Ok this post may open a can of worms but I thought it worth discussing. We get loads of our customers wanting microsites for various reasons – usually to push a specific product but sometimes to drive more traffic to their main site. This is all fine in principle but it is worth mentioning that it is often the case that a microsite is not the best way to go.
A microsite which has unique content on and is specifically optimised for a single set of keywords will often do well – mainly because it is so easy to optimise and the content is always relevant. Yes this sounds like a dream opportunity to get all your preferred keywords linking through to different site that you own, however, you would need to think of the consequences your main site would face. If you externalise all that good, relevant content onto microsites all with different domain names then you essentially turn away potentially thousands of backlinks from your main site to this microsite. Now if the microsite is the site that will bring in the money and your main site is just a brochure about your company then you may be happy with this – but I would say you need to think long term.
Google (and the other SEs) love old and well established domains which have a proven track record of delivering valuable content over the years. If you externalise all your valuable content then your main site will not build that trust relationship with Google and it will be consistently harder to market over the years rather than getting easier.
So what’s the solution? Well it is really quite simple – do what Microsoft, Apple, Google, the BBC etc do and have your microsites part of your main site – consider these URLs:
All of these URLs are microsites running with their own dedicated content and their own design theme. Each has its own niche and promotes a different section of the overarching company, however all of them are part of the main domain structure and each of them pass their weight back up the chain to the main site. These microsites are true assets to the company and are not unruly children who need reigning in.
For more on microsites and how they do not pass on link popularity see: http://www.seomoz.org/blog/whiteboard-friday-the-microsite-mistake