Double the spark, double the bang?
If it is done well, publishing shadow websites or decoy websites or micro websites can drive more customers to the principal website. Sometimes, organisations have a number of microsites without a principal website because they feel that the effect of having several microsites is greater than they could achieve by having only one principal website.
Of course, for the microsites to be SEO effective, they have to look and feel different in the eyes of the search engines because publishing numerous microsites can result in all the sites being overlooked. However, big corporations that really value their reputations often set up microsites to act as testing grounds and as bait to lure in traffic. For example, a construction company may decide to use a microsite to review a book or a computer game or a DVD with a construction element in it. It may be that through that portal it will attract more people to the main website through the links that are set up on the microsite.
Other ways that microsites can be useful without lowering the standards of the principal website is for publishing blogs and news articles and even reviews of competitors’ websites. There is no doubt that it is a fulltime occupation keeping ahead of the online competition but that is why most organisations regard their internet ranking as the most important part of their marketing budget.
Of course every microsite that is set up by a mother website has to be different and has to have a unique set of links. If the search engines discover that all the sites have exactly the same links then the search engines will start to ignore the microsites. The simple solution is to make sure that although the microsites have links in common, they also have several links that are not in common.
The secret to successfully publishing shadow, decoy or micro websites is to treat each of the microsites as a principal site, one that is unique in content and links from any of the other decoy, shadow or microsites. Of course that does mean the work maintaining all the websites is labour intensive but it will make a considerable difference to your overall search engine rankings.