Local Delicacy: The Best Ways to Make Your Website More Appealing to a Local Audience

web development tips

There’s being famous and then there’s being ‘famous’, or infamous, for the proper word. The person who first said that any kind of publicity is good publicity has clearly never met Martin Shkreli, a man so hated that his own lawyer once said that they felt like punching him in the face from time to time as well. Fame isn’t just fame; there are actually several different layers to the term fame itself that you might want to know about.

In another example, there’s the term famous and ‘locally famous’. KFC is famous, almost everyone around the world knows about it while a place like the Seven Seeds might only be known to those with a familiarity to Melbourne. On the outset, being locally famous might seem like the lesser outcome but for small, homegrown businesses, being known by people in a 10-mile radius is better than being known by people across the Pacific, which is why in terms of web development, increasing your website’s local appeal is preferable for small businesses.

Locally famous in a globalized world

Yes, I know that it sounds slightly oxymoronic but trying to appeal to the widest audience possible might not always be in your best interest. Anyone who serves food and or beverages would have no use in attracting customers from a thousand miles away and professional services such as in the legal and financial field wouldn’t work beyond borders since each state, not to mention country, has their own specific laws.

Sure, we’ve now come to a point where say, Indonesian boots maker can garner customers and a write-up from a New York-based publication or how going to Hong Kong just to have a custom suit made are now actually a thing but the fact remains that for the majority of small businesses today, it’s the people around you that’s the most important. Appealing to the local audience then, should be your goal and your website should always reflect this intent.

Think of this as the difference between running an ad in your local newspaper and starting a marketing campaign in YouTube. Yes, YouTube’s global reach means that you have the potential to reach a much wider audience but you’d also be jostling for attention against the millions of videos that are uploaded to YouTube every day. By contrast, a local newspaper would limit the competition to just a handful and while your audience will be considerably smaller, it doesn’t really matter as that’s the kind of audience you were trying to court in the first place.

Search engines as of now are automatically tailored to the location of the user. A user in Melbourne typing the word weather into Google would be presented with a different result compared to a user in Darwin for example. This rise of location-based technology, combined with the reasons mentioned above, is why making your website more appealing to a local audience should be a priority and here are some things you could do to achieve that.

Get to know your audience

Darwin’s tropical climate and their population of merely 150,000 would present a vastly different challenge than Melbourne’s four seasons and their 5 million citizens. Each region would have their own quirks, personalities and stereotypes. If you’re willing to go deeper into the various available demographics, you can start differentiating by gender, age, economic status and even political views. All of that is just a roundabout way of saying that when trying to attract a local audience, you have to be specific.

Get to know what’s currently trending in the city or which aspect of the city they actually like or any other information that might help you in courting them. You know the saying, when in Rome, do as the Romans do and to do that, you actually have to figure out what it is the Romans actually do in the first place.

Add a local flavor to your website

Before people get to see what’s written in your website, their eyes would usually gravitate around the images first so it might be a good idea for you to consider adding images that properly represents your city. A landmark such as Sydney’s Opera House might seem like a good option but that’s actually a very generic choice and is more representative of what outsiders think of when they hear the word Sydney. Instead, dive into the local scene and try to come up with an image that would imply an insider’s knowledge of a particular city.

One of the things that we’ve learned about the internet is that instead of acting as a place where different ideas and viewpoints are exchanged, it actually acts more like an echo chamber, where users seek out information that reinforces their existing views. In other words, familiarity is an appealing trait in the internet and by highlighting the fact that you and your audience share a similar place of origin and/or residence, you can use this sense of familiarity to your advantage.

Incorporate locally-relevant trends and/or topics around your content

Say your local sports team just won something or a local politician might be embroiled in a scandal, anytime anything interesting happened where you run your business, try to insert yourself into the conversation whenever appropriate. Include winking references to those events or if it’s possible, try to tie your business with those stories. If there’s nothing interesting going on around even talking about the weather might do, Lord knows how big of a deal the recent drought was in some parts of Australia.

Get together with other local businesses or sponsor local events

Technically, this advice doesn’t actually relate to your website but if you are collaborating with other local businesses or partaking in a local event, you can include that information in the homepage of your website as some sort of a badge of honor so I’m including this anyway. Now, this might seem small but by connecting your business to other local institutions, you are indirectly adding credibility to your website. They’re not as good as genuine reviews but I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I have more faith in businesses that are connected to others compared to those that seemingly exist in a vacuum.