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To Microsite Or Not To Microsite


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10 replies to this topic

#1 K.S. Katz

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 08:09 AM

I recently go a new client who's had their site since 1998. Over the years, it's grown into quite a monster because it's divided into several channels, each channel is governed by a different department within the company that has it's own budget within the organization, and no one seems to take ownership of the overall site. The folks handing the International services have hired me to do optimization for their section only.

Now staying with the original site has it's advantages. It has an existing real estate on the World Wide Web and a decent link popularity. However, there are some challenges inherit with only controlling a section of a website, one of which is that we have to deal with existing technologies that are not exactly search engine friendly.

Now going microsite seems like the easier approach because it allows the department complete control of the site; however, we'll be starting from scratch as far as link popularity goes.

Any thoughts? Any factors that I need to consider?

#2 1dmf

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 09:32 AM

when you say micro sites, do you mean different folders on same domain , sub domains or new domains?

if you simply divide each 'micro' into a new working folder from the root, you could simply to a redirect, which you need to ensure you do how ever you change things to ensure link juice is passed on.

Also depending on server you might be able to do some mod-rewrites

#3 AscendROI

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 03:05 PM

Hi K.S.,

As 1dmf asks, what do you mean by microsite? My first idea of a microsite is a site set up by a big brand to showcase a product or promotion -- usually on a new domain, or subdomain. Geico's www.cavemanscrib.com comes to mind...

As far as the current site goes, you don't mention how your client's website "channel" is attached to the overall site. I assume it's in a subfolder or subdomain. If you're asking about moving the client's section to another site, I'd have to ask, "why?". The current site has been up for ten years so you've got some good domain age, and they've probably got a ton of backlinks as well.

Without knowing more, I'd say to leave the site where it is.

That's not to say that it can't be rebuilt though... Do a redesign on your client's site to make it more SE friendly and, if it's not too daunting, try to maintain the same folder/file structure. They'd have control over the site without having to move it somewhere else.

Cheers,
John

#4 nethy

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 01:15 AM

My answer to your question, yes. Micro-site (read as a verb).
1 - Micrositing is a great way to get around the problems you mention. Its all very well to say you shouldn't be having them, but that doesn't get you very far.
2 - Micrositing can often improve customer experience. It frees you from the 'we need a website to have a website' and lets you focus on a goal.
3 - In my experience, starting from scratch is a lot easier then fixing.
4 - Microsites are quick on their feet. You can respond quickly, market quickly etc. They are easy to test, to test with, to analyse and IMO, perform excellently on specific goal focused campaigns.
* Case: Banks & lenders seem to have microsites for specific campaigns (IE traditional media blitz campaigns) & different one(s) for adwords. I suppose it's a good idea because it means they can focus the whole site on the specific goal(s) of the campaign/initiative.

But its not for every case.
1 - you want to have an idea of what exactly your giving up & how much you can salvage. (PR/links, regular visitors, traffic from one area of the site to another, etc)
2- You should think of branding/marketing consequences.

* For the record: theoretically there is nothing wrong with having a directory or subdomain as the URL for you site. (microsite.example.com;micrisite.com;example.com/microsite
Personally I think any definition from above of microsite is OK. Though I assume you mean a seperate domain.

BTW Jill, redoing your site was super easy, right?

#5 K.S. Katz

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 12:53 PM

QUOTE
when you say micro sites, do you mean different folders on same domain , sub domains or new domains?


Sorry, I should have been more clear. By microsite, I meant new domain.

QUOTE
As far as the current site goes, you don't mention how your client's website "channel" is attached to the overall site. I assume it's in a subfolder or subdomain.


It's not in a subfolder or subdomain. It's www.mydomain.com/channel1.html, channel2.html, etc. They started out with a tiny website and then just added and added over the years with no real planning behind it.

QUOTE
That's not to say that it can't be rebuilt though... Do a redesign on your client's site to make it more SE friendly and, if it's not too daunting, try to maintain the same folder/file structure.


The problem is that the department that hired me to do SEO for their channel isn't authorized to redesign the entire site. They can only affect the pages that relate to their channel, and that's from a content perspective. Because it's part of a much bigger website, they can't alter the template, change file/folder structure.

Nethy, thank you for your thoughtful response. I happen to agree with all your points.

#6 nethy

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 08:15 PM

QUOTE(K.S. Katz @ Jun 20 2008, 03:53 AM) View Post
The problem is that the department that hired me to do SEO for their channel isn't authorized to redesign the entire site. They can only affect the pages that relate to their channel, and that's from a content perspective. Because it's part of a much bigger website, they can't alter the template, change file/folder structure.

To me that sounds like the kind of reason to go with a micro site. A problematic bureaucracy/decision making process etc. can weigh down a site as much or more then a design from 1996.

Anyway,
Good Luck

#7 Jill

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Posted 20 June 2008 - 09:53 PM

QUOTE
Sorry, I should have been more clear. By microsite, I meant new domain.


Absolutely positively no reason to do that. I can only think of reasons not to, rather than to do it.

Just fix the site as is. Why get a new domain that has no age to it? That would be SEO suicide.

There's plenty you can do with that section without altering other sections of the site. In fact, why would it be any different to put it on it's own domain. Either way you can't effect the other sections, but at least with keeping it where it is you don't lose the equity from the old domain.

Please, do not change that!

QUOTE
BTW Jill, redoing your site was super easy, right?


Yeah right. Only about a year in the making.

#8 nethy

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Posted 21 June 2008 - 12:44 AM

QUOTE(Jill @ Jun 21 2008, 12:53 PM) View Post
Absolutely positively no reason to do that. I can only think of reasons not to, rather than to do it.
Just fix the site as is. Why get a new domain that has no age to it? That would be SEO suicide.


Maybe not, technically. But there may be many non-technical reasons from the way the CMS works to decisions about site content work within the organisation. The question that needs to be asked is not 'can it be done' it's 'will it be done.'

Sounds from the above that what will be done is not much.

Anyway, there is no reason to 'lose' anything. It may make sense to keep the department's 'section' up as before along regardless of the new site.

It may not, but still be worth it.

#9 torka

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Posted 22 June 2008 - 02:42 PM

If the organization exerts that much control over the existing site, such they wouldn't allow updates to content for the purpose of optimization, will the powers that be approve a microsite? It's not simply a matter of corporate bosses on a power trip -- there may be branding or trademark considerations that need to be taken into account.

As a result, in some of the big companies I've worked for/with over the years, they would not tolerate divisions going off on their own creating independently-managed websites.

Before I put a lot of work into it, I'd want to be certain the whole thing won't be taken down shortly after it goes live, or the project killed before it even gets a chance to get off the ground. The divisional people may think it's a matter of it being easier to ask for forgiveness than permission, but sometimes neither one is forthcoming.

--Torka mf_prop.gif

#10 ttw

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 02:47 PM

I'd like to confirm the current best practice for microsites.  When I say Microsites I mean a collection of pages that are related to the main site but may be themed around an event or product launch, etc.

 

Here's what I believe to be true:

 

 

Build the microsite under the main domain:   www.mysite.com with a structure like this:
 
www.mysite.com/2013/event-1
www.mysite.com/2013/event-2
 
or as a subdomain.
 
event.mysite.com 
 
........ 
Vanessa fox on ninebyblue- had a great post called "microsites a bad idea most of the time".  She confirms that microsites are a bad idea and says that subdomains are a great idea.
(and we know that in 2011 Google changed its policy on subdomains being considered part of root domain)
 
On SEOMoz's forum Rand comes out in 2012 and says:
 
  • Subdomains SOMETIMES inherit and pass link/trust/quality/ranking metrics between one another

 

  • Subfolders ALWAYS inherit and pass link/trust/quality/ranking metrics across the same subdomain

 

  • Thus, having a single subdomain (even just domainname.tld with no subdomain extension) with all of your content is absolutely ideal from an SEO perspective. It's also more usable and brandable, too IMO.
(I think this last bullet point contradicts the first two bullet points though)
 
Any reaction?
 
 


#11 Jill

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 05:40 PM

In my opinion, either subdomains or subdirectories are equally preferable to a completely different domain. 






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