Choosing the right domain for your microsite.

We have all seen them – a site that is part of a larger brand, yet looks different and acts as its own entity. This is referred to as a microsite, used by organizations to present information that is separate from the main website and perhaps present a different or co-branded concept. The most common uses of a microsite include:

• Raising brand awareness
• Promoting offshoot brands
• Raising awareness for an event or promotion
• Launching a new product or service
• Building a subscriber list

Options for Microsite Creation

Common thinking is that a microsite needs to be its own domain, however other options for a microsite include use of a subdomain or a subdirectory of the main site. Depending upon the goals for the microsite, there are pros and cons associated with each of these methods.

Separate Domain

Creation of a separate domain such as would provide brand independence and establish the legitimacy of the brand, separate from that of the parent. As a new domain, the site will not gain any authority value from the parent, and beginning with domain authority and page rank of 1/100 will require time for search engines to connect the relevance of the content with search queries. If, and only if, there is sufficient unique content and time for the site to gain value with the search engines should this method be used. In other words, if launching a limited three-month campaign, this is not the ideal method.


Use of a subdomain such as will provide the connection for users between the new brand and the parent. While Google has made improvements in discerning the connection between the sites, the subdomain is still considered a new domain and will not inherit any of the parent’s authority. The potentially lengthened domain name can also be cumbersome and difficult for users to remember.


Creating the microsite as a subdirectory of the parent site, e.g., is the ideal option for SEO value. This provides a strong brand connection and inheritance of the parent site domain authority.

The bottom line

Creating a microsite can be a valuable move for an organization. In doing so, attention needs to be paid to the goals for the site and method utilized to create the microsite, especially when it comes to SEO.

Subdomain Names Pros Cons

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How to Write Effective Meta Descriptions

The well-written meta description: It’s one of those oft-forgotten but incredibly important digital writing and SEO tools that can make your brand’s content look polished, professional and complete.  How can a single sentence hold so much power? Let’s discuss the meta description and how it can help you attract user click-throughs to your page.

What is a Meta Description?

A meta description is a sentence – no longer than 155 characters – that appears in search engine result pages (SERPs) under the title and URL of your web content. Take a look at how it appears in Google when you search for “Charles River Interactive”:

Charles River Interactive Meta Description Example

Why are Meta Descriptions Important?

It’s an over-used cliché to describe websites as the virtual front door to your company or organization. But if we piggyback on this metaphor, a well-written meta description is part of the on-page optimization package that forms your attractive façade or catchy signage.

Key points to keep in mind:

Meta descriptions improve site visits
The meta description tells users what content they will find on your page, and whether it is worth their time to click. Most importantly, they persuade users to choose your page over your SERP competitors.

Because many sites still neglect to write meta descriptions – or write sloppy, keyword-stuffed versions that make them look desperate for clicks – a strong, clean meta description can improve click-throughs to your copy.

Meta descriptions and social sharing
Many social sites – such as Facebook – also pull the meta description to auto-fill comment fields when users share your content. If you don’t have one, they will grab the first text they find.

Tips for Writing Meta Descriptions

  1. Size matters: Google will cut you at approximately 155 characters (letters, symbols, numbers, punctuation AND spaces). If you go over, you’ll have a dangling fragment that may not make sense.
  2. Be in control: If you don’t write a meta description, this space won’t go blank. Search engines will pick text – typically the first 160 characters that appear on your page – and it could appear as a mangled string of page title, section head and sentence fragment.
  3. Don’t take liberties: Accurately describe the content on your page. Don’t overstate or mislead users. This technique can actually negatively impact your bounce rate by leading to frustrating users.
  4. Use call to actions: It’s always a good approach to talk TO your audience, not about them. “Learn more about …” or “Find out why …” are examples of strong call-to-action language that invites users to click through.
  5. Keywords still count: They may not directly affect rankings, but incorporating relevant keywords is important for two reasons:

• They appear in bold in SERPs
• They communicate relevance of page to search query

Interested in learning more about trends and developments with Google? Read more from our blog, View from the Charles:

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Instagram Introduces New Stories Feature

Instagram made waves in the social media and digital marketing worlds this week as they announced the launch of Instagram Stories. The new feature allows users to share multiple photos and videos in a slideshow format. With Stories, Instagram users have expanded opportunities for creativity, as text overlay and drawing tools are included.

Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom provides an alternative perspective. He explains, “we need to have a place where you feel free to post whatever you want without the nagging fear of, did someone like that or not?”

Stories add value to Instagram personal users and brands alike, giving them an opportunity to share content that is more fun, raw, casual and ultimately authentic, in contrast to the posed and filtered images that had been the norm.

Since the announcement, a number of digital talking heads have been quick to “throw shade” at Instagram’s new feature for its likeness to Snapchat with some taking the position that Instagram copied Snapchat altogether. Instagram head of product, Kevin Weil told Buzzfeed that many platforms adopt and adapt features from other platforms. Examples include Facebook’s newsfeed structure being replicated on LinkedIn and how Twitter’s hashtag functionality has spread to a number of different platforms.

So what does this mean for the realm of digital marketing? Does this mark the beginning of the end for Snapchat? Social Media uber-expert Gary Vaynerchuk said “Anybody who thinks this is going to kill Snapchat is completely out of their mind. It’s a “no chance” statement. Sure, this update will affect Snapchat, but it won’t be the end of it.” He goes on to explain, and we agree, that while behaviors around Instagram and Snapchat may change, Snapchat’s established market share, product niche and ability to scale will continue to drive growth. DJ Khaled won’t be abandoning his 15 million plus Snapchat followers anytime soon.

We’ll be excited to follow the growth and adoption of Instagram stories over the coming weeks and months, as well as Snapchat to see if they launch any new features to help grow and add value for their loyal user base. If you’ve got any questions about how Charles River Interactive can help you with your Instagram or Snapchat presence, we’re happy to help!

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