This review is one I was really excited to get to do. Back in December of 2006, John Edwards was the first presidential candidate to ever use an internet medium (YouTube) to announce his candidacy for President of the United States. That prompted my closer look at the "potential" candidates and their websites to see what they were doing with social media. At that time, it wasn't much at all, thus prompting my "Barack Obama Doesn't Know What a Widget Is" post.
John Edwards is an exciting candidate to review, because it is obvious, he recognizes the power of the internet as a medium to get out his message. However, there is disappointment in my review too. The enthusiasm that seemed to power this campaign and its connecting through social networking has definitely slacked off and even has fallen off the radar. So, lets get to it and learn about John Edwards Presidential Campaign's Online Strategies.
John Edwards Presidential Campaign Site: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Strategies
The SEO Strategies for this site are hit and miss. Just like most of the other sites that I've reviewed, their title tags change, but only the "ending" part which highlights what page you are on. It doesn't include the word "Democrat" or the word "Candidate". There are no meta description nor meta keywords tags. Again, a missed opportunity to present the candidates web pages in the manner they want them to be presented in, not in the manner that the search engines choose by pulling snippets from their web page content. There's also one of those annoying "Splash" pages to contend with.
There's also no use of alt text for the photos or images on the site save for a few here and there. There is some use of hierarchal header tags, but the text within them isn't optimized at all. However, there is more content than pictures on most of the pages on the John Edwards Presidential Campaign site. They also realize that his name is "John Edwards" and not just "Edwards" like so many candidates seem to forget.
SEO Grade: C+
John Edwards Presidential Campaign Site: Social Media Strategies
There are two great efforts of the John Edwards Presidential Campaign website that his team should be proud of, however, one seems to have really slacked off in the last few months. That one is the Social Media piece. John Edwards identified early on that Social Media was a definite key in reaching the younger population and also reaching niche areas with his message. From his historic announcement, in that he used YouTube to announce his presidency, to is total embracing of all things social, the Edwards campaign was utilizing a lot of different ways to deliver his message last year.
Now, notice what I'm saying here, last year. Social Media, as we all know very well, isn't a flash in the pan, it takes a LOT of hard work to keep up with profiles on various social sites. There seems to be phases of when some of the social sites that are publicized on the site "slacked off" and just stopped updating.
The John Edwards campaign still keeps up the YouTube, Facebook (they need to fix the link from the JohnEdwards.com site though), MySpace and Flickr profiles with regularity, as well as podcast and vodcasts. However, the rest of the 20+ social sites are in serious need of updating and some don't even work right (Ning would be one example). It reflects badly if you haven't updated your profile, blog, or information on your social networking profile since May of 2007. Here's some of the screen shots of the social sites that haven't been updated in quite a while.
Social Media Grade: A-
John Edwards Presidential Campaign Site: PPC Strategies
The PPC Strategies for this site are non-existent. Not even for his name, "John Edwards". One campaign that is taking advantage of this, is John McCain's, I found his campaign purchasing "John Edwards" on Ask (which I'm taking as they are buying on Google, but funny it didn't come up when I searched on Google). There's nothing being done on Yahoo or Live either.
PPC Grade: F
John Edwards Presidential Campaign Site: Blogging Strategies
The strongest of the online strategies, that I review, for the John Edwards Presidential Campaign site is it's blogging strategy. When it comes to blogging, this campaign is spot on, and has all cylinders running at top notch speed. From incorporating posts from John himself, his daughter Cate, wife Elizabeth, campaign team, news pieces from outlets that are friendly to their campaign, to prominently displaying "Your Blogs" (people who blog on Edward's site), they obviously know the power that is here.
It's not just the frequency of the content either, it's the total engagement. From comments to social media promotion, they have figured out things that no other campaign have figured out yet. Add on that you can subscribe to different types of blogs (campaign, news, "yours", John's etc), there's no limit to the way you can be updated about this campaign.
Blogging Strategy Grade: A+
Overall the effort the team has clearly placed for this campaign is in social media and blogging. Two of the more powerful of the online strategies. If you had to choose where to lay your money and how to reach the greatest number of people, this isn't a bad strategy. If they could only tweak the SEO and maybe buy "Democrat Candidate" (or similar terms) on Google and Yahoo, it could help make a bit a difference in getting his message out more.
Overall Grade: B
Interested in seeing the other reviews done by Search Marketing Gurus? Check out the online marketing strategy reviews for Republicans John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, Fred Thompson & Duncan Hunter, and Democrats Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden and Dennis Kucinich.
We've also done reviews on both the Democrat's online strategies for their debate in Nevada and the Republican's debate in South Carolina.