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February 13, 2008

Democrat Hillary Clinton: 2008 Presidential Candidates & Online Marketing Strategies

By Li Evans

Hillary_clinton_official No other candidate in this political season enjoys name recognition like Hillary Clinton does.  Unless you've lived in a cave, in the desert with no access to newspapers, electricity or radios, you would have been hard pressed not to know about Hillary Clinton throughout the 1990's.  Hillary even commands just the term "Hillary" if you do a search across the search engines - that is how much of common name she is.  Unlike her husband, typing in "Bill" won't garner you 80% of the listings being about Bill Clinton.

With that said, the Hillary Clinton campaign can get away with a lot more optimization wise than the other candidates when it comes to the candidate's name.  However, this campaign's online strategy still has some short comings throughout it just like the rest of the candidates that we've reviewed so far. 

So lets take a closer look into the online marketing strategies of Hillary Clinton's Presidential Campaign, as she's the last candidate we have left to review in this series.

Hillary Clinton Presidential Campaign Site: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Strategies

Hillary Clinton for President - Main Page As I stated above, Hillary Clinton's campaign has a luxury that all of the other candidates are missing - name recognition.  It's why her site can get away with only calling her "Hillary" every where.  Anyone who says "Hillary" knows you are talking about Hillary Clinton, the presidential candidate.  However, that said - if she weren't such a household name, she'd have issues ranking for even "Hillary Clinton" because that phrase barely appears on her site at all in regular text.

Thankfully, this campaign doesn't use one of those annoying splash pages, but the main page, definitely has a different feel than the other pages.  It is image heavy, but, there is enough text on the page to let the search engines find something.  They lack appropriate alt text for the images with alt text like "photo" and "button" it really shows there was not SEO planning going into the site.

The title tags like all the other candidates remain the same in the beginning and change out on the tail end depending on the page.  Meta descriptions are all the same across the pages and the meta keyword tag isn't even set up right, but it remains the same throughout the site too.  The use of hierarchal heading tags (h1, h2, etc.) is used, but it's obvious they aren't using these features to optimize their pages.

Live/MSN Search for 'Hillary Clinton'The campaign leaves behind some opportunities to capitalize on terms like "Democrat for President" or "Presidential Candidate", just like all the other candidates.   Some surprising things though is that her campaign website doesn't rank #1 for "Hillary Clinton" in Ask or MSN/Live, it's her senate page that out ranks her.  That likely has to do with that whole "Hillary Clinton" phrase not really being on her site, but that's how people link to her.
SEO Strategies Grade: C

Hillary Clinton Presidential Campaign Site: Social Media Strategies

Hillary Clinton for President - Social Media PromotionWhen it comes Social Media, the Clinton campaign seems to be a lot like the Romney campaign was.  Basically they have social media because their competitors do, not because they realize that it's a viable way to reach younger voters, or energize people.

Clinton has the major social media sites Flickr, MySpace, Facebook and YouTube.  The campaign also has a profile on Eons as well, which is a community that focuses on the over 55 generation that is actively online and participating in social media.

When it comes to how they are using the social media sites, it's like they just don't "get it".  Take for example in Flickr, they name the picture "Hilary Clinton in San Francisco 1", "Hilary Clinton in San Francisco 2", etc., instead of actually naming the people in the pictures.  The tag the pictures with Hillary Clinton and Madeline Albright, when neither of those women are in the pictures.  How difficult is it to get the names of the people and title it with them use their names as tags as well?  They are apparently clueless about how that could turn into something to talk about, be passed around, and maybe even turn viral?

Looking to YouTube, it's like Clinton's team has found a "free" place to dump her commercials.  Here she doesn't have to pay to have them aired, she uses her YouTube channel and calls it "Hillary TV".  It's so controlled and so almost "fake" and I say that because if you look at all the other candidates, their teams are out there with video cameras of their own, just taking videos of crowds and posting them to their accounts.  There is a sharp contrast between how Clinton uses Social Media and how the other candidates have.
Social Media Strategies Grade: B-

Hillary Clinton Presidential Campaign Site: PPC Strategies

Hillary's team has pulled together a basic PPC Campaign that runs on her name or versions of her name.  Looking at "Hillary", "Hillary Clinton" or "Hillary Rodham Clinton" shows that her campaign is buying these terms on Google and Yahoo.  They show up on Ask because of the Google connection, however there is nothing on Live/MSN.

The campaign isn't purchasing any other terms that are related to Hillary or the current presidential run.  One might think if people were looking for information on "Bill Clinton" it could be a great opportunity to turn them onto reading about Hillary.  What about other terms like "democrat front runner", "democratic presidential candidate"?  Nope, nothing here either.

What I did find quite surprising was that prior to my reviews of the democratic front runners, none of them were taking PPC campaigns further than their names or opponents names.  Tonight, it looks like I can report that Barack Obama's campaign seems to be stepping things up - they are buying "democrat for president" on Yahoo.  But the Clinton campaign is sorrily missing out here.
PPC Strategies Grade: B

Hillary Clinton Presidential Campaign Site: Blogging Strategies

So that now leads us into Hillary Clinton's Presidential Campaign's blog.  The blog is run by her campaign staff.  They post "letters" or "messages" from Clinton - they even have an image of her signature on her messages - to try and give the feel that Hillary is participating, but I don't know - it just comes off so, "fake".

Hillary Clinton for President - BlogAfter reading so many other campaign blogs, and seeing so many different styles, this blog just really feels very "uptight", almost way to controlled and forced.  You look at what Fred Thompson did, what both Huckabee and Obama are doing - there is a striking difference.  Of the 4 candidates left - McCain, Huckabee, Obama and Clinton, Clinton's blog just doesn't come off as "natural" or "real".  It's all about the spin.  The videos they integrate are either commercials or clips of her speeches from the new stations.  There's nothing really "real".  No photos, just lots and lots of text.

That said, they are doing some things right.  They are active, at least one post a day.  They allow people to comment, and they have social media promotion of the blog posts with Delicious, Digg and Tecnorati (why Technorati, I don't know).  They also allow you to easily subscribe to the blog, when other candidates made it hard to find or figure out. However, there's no "SEO" going on with the blog.  Each blog post has HillaryClinton.com - View Post as its title, with the same description and keywords (which is set up wrong) tags that are on the rest of the site.
Blogging Strategies Grade: B-

Overall, there's just this real feeling of "control" on the Hillary Clinton site that screams at you.  I don't know why, but I could not shake that feeling of nothing being "natural".  I reviewed a lot of sites in the last 2 months, and most of the sites, there was a feeling of "natural" or maybe more "real", that they were trying to get real information out there, not give a presentation.

However, that controlled feeling, is allowing the campaign to miss a lot of key opportunities.  It's almost as if they would loosen their death grip on their need for control, and interact a bit with people it could do them a world of good.  After all isn't that what the internet is all about these days?  Conversation means a lot, voters (and website visitors) just don't want to be talked "at" anymore.
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, Mitt Romney, Rudy GiulianiMike Huckabee, Ron Paul, Fred Thompson & Duncan Hunter, and Democrats Barack Obama, John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd, Joe Biden and Dennis Kucinich.

We've also done reviews on both the Democrat's online strategies for their debate in Nevada and the Republican's debate in South Carolina.



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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Democrat Hillary Clinton: 2008 Presidential Candidates & Online Marketing Strategies:

» SearchCap: The Day In Search, February 14, 2008 from Search Engine Land: News About Search Engines & Search Marketing
Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.... [Read More]

» Hillary Clinton Online Marketing Strategies from sk-rt.com
A review of the Clinton campaign's online marketing strategies, including use of PPC, social media, blogging and search optimization. This is the latest in a series of articles analyzing the online strategies (or lack thereof) of the major candidates. [Read More]

» Presidential Naming and Branding from Name Wire: The Product Naming Blog
How the naming of presidential candidates affects voters is something I have written about before, but the subject seems to have caught on. A recent Reuters article in the press compares the merits of the name Hillary with the name Barack, with one pro... [Read More]


It's funny how alot of people are ignorant of SEO.


Great post. I recently wrote an article about how presidential candidates are making use of their websites and wanted to share it with you. I talk about usability and the potential conversion value. I think the article may be of interest to you and your readers.

We do cover minor similar points but I expounded a bit and covered a few more candidates.

I'd love to hear your feedback.



Thanks for providing great information. For getting any information about the market you need 2 search in a strategical manner to get the absolute result.

I think this is where personality branding is useful. It's expensive, but people like this can afford it.

I definitely think our current president has made great use of his website. He might be a little too hands on though, imo.

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