First up in the "2008 Presidential Candidates & Online Marketing Strategies" series is a deep look at the online marketing strategies of Democrat Presidential Candidate Dennis Kucinich. I examined Kucinich's presidential campaign website, looking at Search Engine Optimization elements, Social Media promotion and also looked at the search engines to see if the Kucinich campaign was doing any type of PPC spending on any of the engines.
Dennis Kucinich Presidential Campaign Site: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Strategies
Talk about a site in need of search engine optimization help! It's obvious when you look at this site, it was built from a graphic artist or advertising agency's perspective. No thought into how the site could be found in the search engines was ever put into the planning of the site. Any usability that might help the site out optimization wise, is non-existent as well.
First off, there's something with these presidential candidates and these nasty "splash" pages. First off these splash pages hold no relevant content at all for any of their websites (yes, more than just Kucinich has a splash page). Kucinich's site has a big form to sign up newsletter updates (to bad that's in an image and unreadable by a search engine spider), then it has an image button that links to the "home" page of the "new" site.
Now when you finally get to the "main" page, you find a host of things that would just make any SEO or Usability Expert go into spasms. Title tags that just don't do a thing for a site. Flash components that house a ton of good content (too bad it can't be read by the spider), no where in the top half of the page is there the actual words "Dennis Kucinich" or "Kucinich for President" or "Kucinich Democrat Candidate for President" that a search engine's spider could actually read. In fact, a search engine might actually think this site was more about his wife Elizabeth Kucinich, rather than about him.
With that in mind, I decided to look at the "About Dennis" page. Again, nothing about "Dennis Kucinich" or that he's a candidate for President of the United States. I look at the page and see it as a search engine spider would, and I do not see the phrase "Dennis Kucinich", there's "Virginia Kucinich". The phrase "Dennis Kucinich isn't found till nearly 3/4 of the way down the page.
So how does that affect things in the search engines? Well in Google he's fine, his campaign site ranks #1 for his name. But he doesn't come up for "2008 Presidential Candidate" nor for "Democrat Presidential Candidate". In Yahoo, Ask & Microsoft's Live, his campaign site tends to fall well below a lot of other sites about him, including his .gov site and an older campaign site who's domain is his whole name.
SEO Grade: F
Dennis Kucinich Presidential Campaign Site: Social Media Strategies
Looking at Dennis Kucinich's site, you'd wonder if this candidate had ever heard of Facebook or Myspace. This site is so unlike any of the other presidential candidate sites, it is totally devoid of allowing visitors to know whether or not they can connect with the campaign in some way through a social network. Yes, there is a "Mobile" button, but Mobile, isn't a social networking site.
So, you wonder, does this candidate have any profiles on the social sites? Yes, actually he does, and I found them because on Yahoo, Ask & Live, sometimes these profile pages rank higher than his own campaign site.
- Dennis Kucinich MySpace Profile
- Dennis Kucinich Wikipedia Entry
- Dennis Kucinich Meetup Profile
- Dennis Kucinich Facebook Profile
- Dennis Kucinich YouTube Profile
I found all of the above, not through the Dennis4President.com site, I found them through my own research. Talk about leaving a lot on the table. As I said in my post yesterday describing this series, there's one candidate who doesn't know what a widget is, and that would be Dennis Kucinich. While he may not know what a widget is or how to promote his social media activities, he doesn't get a totally failing grade, since someone from his campaign was wise enough to set up a MySpace and Facebook page.
Social Media Grade: D
Dennis Kucinich Presidential Campaign Site: PPC Strategies
Zilch, Nada, Non-Existent, Big Fat Zero! If this campaign is spending anything in PPC, it's really tough to find. You would think that with his campaign site not ranking in the top spots on Yahoo, Ask or Live, someone might get a clue and sink just a little money into buying ads on his name.
Then there's the whole misspelling issue. Let me tell you, I didn't get how to spell his name right the first couple of times searching. Buying the ads for how his name is commonly misspelled would help out those potential voters find him a lot easier.
PPC Strategy Grade: F
Dennis Kucinich Presidential Campaign Site: Blogging Strategies
There is some good news in this area. They have a blog. Well if you want to call it that. A lot of the posts are previously posted on a blogspot blog (www.whynotdennis.blogspot.com) and written by Deborah Emin. Beyond the duplicate content issues that could arise, there's not much wrong with this, other than the fact you don't know who Deborah Emin is in relation to the campaign. You also never see posts by Dennis nor his wife Elizabeth, not like other candidates who do post in their blogs.
Now if the good news is that they have a blog, there's not much else that's good about it. No RSS subscription buttons, comments aren't allowed, you can't easily submit these to social news sites, social bookmarking sites or to StumbleUpon because the posts of devoid of those types of buttons. There's also no way to view any older blog posts than December 15th, 2007.
Blogging Strategy Grade: D
So what's the overall verdict with Dennis Kucinich's Presidential Campaign website and it's online marketing efforts? It's in total and absolute need of help - all around. It's too bad no one took a look at this before, being so close to the beginning of the primary and caucus seasons, there's likely not much that could help this campaign now.
Overall Grade: D-