What Political Campaign Websites Often Get Wrong
Here Are Some Common Mistakes That Political Campaign Websites Make
In 2019, candidates must have political campaign websites. Not that long ago, websites cost thousands of dollars to develop and required many months of careful planning and plenty of time to build. Nowadays, there’s an abundance of easy-to-use templates at your disposal. Some of the most tech-savvy among us will even build their campaign websites themselves. But with the democratizing of the website building process, we’ve seen political campaigns inadvertently skip steps and make some key mistakes. Below are a few of the top mistakes that we’ve seen political campaign websites make.
Using a cheap website backend
Sure, low cost, build-it-yourself website solutions like Wix or Squarespace are appealing. They’re cheap to use, the hosting costs are low, and you can build the site yourself in a matter of hours. But these low-cost platforms have significant downsides. For instance, these platforms don’t allow users to download high resolution photos directly from the site. In case a friendly organization or I.E. wants to utilize your high res photos, it’s nearly impossible to get them off of a Wix or Squarespace site. These cheap solutions also won’t help you much in the way of search engine optimization (SEO), making it very difficult to get your sites to show up in Google search results. For political campaigns, it’s almost always worth it to use a more robust solution as your website backend.
Not optimizing for SEO
Too many political campaigns just expect their website to automatically show up in Google search results after their website goes live. Without diving too deep into SEO theory, it’s important to note that you do have to identify what keywords you want to rank for in Google search results and make sure those keywords are strategically placed in headlines, subheads, and body copy throughout the site. Essentially, you need to help Google out by giving it context clues that your website should rank at the top of search results when it comes to keywords. If you don’t include strategic keywords throughout your site, your site won’t rank near the top (or even on the first page) of Google search results. Pro tip: if you really want to boost your campaign website SEO, try writing a few blog posts around targeted keywords or having sites with high authority ratings (i.e. news sites or .edu sites) link to your campaign website.
Not highlighting the donate button
For a lot of political campaigns, raising money is the single most important primary goal for their campaign website. If that’s the case for your political campaign website, you should work to make it incredibly easy for the viewer to find the donate button. Make the donate button jump out with a different color, make it as large as reasonably possible, and place it in a prominent place on the homepage. Too many political campaign websites tend to bury the lead and make their donate button the same color and size as the other buttons, perhaps in an effort to make a site that’s aesthetically pleasing. Here is my general philosophy when it comes to the donate button: the larger, the louder, and the easier to find, the better.
Not highlighting the signup form
For many political campaign websites, getting a viewer’s email address is a critical secondary goal (second only to securing donations). Campaigns can use emails to solicit donations, recruit volunteers, pursue event attendees, and much more. Email remains a very effective way of reaching voters, and it’s worthwhile for campaigns to build up their email list. Many political campaign websites will bury their email collection form on the little-visited “Contact Us” page. Make sure your “Sign up to get updates” form is placed prominently on the homepage. Some of the best campaign websites we’ve seen have a small “Sign Up” form as one of the first things you see on the homepage.
Not optimizing for mobile
The majority of website templates and platforms automatically optimize for mobile. Just because your site was automatically optimized for mobile doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t still double check it on your phone. When your site is “automatically optimized,” there tends to be at least a few things that gets placed incorrectly or in a way that’s not ideal. It’s important to remember that the vast majority of people who visit your campaign website will do so via mobile. So, when you’re testing and proofing your campaign website, its actually more important that you proof it on a mobile device than it is on a desktop.
Failing to update pages
Many political campaign websites include a “Blogs” and “Events” pages, likely with the high hopes that the campaign will go in and update these pages consistently with new information. Inevitably the time constraints of the campaign get in the way and, too often, these pages sit dormant and go without updates. As mentioned above, we do recommend having a blog page if your campaign has the volunteer capacity to actually write a few blog posts. Having an events page can be quite useful as a collection point and help keep canvass events, press events, etc. in one place. But if you don’t have the capacity to update these pages or produce at least some content, you’re better off not having them on your site at all. Pages that sit dormant make it look like the campaign is inactive.
Forgetting to add a disclaimer
Your campaign website is paid for by your campaign and, as such, needs to carry the same disclaimer that any of your other campaign communications do. But it’s quite common for campaigns to not put their disclaimer onto their political campaign website. Even if you don’t follow any of the other best practices above, we highly recommend that you work to make sure that your campaign website does carry the campaign disclaimer.
Do you have any other questions about how to get your campaign off the ground? Reach out to The Campaign Workshop today! For other campaign tips, check out our 9 Political Campaign Tips blog!