Hyperlocal sites across the British Isles are using their Google juice to help define the area in the face of a bad reputation in the traditional media. When people want to find out about an area they search for it online – they don’t pick up the Radio Times or turn on the news. Hyperlocal sites quickly rise up Google and often do better in search than TV and print media – allowing people who live in an area to define it to the world, not salacious commentators…
Today I came across the post Drimnagh featured on TV3 documentary for all the wrong reasons by Pauline Sargent on Drimnagh is Good. The Herald.ie article the post quotes and the comments left in response to it express frustration that yet again Drimnagh and Crumlin were being linked to drugs and crime and generally portrayed in a very negative light by the traditional media. Brian comments that:
Drimnagh/Crumlin, in my opinion, is now going through a…process of â€œstereotypingâ€ by the media. Don’t let them win; use all the resources at your disposal to fight back! Show them that the decent people of Drimnagh/Crumlin have no truck with the criminal scum who drag the name of your community through the mud!
These days, one of the best ways to ‘fight back’ against negative stereotyping of an area is to do what Pauline Sargent has done for Drimnagh – create and develop a simple hyperlocal website that presents a more balanced picture to the world and watch it rise up the Google rankings.
When someone wants to find out a bit more than they know about a subject or area (like Drimnagh), they don’t go to TV3, they Google it. Above are the results for a clean Google search for ‘Drimnagh’. Drimnagh is Good, a positive voice that celebrates the area, comes fifth – no mean feat considering it’s just eight months old.
Taking a closer look, I can see it comes underneath the Wikipedia entry (in which Drimnagh is Good is listed under External Links), the local church site drimnaghparish.com and then it’s a Google Map of Drimnagh and the dublin.ie Neighbourhoods Page, both of which are obviously not ‘of Drimnagh’. Quickly scanning the Google results, Drimnagh is Good seems to be the first website that appears that’s from and about the Drimnagh area.
So although Pauline is understandably frustrated when things like the TV3 gangs documentary come out, by taking hold of the online presence of Drimnagh and portraying it in a completely different way (highlighting the positive and celebrating it) she is making a massive difference to how Drimnagh is perceived. Pauline has created a website that essentially defines Drimnagh online and will be many people’s first introduction to the area.
I found this to be an unexpected by-product of Digbeth is Good, a community site I manage for my neck of the woods in Birmingham. As I saw it creep up the Google rankings and spoke to more people who’d found me and the website that way, I realised I could use it to show what makes Digbeth brilliant to the outside world and hopefully entice a few more people into the area.
Many other hyperlocal websites such as Parwich.org, Kings Cross Environments, Bournville Village and the brilliantly titled Birmingham it’s Not Sh*t have similarly high Google rankings for searches of their areas and the power of influence over external perceptions that comes with that. That Birmingham it’s Not Sh*t have harnessed this for the UK’s second largest city is particularly impressive.
Of course, these independent voices of an area that emerge online like this are not always overwhealmingly positive and can have the opposite effect to the likes of Drimnagh is Good, painting a bleak picture to newcomers. I’ve never visited Corby and after watching Graham Williams’ brilliant yet brutal film ‘Corby, Welcome to Hell‘ (which comes third in a YouTube search) I’m really not sure I want to.
How to fully realise the potential of the power that independent websites gain to define their areas online when they Google up well like this I’m not sure, but that power is there for the taking.