I’ve never been a huge fan of where bloggers do a series of related posts but I’ve fallen into the trap, following on from my post about the questions you should ask yourself before launching a microsite, is this post.
I’ll assume you’ve answered those questions and are certain the microsite is the best approach, and if you are here are nine top SEO tips for launching a microsite
1. Don’t Use Them – as you may have seen previously, in a lot of circumstances they aren’t the ideal from an SEO perspective, you have to be fairly confident if you are launching a microsite that it is the correct choice from a number of different perspectives.
2. Have a clear purpose and objective – the same with any marketing project if you are launching a microsite you need to have clear and measurable objectives in mind, without these your microsite will unlikely prove valuable to you and it will allow you to measure your success over time.
3. Just because it’s a short term project doesn’t mean you can ignore search best practice – you may be using television or another offline channel to drive traffic to a microsite, however this doesn’t mean you can completely ignore your search marketing efforts. At the very least you need to ensure that your site appears for branded terms. For example Orange recently ran a campaign built around the catchphrase ‘I Am’ when the campaign launched Orange had no search visibility on this term, which meant they missed a significant chunk of traffic that should have been theirs. And Al’s recent post on “search for mVa” also touches on similar topics.
4. Remember it requires ongoing link building – be prepared to work on the link building over a number of months. You can do a variety of tasks but velocity is one of the most important but over looked aspects of link building, as the web grows it becomes less about the amount of links a website has but the quality of those links and the speed at which those links are gained. For example two identical sites both with a 1000 links however on hasn’t gained any new links in over 18 months, the other has been consistently gaining additional links over the last year. The one with the growth is seen as more topical and therefore more deserving of rankings.
5. Don’t expect rankings over night – there is a phenomena many search marketing professionals refer to as the Google sandbox, this tends to describe the difficulty of getting a new website to rank highly in Google in the first few months of its launch. Although this is less of a problem in recent months it still is a challenge to rank on high volume keywords without a period of sustained SEO. Depending on the level, intensity and intelligence of your search marketing campaign you will not likely see much change in ranking on a new site within the first 12 weeks of the site being live.
6. Consider using keywords in domain – there are many onsite factors which determine your ability to rank but having your keywords in your domain can help. As the microsite doesn’t have to contain your brand name it can be quite sensible for the domain to include your keywords. Though this isn’t essential on some test microsites we’ve built with our clients we’ve found websites where the domain is a direct match of their main keyword can get a good head start in the rankings.
7. If you already own the domain get it indexed – we’ve mentioned before the difficulty in getting a website to rank quickly, you can help mitigate this difficulty by trying to get your site indexed as soon as possible, upload a test page with a brief overview of the site you are building and a time frame to launch. Point a few links at the site to help the search engine spiders find the site, though this page won’t rank without a full website and some SEO effort it will at least help you begin your probation with Google.
8. Don’t create a link network between your sites – link building is a time consuming process and sometimes it can be tempting to make shortcuts and link between all your sites. If they are hosted in the same place Google will realise this and downgrade the links value, also if you have hundreds of websites which you are linking between you run the very real risk of setting off a filter where the search engines confuse you with a link spam network. Many ill informed webmasters think they can trick the engines by creating thousands of sites and linking them all together, if your legitimate network of sites leaves a similar footprint you could find it very difficult to get any of your sites ranking.
9. Think About Exit Strategy – What are your plans when the campaign associated with the site is finished? Do you intend to build out the site so it can function on it’s own? Do you want to redirect the site to your main site using a search friendly 301 permanent redirect so you can transfer the traffic and link equity? Either option is significantly better than leaving the website neglected and eventually letting the domain name expire; this will waste the marketing investment you have made in the site. Either the re-direction or expansion has the greatest rewards.
So a top nine list is good, but it feels kind of wrong not as a top ten, so if you’ve got any top reccomendations leave a comment or drop me a line on twitter and I’ll add them to the post.