By Li Evans
Fred Thompson is next up in the reviews. This man is just as well known for his acting career as much as his republican political career. No other candidate's website has to compete with an IMDB profile, so that tells you a little something about Fred Thompson's presidential campaign website. That also said, Thompson was also know for his "social skills" when he first campaigned for the Senate seat in Tennessee back in the 1990's. Thompson went door to door driving his little red truck and spoke to thousands of Tennessee residents, face to face, hand shake to hand shake - social networking in action but without a computer.
I do need to admit, I love this man's voice, perhaps that's why I liked him on Law and Order, however, liking his voice won't affect the Online Marketing review. :) So lets hop right to it.
Fred Thompson Presidential Campaign Site: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Strategies:
The Fred Thomspon Presidential campaign website didn't have a splash page when I first visited it a few days ago. Now, it's got a splash page that includes a video and a flash piece that features the "red truck" he associates with his campaign. Whether this is temporary or not, I can't say, but it does seem to promote the fund raising goal for airing a commercial in Iowa. The goal was set for sundown today, I'll likely come back to this in a few days to see if the splash page remains.
The other two reviews of candidates that had splash pages (Biden & Kucinich) I did, the splash page hinders the visitor getting to the information, almost making it seem like they have to give their email to get to the "Real Site". Thompson however, takes a different approach with his splash page. It's a video - non professional lighting (i.e. no staged YouTube video here with lighting and makeup), it seems just to be plain old Fred thanking his supporters. The red truck piece is also included. Still, it's devoid of actual text on the page.
Moving onto the "Real Site", it looks like there was some attempt at SEO for the site, but it looks more like someone who read a book from 1999. Looking at the code, the title tag is the same throughout all the pages, the meta description is also the same, and the keywords well that looks like the tag they put the most effort into - unfortunately any real SEO knows, it's the least likely to help. Moving away from the code, to the actual content on the page, Fred Thompson has a similar problem to Dennis Kucinich's. No where in the content (actual text on the page) is the phrase "Fred Thompson" found together other than in the "paid for" piece required. It's either Fred or its Thompson. There's no mention of him being a candidate for president in the content either. When you look at the site you "get" that he's running for president, but the search engines can't see all those images.
Moving onto the rest of the site, it doesn't get much better in the way of optimized content. Looking at the About Fred section, only in the beginning is he referred to as "Fred Dalton Thompson". 90% of the time on all the other biography pages he's referred to as "Thompson". Consequently if you did a search on Google for just "Thompson", the Fred08.com site ranks #1, but who searches for just "Thompson"?
As I stated above, no other candidate has to compete with the powerhouse IMDB for search rankings, Fred Thompson does. From his Law & Order series, The Hunt for Red October and Days of Thunder movie roles (there were others as well), IMDB ranks higher in some cases than the .gov pages that feature his biography. In most cases Thompson's site does rank number 1, however in Google, Yahoo, Ask and Live, IMDB appears every time.
One thing I did notice in addition to IMDB is that Fred Thompson actually has a YouTube video ranking #10 in Yahoo's results, and images come up first for him in Yahoo, as well. He's the first candidate I've seen that actually has something other than a "news box" come up. The images on Yahoo, look like they are from The Hunt for Red October movie but could be from some other movie or show. Regardless, the photos are not from the campaign site as the site isn't optimized for search. The YouTube video actually has the phrase "Fred Thompson" in its title (unlike the site).
There's not any indication of any real on page optimization on the site either. They are utilizing the div tag to put in actual H1 text for the banner and replace it with "Fred '08". I don't see that helping them for "Fred Thompson for President" or "Republican Candidate for President". There's only one candidate right now that naturally ranks for their party and the term Candidate or Presidential Candidate, and it isn't Thompson nor Hunter, Biden nor Kucinich.
SEO Grade: D
Fred Thompson Presidential Campaign Site: Social Media Strategies:
Fred Thompson is utilizing YouTube, Flickr, Del.icio.us, Facebook and MySpace. He also promotes Twitter, as an avid Twitter user who added Thompson to follow when I saw he promoted it (I subscribe to a few presidential candidates to see how they don't really use it). Fred Thompson's campaign doesn't really use Twitter. Bit of a disappointment there.
Thompson is most active with YouTube and Flickr. The Del.icio.us, Facebook and MySpace pages all looked to be active as well, but not with much activity (by their campaign) after around December 13th. Unfortunately I don't know what the reason for the lax in working with these sites. Flickr & YouTube though both have fresh content and the one video even ranks in the top ten on Yahoo for "Fred Thompson".
Like Joe Biden's campaign, Fred Thompson's Photo Gallery page incorporates the use of Flickr. Thompson uses the slide show presentation, rather than just one picture at a time like Biden's site does. This is a nice touch, and it looks to be one of the more frequently updated parts of the site.
The disappointment here is like Biden, the campaign doesn't promote the use of the "event" social sites like Eventuful, Meetup or Upcoming. With someone who is so well known for getting out and shaking hand with supporters (and non-supporters), you'd think this would be at the top of their list.
Social Media Grade: A-
Fred Thompson Presidential Campaign Site: PPC Strategies:
Finally I get to review a candidate that has a PPC campaign! Albeit, only on the term "Fred Thompson" and only on Google (it does consequently show up on Ask), still Fred Thompson is using a Pay Per Click strategy for his campaign.
The opportunity that is lost here, not purchasing "Republican Candidate" or "Presidential Candidate", unless you know his name, you won't know that he's running for president. That's pretty much across the board for all of the candidates.
PPC Grade: B
Fred Thompson Presidential Campaign Site: Blogging Strategies:
Fred Thompson's campaign team are avid bloggers, and Fred himself even blogs. Another nice touch is that they have translated a few videos that they house on YouTube into the blog posts. Whoever told them to do that - smart move!
The "Fred File" blog is tough to get to from the front page, they really need to link that top graphic to link directly into the blog. There's an RSS feed button there, but you have to actually click into a story listed on the main page to get to the blog, then navigate to the front page. If you go into other pages in the site, you can navigate directly to the blog, so this is likely a small over site on the web development team.
When it comes to promoting the blog though, this team has it together. There are social bookmarking, social news and even social networking links at the bottom of each post. You can also choose to email the post to a friend. In the columns that surround the posts you can do a number of things like sort by author (Fred included), sort by tags, view the most commented on posts as well as search the site. The Fred File also allows comments, however you have to sign up to be a Friend of Fred to view the comments or make them.
The blog itself is very active, although not quite as active as Joe Biden's. The blog posts do need some SEO tweaking, but that's very common among all the blogs of the presidential candidates.
Blogging Strategies Grade: A
Overall, the weakest point of the Fred Thompson Presidential campaign's online marketing strategy is the SEO. If they could get that fixed, they could have a really good online marketing strategy going for them.
Overall Grade: B
Interested in seeing the other reviews so far? Check out the online marketing strategy reviews for Republican Duncan Hunter, and Democrats Joe Biden and Dennis Kucinich.