Microsites – don’t do it!

If you’ve been approached to have a dental microsite built – think twice! Here’s why….

Microsites, i.e. small websites focused on a single topic, used to be a prominent technique used by SEO companies to gain advantage in the search engines. However, these days the technique is essentially defunct and more often than not, disadvantageous.

A good example of this was recently covered in the national press where the online retailer, Asos, had developed a number of regionalised microsites to try to increase search positions and web traffic, but the effect was hugely negative. We’ll explain more about that in a moment.

The negative aspects of microsites have been known about in the more educated echelons of the search marketing community for some time, and so I was somewhat surprised to see a large invisible aligners company actively pushing the technique for their clients, apparently unaware of the possible problems. This is rather disappointing as the dentists likely assumed they were getting something advantageous, whereas the likelihood is that they were actually diluting their existing websites and search rankings.

So why is?

The dangers of microsites

A microsite is essentially a small website, typically a few pages, which attempts to target a specific topic with a couple of objectives in mind. The first is to provide a focused website with concise information for users. The second is to attempt to create a “hot spot” of optimised information to gain advantage in the search engines. On the face of it, this may seem like a good idea, but why doesn’t it work? There are several reasons as follows:

  • Google gives most weight and authority to a single website which is well-elaborated and technically solid. Building a secondary, smaller website only serves to dilute the content of the main website and this is significant when it comes to search engine ranking. This is particularly so where the microsite attempts to duplicate content which already exists on the main website.
  • Search ranking positions are explicitly linked to aspects like “Google My Business” data, reviews, back-links etc. You can only use one set of business data for this and so a microsite only serves to confuse Google in terms of ranking results – the likelihood is a dilution of the main website ranking unless you are very careful. Just ask Asos!

We have seen several cases already where the dentists main website is top of Google for the key search phrases associated with invisible aligners/braces etc and yet they’ve still opted to launch a separate microsite on the subject. This is primarily because the dentists themselves have not been informed correctly. But what should you do instead of a microsite?

Increase the foot-print of your main website

As we’ve seen, a microsite will typically not rank at all in Google and can actually be disadvantageous by diluting the main business website. So what can you do to try to get more web exposure for certain treatment types?

The target here should be to increase the content of the existing website, so building out the section associated with the treatment type you are looking to promote. This could be several high-quality pages on types of braces or similar for dental implants for example. Then undertake an ethical SEO campaign to further increase the prominence of those website sections. This way you build up the authority of the main website rather than dilute it by publishing a half-baked microsite.

Can a microsite ever be useful?

The answer to this is “possibly” but you do need to be very careful. You may consider such a website if you have a complete new section to your business which is not yet covered on your main website; however, your main site should always be the first consideration, i.e. adding the new content there. Remember that simply launching a couple of new pages on a microsite is never really going to serve you well in Google, so don’t be surprised if you go this route and you don’t get good search ranking as a result.

You may chose to consider a microsite as a vehicle for converting traffic from pay-per-click campaigns e.g. Google Ads or Facebook. But there is also a downside to this. It is well-known that a single optimised landing page is usually the best way to convert PPC traffic into enquiries, simply because it has exactly the right sort of information on one page. A microsite adds additional distraction for users i.e. there is a navigation menu and the opportunity for the user to click away from the main “lead generation” content. So a single landing page linked to PPC traffic sources will usually beat a microsite for this type of marketing activity.

Summary

We regularly see misguided digital marketing attempts in the dental sector and the “microsite” is just another example. However, it is one to consider very carefully if you are approached to do it and it’s probably best avoided.

If you’ve recently been encouraged to launch such a website for your own practice, perhaps as a supplier of “invisible” braces, and are now considering if you’ve done the right thing, then please get in touch with the SEO team at Dental Media on 01332 672548 and we’ll be pleased to evaluate and advise without charge.