This is Part Two of a series on Starting a Hyperlocal Blog. Please visit that page for links to the full series of articles.
In Part One, we discussed the planning and strategy behind starting our hyperlocal blogs — primarily the decision to do four blogs instead of one. Though it would quadruple our workload, we believe it was the right road to take. With our decision made, it was time to get to work — time to set up each blog.
Before you can think about writing content, you have several important decisions to make. This is true for the one-blog hyperlocal blogger, but even more important for our situation. Here’s an overview of the steps we took on the way to creating four hyperlocal blogs.
Choosing a Local Blog Domain
Selecting a domain is always important, and I believe even more so in our situation. Should we use domains that help market the “McGee” name to boost Cari’s visibility? Should we use keyword-based domains that might appeal to the community more? We chose the latter:
Here’s why we chose the keyword-based domains that target our primary keywords: [richland real estate], [kennewick real estate], [pasco real estate], and [west richland real estate].
- Our target readership would identify much more easily with city-based domains than with McGee-based domains.
- We want the domain names to reflect the content. We’re not writing about “McGee” stuff, we’re writing about city stuff.
- With few other local blogs in our area, I assumed our blogs wouldn’t easily attract links. I wanted to make the most out of any links we get. Having the keyword in the name and URL should guarantee at least some good anchor text when we do get links.
I was able to score the .com domains for Richland, Kennewick, and West Richland. The Pasco .com domain originally belonged to someone in Florida (they have a Pasco County), but I was able to register it when they let it lapse.
As I mentioned in Planning a Hyperlocal Blog Strategy, there was never any thought given to hosting these blogs under different accounts or at different hosts. Our intentions are to build high-quality, individual destination blogs that should have no trouble surviving a manual review or attempt to classify this as a small network of blogs. While all four blogs link occasionally to Cari’s main real estate site, they very rarely link to each other. All four domains are currently hosted with the same company, in one account on the same IP range. I expect no problems with this.
If you clicked the links above, you saw that we’re using four different blog designs. Here’s why:
- If there’s any overlap in readers, we believe our audience would appreciate unique looks for the blogs.
- The four cities and their residents are all very unique and can be somewhat provincial, and some might be turned off if all four blogs looked the same.
- Four blogs with similar domains that cover material about nearby geographic areas could look spammy if they had the same design.
These are local blogs, and we’re hoping to appeal to a different demographic than I do here on HyperlocalBlogger.com, so there’s no need for huge RSS buttons, MyBlogLog widgets, and the other content widgets you often see on business blogs. These are hometown blogs. The designs are simple and there’s very little to distract readers from the content.
With our domains chosen, hosting in place, and design templates in order, the next step was to take the blog’s public. And to start focusing on local content….
Coming in Part Three: Content Development for Hyperlocal Blogs.