SEO 101 in 2020 is this: links, links, links.

That was actually SEO in 2010 and even in 2000. Some things change very slowly.

Yes, lots of other details matter a lot. In 2000, meta tags mattered. (Hint: they no longer do for SEO.) Today, social media matters. Content length matters. Content quality matters. Content frequency matters–yes, content is mattering more and more.

But it is still a distant second to the importance of links. An obscure, unlinked-to website with lots of content is unlikely to achieve a small fraction of the success of a website with half the quantity of content at half the quality as well, but that has tons of links.

Now, linking can get complex and subtle. You need links with good anchor text. From lots of different, unrelated sources. From sites that they themselves have lots of links to them. From sites that are on-topic and on-target. They shouldn’t have nofollows. And so forth, and so forth. But those are secondary details. In its most simplified essence: a link–any link, whatsoever (excluding from spammy sources)–is much, much, much better than no links.

So you know one great way to get links? To create the sources of those links.

And you know what a great way to create those sources are? To create high-quality websites.

Minor tangent: in the last three sentences, I’ve mentioned creating “high-quality” sites and that we want any links that are “not spammy” for an important reason: most people who even think about these strategies get frozen in their tracks because creating lots of sites and linking to them is a classic spammy technique.

Yes, dear Virginia, it is.

But let’s step back: it’s the spammers who are often the great innovators, and it’s powerful to see what they do, learn from them–and then do non-spammy versions of what works best for them. Spam is bad in so many ways: on the moral and ethical levels, and on the Google Will Punish You level, and on the Everyone Will Hate You level as well. (It’s not bad on the short-term profitable level, which is why so many people do do it.)

So, let’s boil this down: Google rewards you in SEO results by giving you massive boosts if you get links from other high-quality sites. So why not create those high-quality sites to link to you? That’s a syllogism if I ever saw one!

Of course, this doesn’t work perfectly and it doesn’t work on its own. (Nothing is THAT easy!)

One weakness is that your microsites need links to them to get even more credibility; external linking from sites not under your control is deeply helpful.

Another weakness is that this takes time and money.

Alas, time and money–this is what stops most people in their tracks.

Indeed, this is the major downfall of this strategy. It’s not a cheap strategy. But remember: if it were easy to make a million dollars… everyone would be a millionaire!

I’d view it like this:

  • Microsite marketing is only one SEO strategy among many. It is not the nuclear bomb; it is one particular type of gun that is useful for one particular set of uses.
  • Everything is a trade-off, so you need to decide what you will trade-off and how much: site quality? Speed of getting up the network? Content quantity or quality? Network ownership privacy? Site comprehensiveness?

And only you can determine these two high-level decisions: which SEO strategies to pursue? And what trade-off‑s are you willing to make to get there?

There’s an old project management saying about trade-off‑s that I’m fond of. Every client wants three things from every project: they want it to be fast, high-quality, and cheap. Pick two. (I’m even more fond of the dating version of this, but, alas, that is for another day!).

But this applies to microsite creation as much as much as it does to any other practical management question. Microsite networks are powerful and do-able; but what will you be willing to trade-off to make it happen?

(We, of course, are the microsite marketing experts–and we’re not the cheapest guys out there. That’s the trade-off with us. But we are fast and high-quality.)

Interesting in brainstorming on what is the right microsite strategy for you? We enjoy talking and meeting people and are more than happy to have a call any time you want to discuss and brainstorm. We’re good at figuring out how to make it happen… and then making it happen.