Less than a decade ago, campaign websites were an afterthought for political candidates. Today, they are a necessity, regardless of the office you’re running for. While the Internet has become an indispensable tool for campaign organization, candidates often devote little time to developing a solid domain strategy that will pay dividends down the road.
So before you spend time on the content and design of your website, plan on devoting some serious energy to purchasing a domain name, or even a portfolio of names, in order to enhance your online presence. Here are a few basics to ensure your campaign gets off on the right foot:
Getting the domain name right
You’ll likely want to register more than one domain name for your campaign, but it is important to establish one site as your main hub. Think of it in terms of real estate. While every candidate wants regional affiliates to localize outreach efforts, the main campaign headquarters is a vital resource for organizing your campaign, taking contributions, and disseminating information. Your other domains can forward visitors to this main site but you can only list one on your placards.
In order to promote your website to voters and potential contributors, first consider the length of your primary domain name. Domains with fewer characters are not only easier to remember, but also easier to type into a web browser and help potential voters avoid relying on unpredictable search engine results. As more people access the web on mobile devices, shorter domain names are the better choice.
Also, avoid using hyphens. Not only are they a hassle, but Americans aren’t accustomed to using them as much as Internet users in other countries.
Dates are another element to be cautious with. While the names of candidates are often tied to election years, remember that the shelf life for a domain name with a year attached to it is limited. It’s great to include a domain with your name and a date in your domain portfolio, but it may not be ideal as your primary website. What you should include if possible is a major issue that’s part of your campaign platform. Not only will it make your campaign more memorable, it will also make your viewpoint more accessible. In other words, plan ahead for your reelection.
Constructing a portfolio
Google and Bing are great tools, but people want to make as few stops as possible when searching for information. Many will skip the browser and type their inquiry directly into the navigation bar. Having a variety of domain names is a great way to capture direct navigation traffic, as well as those voters who have misspelled your domain. A portfolio of descriptive domains also makes your campaign more search-friendly, supplementing the reach of your message.
Aside from your main campaign website, consider using other domains to create more specific mini-campaigns targeted at a particular issue, region, or demographic. Using unique domains to create a collection of mini websites with varying approaches to the issues enables you to reach out to disparate groups in an accessible way, and even enables you to track the progress of your efforts in each segment.