After agreeing to take on a writing assignment regarding Oregon history, I happily settled down to do a little preliminary online research. Because some of the towns I needed to research were located in areas I was not completely familiar with, I was relying on their local websites to point me to what I needed to know.
Fat chance. One thing became obvious to me — nobody was thinking like a visitor when they set up their website. The thing that amazed me most is that so many history museums forget to post the TOWN they are in. The people offering the information forget the vast majority of website visitors may not already know that information.
While it may not be important to identify your location on your site, it is important to identify your location if your site is closely tied to your location.
If you are a shop owner and your site is dedicated to supporting your business, you better not just name the city but the state and possibly the country if you wish to be found. If you are a community blogger, we have to know which community you blog about. If you are a museum or government agency, as this blogger points out so eloquently, you better tell your online visitors exactly where you are and that you have information about the area.
The blogger known as Winquatt, goes on:
A person shouldn’t have to dig for the gold of knowing what town your museum is in, or better yet, the orientation within the larger geographic region and proximity to roads. And yes, I eventually found my confirmation that the museum is, indeed, in Eugene… a factoid I wouldn’t have been able to guess had I been a resident of another state or country.
I have a family history blog and my locations are represented by categories, the states and countries my ancestors lived in for an extended amount of time. Much genealogy research is location specific, so identifying that you are the Anderson family from Wisconsin and Washington, not the Anderson family from New Orleans, Chicago, Atlanta, or Tampa is very important as my family never lived in those locations. The where becomes very important in genealogy and family history blogging.
I grew up in Snohomish County of Washington State. I learned early that when you refer to Washington as a residence, you have to distinguish between the state and the capital. My childhood revolved around the cities of Everett and Marysville. Hitting the road early in life, I was stunned to find out that there is a Marysville in almost every state in the country. There are also some Everetts. Traveling with my father cross-country a few years ago, he loved to brag about all the exciting places we’d passed through: Jerusalem, Lebanon, Palestine, Rome, Paris…and we never left the United States. If you are blogging about Marysville, Jerusalem, Paris, or Lebanon, you better clarify which one.
Your blog exercise today is to check your site for a clear indicator of your location.
Again, only if it is critical to your site and the needs of your audience. If your blog topic is not location specific, it’s up to you to decide if that information is important. If it is, make it clear and visible. If it isn’t really, but you’d like people to know, put it in your bio on your About Page. Otherwise, don’t bother.
If your site represents a specific community, look around the site and design for how to clarify the location. Should it be in the blog name, the tagline, the sidebar, a purpose statement, a category, tag? Maybe it should be a graphic in the header art representing your community like a scenic or series of landmark images for the area.
On Musings of the History Queen, it is in her tagline “Celebrating life in Historic The Dalles.” I’d like to see her add Oregon to that tagline as she covers more than just the town along the Columbia River but also the surrounding Oregon and Washington State area. Maybe it should include Oregon and Washington. Whatever it takes to clarify and represent your subject matter.
Remember to include a hat tip link back to this post to create a trackback, or leave a properly formed link in the comments so participants can check out your blog exercise task.