Robert Beerworth Team : Web Strategy Tags : Web Strategy

Microsite Strategy

Robert Beerworth Team : Web Strategy Tags : Web Strategy

The term microsite is one of those terms used more by clients than web developers.

Sometimes referred to as ‘minisites’, the microsite has a broad range of definitions – possibly why clients quote it as a catch-all of possibilities.

If all else fails, the microsite will solve it. Can’t find a place on your primary website for some content, call in a microsite.

New campaign? Microsite!

Defining what the microsite is and what it does, is hard, if only that the broad range of definitions awarded to it are probably all correct in their own way.

Here’s my definition, as well as some practical and common sense advice for implementing your microsite strategy. 

What is a microsite?

As the name would suggest, a microsite is a small website relative to the main website it accompanies.

A microsite can only exist in theory, if a main or primary website already exists.

There are a few reasons that a microsite is created.

The first is to group and focus users around specific content or functionality you might have; for instance, a campaign targeted around a certain topic and for a certain user group.

The second, is because the primary website does not easily or ideally support or showcase the content or functionality you want to focus on; this might be because the website is not structured or able to support the content or possibly because the address to the microsite is not easily marketable.

In so far that a microsite can be hand-crafted to exactly suit your requirements, the microsite is a very effective device. Where your primary website most likely has to showcase a diverse range of content and functionality and is therefore naturally broad in what it does, the microsite can be highly focused.

What the microsite shouldn’t be

If well planned and designed with flexibility, your main or primary website should be able to kick plenty of goals.

If you have a reached a point where your main website can’t swallow your requirements, you might need to consider your main website generally.

Fragmenting your effort across your main website and microsites is literally that: fragmentation. Not only possible content fragmentation (and possibly content duplication), though fragmentation of your time and effort.

If you’re working on your microsites, you can’t be working on your main website; given that your main website is likely to have comparatively higher and sustained traffic, will have your primary URL and will represent a reasonable investment, abandoning it without due thought is not a good strategy.

Defining why a microsite is necessary and what it will achieve – over and above what your main website could – is the first step in ensuring that building a microsite is the right approach. 

Get the basics right

In almost all instances, the microsite should sit on the same URL as your main website.

This is for a few reasons:

  • It will contribute to the SEO of your main website.
  • It focuses users on your main URL.
  • It encourages (visually and otherwise) tighter integration with the main website.

Creating vanity URLs for your microsite is generally inadvisable; they are quickly forgotten, they won’t rank in Google before your campaign is over, they remove the focus from your main URL and brand.

If I think ‘Hilux’, I am more likely to go to than ‘’ or whatever stupid URL one might associate with the Hilux microsite; a URL I will never remember and which has no equity.

Instead, build your microsite at Don’t put it on a sub-domain – e.g.; users don’t understand or remember subdomains and sub-domains will not contribute to the SEO of your primary website. 

From the perspective of design, it is not necessary that the microsite shares the same design as your main website, though it helps if only that there is continuity from the perspective of the user, especially if they click into the microsite from the main website.

In designing your microsite, simpler is better in all respects. Stay sharp and focused so that the user will be sharp and focused themselves.

Consider what outcome you want from the microsite and make that abundantly clear to the user: ‘Talk to a Consultant’, ‘Buy Now’, ‘Download the Report’ etc.

A key reason for building the microsite is to abstract greater performance from the effort than the main website could have delivered and so you need to really focus it on doing that.

Microsites are a great excuse to cut video; video boost conversion and so budget should be considered. 

Standardise and grow

Microsites generate a heightened sense of urgency among clients and web designers; the design goes up a notch, buttons become bigger and calls to action more aggressive.

This is a good thing.

Standardise on your microsite structure and design and roll them out for all products and services: inter-relate the microsites.

Users will have a more engaged and relevant experience and you will achieve a higher rate of conversion.

Just make sure you know why you need a microsite, what you are going to use it for and what you expect from it.

And don’t forget to plug in Google Analytics!