As far as Google is concerned, lawyers, doctors, and other YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) professionals are in a different category than exterminators, plumbers, and other nonprofessional service companies. Nonprofessionals may be able to get away with thin, sales-y website content. But that’s not the case for lawyers.
Presentation is important as well. For example, roughly two-thirds of internet searchers use their mobile devices. So, your website must be smartphone-friendly. In many cases, a microsite may also be part of a good presentation strategy.
The Difference Between a Traditional Website and a Microsite
Traditional websites showcase a law firm’s entire practice. In addition to practice area pages, a traditional website should include a homepage, about us page, and a contact page.
As the name implies, a microsite focuses on a particular area. The microsite could be a single page or a small cluster of three or four pages. All microsites have distinctive URLs, so they are completely separate from the mother site. However, all microsites contain links to the mother site.
*We’ll use the term mother site to describe a traditional website throughout this blog.
So, at least theoretically, a searcher uses Google or another search engine to find the microsite. The potential client then follows internal links to the mother site after reading the compelling microsite content.
Microsite Pros and Cons
Advantages of a Microsite
Microsites work particularly well if your firm has a diverse practice area. For example, many litigation attorneys handle divorces, criminal defense, personal injury, and other areas. A microsite enables this firm to highlight different practice areas on different sites which cater to different potential clients.
Potential clients looking for DUI defense attorneys usually care nothing about car crashes or child support modifications. Microsites enable lawyers to appear specialized.
On a similar note, microsites allow lawyers to add value to readers looking for even more narrow topics. People who are looking for a hip implant lawyer probably do not want to read about hernia meshes, Bair Hugger warming blankets, Essure birth control devices, and other dangerous gadgets.
Microsites also may be less expensive in PPC endeavors.
Assume our hypothetical litigation firm creates a microsite about marijuana legalization. The associated PPC keyword may be much cheaper than “Raleigh criminal defense attorneys.” Moreover, there may be only one or two PPC results as opposed to five or six. A person searching for marijuana laws sees the microsite on the top of the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) and then follows internal links to the main site.
Disadvantages of a Microsite
Now, for the potential downsides.
Some multifaceted firms like to position themselves as such. They want to be full-service law firms and develop long-term relationships with clients. If that is your marketing strategy, a microsite may be counterproductive.
Opportunity cost can be an issue as well. Most firms do not have unlimited internet marketing budgets. The dollars they spend on microsite development might be better spent on improvements to the mother site.
At the end of the day, both mother sites and microsites live and die according to content. Some firms use recycled content from the mother site on their microsites. As mentioned earlier, if your main site or microsite does not have unique, value-adding content, Google will not reward your efforts with higher SERP rankings.
Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer to the “Do I need a microsite” question. It all depends on your SEO and digital marketing strategy. A professional website evaluation can probably give you some additional insight.