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January 14, 2008

Republican Mike Huckabee: 2008 Presidential Candidates & Online Marketing Strategies

By Li Evans

Mikehuckabeeofficial As we're coming to the last of the candidates, I've got four more to review after today's Mike Huckabee review, two more Republicans and two more Democrats.  It's been interesting.  I've been watching all the candidates, and still watch what's going on. For example, John McCain's PPC campaign pops up, now and then for certain candidates (some days it's there, some days its not) and has been showing up for some words I was monitoring before that they weren't.  Fred Thompson's campaign has really picked up on the use of blogging and communicating. So if you think these candidates are standing still, they really aren't.

That being said, Mike Huckabee is probably the one candidate whose site has seen a heck of a lot of change.  The Mike Huckabee Presidential Campaign Site seem to like to change it up a bit every few weeks, which by interests standards, keeps people coming back.  The site is rather easy to navigate and it's easy to find information.

There is one thing I did with this campaign that I hadn't done with the others.  I tried to contact the campaign to ask them about their social media usage.  I got a reply from Darrel Brown from the campaign who directed me to the person who is the campaign's internet director, think I ever heard back from him?  Yeah, not even a reply of any kind.  Which lead me to not contact the other campaign.  So Mr. Brown, if you're reading this, thank you for at least your gracious reply.

Mike Huckabee Presidential Campaign Site: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Strategies

Mike Huckabee for President Main PageMike Huckabee's site, thankfully, has no splash page.  They have their "sign up" that all the other candidates have on their splash page in the upper right hand corner of the site.  However, when it comes to SEO it's sort of hit and miss, more like the "I heard I should do things this way, but I don't know why" type of optimization.

The title tags of the pages change, however, just like the rest of the candidates who have changing page titles, it's just the last part of the Title Tag.  Those changes as well are just for the page your on like "About" (instead of "About Mike Huckabee Republican for President").  Both the meta keywords and description remain constant through out the site.  This is particularly an issue on pages with not a whole lot of actual content like the main page.  They also leave it the search engines to create their "snippets" by not customizing each meta description tag.

There's some use of the hierarchical header tags on the pages with content, but again, it's got to have the content optimized.  Unfortunately for those people with disabilities, or those that run without images on, there's no alt attribute being used on their homepage other than for the "Sign In" part of the page.
SEO Strategy Grade: C-

Mike Huckabee Presidential Campaign Site: Social Media Strategies

Mike Huckabee for President social media promotionSocial Media seems to be Mike Huckabee's stronger suit, when it compared to SEO.  At least here he's got the major social media sites as well as two "meetup" type of sites that he promotes.  He's got both Meetup and Eventful and there seems to be quite a lot of networking going on with both of these social media sites.

I am disappointed though in how they keep things "up to date" on some of the social media sites and how they don't integrate like the other candidates do (Barack Obama for example).  For example the YouTube channel, the latest video is the Florida campaign chair up in New Hampshire, yet, there's videos out on their blog that are newer than this video at the top of the channel, and you have to dig for them on the channel.  They also don't have a video library type of page to house some pretty good videos, such as Chuck Norris explaining why he endorses Mike Huckabee.

They have a rather active Flickr account, but yet don't integrate the photos into the site at all (instead they have some weird flash piece going on).  Past candidates have used Flickr slide shows and just the images and links to sets in their Flickr accounts to promote their Flickr usage.  They also don't rename, geotag, describe nor tag the photos, they are just "out there".  Again like the SEO it sort of feels like, "I should do this, but I don't really know why".

Mike Huckabee for President Facebook ProfileFacebook and MySpace fare a little better, but not much.  The accounts are there and seem to be up to date, but they just don't seem to be utilizing them to their full potential - to really reach out and grab those interested folks and make them into true Mike Huckabee evangelists. 

The campaign is also missing a really great vertical potential in social media.  If you didn't know, Mick Huckabee has lost over 100 pounds, in a very healthy manner.  Relating his story out in health and weight loss communities could also help him reach an entirely different segment of potential voters, especially with his video that shows his view on health.

Social Media Strategies Grade: B

Mike Huckabee Presidential Campaign Site: Search PPC Strategies

Mike Huckabee PPC - buys Mitt Romney's nameMike Huckabee's on the ball when it comes to PPC strategies.  He buys PPC ads on his own name as well as other republican candidates and has been for the last few months.  The campaign buys Huckabee's name on Google and Yahoo (Ask of course shows Google's ads), but the purchasing of candidate's names like Romney's name seems to be limited to just Google.  That said, there's nothing on Live (MSN) at all.  Still, that's a lot more than what other candidates are doing.
PPC Strategies Grade: A

Mike Huckabee Presidential Campaign Site: Search Blogging Strategies

Mike Huckabee's Presidential Campaign BlogThe Huckabee campaign blog is quite active and interactive as well.  It just needs "little things" to make it even more of a valuable communication tool than it is right now.  It's active, a number of posts a day from the campaign team members and Mike Huckabee himself.

First I almost missed the RSS button (it's rather small and it's just Yahoo), they should make it easy for people to subscribe, put one of those big orange RSS buttons where it's easy to find.  If they used Feedburner, of course they'd have more of an idea about who's subscribing to the blog, and promote that.  Currently they use AddThis.  Then there's the optimization issue, the blog post titles could use a little optimization and the title tags on each post need work.

There's a bunch of good things on this blog.  The promote use of social news with Digg (but what about Reddit, and Newsvine?) and social bookmarking.  They actively used videos within the blog posts.  They also allow comments (although linking that Ranger icon would be a good thing to what a Ranger is) and  you can send the post to a friend.  Along with these features, you can also get banners and widgets that help promote the Huckabee campaign.

Huckabee also does something no other candidate had done so far, they have a blogroll of people who are blogging for Huckabee.  If you blog for Huckabee you can submit to have your blog included into the blogroll and you can also submit for an interview.  That's a nice touch.
Blogging Strategies Grade: A-

Overall Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign website isn't that bad off.  It just needs tweaks here and there and it could be firing on all cylinders.  It could help them reach audiences they are missing out on.
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, Ron Paul, Fred Thompson & Duncan Hunter, and Democrats Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden and Dennis Kucinich.

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» SearchCap: The Day In Search, January 15, 2008 from Search Engine Land: News About Search Engines & Search Marketing
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Comments

"The promote use of social news with Digg (but what about Reddit, and Newsvine?) and social bookmarking."

Just a heads up, I notice they use a bookmark app from addthis.com that allows you to bookmark just about every social bookmark under the sun.

They've done the same for RSS - although I sill agree they should use FeedBurner so they can track that sort of thing.

Good write up!

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