The Care and Proper Feeding of City Pages

Are you struggling to create city pages for your clients? It can be difficult to come up with any words of worth when you’re attempting to create content for the dozens of little towns—or even neighborhoods—your clients want to target.

However, this process can pretty much be boiled down to an easy formula which works every single time.

Step 1: Figure out what’s unique.

Every little town has its own character, and there are a lot of ways you can learn about it and express it. Wikipedia can offer you a nice launch point, giving you a broad overview of the location.

Checking City Data forums sometimes offer a few interesting nuggets of information as well. Just remember, everyone on City Data is posting an opinion, and some of those opinions are quite negative, which means you can’t use them. Always try to cross-check whatever people say there.

Google Maps can be your best friend. I like to Google the client’s address, then zoom in to see what’s nearby. I use whatever I can.

Parks, tourist attractions, shopping centers, acclaimed restaurants—any and all of it can be pretty useful. Even a kid’s baseball field is useful—I might put in some comment about how the client loves watching the Little League team out the window whenever it’s time for a work break.

This introduction only needs to be about 1-2 paragraphs long. If you’re struggling, try adding in some other little goodies. Maybe your client’s office is located in a historical building, which means you can talk about the history of the place a little more. Maybe the client did a good job of decorating the office in a way which reflects the local character. Maybe the client is in some really renowned and famous neighborhood. Do a little brainstorming and see what you can come up with.

Step 2: Look for the industry tie-in.

Now the trick is to find some local-specific information which has something to do with the business. I like different types of data, as the numbers may be similar, but never the same, within any given geographic area. Here are a few examples of tie-ins I’ve used in the past.

• Local precipitation data (for a gutter company).
• Climate and air quality data (for an HVAC company).
• Water hardness data (for a plumbing company).
• Local relaxation spots (for a spa).
• Local business services (for a court reporting/deposition firm).

Traffic, weather, local issues, building code requirements—it is all fair game. You’re looking for anything which might impact the customer while tying in to what the business actually does.

Ideally you’d choose two or even three of these statistics or conditions, then write a paragraph for each one. This is the real meat of the page, the place where it all becomes both relevant and useful.

Step 3: Add some driving directions.

Yeah, I know the reader will just plug the address into the GPS, but content is content, and nothing is more local than saying something like, “We’re just off I-20; take exit 7B. We’ll be on the right hand side of the road—if you hit the water park you’ve gone too far.”

This step is especially helpful if you were only able to find one relevant local tie-in (it happens, sometimes).

Step 4: Wrap it all up.

Usually you can just do this with a nice call-to-action. I like to work in the name of the city by saying something like, “We’re here for you, City Name.” Try to use some of the data you’ve collected in this final paragraph. You might say something like, “Call us if our city’s super hard water destroys your water heater—we’re here to help.” It’s just a nice way to get the customer back to the important business of contacting your client while pulling the entire document together in one nice, neat little package.

Does the formula ever fail?

I’ve been using this formula for about four or five years now, and I’ve never seen it fail. You can usually get anywhere from 300 to 700 words out of it, depending upon how much information is available about the city and how many local tie-ins you can come up with.

Once you’ve figured out the tie-ins it’s all a matter of presenting your data in a lively, interesting way. Formula or no formula, you still have to be creative when you’re writing city pages.

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