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December 26, 2007

Republican Duncan Hunter: 2008 Presidential Candidates & Online Marketing Strategies

By Li Evans

Duncan Hunter Campaign PictureThe next review in Search Marketing Gurus "2008 Presidential Candidates & Online Marketing Strategies" series is an in-depth look at the online marketing strategies of Republican Presidential Candidate Duncan Hunter.    From blogging, SEO, PPC to Social Media, I examined Hunter's presidential campaign website, looking at what strategies were in place.

Hunter's review will be a lot like the review of Dennis Kucinich's Online Marketing Strategies.  Each area will have a grade, and then form an overall grade.  So now lets take a look at what this Republican candidate for the 2008 Presidential Election is pulling together for his online marketing strategy.

Duncan Hunter Presidential Campaign Site: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Strategies

Duncan Hunter Front PageUnlike many of his opponents, Duncan Hunter's site does not have a Splash page that seems to force the visitor to sign up for an email list or to "join the campaign".  Yes, I do realize these splash pages, give the option to go directly to the site but it just seems so "obsolete".  So kudos to this campaign site for skipping the splash page.

So there is the bright spot, unfortunately for this site, although not quite as bad as Kucinich's, it still is in need of some serious Search Engine Optimization (SEO) help.  The use of video and javascript features and tack on a site mostly consisting of images, it makes it tough to even find the phrase "Duncan Hunter" until you are 3/4 of the way down the page, in actual readable text.  Plus is that there is a decent title tag on the home page that can help the search engines determine, that yes indeed this is about Duncan Hunter.

There is use of videos within the website, but what the site lacks is an explanation about the videos.  A short snippet of actual text right underneath the videos would go a long way in helping the site's optimization as well as helping the video's to gain a little relevancy as well.

Duncan Hunter Values PageTaking a look at a few other pages in the Duncan Hunter Presidential campaign site, again the thing that stood out to me, is the lack of "Duncan Hunter" phrases.  For example on the "Where I Stand" page, I keep coming back to "Who Stands for This".  There's a lot of "I's" and "we's", unfortunately to the search engines, they really need to relate the name to the page's content.  When the title tags are pretty much repeated the same over the site, save for 2 or 3 words, it doesn't do much in the way of helping the site's optimization.

There is one other "bright" spot in the optimization of the Duncan Hunter site, and this should make the usability folks happy.  The Hunter campaign actually took the time to put in "alternative" text for the alt attribute of the images on the site.  However I highly doubt this was done for optimization reasons, since the title attribute is also there on most of the images.

In the search results Duncan Hunter faired much better than Dennis Kucinich (my theory is that his Title Tag is better and that's bout it).  In searches for his name on all 4 of the search engines Duncan Hunter's campaign site is usually in the 1st position or within the top 3, surrounded closely by his .gov site pages.
SEO Grade: D+

Duncan Hunter Presidential Campaign Site: Social Media Strategies

Duncan Hunter Social Media WidgetsI'm happy to report, Duncan Hunter does know what a widget is.  He proudly displays a few on his GoHunter08.com campaign site, too.  YouTube, MySpace and Facebook all are displayed quite prominently in the site's right hand column.  One common mistake though that I'm seeing in a lot of these candidates' sites is that their social media widgets/buttons aren't working right.  Currently Duncan Hunter's Facebook link takes you login for Facebook, not the Duncan Hunter Facebook page.

Unfortunately there's not an extensive use of Social Media by the Hunter campaign.  The most "built out" profile is on YouTube where it is designed to reflect the campaign.  The MySpace profile also seems to have had some work done to it, but nothing like the YouTube profile.  The Facebook profile, is in need of some serious attention.  The one thing these candidates need to remember is that if you are going to promote a profile or a group in social media, you better make sure its up to date and active - otherwise, don't bother (you'll see this from a few other candidates).
Social Media Grade: C-

Duncan Hunter Presidential Campaign Site: PPC Strategies

Unfortunately, there's no PPC strategy to report.  This is actually kind of sad in a sense, I didn't know about this candidate - AT ALL, until I started this research.  If they'd spend a little money on PPC campaigns buying other Republican candidates' names, it might have helped to boost Hunter's name recognition a bit.  I have searched before on the front runners on both sides of the aisle, if I would have seen an ad for Hunter, I would have clicked in to find out more about him.  This campaign is missing a huge opportunity here.
PPC Grade: F

Duncan Hunter Presidential Campaign Site: Blogging Strategies

Much like the PPC strategy, there's no blogging strategy.  Unless you consider the YouTube videos sort of a video blog, but that's a bit of a stretch.  Again, another huge opportunity to connect with visitors and "the base" of consituents.
Blogging Grade: F

There's a lot of missed opportunities this campaign totally lost out on, from SEO, PPC to Blogging, a lot has been left on the table.  It is disappointing when you can see a lot of potential that was just missed because the candidate did not take the time to invest in a good online strategy that can reach out and touch potential voters.

Overall Grade: D-

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