I’m pretty interested in pinball, and the pinball resurgence.  So I have a Google Alert set up, not surprisingly, for the keyword “pinball”.  I scan that for interesting results to share with my social audiences, such as the Google+ Pinball Enthusiasts Community I created.  This has led to an observation; local news sites are often behind the SEO times.  Understandably, they post content with a local audience in mind.  In many cases it’s just an online copy of news articles that ran in their newspaper or digest.  The boat many of them are missing, though, is that even though the original medium may have been audience-limited through a limited delivery area, once it hits the internet, any such limitations are gone. Through search results, their content can be found by people all over the world.

Here’s an example.  A new pinball venue opening up.  Exactly the kind of thing I want to share, exactly the kind of evidence that supports the pinball resurgence theory.  I click through:

 livingstondaily

 

Ok, good stuff!  For Facebook, I paste in the link, and then start typing, “Great news for pinball fans in…”  uh, where?  Green Oak?  No idea where that is.  Don’t even assume it’s in America, either, it could be the UK for all I know.  I next look at the url, Livingston Daily.  Well, I know there is a Livingston, Montana… but there are probably a lot of Livingstons in the country.  I dig into the article, looking for clues.  The caption says, “Robert Cross of Ann Arbor” and I do know Ann Arbor is in Michigan, but again, for all I know there could be more than one Ann Arbor.  Further down, “Green Oak Township” is mentioned, so ok, I look it up in Google Maps, and yes, this definitely seems to be Michigan.  So at last I am able to complete my Facebook post.

Not everyone is as motivated or tenacious as I was in that situation.  It got me thinking, so I went back and looked all over the page.  Nothing in the site navigation, header, or footer, gave any indication that Livingston Daily was a Michigan-based news site.  In fact, the only mention on the page of Michigan is through a third party, in a Career Builder ad:

 

michigan

 

As someone who cares about both SEO and the regional context of the article I’m reading, this vexes me.  It’s a very easy problem to solve, too, for the site itself.  All they need to do is add regional context to the header or footer.  Here’s an example of a site doing exactly that:

 

tribune-news

 

You don’t have to wonder where this one is based at all.  And even better, they included the state information in the article title.  That, too, is important, because an article may be re-posted, dispersed by the AP, or any number of other scenarios where any header/footer solution would not carry over.

The issue is that in a world where people tailor their own news feeds, you never know who will be reading your content.  And just because I don’t live in Michigan, doesn’t mean my pinball-specific social audience doesn’t contain any number of people who do.  And it’s entirely possible, those people may miss the original article, and get the link to this article through me. Don’t make me hunt so hard to provide details that may benefit YOUR community! Of the two examples above, the first one is by far the one I’m running into more frequently. And while the world may not be the intended audience for a small-town news outlet… the world doesn’t care. If you posted something with keywords people search for (and if you didn’t, don’t bother posting), people who care about that topic WILL find you.

And by the way, yeah… there are a LOT of Livingstons:

 livingston

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