Friday, May 09, 2008
The first place to start would have to be Google. The good news for both candidates is that when I typed in "Barack" or "Hillary"... two generic words, with the second more likely to be pervasive on the world wide web, pay-per-click ads appeared for each candidate's website. The same is true when their full names were entered.
In my opinion, this is indicative of expert ppc management. This technique is used by experienced internet marketers who buy keyword phrases that are based on Brand name or Product name. What's more, both keyword ads when clicked land to specially designed landing pages. Barack's page asks you to sign up for support and Hillary's asks for a donation. I'm sure that the individuals managing their online campaigns are continually rotating and testing the conversion rates on each of these campaigns. Consider the same strategy for optimizing your Internet marketing.
Okay, so what about SEO? How would I rate Hillary Clinton's website, search results, and overall optimization? How about Barack Obama? I took a look at each of their websites and here's my quick assessment. This aspect of the campaign is one of the most important as this year's election will be won or lost online:
1. When typing in "Hillary Clinton" into Google, Google news comes up first. This is typical in a political or news centered event. HillaryClinton.com is the first result after that. Now you might say, "Well of course she'll come up first. How many other individuals or websites have that name?" and you'd be correct. So lets see where she ranks for important keyword phrases associated with the election?
2. Top rankings on Google for Hillary. I see 717 keyword phrases that Hillary ranks within the top 20 for on Google. Trust me when I say, "That's a lot". Although, many of the sites' link text contain the work Hillary - even the most heavily weighted ones. That said, Hillary does have the #1 ranking for "campaign" which is probably one of the more important keywords related to the 2008 election.
3. In comparison, Barack only ranks in the top 20 for 201 keywords. Yes, I would also say that's a lot as well and many of his top ranking terms include the keywords of "Barack" or "Obama". Other keywords include "president" but many contain Obama as part of the link text.
My summation is that Hillary is outranking Barack from a search engine optimization perspective. That means that she is better positioned from an SEO perspective (keyword breadth and results).
Lastly, if I look at a back link checker for HillaryClinton.com, I notice more than 167,000 inbound links to the website according to Google - a huge number. In comparison I see Barack with over 200,000 in-bound links. With only a cursory glance, looks like Barack is getting more coverage via more links. Again, we would need to take a closer look at the quality of these links (PR value of sites linking in), and perhaps I'll do that in another campaign marketing post, but from a direct perspective, more websites are pointing to Barack's site than Hillary's.
So what does all this mean? Without further analysis its hard to say. We would really need to go beyond search engine results to better understand the contribution of online placements. And that would extend beyond traditional online media to include social media such as bookmarking, youtube, facebook, and so on. Not to worry though. Regardless of political preference, both candidates are smart enough to know that this nomination is going to be won by where they place online.. not just in the polls.