When voters search your name on the internet, what do they find? Are the results good, harmful, or just random? Whatever the case may be, as a political candidate, you can take control over search engine results and minimize or even eliminate unfavorable content.
Your online reputation is how you are perceived online. It’s what people are saying about you. And perhaps more importantly, it’s the personal information about you or your campaign that voters find online.
There are probably a few things about you right now that you don’t want a voter to see. There may be negative news articles, blog posts, or comments published about you that are less than complimentary to your candidacy.
You can influence search results rather than leaving it up to chance. The most straightforward strategy for dealing with online reputation management for politicians is to create new, positive information that ‘pushes down’ negative search results.
Sometimes your reputation is out of your control
Searching Google for that candidate pulled up his campaign website – along with news articles detailing an alleged murder that ‘he’ committed.
Except it wasn’t the candidate. It was someone else who shared the same name.
Another client shared the name of a former US President. There was no way he was going to get any of his material to appear for just a name search.
It took some work, but both clients were able to have their information appear for name + location and name + position searches.
Sometimes that’s as good as it gets.Local candidates can influence search results about themselves. http://ow.ly/xvCt30gB86M Click To Tweet
Ways to improve a political candidate’s online brand
Make a website for your campaign
One of the most effective strategies for managing your online presence is to create your own campaign website. The best part about having your own website is that you have complete control over your messaging. For online reputation purposes, the candidate’s name should be included in the domain name. Top search results often include domains that contain the search phrases.
Many online reputation firms recommend creating multiple, but unique websites. For example, you can create other sites focusing your business or profession. Those additional sites can show up on search results, especially if the domains contain a variant of your own name.
Create outside accounts and social media profiles
Social media profiles for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn often appear near the top of search results. The same goes for popular professional profile sites such as LinkedIn and AboutMe.
Get some positive news coverage
News outlets rank well online. Inform the media about your campaign launch and other major events. If you can, have them include a link to your campaign website in any articles that cover the election.
Create new content about yourself
Update your website with new material. Post and share content to your social media accounts. Do online interviews, press releases, video, and more. Work to build a good body of content that promotes your campaign and enhances your digital footprint. This is the material that will crowd out other, negative material.
Use links to build relevancy
Cross-link what you control. From your website, link out to your social media accounts, and have your social media accounts link back to your website. By linking to select outside material, this can influence what appears for specific searches. Link to stories that are favorable to you and unfavorable to your opposition.
Keep track of what people are saying about you. Social media monitoring refers to the process of tracking conversations and mentions related to a candidate, the issues, or the election across various social media platforms. You can set up tools like Google Alerts, Mention, or Talkwalker to monitor and provide alerts. Besides keeping tabs on your own name, be sure to monitor your opponents and news about important issues.
With today’s 24/7 news cycle, you never want to be caught surprised.
With some work, you can keep positive content appearing for related searches. If you can get negative material pushed down past the first page results, you’ve done a great job because three-quarters of people never look past the first page of search results.
Local elections can be won by building a good reputation, online and offline. That means politicians need to be visible and active in their community. They should make sure they are present in public places, attend community events and make themselves available for interviews. That is how voters get to really know the person on the ballot.
In politics, messaging matters. Take control of yours!
- Creating Your Online Identity – What information should you put about yourself online – and where should you put it? [Online Candidate Resources]
- 5 Things Candidates Should Never Do Online
- Monitoring Your Online Reputation
- SEO Strategies for Political Campaigns
For more online campaigning tips and strategies, check out our book, Running for Office as an Online Candidate.
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