Let’s Discuss Microsites and Drops in Traffic. Ask SEO

Kate from Louisville, Kentucky, who works for a firm that creates client microsites, sent in today’s Ask an SEO question.

When my organic traffic drops, what should I prioritize?
In the fourth quarter of 2021, for instance, we rebranded and updated our metadata. Is there a significant chance that this might affect future traffic volumes significantly?

Regarding search engine optimization (SEO), a microsite is treated the same as any other website. The same SEO recommended practices for analyzing a reduction in ranks apply to microsites as they do to full-sized websites since search engines still consider URLs, links, titles, and content.

To start, let’s Discuss Traffic Drops.

I’d want to talk about microsites in general, but first, we need to figure out what to do about this decline in visitors.

When asked directly about metadata, the response is “maybe.”
If the title tag was previously relevant to the page but was altered to something irrelevant (such as “home”), then the page is likely to have a lower search engine ranking and get fewer hits.

Remember that most search engines do not use meta descriptions or keywords in their ranking algorithms. Although, when Google chooses to display the one you authored, it might affect your click-through rates.

The good news is that reverting the change and seeing the results is a simple and fast test.
When traffic drops on a site, the first step is to pinpoint exactly why that happened.

Is there a particular question or group of questions you have in mind? Can you specify the page(s) or pages you’re looking for? Does it apply to the whole site?

Try to spot any repeating structures. A “style” of keywords (related to a particular portion of the site, for instance) or a specific page format may play here.

You may use this data as a starting point for your investigation.
If you want to examine what happens when you search for the specific query or page that has seen a decline in traffic, you must first identify the dip’s source.

If your site isn’t showing up, a technical problem may be at blame.
When you finally show up, I wonder if someone else took your place.

When seeing a rank drop, the first question is whether or not any updates were made to the page.
Frequently, the cause is a change in title tags or content that wasn’t intended or some other unforeseen technological difficulty.

If there is no external factor at fault, the next phase is introspection.

To determine whether a particular outcome is optimal for a user, you should ponder the following question: Is this the result I would expect to get if I typed in that question? Does it rank higher than what I now have?

SEO experts often focus on “push marketing” strategies like “how can I get this page to rank for this query,” rather than the more practical “pull marketing” approach of focusing on the user’s goals and designing content around those needs.

As a result of Google’s recent core upgrades, this is happening more often.

Whereas in the past, a search for a product’s name would bring up a page detailing the item, today, shoppers will get a list of the most acceptable options available in that category along with a suggestion.

Google has determined that offering many product pages benefits its users more than just one.
If this is occurring to you, you should reconsider your content in light of the user’s intent and the results returned by search engines.
The most excellent strategy to achieve your goals is not always the quickest or cheapest.

Okay, Let’s Discuss Microsites

Microsites aren’t my thing until necessary.

Despite their numerous shortcomings, large companies like them because they allow them to employ a cheaper/faster vendor for a minor project without integrating the work into the main website’s codebase, budget, procedures, etc.

I’ve seen businesses employ microsites so extensively that the typical user experience consists of landing on the main website, clicking a promotion to access the microsite, and then clicking another CTA to return to the main website.

To me, it looks like much extra work that adds no value and serves to increase the number of potential conversion entry points.

Additionally, it may be a severe challenge when attempting to keep tabs on relevant analytics data.

From an SEO standpoint, a microsite is essentially a brand new website with no preexisting benefits, such as PageRank, link juice, or domain authority.

Whether you do or do not put stock in these measures, links are still important, and microsites often have fewer links to their pages than they would if they were hosted on the main domain.

Competition is another concern. Too frequently, a microsite created by an independent firm doesn’t coordinate with the team responsible for the main website, leading to unnecessary duplication of efforts and a loss of traffic.

Owning the search result and pushing down other sites may be a successful strategy in specific niches, but only if you go into it prepared and work closely with the primary site.

One possible use for a microsite is in online reputation management (ORM), whereby the goal is to improve the site’s standing in search engine results by either claiming more page one positions or demoting a competitor.

One possible explanation is using a paid search engine.

Both Google and Bing prohibit serving advertisements from the same domain, but if you have a microsite, you may offer two ads for the same query.

In the absence of a compelling justification for a microsite, however, I would advocate for adding a new page or section to the leading site instead.

In cases of uncertainty, prioritize the user’s experience above search engine optimization.

Do a microsite if there’s going to be a distinct brand or if there’s a solid reason to keep people away.
If it is not already part of the primary domain, you will see greater search engine rankings and overall success by making the switch.

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