Saturday, 29 September 2007

UK Political Campaigning - Top 5 tips for Search Engine Marketing

The Liberal Democrats are experimenting with paid for search on Google, typing 'DNA database' into Google produces an ad for the Lib Dem campaign to stop 'Labour's DNA database plans. There are few other examples of UK parties and candidates using Search effectively - though the Sun newspaper have bought a variety of political keywords (including ‘Gordon Brown’ and ‘David Cameron’) to promote their petition for an EU referendum!

Using Search could lead to some very strong voter engagement, enabling party leaders to keep their campaigns continually up-to-date and enhance their association with particular causes. For example, no party links itself with the term NHS and yet it generates over 1 million UK impressions a month on Google, likewise the word ‘hospital’. Variations on these phrases like ‘NHS Direct’, ‘local hospital’, ‘nurse’ should also be used to drive numbers and get the message across.

Few advertisers bid on such general keywords and political parties could target policy related ads to these terms for as little as 1p per ad, though this is only payable if someone clicks on it! The cost per click mechanism means campaign costs can be tightly controlled and there is little in the way of production cost - there is a real opportunity here to get across targeted policy messages whilst driving traffic to the relevant party / candidate web page in a cost effective way.

These strategies are being employed in the US presidential election, however some Presidential candidates are making more use of Google AdWords than others. Mitt Romney has had extensive Search activity (from achieving top ranking against the phrase ‘War In Iraq’ to image optimising – you’ll never see a bad photo of him on Google images!) John McCain has bought various issue related keywords and the most technologically advanced Democrat campaigner, Barack Obama, has run a variety of keyword campaigns to push potential voters to his website. UK politicians should be emulating some of the US candidates’ online campaigning tactics, especially in Search.

With the traditional restrictions on TV and radio campaign still in place, it is natural that UK parties will see outdoor as their main broadcast medium. Most UK politicians understand that the web offers a variety of opportunities to create hype through web 2.0 tools like You Tube, but they will be missing a major trick if they don’t take advantage of the targeted opportunities offered by Search Engine Marketing.

My top 5 recommendations for UK political campaigning using Search:

1) Buy candidates names – if you type David Cameron into Google, the Conservative party should ensure that a positive message is shown

2) Buy party names and help voters get to websites easily

3) Buy issue related keywords - Gordon Brown wants the next election to be on Health, then why not show policy pledges when people type in health related keywords

4) Buy topical keywords in line with news coverage or policy announcements and steer people to relevant pages (both for own party and for opponents)

5) Buy relevant keywords on topics you wish to be associated with eg “time for a change”, “a better Britain” etc

Search advertising should be used to help people find the relevant websites and policy statements, but it also offers political parties a great opportunity to present messages to internet users when they are thinking about the topic in question - a huge (and cost-effective) opportunity!

Like this post?
Then subscribe to regular updates from this blog -
click here to use a Reader or click here to get email updates

No comments: