This post is less about local search, and more about local sites, but of course, they do go hand in hand. The last few days I was in the midst of Hurricane Gustav. I live 60 miles north of New Orleans. I chose to stay, mainly because it would have been too much of a hassle to pack up the 4 dogs, 1 cat, and 1 bird. We would have evacuated if it had been mandatory for our area or if Gustav hadn't weakened as it got closer, but since it did and because it wasn't mandatory for my area, we decided to stay. What does all that have to do with local sites? Hang in there and you'll see.
I live in the country, so the only "high speed" net access I have is via satellite. Let me tell you - satellite sucks; high speed really means not quite low speed, and if it rains, you're out of luck. Astonishingly, though, despite the hurricane and all the associated rain, I *did* have an internet connection some of the time. And during that time, I was looking for hurricane information for MY area.
You see, the media has only one focus - large, metropolitan areas - because the threat of mass extinction is just irresistible I guess. So, if you don't live in New Orleans, but you are in the same hurricane path as the city is, then you will be ignored by media. You will almost certainly get nearly no information about your local area. Once every few hours, you may get a 10 second mention, and you'd better hope you were listening/watching at that precise moment. And you'll just have to trust me on this one - during a hurricane - what happens in one place is usually VERY DIFFERENT than what happens in another place just an hour or so away. So knowing what is happening in New Orleans is USELESS information much of the time for folks like me who live close...but not real close.
So, I turned to the Internet in hopes of finding out better information for my particular local area. I immediately went to weather.com. That site was mostly useless. If I lived in another part of the country, and just wanted a quick 2-second glimpse of what was going on in Gustav's path, it would be sufficient. But the "generalness" of it all made it useless to anyone in the affected areas.
Eventually, I discovered that the local TV stations' associated web sites were the best source of information. In particular, I spent most of my time at the New Orleans NBC station, WDSU. Although its TV station was mostly focused on New Orleans proper, the site itself did a halfway decent job of including surrounding areas. It's interactive radar screen is the best I've seen anywhere. The details and interactivity for local regions is amazing. I spent a fair amount of time there. In addition, the home page has links to surrounding parishes (parishes are the same as counties for all you non-Louisianians). I was able to click on my parish (Washington), and get right to the social network-type page for my area. In fact, if you go there right now, you'll see my comments on that page.
That's the kind of local interaction that is VITAL at times. Big media, and big, mainstream web sites very often fail a large portion of an affected area's population. I understand why they do it, but a FAIL is still a FAIL. When someone gets it right, it needs to be applauded and a shout out given. So that's what I'm doing right here, right now. This is a shout out to a web site (WDSU) that did some things right. It could still be improved - but it was a lot better than so many others that completely ignored the hundreds of thousands (or more) people affected by the storm who DON'T live in New Orleans.
If you have a site that does local well, make sure the people who can most use it, knows about it. That's what my message is really all about. If I hadn't been told by someone about the WDSU site, I wouldn't have known about it - and I would have missed out on information I needed to have.
If your site is local...socialize it, get into all the local directories, optimize for local search, and get it known! Some people's lives might even depend upon it.
8 thoughts on “The Importance of Local”
Donna, interesting and very important point. With the availability of social media tools and technology it would seem even easier for big media to offer specific,local information. It’s interesting that I often get things on Twitter long before it hits the media. I am glad that WDSU got it right. When it comes to natural disasters, local information can be life saving. I hope that the media improves upon this offering.
I’m glad to see you made out alright. I thought about the same issue as the storm was passing thru, what did people do even 20 years ago to find out what was happening. I give a lot of credit to the local TV stations here in Lafayette as well as in the New Orleans area for relaying information on the “smaller” areas being affected by Gustav. Hopefully the areas/stations that did not provide this information take note and do the same next time.
Nice post, Donna. Of course it grabbed my attention. The comments on the site were extremely interesting and revealing. Absolutely a great resource for local folks within an emergency with tremendous udates and links to other sources of vital and important local information. Makes me think with regard to a phenomena currently being called “hyperlocal.”
I like watching local TV news in the morning. I never go to the local websites for local info. I might change that after reading this post.
Very glad to hear you got through the storm, okay.
The situation you are describing cries out for a skilled hyperlocal blogger in your town. One that goes far enough to make connections with media so that they have access to really up-to-date information regarding emergencies like the hurricane (or who at least has done enough research to have found the TV station you found).
This was a great blog post. I will sphinn it. I will also plead with you to become your town’s top hyperlocal blogger, Donna! Could they get anyone better? I don’t think so.
I’m so glad you’re okay. I am still waiting around in hopes of an update from Will Scott in New Orleans. Hoping he’s okay, too.
I’m betting Will is fine. But he’s probably evacuated somewhere and/or has no electricity. Would be great to hear from him though.
Oh Miriam, I’m not sure I have the time to add hyperlocal blogger to my todo list. I could probably find a few people who do have the time, however, and would make great bloggers. I may approach a few people I know about that. Good idea!
And this leads me to Twitter… Those of us who follow you on Twitter wondered how you were doing. Local news of what was really happening in Louisiana was found on Twitter by those who chose to stay and tweet out the storm.
I live in the Sacramento area in California. I found a similar need/desire for websites to optimize for local search during the unprecedented fire season. For almost 4 days, we couldn’t see the sky. It was dismal and ominous and difficult to find information. Fortunately, some local news stations are using Twitter, and this is where I received the latest info.
Twitter should not be a replacement for local SEO, however. I mention it, because the service has become an alternative news source that is filling the SEO gap.
Glad you are well, safe and powered up again!
I think neworleans.com is doing a great job; it is a little overwhelming but the coverage is substantial! Their events calendar is exceptional http://events.neworleans.com/ and the weather, to this topic, seems excellent. Though have I noticed why? They’re outsourcing all of that to better providers. A great opportunity to promote local businesses? If the site is powered by something else, its like getting in Google to take care of AOL too.
The importance of local websites matters, if we say you put adsense in your website and adsense is showing ad of your local website, now think what if you directly contact that website and put ad on your site. the earning level will be upto 50 times. further more there is more chance you’ll get high profitable affiliate programs.
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