or brand’s primary website performance.

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