With platforms like Squarespace and WordPress, it’s become pretty easy for campaigns to set up their political campaign websites. That being said, now that the average joe can build a website without a backend developer, it’s now harder for a website to be seen via organic search.
Get Your Political Campaign Website Seen with SEO
Simply put, there’s a lot of crap out there that your site is competing with. Luckily, you don’t have to be a genius to get your political campaign website seen, you just have to know what to do. Below are three ways you can increase website traffic to your political campaign website:
Pick a Design With Fast Loading Speeds
Before you make your political campaign website, think strategically about your website design. One of the things that affect the health rank of your site, which, in turn, affects your website traffic is the loading speed of your web pages. For instance, websites with large images or video will take longer to load and this leads to poorer user experience. Let’s face it, no one likes a slow website, not even you. The average website loads in 2-5 seconds. Don’t lose out on voters/constituents heading to your site because of slow speeds.
Now that you know how critical loading speeds are, you must think strategically about what you want to include on your political campaign website. It’s no surprise that video slows down the speed of your website, so utilize these sparingly. Perhaps instead of having three photos of your candidate at the local barbeque, you only include one and you put the other photos on your campaign’s social media accounts.
Takeaway: it’s important not to use your website as a photo or video library, because it will slow down your website.
Ensure Your Website Has Quality Content
One of the biggest mistakes campaigns make is just throwing up copy onto a website without thinking about word choice. The purpose of the copy on your site is to bring people who are interested in learning more about your candidate (e.g. the issues they care about, their background) to the site.
Question: “How do people find your site?” Answer: “Keywords!”
Keywords are what you include in your copy to help people find you. Keywords are words or phrases that a user types into a search engine to find what they are looking for. For example, keywords that you might want your political campaign website to rank for include the name of the candidate and the office they’re running for. (e.g. Barack Obama, President of the United States). You can also use a free tool like UberSuggest to help you determine how often the keyword is searched and how hard it is to rank for the keyword. Ideally, you want to look for keywords that have high search volume and are easy to rank for. A general rule of thumb: Shorter keywords are easier to incorporate into text and are often searched for more frequently (e.g. Barack Obama), but they are generally harder to rank for because many other sites are using the same keyword. If your keyword is a longer phrase, you will be able to target more of a niche market and have a better shot at appearing higher on the results list (e.g. Barack Obama’s legacy).
Before you go to the trouble of writing your political campaign website copy, you must utilize those keywords throughout your webpages. Each URL you have on your site can rank for a different keyword. Your keyword should be used in your page headlines, subheadlines, URLs, and body copy.
In addition to incorporating keywords into your content so that it can be found in Google search, it’s also critical that the content of your site is informative. You can imagine that when millions of websites are trying to rank for Democratic political campaign when a user types ‘Democratic political campaign’ into their web browser, Google is going to try and find the webpage that has the best content. You want to make sure that when people look up your candidate name or the other keywords that you’re trying to rank for, your viewers feel satisfied with the answers that they receive from the content on your site. One way to improve your content quality is to write 500-750 words of content for each page that you have. Although length isn’t necessarily an indicator of quality, it is helpful to set a threshold for length to help distinguish your copy from other sites covering the same topics. For example, a negative op-ed about the candidate.
Think about backlinks
For campaigns with limited resources, backlinks are critical to showing up in Google searches. Backlinks are when other sites link to your website. But, when it comes to Google, not all links are created equal. Google puts a higher value on links from “reputable” sources. The gold standards are sites like The New York Times and sites with .edu URLs. Thus, whenever your campaign is quoted in the press or is referenced on the local College Dem’s website, go out of your way to ask that they include live links to your political campaign website when referenced. You can also reach out to local bloggers covering your race and ask that they include live links to your site.
There is software out there that allows you to figure out who is linking to your website (and your opponent’s site) so you can find out who exactly to reach out to. For example, Ahrefs has a great free backlink checker. Proactively reaching out to link generators is a job well suited for campaign interns or volunteers. Sounds like a tedious job, right? Well, we didn’t say building a political campaign website that gets searches would be easy! Your website is critical to your political campaign success, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle.