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And now to the post . . .

Recently a client commented that he was creating microsites for each of his products in an effort to get more pages into Google as well as more “inbound” links to his main site. “Is this a good idea?” he asked.
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Yes and no. First, it depends on why you’re doing it. If it’s because your main Website lacks optimized content and you’re trying to improve your rankings and traffic, my advice would be to make your main site much better — then you don’t have to create microsites.

Your goal should two-fold: One, create content that helps your prospects determine if they want to do business with you, and two, create content that people will want to share in order to increase your exposure and rankings. You could, for example, achieve both goals with a well-maintained blog.

Creating quality content is also the advice Google now gives in its Webmaster Tools — in fact, it specifically states to create quality content that users will find helpful versus building links. (See the Search Engine Land article, “Google Changes Ranking Advice, Says Build Quality Content, Not Links.”)

I’m not a fan of microsites as they confuse people when they’re searching — meaning, they make for a poor user experience.

If you have eight different sites, all which show up for your name or keywords, searchers have to pick which one they think will deliver the info they’re looking for. If they click on a microsite with thin content, then they have to figure out how to get to your main site (if they can determine you have one) or they simply click out and move on.

When you have only seconds to capture a searcher’s attention, clicking around microsites is too much work.

And too, Google may remove them from the SERPs if someone complains about them, which is how I was able to get one of my clients from the second page to the first page (at #4). Her competitor was clogging up the first page with a bunch of thin sites that didn’t help the search experience.

However, you may have a legitimate need for a separate Website; for example, you offer products and consulting services and you want to build a site around your consulting services with lots of content relating to it.

In a video earlier this spring, Matt Cutts addresses the question of whether it’s ok to link to two separate sites. The answer is yes. (The main drawback to having two or more sites is that now you must maintain both and for 99% of the businesses I work with, maintaining one site is hard enough.)

What’s your opinion of microsites? Have you used them? Do you find them annoying when you find them in the SERPs?