Conducting SEO from So Far Away
I write a lot of localized content for a lot of different websites all over the US and several people ask me how can I write about a place if either I have never been there or don't live there. While I can't run down to the local market, coffee shop, or the newest restaurant in town and take pictures and interviews, I can get a pretty good sense of the area via variety of different online methods.
Before I begin to write about an area I want to engulf myself within that area and the best way to do that is by Google maps. I pinpoint the location that I'm going to be writing on and locate it in reference to other communities or larger cities nearby. It gives me a great idea of exactly how many miles a certain community or neighborhood is from downtown or any major city nearby. Plus, I can look at the satellite and even narrow it down to the street view as if I'm actually standing on the street in front of a neighborhood or a business. From here, pretty much the only thing I can't know about the area is the current climate and any sounds nearby such as a busy freeway or railroad. But I can guess just looking at the map how close to a major freeway, intersections, or major shopping areas a town, community, or neighborhood can be.
While this gives me a good idea of where I am geographically, I gain city stats and information from sites such as Wikipedia, city-data, Chamber of Commerce, Parks and Recreation websites, and local Facebook pages. All of these help me to gain insight on great restaurants, reviews of local businesses, festivals and events including calendar of events for a specific town, and photos. I don't steal the photos from public websites but it gives me a great idea as to what kind of photos I might use for a particular article. If I'm writing about a farmers market and I can't find a copy left version of a photo for that particular farmers market I will simply use a generic farmer’s market photo.
Of course, I always tell people that I cannot be them or write exactly the way they would write. They know their area better than I do. But I do a lot of writing for places like Fairbanks Alaska real estate as well as Orlando real estate, Washington DC homes and everywhere in between. Some of these places I've written for so long that I really do feel like I would be able to know my way around the town. It's actually fun to learn about all these different places that I have never been and it gives me great information to write an article, landing page, or blog post.