Get a bumper sticker (or make one)

Local Resolutions Part 25 of 29

This is the twenty-fifth in a series of 29 ways to help your local community online in 2010. If you missed it, you may wish to read the introductory post.

In this post, I suggest that earning yourself a snazzy Lancaster city bumper sticker is a great way to help strengthen your community while you’re online. This series has included recent posts about sharing the link love, inspiring others to buy local, and making a list.

Today’s opportunity is something of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

That is, it’s something you can do online because I’m saying here that it’s something you can do online.

Do you love being a Lancaster city resident? If so, this is your opportunity to

Show your local pride with a bumper sticker

Through a strange course of events, I have come into possession of the last known stash of “I ♥ City Life” bumper stickers for Lancaster, PA.

I heart city life - Lancaster, PennsylvaniaAnd what better time to display a bright, crisp new glee-clubish bumper sticker than right now, when your Obama/McCain one is faded and ready to fall off, and before you slap on a “Die, Specter, Die” or “Toomey is not cool To Me” one.

“How do I get such a thing from behind the comfort of my keyboard?” you may ask. All you have to do is put into practice two ideas from this series and tell me about it, and I’ll get one to you. I’ll hand it to you in person, or mail it to you, or stick it on your bumper myself. Whatever works.

To all you haters out there who are too good for the “I Love City Life” bumper stickers, I issue this alternate challenge of a resolution:

Design your own bit of local pride propoganda

Make your own bumper sticker, T-shirt, or lunch pail, and put it up for sale, or find a way to give them away.

Bonus points if what you create has some sort of Web address on it, just to keep this whole thing coming back full circle to helping our local community while online.

Share the link love

Local Resolutions Part 24 of 29

This is the twenty-fourth in a series of 29 ways to help your local community online in 2010. If you missed it, you may wish to read the introductory post.

In this post, I suggest that purposefully creating good links to local sites is a great way to help strengthen your community while you’re online. This series has included recent posts about making a list, leaving comments on local blogs, and reviewing local restaurants and service providers.

Today’s resolution requires a more technical background than most have so far. That’s because it delves into the freaky world of…

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

In a sense, what I am suggesting today is to help make Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines smarter and more accurate for your local community.

In an overly basic (and somewhat inaccurate) sense, search engines view links you create to other sites as a vote of confidence in them. For instance, if right now I link to Social Mention, Google will very soon see that link and say, “Hey, someone cares about Social Mention enough to link to it. Maybe it’s a legitimate site.” The more votes (links), the better.

What’s more, search engines look at the actual words you turn into an active link (called anchor text) for information about what’s on the other end. That’s why you’ll often see me link like this:

instead of like this:

  • I use a free online white noise generator called Simply Noise.

Google already knows that is about “Simply Noise.” What it needs my help on is figuring out that it’s more importantly a “white noise generator.”

This is why making links out of the words “click here” is such a horrible practice. The site you are linking to is not about “click here.” It’s about mutant bunnies or how to write backwards or the lost version of the Constitution. It’s not about click here.

It gets a lot more complicated than that. If you’d like an introduction, check out Aaron Wall’s SEO knol.

All of this is background on what is involved in today’s suggested resolution:

Give good links to your neighbors

It’s good to link to websites by other people in your community. It’s great to link really well to websites by other people in your community.

If you have a blog (and why not, with Posterous giving you a free blog with no setup that you can update by e-mail) or other website, here are a few guidelines and suggestions:

  • Give good anchor text. I appreciate links to Daniel Klotz; I go crazy for links to things like Daniel Klotz’s blog on ideas in Lancaster, PA. Lancaster Dispensing Company is OK; the great Victorian-style bar in Lancaster is better.
  • Your blog roll may not be helping anyone much. If you have a blogroll that appears in the sidebar of every page on your site, those links are called run-of site links, and Google generally doesn’t like them. It’s much better to link to other sites you love from within the context of blog posts or pages about the same subjects as those sites. If you want to keep a blogroll list (as I do), you may want to move the links from you sidebar to its own blogroll page.
  • Be choosy. By including only a few key links in any single blog entry or any one webpage, the links mean more.
  • Don’t forget yourself. Linking to other pages on your own site is also helpful to search engines as they try to understand how your site is set up.

If you do not have your own blog or website, by all means share links on Facebook or Twitter, by e-mail, or in online forums (if you still use such things). That is every bit as helpful as linking from your own site, though in different ways. Links to other local people’s site are also wonderful as source citations in Yahoo Answers. And, don’t forget to capture content you love with social bookmarking tools like Reddit, Delicious, and Digg.

Search engine optimizers, what did I leave out that you would consider important?

Link spreaders, what other techniques do you use to share the love?