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CitySmart Blog

Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Victoria Boyko, Software Development Consultant

Victoria BoykoLike the tree in the proverbial forest that no one hears when it falls, do you think that anyone “hears” your city website in a forest of internet information? In many cases, probably not. That’s unfortunate because city websites already have a few advantages that other businesses and organizations would love to have.

  • City websites are highly trusted.
  • People will search for information on your website. You’ve already got a ready audience of hundreds or thousands of people.
  • People often need your information such as news, event postings, city council minutes, or services. You’ve already got demand for your information.

Yet, many city websites seem nonexistent and disappear on the internet when people search for them. Remember that most people will look for your website on a search engine such as Google or Bing. To show up on the first page of search results, your website must follow a few best practices and show constant activity to prove to these search engines that your website is trusted, useful, and relevant.

How can your city website emerge from the internet forest? Here are a few tips.

1. Share a link to your website with reputable organizations.

Because you are a city, many organizations want to link to your website. If people are researching for city-related information on another website, then you want your city’s website listed there to help people find you. Examples of websites where you want your city’s website listed are:

If there isn’t a self-service feature to upload your own website link, then reach out to the organization and ask if you can provide a link to your city’s website. Many of these organizations will be more than happy to oblige. Make sure you focus on reputable websites. Don’t reach out to sketchy, suspicious, or little-used websites and online directories that may harm rather than help you.

2. Share links to timely and interesting city information on social media.

Facebook. Twitter. YouTube. Use them if you can. Many of your citizens and other people interested in your city use these social media sites all the time. Share timely information such as emergency alerts, news, press releases, events, and photos. Any urgent or newsworthy information will be useful to people and they are likely to share it.

When people share your links on social media, it helps your website feature more prominently on search engines. Don’t be afraid to ask people to share posts on social media by including a “call to action” (such as “Tell a friend!”).

3. Share your website link with newspapers and magazines when they write up stories about you.

Another advantage for cities is that they are automatically of interest to media. When newspapers, magazines, and industry publications report on news or write up stories about you, make sure you provide your website link for them to feature on their websites. Media outlets are usually highly reputable sources on the internet. When reputable media publications link to your website, the search engines will see it as a sign to display your website higher up in search results.

4. Link to other websites on your city’s website.

To get links, you must give links. If there are pages on your website where it would be useful to provide links to other websites, then do it. For example, you might provide links to tourist attractions or websites that help people find jobs. Linking to another organization’s website makes it more likely that they will reciprocate and link back to you. However, don’t abuse the sharing of links. Make sure each link provides useful information to people.

5. Produce regular, timely, useful content on your website.

Search engines don’t like dead or stagnant websites. Those kinds of websites disappear in search results. That’s because Google or Bing considers those websites as not useful or vital—rather like an abandoned house. If you want people to find and link to your website, then you need to provide a stream of timely, useful content for people. That can help supply your social media feeds with new information and keeps people coming back to your website in anticipation of new content.

Start with these five tips and you will begin to see your city’s website rise in visibility on search engines, social media, and other organization’s websites. This process can take a while but the steady investment of time is worth it. After all, you want your website to be seen. These tips will help you make it happen.

Questions about getting your city website more visible and out there in the world? Reach out to us today.