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By some accounts, more than 50 percent of local businesses that advertise have Web sites. But they still need to be found by the search engines. That's the role that PremierGuide, a local search vendor that works with 250 newspapers, TV stations and geodomain sites, hopes to play with its new "Microsites."

The PremierGuide microsites, like this one, are templated landing pages specially designed to be searched. Businesses can use them to populate their pages with info on service details, products carried, brands offered, amenities, business hours, credentials, qualifications, awards, testimonials, payment options and contact information.

An added feature is the ability to attach video and print ads to the page. Many businesses, such as car dealers and restaurants, have invested heavily in video and radio ads, and want to include the content on their Web presence.

PremierGuide's effort is similar to an effort started in spring 2006 by Sacramento-based EyeBallFarm, to partner with Intelligent Direct Marketing to provide microsites for auto dealers. The sites not only include the dealer’s marketing-oriented media, but in some cases their car inventory.

EyeBallFarm Leader Jim Bonfield tells us that his company is expanding beyond auto microsites and will soon be launching restaurant and retail furniture on the platform. He adds that "version 2" launches before Labor Day, with ads, a built-in blog, survey tools and customizable colors, fonts and Flash headers. The existing microsites are "getting huge organic ranking benefits that in some cases surpass the organic rankings of the client’s actual site," says Bonfield. He adds that a client recently told him that he has a "MySpace for local business."

My take on the microsites are that they are going to be very useful. And one more reason, in addition to blog software, why full-fledged Web sites are increasingly pass. But from a small-business perspective, they’ll also add to confusion in the sales channel over what to buy.

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