Word Cloud Microsite. (© Ibreakstock - Fotolia.com)
Word Cloud Microsite. (© Ibreakstock - Fotolia.com)

Some people think that there is no need for the microsite anymore, and while it is true that the microsite is not as effective now as it was a few years ago, the fact is that a microsite can still be very useful. We’ll be exploring this specific type of website in this article, including how to build one, what they are used for and how to make yours effective.

Defining the Microsite

The first thing that we’ll do is define the basic microsite. This may not be a comprehensive definition, as there are many different types of microsites out there, but basically, a microsite is defined as a separate website from the main website, devoted to a specific topic – or sometimes keyword. In fact, those websites that were devoted to single keywords are the ones that are pretty much obsolete now. But the microsite itself is still a perfectly valid marketing strategy – as long you know how to use it correctly. Let’s look at how a microsite is created and what they are used for in order to understand how to define them better.

What Are Microsites Used For?

Microsites are generally used to promote a particular product or brand. They can also be used to promote

  • a specific service,
  • event,
  • department within a company
  • and many other things.
OpenPR tip: When a company’s main website houses several different sub-brands, as well as a plethora of different products, a microsite can be extremely useful because it allows you to speak directly to the person that is interested in just that product, brand name or whatever the site is devoted to. Microsites may also be created to speak to a certain demographic; for example, a company that normally markets its products to English-speaking people may have a microsite set up for that product that is completely in Spanish or another language. Another example would be a microsite that is set up just to show the benefits of a product or service to a specific gender – like men.

The Benefits of a Microsite

There is a reason why the microsite is one of the most popular marketing tools out there: in short, they work. That’s because you get a number of advantages with the microsite that you don't get with your main website. Here are just a few of those.

  1. First microsites are devoted to one thing. That means that someone isn't going to get lost while looking for that specific thing. If your website sells custom creations made of glass, an example of a microsite might be shot glasses and glassware for bars and restaurants. If someone in the restaurant business were looking for custom glassware, they would much rather feel as if the entire website was devoted to that purpose rather than speaking to consumers who were looking for birthday gifts, souvenirs and other glassware.
  2. The second benefit of using a microsite is that you have a major SEO advantage. Just the fact that your site has a URL that is devoted to your micro-topic or keyword is going to give you an advantage, and when you combine it with the proper keyword density, alt tags, the proper headers and a good HTML title and description, you should be able to achieve a good ranking with your microsite. Plus, while you want your main website to be short and memorable, and probably devoted to your overall brand name, your microsite can have a URL that is several words long so that you can go after that longtail ranking.

Microsites allow you to separate your product from your brand. Of course, in most cases you don't want to do that. You want people to associate your brand with your product. But there are some cases where your brand has gotten bad press or has a negative effect on your sales, and in those cases, having a microsite devoted solely to the product will allow you to continue selling.

Microsites are also beneficial for email marketing campaigns. If you are collecting email addresses through a squeeze page on your main website, you were going to be collecting from a variety of demographics and for many different reasons. But if you collect email addresses on a microsite, you know that the person signed up for that email campaign solely because they are interested in that micro-topic.

Finally, a microsite allows you to take content from your main website and move it to the microsite which means that your main website will be focused on what you really needed to be - your overall brand.

How to Build a Micro Site

The great thing about micro websites is that they are extremely inexpensive to start. For one thing, you can take advantage of discounted domain names. You don't necessarily need a dotcom when you were setting up the microsite. You can sometimes get domain names on sale for less than a dollar and that makes branching out into dozens of microsites very inexpensive. In addition, if you have chosen a hosting plan that allows you to have unlimited domains on your shared hosting account, then you can set up as many websites as you want with that hosting service and you'll still get storage and bandwidth for all of your websites.

You can set up your microsite very easily using a content management system (CMS). Some companies even have content management systems running their main websites, but even if you had yours designed from scratch; don't think that you have to spend all that money to be able to set up your microsites. In fact, you can set up a great-looking website in minutes for free.

The best content management system out there right now is WordPress. If you have a hosting package, you probably have several content management system install apps or website-building tools listed in your control panel. But unless you have certain requirements that you just can't avoid, WordPress will give you all of the functionality that you need.

WordPress is primarily a blogging platform, and that's good because you're going to need to do some sort of content marketing in order to promote your microsite. The URL alone is not going to get you the kind of traffic that you want. Instead, you're going to have to optimize for a variety of longtail keywords that are related to whatever micro-topic the site is dedicated to.

You can choose a WordPress template and set it up like you would a blog, but that is by no means the limits of the CMS. WordPress has hundreds of thousands of plugins and add-ons that you can use to set up an e-commerce site, a sales page or whatever it is you're trying to accomplish with your microsite.

OpenPR tip: All you have to do to get started is go to a registrar that you normally use, find the perfect domain based upon your keyword research on microsite longtail keywords, point your name servers to your hosting company and then install your CMS. You will be able to log in right away and start customizing the look of your site and adding content to it.

Alternatives to Using a Microsite

There are some experts out there that will advise you not to set up a microsite at all for your products and services, but instead to set up a social media page such as Facebook instead.

The problem with this approach is that you don't own Facebook. If they decide to

  • change their policy at some point in the future
  • and disallow pages devoted to the topics that microsites cover,
  • you will lose all of your websites no matter how many followers you have or how hard you worked to maintain the page.

But you own your microsite and no one can take it away from you.

The Best Ways to Use Your Microsite

If you are in internet marketing, there are lots of ways that you can use your microsite to your advantage. One of the best ways is to use it to run a campaign. The great thing about setting up microsites is that you can have multiples of them for the same product to be able to test out how certain sales approaches fare compared to others.

You can play with elements like

  • video,
  • social media,
  • sales pages
  • and all kinds of keywords to find out what is going to be most effective.

Not only will this help you to run the best campaign for this particular product or service, but it will give you invaluable information that you will be able to use in the future as well.

Conclusion

The bottom line here is that a microsite is one of the best tools that you can use have for internet marketing, and if you aren't currently implementing this important tool then you should definitely look into it, because it gives you a huge advantage no matter what product or service you are marketing. The microsite can be powerful if you use it correctly.

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