Creating a network of micro-sites for the sake of link power manipulation is a controversial technique; hence it has become risky to interlink your own websites even for very “white hat” purposes (e.g. to let your readers know about your other relevant sites). Nonetheless, link building with micro-sites can be a highly effective technique if done correctly.
My main idea is that creating micro-sites around your main web resource is not necessarily done for the sake of interlinking and spreading the link power. When done wisely, the strategy can aim at multiple great purposes:
- build link power of several resources simultaneously ( = if the microsite is closely associated with the main site, many webmasters will link to the both resources when talking about either of them). Michael Martinez in his recent post on one-way link building put it greatly:
satellite site networks succeed because each site brings enough unique content and concepts to the user experience that it makes sense for people to link to them all
- be on the safe side: aggressive (or any other) link baits can be both fail or win, that’s always hard to predict; if you host your link bait on a separate site, you will always keep your main site protected from the campaign (probably dangerous) circumstances;
- create multiple / additional positive / sticky brand associations (citing Michael, “split a brand value across multiple sub-brands“);
- reach broader audience or attract some particular audience – that might be hard for a well known site that is strongly associated with one age group, for example, to rebrand so that it could appeal to much younger / older audience. Creating a microsite and optimizing it for a new audience group you want to target can be a better idea than relaunch your established site.
- broaden your link building scope (e.g. promoting a corporate site in social media could be tough as it is not “social media friendly” enough for the campaign to be successful).
- get people promote your site: by encouraging customers’ active participation, you will enroll most Internet-savvy audience; almost all representatives of this audience run websites and blogs of their own where they will be glad to promote your site.
- host relevant but different content: Coca-Cola Conversations blog focuses on Coke collectibles.
- encourage viral marketing: a social network of photo enthusiasts around Fujifilm newest camera.
- host link bait: to promote its new T.V. series “Back to You,” Fox Broadcasting created a micro-site where users can upload photos of themselves to create an image that shows them seated at the anchor desk between the show’s stars, Patricia Heaton and Kelsey Grammer.
- host different type of content (e.g. user-generated content): Southwest Airlines employees and customers share the “Nuts About Southwest” on a separate blog.