Last Updated on August 16, 2022 by Jeremy
Since founding my Pittsburgh blog in 2015, my overall strategy was a very broad “do everything and write about it“.
For the first seven years, we put in a pretty solid effort and visited over 1,100 unique attractions/events/restaurants/etc. in the region. But after a while, it felt like our strategy was having less and less of a return for annual growth.
Part of this was simply because we had visited most of the big ticket attractions in the city, such that most of the places we were visiting were small and obscure spots with limited traffic potential. The other part was that I simply stopped putting effort into writing cornerstone pieces that are much bigger hitters with regards to keyword volumes and/or viral potential on social media.
So I took a break for a little bit and brainstormed all the ideas I could think of where we could repurpose existing content and create killer, themed articles with higher traffic potential. These, coupled with existing cornerstone/skyscraper articles on our site that we've published in the past, ended up totaling well over 100 ideas, and many were new for us to publish moving forward.
So in this one, I thought I'd share some of the best ones to help inspire some ideas for your own local blog!
Note: For purposes of this discussion, “[destination]” will be used as a generic placeholder for you to replace with your city, region, state, country, or other geographical areas. These are not intended to be exact keyword matches (research the best ones on Keysearch!), but more to inspire ideas outright. Other uses of brackets imply flexibility on specific items and examples will be provided for clairty.
Roundups vs Focused Articles
Before getting into things, I wanted to have a brief discussion on the difference between publishing roundups/cornerstone articles (e.g. things to do in [destination]) versus publishing a very specific article on a single topic (e.g. [museum] review).
To me, a good local blog has both.
Focused articles on a single topic may not have the largest search volume out there, and may not even have the highest reader intent, but it helps showcase your expertise in the topic with first-hand tips and advice.
Individual articles like these are for very focused users who want the fine details on a specific attraction, museum, restaurant, or brewery. These articles are your chance to show that you know what you're talking about and have actually visited a place outright. Whether they can receive 10 or 10,000 page views per month is a bit immaterial as it is all part of brand and authority building.
Roundup articles on broad topics, like the ones we're going to feature in this guide, are often used as a discovery tool for broad themes (e.g. tacos in [destination]). The pitfall a lot of these roundups have is that everyone does them, and it is very easy to tell when someone is simply lifting content from others via a Google search over actually having visited for themselves (i.e. providing a value-added article).
When these are done well, they can rank for very lucrative keywords in Google, simply go nuts if you have a strong social media community, and can house many, many ads or affiliate links for revenue purposes (some of our most popular roundups regularly break $100 RPM on Mediavine purely due to their absurd length built up over time). When these are done poorly they can contain outdated information, feature spots that have closed years ago, and hurt your credibility significantly (so take this as a reminder about the importance of keeping articles up-to-date).
Personally, I believe you need both types of articles on a local blog because focused articles can link to roundups, and roundups can feed into individual reviews for those who care to read more. This also allows for a lot more keyword interlinking for search engines to discover as well. Our best restaurants in Pittsburgh post, for example, often hits around three pages per visit simply because we link to hundreds of restaurant reviews within the article and regularly generate $500-$1,000/month in ad revenue passively. Without those extra pages per visit, our earnings would be less than half that.
Likewise, if you personally visit all the cool spots for your local blog for focused articles, once you have visited hundreds or 1,000+ like we have, publishing a wealth of these roundups becomes incredibly easy- it is just repurposing content at that point to package it to a different user intent!
It is also worth noting that some roundups lend themselves to being comprehensive (think extremely difficult terms like “restaurants in [destination]” or “things to do in [destination]”), whereas others you may still be able to create great content on 7, 10, or 15 things within a theme (“bachelor parties in [destination]”, “things to do with kids in [destination]”). In the former, we just add to the lists as we find new spots. In the latter, we curate a handful of epic recommendations and let that be that.
So if you have a local blog and need some ideas to do the same, let's roll into some of our favorite ideas to get you started.
- Things to do in [destination]
- Things to do in [destination] with kids*
- Free things to do in [destination]*
- Things to do in [destination] after midnight*
- Things to do in [destination] when drunk*
- Hotels in [destination]
- Hotels in [destination] near [attraction]*
- Airbnb in [destination]
- Cabins in [destination]
- Parks in [destination]
- Bike trails in [destination]
- Underrated trails in [destination]
- Museums in [destination]
- Unusual museums in [destination]
- Walking tour of [destination]
- Bucket list attractions in [destination]
- Houses to visit in [destination]
- Streets to visit in [destination]
- Concert venues in [destination]
- Performing arts venues in [destination]
- Sports teams/venues in [destination]
- Sports leagues in [destination]
- Specialty stores in [destination]
- Antique stores in [destination]
- Murals in [destination]
- Walkable neighborhoods in [destination]
- [Pinball/Arcade] in [destination]
- Classes in [destination]
- [Date night] ideas in [destination]
- [Bachelor/Bachelorette] party ideas in [destination]
- [Our] favorite spots in [destination]
*Note: We always try and be a bit creative with our keyword usage. We generally operate under the assumption that one keyword should only be associated with one article (e.g. “things to do in [destination] should only be used in one article). So while we have many ideas for alternatives, such as with kids, free things, etc. you may want to be wary of abusing “things to do” in a context like this.
- [Theme] weekend guide in [destination]
- Where to watch fireworks in [destination]
- Best skyline views in [destination]
- Most Instagrammable spots in [destination]
- Best cafes to work in [destination]
- [Neighborhood guides] in [destination]
- Where to stay in [destination]
- Waterfalls near [destination]
- Famous graves in [destination]
- Battlefields in [destination]
- [Popular Item] history spots in [destination]
- Books about [destination]
- Movies filmed in [destination]
- Webcams in [destination]
- Best restaurants in [destination]
- Bakeries in [destination]
- Famous [destination] food
- Food trucks in [destination]
- [Destination] food institutions
- BYOB places in [destination]
- Ice cream shops in [destination]
- Coffee shops in [destination]
- Pizza in [destination]
- Barbecue in [destination]
- Burgers in [destination]
- [Sandwiches, e.g. Reuben] in [destination]
- Tacos in [destination]
- Sushi in [destination]
- Chicken wings in [destination]
- [Other locally popular food type, e.g. Lobster Rolls] in [destination, e.g. Maine]
- Diners in [destination]
- [Breakfast/Brunch] in [destination]
- [Vegan/Vegetarian] in [destination]
- Restaurants open on [holiday]
- Breweries in [destination]
- Breweries from a bike trail in [destination]
- Cocktail bars in [destination]
- Wineries in [destination]
- Distilleries in [destination]
- Wine bars in [destination]
- Dive bars in [destination]
- Unusual bars in [destination]
- Rooftop bars in [destination]
- Happy hours in [destination]
- Non-alcoholic options in [destination]
- [Theme, e.g. holiday] popup bars in [destination]
Events and Seasonal Ideas
- [Theme, e.g. food, music, beer] Festivals in [destination]
- Events in [destination]
- [Flower, e.g. sunflower] fields in [destination]
- Farmers' markets in [destination]
- [Destination] picnic spots
- [Season] activities near [destination] – One per season
- [Monthly] activities near [destination] – One per month
- Where to watch [sports team] in [destination]
- Outdoor patios in [destination]
- [Heated Patios/Igloos] in [destination]
- Fall colors near [destination]
- Haunted houses in [destination]
- Spooky spots in [destination]
- Christmas in [destination]
- Buy Christmas trees in [destination]
- Christmas lights near [destination]
- Christmas markets near [destination]
- [Ski resorts/tubing] near [destination]
People / Historical Events
- Famous people from [destination]
- [Local personalities e.g. Instagrammers, photographers, podcasters, etc.] in [Destination]
- [Destination] [inventions / historical] firsts
- Birthday freebies in [destination]
Get Out of Town
- Direct flights from [destination]
- Day trips from [destination]
- Weekend trips from [destination]
Phew, that was a lot. But with the above, you now have a great blueprint for starting your own local blog as not only are these all great roundup topic ideas, you now have opened up a wealth of ideas of new places to explore yourself for more focused articles as well.
Depending on your geographical area (city vs state vs country), you may be able to roll out many articles on any given topic too for things like individual neighborhoods (in a city blog), cities (in a state or country blog), different angles by seasons, price ranges, and more!
Suffice it to say, you now have many months (read: years) of work ahead of you now to really thrive with your destination site!
Is there a local blogging topic we missed that does well for your site? Comment below to let us know!
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