This summer, after we sent out an e-newsletter letting people know we now do inexpensive template-based SquareSpace websites, Dr. Dana Goldberg had us do a series of 5 micro sites for her Florida-based plastic surgery practice. We had done Dr. Dana's main website, which you can see here, a few years ago. But there are certain legal HIPPA-related limitations for plastic surgeons' using what's called "remarketing."
What Ryan Goldberg from Dr. Dana's office had requested, was we design and build a series of micro sites, for specific areas of their practices. For example, one micro site was just for breast augmentation, one was focusing on just their surgical center, and one was outlining prices for each of their services.
Why micro sites shouldn't have your branding
The initial thought of many is to have any micro site you do, sport your company's look and logo. But in reality, it shouldn't, for two reasons:
- Seeing two (or more) websites that have the same company name and branding would be confusing to anyone who stumbles across both, and
- The goal of having micro sites is to have them speak as an "industry expert" on one particular topic. So when someone lands on your micro site, they're seeing it as an unbiased perspective on a specific subject. That way, when they're redirected to your main website from the micro site, it appears as an endorsement of your company.
The benefits of micro sites are:
- The can point back to your main website, resulting in Google giving the main website more relevance. And more relevance equals better SEO juice. The more sites that link back to your website, the more weight Google's algorithms assign to your website.
- If they're subject-specific, they can be keyword-specific. So if 500 people a month search for the term "plastic surgery prices," and your micro site is called Plastic Surgery Prices and your URL is "PlasticSurgeryPrices.com," there's a good chance when people are searching "plastic surgery prices," a website with the URL "PlasticSurgeryPrices.com" and that keyword in it many times, might rank higher than their main website (if it's updated somewhat regularly).
The potential is people may land on your micro site instead of your main website. And onceon the micro site, for a prospect to find out more information they'd have to go to your main website for that, which gives your main website more SEO benefits.
So this is all in an effort to get prospects to your main website.
The downside of having micro sites are:
- Periodically, you should keep them updated with new information. Like any website, posting blogs, or news stories on them helps Google "e-index" your website. What "re-indexing" means, is that when new information is posted on a website, Google's algorithms sees that, and keeps it on their "radar." So the more a website is updated, the more it stays on search engines' radar. And the more relevant the updated content is, compared to a user's search for keywords, the better the chance of that website showing up well in Google's search results. Of course, your web design firm can initiate a re-indexing process through Google's WebMaster Tools.
- In one extreme case, JCPenney had their SEO firm build about 5,000 micro sites (1-page sites) which pointed back to JCPenney. Google caught onto JCPenney's effort to "game Google," and Google penalized them by not allowing them to show up in a Google search for 6 months. Even if someone keyed in "JCPenney" as a search term, a link to JCPenney's website wouldn't show up. That's a serious penalty, but one only reserved for a company that conducted such a serious scheme for "cheating" Google's algorithms. What gave it away was some of the websites pointing back to JCPenney links were websites that had nothing to do with JCPenney's business, such as "nuclear.engineeringaddict.com" and "casino-focus.com." So the chances of Dr. Dana running afoul of Google is pretty much zero.
Of course, having the luxury of creating multiple micro sites is only relevant if you're keeping up your main website with regular blogging, as well as keeping your pages up-to-date. That's because micro sites take time to manage by updating periodically with blog posts. If you're struggling to create blogs on your main website, perhaps micro sites aren't ideal for your company.
Click on any of the homepage screen shots to get to the actual work-in-progress websites.