Microsites for arts projects

In my job at a publishing company we often have to create special one-off mini-websites for individual books, book series or for the books by a particular author. These are in addition to the book’s page on our main website. They act as focused marketing sites for books that are likely to sell well.

Similarly, every new movie has its own website with its own domain name – they’re not all just pages or sections hanging off the main Universal, Paramount or Twentieth Century Fox website.

Conventional Search Engine Optimisation wisdom tells you not to do this because your incoming links get diluted – some go to one website, some to another, rather than all pointing at the same website and increasing its search engine rankings.

So why do the film studios create separate websites for every movie they make? Why does the Publishing company I work for create unique websites for certain books?

Because a separate website—a microsite—for a new film/book/product/project makes it in some way more special. A dedicated microsite also attracts more links than the same number of pages hanging off a main site (I don’t have any empirical evidence I can give you yet – I can’t publish statistics from my day-job or from previous professional roles: you’ll just have to believe me that I’m not lying when I say this!).

While SEO is important, sometimes understanding human behaviour is more important than optimising your site for search ranking algorithms. And dedicated microsites seem to appeal to people. If done correctly, a microsite lifts your project out of your ordinary promotion and makes it truly special.

So, to put my money where my mouth is, this weekend just gone I created a microsite for The Book of the Erinyes, my current art project of a limited edition series of artists books. It’s quite a simple website – four static pages plus an embedded WordPress blog dedicated to this project. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’d be interested to know whether any of you artists/musicians/writers have also tried this approach? Did it work for you? If you haven’t tried it, would you consider it?