SEO Strategies of Obama and Romney Revealed

I’m sorry. I can’t resist. :)

Election season is upon us which means a couple of things:

  1. Everywhere you turn, you will be bombarded with advertisements for both candidates.
  2. Saturday Night Live will be hilarious.

Believe me; both Obama and Romney are pumping some serious change into their online marketing campaigns which is paying off. They are both doing a great job (I promise I’m not trying to be “politically correct,” they truly are). I wanted to take a step back, however, and highlight some of the different areas that the candidates are excelling at from an On & Off Page SEO standpoint and also some areas that they could use some improvement on.

Barack Obama

The Positives:

Links:

You’re kidding me, right? Take a look at these numbers:

If President Obama would like to give me a homepage anchor text link, I wouldn’t be upset! Majestic SEO is reporting a huge increase in linking root domains around the time of his first campaign.

This is an advantage that all candidates running for their second term will have (usually). The reason being is that they have a 4+ year head start where they have been featured heavily on the news, message boards and in the public’s eye in general.

Domain Age:

You’ve heard it a million times: websites that have been around longer are trusted more by the search engine robots. This is due to the fact that a large percentage of websites go away after just one year of existence. President Obama is doing pretty well in this category as his website registration was created in 2004.

 

Source Code:

BarackObama.com has a text-to-code ratio of around 40%.The definition of this ratio is how much content (or text) is on a page as compared to how bulky the source code is. Internet Marketers will argue how much weight Google actually gives to the metric, however, you will not find anyone that says Google frowns upon having clean, efficient code that is easily accessible. While doing a little research for this post, I also noticed something in President Obama’s site that is very unique.

Hmm… I think I have seen that logo before:

Freshness:

It seems like common sense, right? The websites that deliver fresh content and page updates on a consistent basis receive the benefit of Google’s freshness update. How does Barackobama.com do in this category? Well, I was originally going to take a few screenshots of the publication dates of the articles published within the past 24 hours but then I realized that the site has not only a plethora of posts on the homepage, but there are also frequent posts for every single state! Unreal! See for yourself: http://www.barackobama.com/pa

Special Offers:

The basic principal of reciprocity does not exist for many websites out there on the web. President Obama’s website has an enticing offer that is encouraging engagement and activity on his site:

The Call to Action and text surrounding the offer is superb. It is extremely personalized. Let’s be honest, how many individuals in the United States will actually have the opportunity to dine with the president? Maybe a handful? The message is written in a way, however, that I feel like he is talking directly to me. Very Well Done!

Barackobama.com Improvements:

  • Unable to find any sitemap.xml
  • No Robots.txt file
  • Homepage title tag is fine; however, he could rank a tad bit higher if he inserted some keywords like President, United States, 2012, etc.
  • Lack of many basic heading tags
  • URL Structure for many pages could be improved
  • Crawler has trouble crawling several pages and displays a 404 status code

Mitt Romney

The Positives:

Page Speed:

Pop Quiz Time. Do you think Google would favor websites that have chunky images with in-line styles and take minutes to load or do you believe sites that are crisp and only take a couple of seconds to load would perform better? You’re correct! Page speed has become a top 10 SEO factor (in my opinion) as the use of mobile devices and tablets continue to rise. Roughly 69 percent of the US mobile users access the web on their phones daily! Romney’s website has a PageSpeed score of 89/100 which is excellent.

Accessibility/User Experience:

One of Governor Romney’s target markets includes the Hispanic population in the United States. He has done an outstanding job of highlighting his Spanish pages in the header that runs site-wide.

URL Structure:

Time after time, websites are created in a manner with confusing page names, clustered words, lack of a category structure, etc. MittRomney.com has one of the best structures you will find out there on the web. The URL structure matches the top navigation almost perfectly. He also uses hyphens instead of underscores for separating multi-word URLS. Lastly, the URLs are fairly consistent and use the lowercase version throughout the site.

Title Tags:

While Governor Romney’s home page title tag is just a bit too long, it does a great job of including several keywords that I am sure are important to him during his election campaign. :)

It reads:

“Mitt Romney for President | Mitt Romney for President of the United States of America in 2012”

Also, the majority of pages have unique, descriptive title tags that enhance the changes the page will be indexed (Let’s not fool ourselves, Google probably crawls this site so often that anything and everything could appear in the SERP in just a matter of minutes!!). As a whole, Romney’s title tag lengths are also pretty solid and are less than 70 characters long!

Sharable Content:

At the time of writing this post, I counted 17 instances of links to social media sites or sharing buttons on the MittRomney.com home page. While this may seem to be excessive, the design of the site includes them in a subtle way. Why is incorporating social media into your website beneficial? I’ll give you a few reasons:

  • Help your target audience spread your ideas
  • Helps facilitate the users’ experience
  • Can improve your organic search rankings if done correctly (play the devil’s advocate role if you would like, but they most certainly do :))

MittRomney.com Improvements:

  • Lack of Alt Attributes to benefit visitors using screen readers
  • No HTML sitemap found to assist in the internal linking
  • Lack of homepage copy
  • Identical call to action phrases leading to different areas of the site.
  • Overwhelming amount of links in the top navigation

Summary

Both BarackObama.com and Mittromney.com have areas that they excel at and also areas that could use a little work. So which site wins you may be asking? For now, the decision on this is too close to call!

  • Leslie

    This is a great post! I’d be curious to see in depth look at the two candidates design or social media as well.

  • Gina M.

    I was literally just watching a political TV ad and was wondering what type of online efforts are being made. Thanks for the insights Scott! Very interesting. Did you tweet this at Obama and Romney :)

  • Scott R.

    Hey Gina! Thanks for the comment!! I actually reached out to them on Facebook but did not get a reply :(

  • http://kercommunications.com/ Nick Ker

    I was thinking about how running for president is a lot like SEO. Not a lot of trust, complex issues that sound like BS to the less informed, and a lot of promises… Made something like an infographic about it: http://kercommunications.com/seo/2012-presidential-candidates-seo/