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SEO Website Audit

Microsite or Main Domain?

September 21, 2011


I was wondering if you had any advice about which option is better SEO wise…buying a domain for a microsite or adding the information to your website as additional content? Through keyword research I saw that any keywords about [this subset of our business] was producing a lot of monthly searches, some (450,000 searches monthly). So I came up with this microsite that talked about this and then suggested our products on it as well.

We launched it last week and I noticed that the search engines haven't even cached it yet. So I'm curious if we would have showed up faster if we had bought a unique domain? I would be grateful if you could provide any feedback you experienced if you were ever in this situation.

Thank you!

Image Credit: certified su
++Jill's Response++

Hi Kim,

Personally, I've never been a fan of microsites, and I usually recommend keeping the content on your main domain. It usually has some authority built up that a new microsite domain wouldn't have.

But more important than where it is housed is how you link to it from the rest of your site. I looked on your main site and couldn't see any obvious links to the new content. You have to integrate it into your site in order for it to be noticed, read, and indexed by Google -- regardless of what domain it lives on.

Remember, if you don't want to promote it (by linking to it from the rest of your site), you can assume that Google won't either! This means that the content should be good enough that you want to promote it from other appropriate areas of your main site. And just one link from one page is likely not going to cut it either. If this content is to truly be a worthwhile part of your site, then your best bet is to link to it from your main navigation so that it's easy for people and search engines to find.

Hope this helps!



Jill Whalen is the CEO of High Rankings,Jill Whalen an SEO Services company in the Boston, MA area since 1995. Follow her on Twitter @JillWhalen

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Post Comment

 Jon Giacalone said:
Hi Jill, personally I agree with your opinion of keeping new content on your domain as often as possible. It keeps your offsite linking efforts consolidated, and works in favor of strengthening overall domain authority. However, what types of situations would you make an exception to this rule? And would you rule in favor of a microsite, or maybe a subdomain? Do you have a preference for either of these options that pertain to the situation?
 Jill Whalen said:
@Jon, for me, it's really a business decision. Is the information or content that you want to provide, different enough from your main site to support its own site? Or is it really just a subset of what you're doing on your main site.

There are times when you just want a different brand for whatever reason.

The key here is that it's not an SEO issue. If you're opening up a new site (micro or otherwise) only because you think it will give you some additional SEO value, then that's not a good reason, IMO.
 Jon said:
Makes sense, and that seems to be the general consensus from what I've read/worked on. Thanks for the feedback!
 Aaron Sarfati said:
I've seen many big sites like Amazon doing the whole micro site thing with Keyword URLs, there must be something to it or maybe they are just doing it to clog up the search results.
 Jill Whalen said:
Aaron, they're using other domains besides Do you have an example? Perhaps you're thinking of some amazon affiliates.
 Aaron Sarfati said:
I've seen Amazon and their affiliates like Zappos and Endless do it using brand name micro sites linking up to either Amazon or the the affiliate sites.
 Michael said:
Good comments Jill, especially about branding. I have noticed other tricks - many of these companies are putting their content in subdomains. Google seems to treat them as separate sites (wrongfully, especially with some companies getting the first 5 results doing nothing more than this tactic.)

But microsites may be good if not better than on a subdomain too - as a separate brand, especially if the microsite may have a decent keyword in the URL. But there is one more reason. An issue I was told was that Panda may cause problems on your domain for some of the content that may be seen as "thin" -- and your good content may pay a severe price for just being on a subdomain. I might put items that aren't "very good" content on your main domain/subdirectory without some good care. Just some thoughts.
 Jill Whalen said:
Michael, wouldn't it just be better to not have any "not very good" content at all?
 Oscar said:
Hi Jill and Jon,

These are great questions and answers. I started a Sister Site, so-to-speak, to my original website in an effort to gain more traffic and market share. Didn't payoff as hoped. What I have found is, it is better to expand my business by introducing new and different products (within the same industry). I have gain new customers with my second website and gotten deeper into my industry. Actually, I think that my second site, will perform better than my first, (.com). The new site is more focused. In my first website I tried to cover too wide of a range. Any feedback?