DM industry has search tips for Presidential hopefuls

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With the presidential primaries in high gear, voters are turning to the Web to learn more about the various candi­dates. However, recent evaluations of the candidates' Web sites reveal that many presidential hopefuls are falling short when it comes to executing good search tactics.

For the most part, candidates have failed to implement simple, on-site search engine optimization practices, ac­cording to Herndon Hasty, an account manager at Range Online Media, an in­teractive marketing agency.

In particular, Hasty noted that the major candidates are not optimizing for specific key terms that voters are searching for. Just as unclear product descriptions or “market speak” rarely drives traffic toe-commerce sites, candidates need to sell their platforms in the language used by voters. By using vague political language and poor on-page SEO, these candidates are really missing out on the opportunity to own an issue, Hasty said.

And, according to Janel Landis, senior director of search development and strat­egy at SendTec, many of the major can­didates are not using paid search to their best advantage in order to drive traffic to their sites. “A huge portion of Internet us­ers aren't being reached,” she said.

Landis said she found it “shocking” that none of the candidates appeared to be bidding on issues like “war in Iraq” or “healthcare reform.” Search marketers often bid on issues or tasks related to a product or service in order to attract con­sumers who might not otherwise be look­ing for them. For example, a recent search for “healthy eating” on Google, yielded a paid search link to WeightWatchers.com.

By applying similar paid search tactics with issues — as opposed to products — candidates could attract more visitors to their sites. Paid search is a great way to communicate to voters, Landis said.

Further, only a few of the candidates had taken advantage of paid search by bidding on their competitors' names. One exception is Rudy Giuliani, who has been running ads for everyone's name, said Michael Jensen, the co-founder of SoloSEO.com.

On the positive side, candidates on both sides of the aisle have a huge number of inbound links coming into their sites, which is a priceless way to drive natural search traffic and search engine results page placement.

“That will pump out the rankings and presence of any terms that they've opti­mized on the site,” Hasty said.

The good news? All of the candidates have been effectively utilizing social net­working sites, according to Landis.

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