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January 10, 2008

Democrat Bill Richardson: 2008 Presidential Candidates & Online Marketing Strategies

By Li Evans

Billrichardsonofficial With all the rumors swirling of the impending announcement that Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico, will drop out of the 2008 Democrat Presidential Nomination Race, I wanted to squeeze in the review of his site before it was taken down.  There are good and there are bad things with this site, but the one thing that stood out is that it appears to me that Bill Richardson's site is on the same platform as John McCain's Presidential Campaign site (that I reviewed last night).

Little things lead me to this conclusion, I could be wrong, but just like McCain, Richardson has his speeches on his site.  Just like McCain, you can rate the blog posts (in the same manner).  The feel of the site as well, especially the navigation, is the same.  I don't know what that says about either site, but it's something to keep in mind.

Bill Richardson Presidential Campaign Site: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Strategies

Even though it appears that Bill Richardson's Presidential Campaign site is similar to John McCain's, the site is a lot better off than McCain's SEO wise.  If we take away that Splash Page that so many of the other candidates have, and look at the real pages of the site, some optimization - not much but some.

Bill Richardson for President home pageEach of the pages have unique title tags, although like the other candidates whose title tags change, only the end of the title tag changes.  Forget about the meta description or keywords, the description is the same throughout the site and the keywords are non-existent.  Use of hierarchical heading tags  is sparse, mostly left to just h1 tags on the  underlying pages.  With headings like "Growing Up", that really doesn't help the optimization of the site either.

Like 90% of the other candidates reviewed, for some reason this campaign site forgets the candidates name is "Bill Richardson".  Throughout most of the site you might think the candidate's name was "Governor Richardson".  On the main page, there's not one phrase of "Bill Richardson", not even in the "Paid For" area, it is either "Richardson", or "Governor Richardson" and just one lone "Bill".  However when you get to the About Bill page, you do see "Bill Richardson" together. 

Bill Richardson for President, About Bill PageLooking at these underlying pages - most of them, textually do not answer who the page is for.  The Multi-Media pages (Video and Photo Galleries) have headers that do not even include Bill Richardson's name, not a Bill, not a Richardson or even a Governor in site.  You might be lucky to find one of those names in one of the descriptions of the photos or videos. 

There are two positive things to note on the site.  They do use alt text with their images (but it could be optimized!) and they actually describe what the videos are about that are displayed on the home page.  The description of the videos is a really nice touch and does help to optimize the page just a little as well as the video.
SEO Strategy Grade: C+

Bill Richardson Presidential Campaign Site: Social Media Strategies

Bill Richardson Social Media Promotion Bill Richardson uses some social media, and I am happy to say it's rather easy to find on his site, too.  Richardson has social media buttons / widgets that promote his profiles on MySpace, Facebook and PartyBuilder (that's the DNC's own social network).  Richardson also have active accounts on Flickr and YouTube.

Richardson actively utilizes YouTube within his site to display videos the campaign has shot or they have received from the media.  As described before, one the front page of the Bill Richardson for President site, they even add small descriptions to what the videos are about, which is a nice touch. 

Bill Richardson's Flickr ProfileThe one thing that left me a little bewildered is the fact that the Bill Richardson for President Campaign site has a Flickr account, but doesn't integrate it into the photo gallery.  Instead they have their own custom built flash piece.  Not only would this saved them development costs by using the slide show feature in Flickr, but it would have promoted his profile and pictures on Flickr through his site.

It probably would have behooved the campaign to become a little more active in more social media sites.  Like Obama and McCain, Richardson has his own network, and like I said before, these do little for spreading the word about the candidate outside of this "walled garden" of a social network.  Richardson might have benefited by utilizing Meetup, Upcoming, Twitter or even LinkedIn.
Social Media Strategy Grade: B-

Bill Richardson Presidential Campaign Site: PPC Strategies

Probably weakest link in the online marketing strategy for the Bill Richardson Presidential Campaign is the PPC efforts.  There is none to speak of - not in Google, Yahoo, Ask nor Live.  Just as Dodd, Biden, Kucinich and Hunter have, this campaign left so much opportunity behind without a PPC campaign.
PPC Strategy Grade: F

Bill Richardson Presidential Campaign Site: Blogging Strategies

Bill Richardson for President BlogThe Bill Richardson Presidential Campaign website does have a blog and its pretty easy to figure out how to get to it from the navigation on the site.  They certainly are not that active when you compare the to the efforts of Barack Obama or even Ron Paul.  Just like McCain's blog, it really seems like an after thought and just "something we need to have but we don't know why" situation.

There's no RSS buttons on this blog which I find incredibly odd, since the Speeches, In The News, Videos and Photo Galleries all have RSS subscription buttons.  You can also subscribe by RSS to the comments made, and like McCain's blog you can rate the blog posts (both McCain and Richardson have similar layouts in this area - strikingly so).

There is no social media promotional buttons anywhere on the blog or blog post.  The best you can do is email the blog post to a friend.  There's no real way to help promote what's going on with the campaign to others on the social media sites.  Sure you can comment, but when no one really reads your blog, why bother?

Is it really Bill Richardson's Blog?Then there's also this whole thing like McCain's with the involvement of their own social network.  Even though the blog says it's Governor Richardson's, when you click into the blog post, it says it is someone else's.  Just a little odd, and confusing.  Is it Bill Richardson's official blog, or is it someone else's writing on his behalf (the latter is probably more likely)?
Blogging Strategy Grade: C

Overall, had this campaign really and truly thought about its online presence and use of social media online, they might have had a bit more success at the polls.  A lot of people say "Who's That?" when you mention Bill Richardson, and it's evident from the friend/member counts on the social media profiles, that even though they have the profiles, they did not work them to their advantage.
Overall Strategy Grade: C

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, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden and Dennis Kucinich.

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Comments

Your negative review doesn't surprise me too much. As went his actual presidential campaign, so he was online. And at least one other presidential ranking site lists "PR" as being his major weakness: http://fittobepres.com/index.php?action=fit_main

Thanks for the comment Johnny, I wish that it wasn't so negative. I always hope for "good" when coming into these reviews.

Its just kind of disappointing when candidates do "get" what the web can mean to their campaign and how they can use it as a tool.

To me, it's almost as if Richardson's site was a total after thought to his campaign efforts. More like, "ok everyone else has one, so I guess I should too. lets slap one up there."

Li, I've noticed a pattern reading back over these -- the well-funded candidates seem to do better than the marginal ones.

That shouldn't be surprising, I guess. This stuff is hardly mainstream. By 2012 though, I think even under-funded candidates will have staffs that understand they need to be buying Google Adwords.

I would have to agree in some respects. But a lot of these sites just need more "thinking" around them than egos. That's the heart of it.

It's amazing how many people search on republican runners and end up here at SMG. there's even more searching on republican or democrat candidate. No one's stopping to think about that. They just think its all about their name. :(

But thanks again Johnny - great convo about this! :)

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