Last week we reported that Valemount will host the 2014 TransCanada Yellowhead Highway Association’s annual AGM and convention.

It’s got me thinking about the significance of the highway and how we relate to it as communities.

Given the millions of motorists that use the highway each year, it’s certainly an opportunity. But the highway is much like the Internet. You can have a website, but that doesn’t mean anyone will visit. One important factor on the web is search-engine optimization or SEO. I get emails from hopeful companies almost daily promising that they’ll boost our website’s search rankings. We need some good SEO for our villages – for highway traffic.

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Laura Keil

The key is not for people to know you exist – the key is to promise your visitors that this is something they’ve been looking for.

Our highway corridor signage is important – especially to make sure it’s not out of date. No one likes a 404 page. But how do we really sell ourselves to all those potential customers and visitors? What is it they’re looking for?

SEO analysis will tell you there are certain topics and themes that are always popular among the general population.

We’ve all had an experience where we were not planning to stop in a location, but saw a giant outdoor flea market and did a U-turn. Or ground the brakes for fresh peaches, or perhaps an artisan shop. These are random examples; the point is that we are all “looking” for interesting, unique or “locally authentic” experiences, whether we would admit it in the moment or not.

Another important measure of SEO is whether your site is linked or referenced by other sites – partnerships are important. Having fresh content (and a fresh look) also improves the time people will spend there and your ranking.

I won’t belabour this comparison any longer, but I will say this: improving our highway SEO will no doubt pay off. So let’s get linking.

Laura Keil