The first thought about John McCain's Presidential Campaign site that I had when I started my in-depth research it a few days ago was "Wow, what a difference 3 weeks makes!" I also found myself frustrated and let down.
Last year in March, I did a blog post on the Republican front runners in the presidential campaign. I featured Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and today's reviewed site John McCain. At that time, McCain's campaign website left a lot on the table, fairing a D in natural search, a B+ in PPC and an A in Social Media. My, how the times have changed.
John McCain Presidential Campaign Site: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Strategies
This site is in need of some help. Even though this site ranks #1 in Google for "John McCain", it doesn't in Live nor in Ask. I have somewhat of a sneaky suspicion from doing so many reviews that there has been some "hand tweaking" in Google & Yahoo, to make sure these candidate's sites come up first for their names. Regardless of that, this presidential campaign site has done little SEO wise to improve itself, it has removed the Splash page, and even that is suspect because 3 weeks ago, it was there.
Title tags, meta descriptions and keyword tags are all the same throughout the entirety of the site. They do use "spotty" alt text on their images, which is better than what they had before. Beyond that, on the main page of the site, unless it's a properly written "In The News" or "Straight Talk Express" sections article title, the phrase "John McCain" doesn't appear until the visitor sees "Paid for by John McCain 2008". There's very little in the way of actually "content" on the main page, just as it was back in March.
On other pages, the phrase John McCain does come together, such as on the "About John McCain" Page. However, there are pages, such as the John McCain time line,
that have a heck of a lot of great content, but that content is either
locked away in a flash file or an image. There are some pages of great
content - McCain's site does something the rest of the candidates don't
do, put his speeches, in text, online. Now if they could only tweak
those, and optimize them, he could benefit from a lot of long tail
searches. If found the site in a little better SEO shape than I did
back in March, but not much to make a difference.
SEO Grade: C-
John McCain Presidential Campaign Site: Social Media Strategies
Analyzing the Social Media Strategies of the John McCain presidential website was probably the biggest let down of any site I've come to. Three weeks ago, John McCain's website was promoting social media usage to connect with his campaign. I took a screen capture of it then, but now, now it's no where to be found in the navigation of the site, like so many other candidates are doing. You have to hunt down the social media information for John McCain's presidential campaign.
I had to go to the Get Involved/Action Center section of the site to find a hint of their social media strategy is even still in play. Even that page makes it hard to find, because you click from there into a press release from back in March about their social media initiatives to get links to McCain's MySpace and Facebook profiles. To top things off his Facebook profile in the press release doesn't even work, I had to go hunt down the John McCain profile on Facebook myself.
McCain has this own hybrid "myspace" sort of own social network similar to Barack Obama's. The major problem with these networks is that they don't reach out and integrate with other social networks. It's a lot like a walled garden, only others in the McCain community can really see what your are doing, and honestly what good does that do with spreading your message?
I have to say, this is the campaign I'm most disappointed in. Back in March they got an A for promoting social media and for creating the McCain space. But since they've since taken off the social media buttons/widgets, it's really seems like "Why Bother" to even have a YouTube channel or Veoh channel? This campaign has made some serious back steps when it comes to online marketing, especially if they want to reach not only that younger college age crowd, but also those in their 30's as well.
Social Media Grade: D+
John McCain Presidential Campaign Site: PPC Strategies
Three weeks ago, McCain's campaign was buying ads on both Mitt Romney's name and Rudy Giuliani's name. I know I sound like a broken record, but what a difference 3 weeks make. The campaign is back to only buying ads on McCain's name, and only on Google, just like it was back in March of 2007. I'm downgrading their grade from last assessment because they are just in Google now and just for his name alone.
PPC Grade: C+
John McCain Presidential Campaign Site: Blogging Strategies
John McCain's Presidential Campaign site has a blog. They blog pretty regularly, but nothing like Democrat President Candidate Barack Obama's or a few of the others we've reviewed here at Search Marketing Gurus. There's a post about the win in New Hampshire, but it looks like the blog is more of an after thought than a real tool in getting the message out about the campaign.
They are doing some unique things on the blog posts that other campaigns aren't. You can rate the blog post, which is quite unique. They also have limited social media buttons - Digg & Delicious are on each of the blog posts. They also allow comments and for the posts to be emailed to friends. One opportunity they are missing out on is the tagging of the blog posts. All of the recent ones have "none" for the tags feature.
It is almost like someone is blogging but doesn't even really understand the concept or true use of a blog. I say this not just because of the non-use of the Tags feature, but because you can't just subscribe through their RSS buttons to the entire blog. You can subscribe to issues like "Iraq", "Health", etc. There is one for "Campaign" but does that mean I only get posts that are categorized as campaign? You can't really tell because from the blog posts I looked at not any of them were visibly categorized.
Lastly, it's not optimized. The same title tag and meta description that runs for the rest of the site runs for each blog post. With blog post titles like "Firing Up The Troops", it doesn't help either. Does this post mean the troops in Iraq or Afghanistan, or does it mean his campaign troops and if so, which state? All of these small things really make it seem that whoever is advising them on their online strategies doesn't really grasp the full concept of online marketing.
Blogging Grade: C+
Talk about a let down, after seeing a lot of promise and knowing they originally had some kind of online marketing firm helping them. Seems like McCain's website team has been taken for a ride down a dark, dark tunnel, I wonder if they'll find their way out?
Overall Grade: C
Interested in seeing the other reviews so far? Check out the online marketing strategy reviews for Republicans Ron Paul, Fred Thompson & Duncan Hunter, and Democrats Barack Obama, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden and Dennis Kucinich.