There's no place you know better than where you live, and no matter where you live, there's somebody out there that wants to read about your town or city.
Now, try this out. Go to Google and search for your home town. You'll likely find a Wikipedia entry, the official town websites, and some of the most popular businesses in town. Mixed into the results, you may also find some data aggregation sites that list statistics like population, average income, and other stats.
Not many of these pages are very personal at all. If you're looking for a restaurant or hotel recommendation, or information on the public school system, it's going to be tough to find all of that information without visiting ten or more different websites.
This is where you come in.
Unlike a Wikipedia entry, you have a voice. You can make your own recommendations, make a list of top restaurants in the area, and you know which hotels are worth staying at and which ones aren't. You know better than any GPS what the best way is to get to the highway, to avoid traffic, and how to get across town. Unlike some of the more robotic pages that dominate the top of search for any specific town, you can create something passionate, user friendly, and most importantly, from an insider's perspective.
Making a page that is unique, passionate, and better than the best that's already out there isn't easy, but the rewards can be worth your effort. Making the best page on the web for your local town is attention grabbing, and it could potentially be a niche that's just waiting to be fulfilled.
There are quite a few reasons why someone would search about your local town. Here are some of the potential reasons for a search query on your home town:
- Investigating the town before purchasing a home.
- Traveling for business to that town.
- Passing through that town, a restaurant recommendation is needed.
- You live in that town or city, and you need some ideas on things to do close by.
- Someone you know lives in that town, and you'd like to know more about it.
- The town was recently in the news.
- Parents are checking on the quality of the school system in that town.
- Something very specific, like a golf course in town, or a gas station.
- Location of town offices/buildings, like the town hall, police station, fire station, and library.
- Jobs available in town.
- Local weather for the town.
- Directions to that town.
- Upcoming events in town. Easter egg hunts, 4th of July celebrations, road closures, parades, and road races.
- If you live in a big city, consider making a leaf about a specific neighborhood.
We offer plenty of great tools to make a great leaf about your home town, and here's how you can use them:
YouTube: There's always a video about your local town on YouTube, no matter how small. Add a YouTube section to include videos of local activities, sightseeing destinations, or favorite restaurants.
Link List: This is just an easy way to create a list of links. And, it's a good way to point to the best content on the web about a particular subject that might interest your readers.
Flickr: Feature photos of local events, beautiful places in town, or well known people around town, all with the flickr section.
Amazon: Feature a recommended travel guide for the much broader region that your town is part of.
Image Gallery: Upload your own photos that you've taken to your leaf with the image gallery section. If you haven't taken photos, it's as easy as taking a picture with your phone.
Poll: Gather local opinion on the best schools in town, the best restaurants, or the best parks.
Twitter: Include a feed from the one of the official town Twitter accounts if they keep it fresh.
Besides focusing on your local town, you can go broader and make "best of" lists for anything about your region. I recently published this list of the 50 best restaurants on the South Shore, which was created partially as a reference for myself to find new restaurants, and to be reminded of the old ones. You can also focus on specific parts of your town, like one single restaurant. This is what Ladymermaid did on her leaf, The Best Restaurant.
Here are five tips for publishing a local leaf that may help with search engine visits:
- Create a unique title that includes the name of your town. Think beyond just the name, be creative, informative, yet still manage to grab their attention.
- Include what people are searching for. This could be zip codes, the local schools, videos, opinions, a list of restaurants, activities in the area, or events.
- Gather up plenty of photos. Images not only help the page perform better, but they make a page much richer in content. The more, the better.
- Link externally to other recommended resources about the town.
- Think like the searcher. Who is searching, and why? Can you answer their questions, or help them find what they're looking for?
Intro photo of Quincy Center, MA, by Todd Van Hoosear.