How To Build A Microsite
What is a Microsite?
A microsite (UBP used to call them Online Z-cards) is usually a single Web page (sometimes a small group of pages) that contains all the relevant information about You the artist, musician or band, a little like an online press pack, or it can be focused on a topic, eg: your latest album release. It is a comprehensive, attractive and search engine friendly landing page that is dedicated to marketing and promotion. A microsite can be an integral part of a website or stand-alone with it's own domain name or subdomain, for instance, a band could make a microsite for each of its albums; the page could act as a pre-sell splash page that links to the actual album sales page on the main website, or be the sales page itself.
I used to make microsites for bands by invitation only, they were free, hand-made and a real labour of love! They weren't just another profile page cobbled together by some WYSIWYG application or Perl script; they were an online marketeer's linking gold mine, the cream of the crop in the linking world. However, bands were sceptical about the microsites' power to perform and indifferent to their need! So, why would I bother? On the other hand, artists, musicians and bands seem infatuated with splash pages; a microsite is a splash page with content, a splash page on heat! Here is how to make one yourself - as UnsignedBandPromotion are not going to be doing it for you any more!
Firstly, the microsite like any web page needs a purpose and to be planned out. What do you want from your microsite, what are you aiming to achieve? In our example microsite (The Malloys), the microsite will act as an additional landing page, to the main website, that will promote the musician's Name, Website and Album (please feel free to copy it), however, you may wish to promote something completely different - it is a good idea to keep your concept narrow, focused.
- Who is your target fan and your target audience? Read: Target Fan Profile Checklist
- What are you aiming to achieve with the microsite - is it for the short-term or long-term?
- Where are your target fans on the Internet?
- Why will your target fans visit your microsite?
- Band Name! The microsite will promote your Name and Website.
- Your Web Addresses Official Website, Facebook, MySpace, ReverbNation, Twitter, CDbaby (album sales), YouTube...
- Gigs Page Address The address of the web page where you inform your fans about your next gig.
- Press Reviews Page Address The address of the web page where you post your press reviews and interviews.
- Location Where you're from is a fundamental part of geomarketing.
- Photographs Of The Band keep the images optimized for download speed, aprox. 500px X 500px maximum.
- Genre, Sound & Influences Write a short piece, strapline, about your genre, sound and influences, about 30 words max. Be specific, no fluff.
- Biography Write your band's biography, it should be about 300 words of Original Content and not too fluffy ;) It you regurgitate your bio over and over people will not read it/ them. Provide quality content.
- Link To Free Gift Include a link to a free gift (independent artists, musicians and bands usually give away an mp3 - try to think of something different).
- Discography The release dates of albums, EPs etc. Keep it short and relevant.
- Venue (the band plays most or loves. Keep It Local) This is an important part of your microsite's promotion effect. It will help you to be found in the search engines for: "VenueName" + "VenueLocation" It is difficult to achieve good results in the search engines with a cursory mention of your favourite venue! Keeping it local is important. Include as much information as possible (i.e. why you like the place).
- Mailing List Sign-up Use MailChimp.com. I have included a basic email form.
- Contact Information Important. Normal contact details plus any others like manager, publicist...
- Band Members band members names, position in band, emails (if wanted), and equipment list for venues.
- Copyright Information Your copyright details - you might want to include the photographer?
- iPower Website Hosting - for affordable and reliable web hosting, if you want the microsite to be stand-alone. I'm an affiliate.
- The Malloys - our example microsite, you're welcome to use as a template or download the original responsive web design by Onextrapixel
- Open Source Web Design - loads of free website templates.
- Color Hex - a free colour tool providing information about any colour.
- W3C HTML Validation - for checking your html!
- The Humms - a live example of a microsite made by UnsignedBandPromotion, © 2000 Zeke Sayer.
- Microsite download speed is vital, don't slow it down with heavy graphics, video or music, leave those for your website.
- If you want to sell your music via the microsite, make sure it's the first thing visitors see when they arrive.
- A microsite is not, and mustn't be, a vanity page; build in a real reason for it to exist.
- The microsite should focus on a specific subject matter; the main website can deal with the big picture; in our example (The Malloys) we are stretching the limit by promoting three or four topics - keep it simple if you want to succeed.
- Microsites, just like full-blown websites, need: entertaining content, keyword research, good design, clear navigation, optimizing for usability and the search engines and backlinks. I do have to put my hand up and say, "I haven't quite fulfilled that brief! My example microsite is a little sloppy, especially the link colouring!" But you can fix that, can't you :)
What You Get With A Microsite
You get textual links placed within targeted relevant content that promotes your url, name, genre, venue and product! Microsites encourage organic human click-through traffic and therefore the page is an additional, dedicated entry point to your website. When stand-alone with its own domain, the microsite should rank for itself and will add rank to your main website.
Testing The Microsite
Keeping an eye on how the microsite performs is very important; initially, fans, friends and family can test its function, but ultimately you will need website analytics - Google Analytics is about the best, especially when combined with Google Adsense and the whole Google Webmaster Tools package.
- Your microsite/website combination should be in Google's top 6 search results for:
- YourName example: The Malloys
NOTE: If your name is a common word, top position in Google will be difficult.
- YourName + Band example: The Malloys Band
NOTE: UnsignedBandPromotion got around 86% of musicians' microsites into Google's top 6 search results for just their name, and by adding "Band" to the search criterion the microsites' position improved dramatically.
- YourGenre + Band(s) + YourLocation example: Punk Rock Bands West London
NOTE: A microsite will promote you into Google's top 6 search results for something other than your name - it's what the microsite is all about.
- VenueName + VenueLocation example: The Troubadour Club, Earls Court
NOTE: It's Very difficult to achieve good results in the search engines with a cursory mention of your favourite venue (this is better achieved on your website and not on your microsite), as there can be big competition from other well connected websites - keeping it local is important. However, it's worth trying, there are spin-offs.
BTW, I am very open to comments on how to improve UnsignedBandPromotion's microsites. Need Help? Please Ask :)
Written by Ian Robson
Unsigned Band Promotion help musicians and artists to get their websites noticed by fans, search engines and the music industry in half the time they could do it on their own. Find UBP on Google+ and Twitter. Ian has been working on website promotion techniques since 1994.
How to build a microsite is offered to you under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License, which means: it's yours to use as long as you Attribute the work to Unsigned Band Promotion and Link Back. See: © copyright