What’s worse than a candidate not having a campaign website? It’s having a campaign website that no one can find! Some people do not have much web experience, and may build out their website pages in ways that hurt, rather than help their cause. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a way of building your website pages to make them more attractive to search engines and have them rank higher for related searches.

Here are some basic SEO tips when building out your website pages:

The page title is an important search engine ranking element. The primary keyword or phrase related to the page should be featured at least once in the page title.  For this reason, page title tags in your page HTML should clearly relate to their page. To ensure that your full title tag shows in Google search results, your title should be about 65 characters or less. You can create longer titles, but they may be truncated in the results.

The page title is displayed in the top border of the web browser when a visitor views your website. This serves as an anchor so that the visitor knows where he or she is on your website.  Most web browsers only display the first 95 characters of your title tag. For title tags longer than 95 characters, browsers will simply crop the tag.

Each page title should include the candidate’s name. Put the page type, such as Issues, Contact, Contribute at the front of the title, followed by a hyphen or delimiter of some sort.

Examples:

<title>John Smith for TinyTown, NY Supervisor</title>
<title>Issues | John Smith for TinyTown, NY Supervisor</title>

The description meta tag is what usually displays as a link description in the search engine results. Create individual meta descriptions for each page. This tag is intended to be a brief and concise summary of your page’s content. If you do not insert a description, the default description in the Site Setup will be used. One or two sentences is best. Anything longer will get truncated by the search engines.

Examples:

<meta name=”description” content=”On November 5th, vote John Smith for TinyTown Supervisor. Principled, effective leadership.” />
<meta name=”description” content=”John Smith is ready to tackle the big issues facing TinyTown. Learn more about John Smith’s campaign platform.” />

The meta keyword is, for the most part, useless. Google claims it does not use it in its’ ranking algorithm, and other search engines give it little weight. If you decide to use this meta on your pages, do it properly. Use keywords that are focused specifically for that page. Limit your keywords or keyword phrases to less than five, and be sure that each of the keywords appear somewhere in the copy of the page.

Examples:

<meta name=”keywords” content=”John Smith, TinyTown Supervisor, election” />
<meta name=”keywords” content=”TinyTown traffic, traffic problem, John Smith, state funding” />

Finally, your pages should contain the critical text necessary for the search engines (and site visitors) to know who you are and what you are running for. This information includes your full location (including state),  primary or election date, contact information and any appropriate disclaimers.

With a little work, a little SEO strategy in your political campaign website will go a long way to attract more traffic. That means more people to see your message – and potential volunteers and donors!

The Online Candidate website system is easy-to-use and SEO-optimized to help your site appear in the search engines. Need more advanced help? We also provide political SEO and web marketing consulting services

   By Shane Daley