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Are Microsites Still a Valid Digital Marketing Option?

They say that no good deed goes unpunished and great things will eventually be spoiled. This happened to microsites in recent years. What started off as a great strategy was overused and abused by some vendors to the point that now many dealers are scared to touch them.

Here's a brief timeline in case you're not familiar with the evolution of microsites. ADM chief Ralph Paglia was actually one of the pioneers in the microsite world when he brought them to Courtesy Chevrolet a decade ago.

It was a secret weapon for a handful of dealers and something that very few vendors offered. They would bring in great traffic and could generate leads. Then, people started catching wind. Vendors started offering them and in some cases absolutely abusing them for both SEO and general spamming reasons.

When Google Panda was released in 2011 and then when Google Penguin was released in 2012, they went a long way to killing off low-value microsites, especially the automated ones. Many vendors stopped offering them.

Now, we're back as an industry to be in an upward swing. With fewer doing it and with the technologies improving, we believe that they are now a valid strategy again. To prevent them from being abused, here are a couple of key points about them:

  • Do NOT Automate Them - The biggest reason the bubble burst in the first place is because too many companies in and out of the automotive industry started creating really low quality and often automatically-generated pages. These are worthless and will actually do some harm to your marketing.
  • Stay Focused - We talked in-depth about microsites on our website, showing that it's extremely important keep a page focused on one goal at a time. If you try to accomplish too much, you'll actually accomplish nothing.
  • K.I.S.S - You're not selling a car or describing a complex lease plan with microsites. You're just trying to get inquiries. Less is more. Don't overdo the content.

There are other best practices that we know have an impact, but the important thing to post about publicly is that microsites are, for the most part, dead. This means that those who "revive" them the right way can reap more benefits than ever before.

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Tags: microsites

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Comment by Richard Valenta on September 6, 2014 at 4:49pm

Paul,  The example on your website (Kelly Nissan Refer a Friend) looks like a landing page vs. a microsite.  I like it but why create a microsite for this kind of promotion?   

Comment by Paul Accinno on August 17, 2014 at 1:00pm

Thanks, Larry. I knew we were thinking along the same lines and fighting the same fight.

Comment by Larry Bruce on August 16, 2014 at 7:28am

Manny that is a very good idea. I will create a post for all of the microsites and ways dealers should be using them very shortly. Thanks for the post idea! 

Comment by Larry Bruce on August 16, 2014 at 7:27am

Paul I have to say the way the post started off put me in the mind frame that you were advocating Microsites as an SEO strategy and that IS the the antithesis of what a microsite is to be used for. 

I will have to say that the vendors who used or said that the building of microsites as backlinks for their website were just using it as spinner bait, it NEVER helped their SEO even before Panda or Penguin but as you know there are many vendors in this business that twist the facts for their own gain without testing anything...#BOOM! 

In fact the post did confuse me as to what side of microsites you were on. Very glad you cleared that up for me, thank you and thank you for the kind words from both you and Manny #LarryKnowsMicrosites that is very nice of you both to say. 

Paul keep educating dealers on the proper use of landing pages and micosites. The more education we give them less able vendors will be to abuse a good practice making it harder for marketing partners who do it right to help those dealers. 

Thanks again, 

Comment by Ed Brooks on August 11, 2014 at 2:16pm

Boom!

Comment by Paul Accinno on August 11, 2014 at 12:12pm
Larry, I respect your opinion and I know you have a lot of knowledge about landing pages and PPC, but please carefully re-read my post. In it, you'll find no mention of driving organic traffic to microsites or landing pages. What I was referring to was the abuse that many vendors perpetrated WITH microsites, using them as SEO tools to drive low quality links. First, Panda hit them on the duplicate content. Then Penguin hit them as the bad links that they were and many dealers were penalized as a result. I certainly hope that you misread the article and that by calling what I talk about "the antithesis of what a microsite should be used for," you're not saying that you recommend to dealers that they should be using them for SEO spamming.
Again, I appreciate the comment but I'm pretty sure you simply misread it because you're not the type of person that would promote using microsites to spam for SEO reasons.
I agree with Manny. #LarryDoesKnowMicrosites
Comment by Manny Luna on August 11, 2014 at 12:06pm

Larry,

You have a good point, maybe its best to have a break down of all the types of micro sites, landing pages, splash pages, and static pages on ADM like you posted below.

I love all the great information you posted below! 

#LarryKnowsMicroSites

Comment by Larry Bruce on August 11, 2014 at 3:51am

Paul what you talk about in this post is the antithesis of what a microsite should be used for. If you think Google Panda & Penguin killed your microsite, you don't know how to use one and you are confused on what they are for. 

To understand what microsites are good for try reading a few of these posts:

Where Do You Use Landing Pages?

Microsites & Landing Pages for Auto Dealers

Microsites & Landing Pages What Are They & What Do They Do....

What is a Landing Page?

What is a Landing Page and Why Should You Care?

Why YOU (Yes, You) Need to Create More Landing Pages

Why Landing Pages are An Indispensable Part Of Marketing

Landing Pages Turn Traffic Into Money

What you will notice NONE of these articles talk about is Organic Traffic being the major traffic source for a landing page Or having anything to do with SEO for your main RAW website.

Paul you should give  the above articles a read and rethink how you use microsites and landing pages.  

Comment by J.D. Rucker on August 10, 2014 at 10:10am

Manny, as Paul mentioned in the article, your site does a nice job of staying focused. Visitors will know exactly what they're getting when they land on it - loans, Houston.

Comment by Manny Luna on August 9, 2014 at 8:18pm

We've found that a unbranded niche sites works the best, that way you can target a bigger audience.

I get so pumped up about this stuff!

Here is one to check out, it sells 18 to 25 cars a month at 3500 a copy.

http://carloansinhouston.com/

Here is more info: http://www.automotivedigitalmarketing.com/forum/topics/need-a-blog-...

Real Company Stuff... #RCS 

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