Note: We updated this post in June 2020
A microsite is an individual webpage or group of webpages that are used to support, enhance, or supplement a primary or parent website. The main difference between a microsite and a parent site is its focus on one main topic or theme compared to the broader scope of the parent site.
Why create a microsite?
Microsites are often used to target new markets or to create focused content for niche audiences, sometimes geographically specific. These targeted sites offer companies a chance to add value to their brand by informing, entertaining, engaging, and interacting with niche audiences while earning search engine rankings.
Microsite best practices
1. Know your audience and speak clearly to it.
Often companies will develop a microsite that communicates with different audiences than its main corporate site does. Think of medical device companies that have a corporate site to speak to investors and clinicians. They often want and need a microsite that talks directly to patients.
It’s okay to have a different tone and language style on your microsite compared to your main site.
2. Consider the size and scope of your microsite.
How in-depth your microsite needs to be may very well depend on your resources and budget. You could simply create a one-page microsite that acts as a great landing page for a pay-per-click campaign and links back to the parent site, or you could design a fully functional, self-contained mini-website with its own contact page and e-commerce engine (if you are selling products). Adding user-generated content features such as forums, comments, and file uploading should also be considered at this stage.
3. Decide on a thoughtful domain name.
If your product or service is something not normally associated with your parent brand, then it may be best to consider a secondary, non-branded domain name. Keep in mind, however, that branded URLs generally produce higher click-through rates. You may also consider sub-domains (microsite.yourcompany.com) or sub-folders (yourcompany.com/microsite). Consult with an SEO expert before deciding on the best URL configuration.
All other factors being equal, keyphrase-rich domains do often rank higher on search engine results pages. We were able to acquire the domain “biotechmarketingagency.com” for a low price so it’s a no brainer to create a biotech-focused marketing services site separate from our main agency site.
4. Create compelling topics, information, and calls-to-action.
Once you earn a microsite visitor, your content should guide them down a predefined path. The end goal could be filling out a form, calling a phone number, downloading a white paper, making a purchase, or clicking over to the parent site. Tracking these goals is crucial and can be done easily with Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, or similar platforms.
5. Tie the microsite to the parent brand (or don’t).
Making the connection to the parent brand could be as simple as placing the parent brand’s logo somewhere on the microsite or having text links back to the parent website. Using a similar color scheme and design style as the parent site can also help to create brand recognition. For smaller brands, the microsite may act as a launching pad to introduce the parent brand to a new audience.
In other cases, it may not be advantageous to link the two sites together. In this case, strategically uncoupling from the parent brand can be just as effective.
6. Optimize your microsite for search engines.
Take advantage of the focused content you are creating by using topic-specific key phrases throughout your microsite in body copy and metadata.
7. Promote your microsite to attract the right audience.
Once you launch your microsite, be sure to let your audience know about it by utilizing your internal email lists, pay-per-click advertising campaigns, social networking sites, industry-relevant blogs, and other channels as appropriate.
Think you need a microsite?
Contact our seasoned web developers and brand experts to start the conversation.