If you’re like most medical practices, you have a hard enough time getting yourself to rank for one website- coming up with relevant content, getting your local listing to rank, sharing through social, etc. So why on earth would you want to have two or more sites? With multiple sites, you’ll have to at least double your SEO efforts, if not triple them. Even worse, you’ll be spending a ton of effort on a site that isn’t immediately paying off, meaning, it’s not ranking high for practice related search terms out the gate. So how on earth can microsites for SEO be a good idea?
What Is a Microsite?
A microsite is essentially a supplementary website distinct from a practice’s primary domain. It has it’s own URL, design, and navigation, along with it’s own original content. It is NOT a duplicate of your original site, by any means- in fact, a duplication will work AGAINST your marketing efforts, rather than toward them.
In the past, microsites for SEO were almost essential for people looking to rank for a particular keyword. If you wanted to rank for “counseling services in Troy”, you’d see near instant results from www.counselingservicestroy.com as a microsite. This is referred to as an “exact-match” domain because the domain name matches the search query verbatim, and the purpose behind using a domain like this was to capture traffic and higher ranking for the search term in the URL. However, in September 2012, Google released an algorithm update aimed at reducing low-quality exact-match domains from showing up so high in search engine results. Because of this update, EMDs are not nearly as effective or crucial as they used to be- a domain name alone won’t generate the traffic you need to grow your practice.
The Benefit of Microsites
Just because Google doesn’t place a huge amount of importance on exact match domains doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t keep your keywords in mind when considering a domain, and it certainly doesn’t mean that microsites can’t help your practice immensely. But the EMD update doesn’t necessarily mean microsites for SEO are no longer helpful for your online marketing purposes. Your practice may very well benefit from building a microsite or two, particularly if your goals align with those below:
Branding & Targeting Different Kinds of Patients
If you’re a podiatrist interested in promoting the neuropathy treatments you specialize in, a microsite could very well be exactly what you need. Your main site will undoubtedly have mentioned your neuropathy treatments, but if you really want to showcase yourself as a specialist and really capitalize on a platform to demonstrate your knowledge and services. Put simply, your microsite will be establishing that specialty as it’s own brand, in the same way that a television network has their primary, overarching brand as well as individual shows for promotion.
Microsites are especially useful if you’re targeting a certain kind of patient. The microsite can reflect the persona to better engage the potential patient- for instance, you’d likely want a very different site feel for a child & adolescent counseling versus substance abuse counseling, even if both are services offered up by your psychology practice.
Appear More Relevant and Authoritative
In the same vein as the above, by catering your brand to your prospective audience you appear more relevant and authoritative to patients as well as search engines. By being able to fully devote your content strategy to a certain niche, in time your credibility will rise within Google’s ranking. By hyper focusing your marketing, you’re able to market more effectively- much in the same way medical professionals opt to focus on a specialty to better be able to serve the overall health through expertise.
Additionally, ‘authority’ building through smart linking strategies between your main site and your microsite mean that you’ll be able to use them both to benefit eachother. A win-win for physician SEO marketing!
Get Multiple Listings in Organic Search Results
Microsites for SEO are an effective way to allow your practice to occupy more real estate on the first page of search results. If you’ve ever played the game Monopoly, the tactic is the same as buying up a row of properties- the likelihood of someone landing on your site increases with the number of relevant, ranking sites you own. In the past, you were able to dominate search results for multiple pages on one domain- however, Google has updated their algorithm to reduce “domain crowding”, meaning that you’ll likely only see a single organic listing per domain during a search query. Due to Google’s promotion of search diversity, having multiple sites actually confers a clear advantage in occupying search result real estate.
By owning a separate domain—a microsite—you can maximize your online real estate by showing up more than once in the organic search results. If you’re using a smart local search marketing strategy then you’re likely showing in paid search ads (PPC/Google Adwords/remarketing) as well as organic search results (SEO) for your primary website- adding in a well maintained microsite into search results increases your footprint yet again. Done right, you reduce the likelihood of your potential patients clicking on your competitors’ links and increasing the likelihood that they will turn from a visit into a lead and, ultimately, a patient.
Microsites Aren’t For Everyone- Proceed with Caution
Getting a brand new website to rank is not an easy task and requires both time and resources. In order to rank, a microsite requires search engine-friendly web design and plenty of content. If you’re a small, resource-strapped company or are a new practice developing a marketing strategy, a microsite might not be your best option for marketing your company online. However, if you have the budget, hiring PRM to create and maintain a strategic microsite could leverage online traffic in an immense way.
Not sure if microsites are right for you? Contact us today for a free consultation on your current web presence and the outlook for your niche.