How microsites can negatively impact on SEO

Over the years, developers have used a large number of techniques to try to boost the SEO and page rankings of their websites. From questionable black hat methods to more reliable and trustworthy techniques, the sheer number of tried, tested and debunked methods out there can leave businesses and organisations struggling to tell the good SEO from the bad.

One technique that’s been regularly used by webmasters to boost web presence is microsites. Used by organisations of all sizes, microsites can actually do a lot more harm than good to your SEO strategy.

What are microsites?

Microsites are websites that are owned by a main brand but that are located on separate domains. For example, if a company wanted to have a page dedicated to a certain product or service, they could buy a domain such as brand.product.com instead of simply listing the product in a subdomain on their homepage (brand.com/product/).

The idea behind this SEO technique is that is helps a brand to rank more highly for a specific keyword (generally the word included in the URL), boosting it up the page rankings and helping to attract more visitors to the site.

Why don’t microsites help SEO?

Unless you’re running a well known brand or international corporation, using microsites to boost SEO won’t work. In 2012, Google updated its algorithms to counteract the SEO benefits gained through using microsites. Named the EMD (Exact Match Domain) update, it’s dramatically reduced the number of microsites on the web and made a policy of using EMD microsites virtually pointless.

If you’ve been using microsites to try to boost SEO, it may be time to migrate them to a more suitable subdomain on your main homepage. Bringing all relevant product information together in one place, this method can help to make your site more informative and more reliable.

How microsites damage SEO

One of the main reasons microsites are bad for SEO is that they often place duplicate content on the web. Google and most other search engines, penalise duplicate content so it’s best avoided if at all possible.

In order for your new site to achieve any sort of ranking, you’ll need to put time and effort into boosting its SEO and garnering links. Without links from other web pages, your microsite won’t rank and all your efforts will be in vain. Instead of ploughing resources into boosting the SEO of the microsite, invest in your main page and you’ll see real results.

If you have a lot of microsites and link them together to make them easier to navigate between, you risk appearing like a network to the search engines. This could cause your site to incur penalties and could damage the trust your brand has built up through SEO.

What’s more, visitors that come to your home page via your microsite will simply be listed as referrals in Google Analytics. This means you won’t be able to tell how that visitor found your page in the first place, something that can make it harder to target your SEO efforts and your marketing.

Can microsites be useful to SEO?

In general, microsites won’t help to boost SEO, however they can be useful in fulfilling other functions. For example, microsites can be used to help a company become more visible on the web in cases where their homepage isn’t ranking for technical reasons. However, with Google’s new algorithms now operating in real time, this technique shouldn’t be necessary unless a solution to the technical glitch can’t be found.

Using dubious techniques like microsites to boost SEO rarely has the required results and can do a lot of damage to your brand. To find out about SEO methods that really work, explore our site today.

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