Why Microsites Make SEO Harder

Marketers love to spin off microsites for campaigns, e-commerce capabilities, mobile sites and more. It can be easier to create a microsite from scratch than just integrate a new feature or campaign into your existing website. But unless you’re working on a project that you don’t want associated with your brand, reconsider hosting it as a microsite on a new domain.

For SEO, it all boils down to authority. A new microsite on a new domain will have zero domain authority when it launches. It has no links, no shares, no domain history, nothing to tell search engines that it’s the new hotness. And while you’re certain that the content on this sparkling new microsite is amazing, the search engines will turn a blind eye until other sites link to it to confirm its worth and relevance to the wider world.

In addition, the new microsite essentially competes for the same organic search rankings and traffic that your primary site needs to win in order to drive leads or sales. In the beginning at least, the microsite will be very weak in terms of the domain and link authority required to win those organic search rankings. It will require a large amount of content marketing and link building work to strengthen the microsite’s authority to the point where it can rank. And those resources will have been used to essentially build a competing site that, if successful, will cannibalize traffic and conversions from your primary site.

Instead, the same content and resources spent on the microsite can be used instead to strengthen the SEO performance of your primary site rather than competing with it.

By hosting the juicy, customer-winning content on the same domain as your primary site, the new content section inherits the domain authority that the primary site has worked so hard to build. In addition, the content itself brings new keyword relevance and freshness, strengthening the keyword signals sent from your primary site.

And as the content pieces gain more visibility from promotion through various marketing channels, that content will naturally earn links and shares from news, blogs and social media. Those links and shares will strengthen the content pages that earned them, but will also strengthen the domain authority for your entire site.

From an SEO performance standpoint, hosting the content on your primary domain is a win-win. The same content and resources will benefit not just the campaign but also the primary site, creating a more powerful whole.

Jill Kocher is a seasoned SEO professional and all-around technogeek. By day, she manages Resource Interactive’s SEO practice here in Chicago and serves as contributing editor at Practical eCommerce. By night, Jill landscapes her home in the far northern suburbs of Chicagoland while enjoying a glass of wine and thinking about SEO some more. Family discussion centers primarily around SEO, analytics, social media, mobile apps, android, iOS, how-was-your-day and cats.

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