Who’d Win if Election Was Based on Search Engine Position Analysis?

  April 22, 2008   Category :     Search Engine Optimization | SEO   Directory One

Author: Eric Brantner
SEO Website Copywriter

With the 2008 Presidential election drawing closer every day, it is interesting to study the role SEO plays in the political process. A recent study has found that some candidates are taking a far more active approach to SEO than others. Can we use search engine position analysis to determine the 2008 Presidential election’s outcome? Maybe not, but it sure is fun to speculate.

The April 2008 study of the candidates approach to SEO detailed both their natural ranking and their paid search results. For the purposes of this article, I want to focus solely on their natural results.

The Increasing Role of the Internet
According to this study, there has been a 31% increase throughout the past year in the number of people that are using the internet as a source of information about the election. As the election comes even closer, I fully expect that this number will increase even further. As it relates to SEO content, 42% of the people that use the internet for election information use a search engine as their main research tool.

Of the people that use search engines as their main source of information, 87% are seeking information based on the issues.

Since previous studies have determined that search engine users click on first page results about 60% of the time and on results within the first 3 pages 90% of the time, one would think that the candidates would be taking an active approach to increasing their search engine ranking on the issues.  Unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case.

And the Winner Is!
This study concludes that Barack Obama leads the way with a 60% share of natural search visibility on the issues. Hillary Clinton has 3%, and John McCain possesses only 1% natural search visibility.

Where did the other 36% go? That honor goes to Ron Paul which, given his lack of success in the primaries, raises some questions about the importance of SEO in politics. However, before we go off the deep end and claim SEO is not relevant in politics, let’s remind ourselves that the internet and SEO are still relatively young. Ron Paul has done really well with young people, but traditionally young people have not turned out to vote in high numbers. So while these young people love him online, they do not convert that love into results at the polls.

Natural Search Visibility

What’s Wrong, John?
With just 1% natural search visibility on the issues, John McCain is in the Bermuda Triangle of the search engines. After just a brief look at his page, it’s not hard to figure out why.

John McCain’s page on economics:

John McCain Economics

John McCain’s page on education:

John McCain Education

At quick glance, can you tell the difference? I can’t, and apparently, neither can the search engines because he isn’t exactly dominating the SERPs.

Anybody that has been studying SEO for more than a few hours can tell you the importance of having unique, optimized title tags and urls for each page. Since most search engine users are seeking information about the issues, John McCain should have a website that has optimized pages with unique title tags and urls for each issue. Sure, a whole lot more goes into search engine placement analysis, such as inbound links and domain age to name a couple, but these terrible title tags and urls demonstrate that the McCain team has no knowledge of SEO.

What it All Means
It’s hard to dispute that the internet is playing a growing role in shaping people’s opinions. How it will affect the election no one knows for sure.

As the internet continues to become more accessible to a broader demographic, I think SEO will play a much larger part in the future elections. As it stands, the internet is already an important source of information, and there is no reason to believe it won’t continue to grow in significance.

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