Now that you've built your campaign website, how do you get people there? Search Engine Optimization is all about getting traffic to your website. We’ve compiled this list of three quick tips to get your site noticed by search engines like Google and Bing, and get more of your constituent's eyes on your message.
“Good SEO” (aka Search Engine Optimization) is really just a fancy word for people being able to find your web presence in Google (and other search engines) when they might be looking for it. Everyone -- even Google -- wants that to happen!
1 - Good SEO and a usable, accessible website are usually one in the same thing. To achieve this, you must have properly-loading pages that are clearly written using language that a normal person would search, and relevant, useful content for those search terms. For example, broken links, unfocused writing or page design, and slow-loading images all hurt your search engine rankings. And they should, because these things hurt your site visitors too.
2 - Next, register your site‘s information with Google (which controls around 85% of search traffic in the US) starting with https://www.google.com/webmasters/ . Having a website that is easy to navigate and read that Google knows about are the first priorities to ensure Google can evaluate your pages positively.
3 - From there, try to get links from other websites that direct to your site and its specifically-relevant pages. In the political arena, the main ones you need thankfully shouldn’t take much effort. Some of them are just your own social media accounts! When Google then ‘crawls’ the web and looks at these sites as well as yours, it follows and evaluates those links. Essentially, counting and scoring those links helps Google understand how important the rest of the web considers your site to be specifically for the kinds of content and keywords it finds on your site.
If you do these things, you should expect to rank highly on the first page of Google search results for your candidate’s or campaign’s name (called your ‘branded search’ terms) within a couple weeks if not fairly immediately. You may also show up high on the first page for a couple variations like candidate name+office or candidate name+state. You will probably not show up in Google for much else that’s a ‘non-branded search,’ especially if your website domain is new.
If you are feeling like you have time and resources beyond that, the next steps are to invest in a content strategy, if you can. Start with platform-issue-specific pages and posts about news events. Now you’ve got some fresh content and a reason for Google and visitors to come back! Do analysis, testing and ad-buying to refine your approach to these and discover other less-obvious terms and methods to get more traffic.