Once you launch your political campaign website, you may begin to wonder, “How will people actually find my website?”
And if you have friends in marketing, you may hear that the answer is “SEO.”
This question about SEO for your campaign website underlines one of the most important differences between your campaign website and most other websites — especially retail websites.
But before I explain that difference and what, exactly, you should do for your campaign, let’s define SEO.
SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization. In short, SEO is the process of increasing the quantity and quality of visitors to your website. It’s a process that makes sure your site appears at the top of search engine rankings for words that you care about. (These are called keywords).
If you are a local baker, it’s worthwhile to make sure that your website appears in search rankings anytime someone in your city or community looks for “fresh bread” or “organic bread” or “homemade bread.”
SEO is not a switch that you turn on or off. It’s a process that requires refinement and constant attention over a sustained amount of time. Your SEO will change with every update to a search engine’s ranking policy.
The truth is that SEO is probably not something you need to consider for your campaign — unless you are running a well-funded statewide or national campaign. And even then there are caveats and other priorities that should come first.
There’s a long list of reasons why. At the top of the list is your timeframe. That local baker plans to be in business for years and has a long timeframe to get SEO just right. Your election campaign will likely be measured in weeks or months. It’s simply not enough time to reap the rewards from the investment required for ranking high on a search page.
Another reason to stop focusing on SEO is the brutal truth that most voters will not be looking for you. A political campaign requires a high level of direct voter contact. You will knock on their doors, call them on their phones and send them text messages or direct mail. SEO doesn’t help with any of these activities.
The small percentage of voters in your district who will use a search engine in your election will likely search for your name or the office you are seeking.
You do want to make sure you include your name (as it will appear on the ballot) and the office you are seeking on your website. We recommend including your full name (as it will appear on the ballot) in your domain name.
This one step is the best SEO trick you can do for your political website. When people search for your name, they will quickly find your campaign website.
At Engage Democrats, we submit every site we build to Google Search, Bing and Yahoo! — and that covers about 97% of all search activity in the U.S.
Your website typically will begin appearing in Google Search results within a week. But it can take 6 to 8 weeks to appear in all of the top search engines.
The honest answer to the question I posed at the start of this blog post, “How will voters actually find my website?” is not what some candidates want to hear.
The answer is that you will tell them. You will tell voters about your campaign, your values and your website.