Obama McCain SEO – My 2008 Election Prediction

Portent Staff Nov 3 2008

It’s Monday, only a day before the election and time to predict the outcome of
the 2008 Presidential race based on search engine rankings.

The results are interesting indeed.


Based on

  1. What Google AdWords tells us are each candidate’s popular keywords
  2. The keywords’ Google rankings
  3. The monthly search traffic for those terms based on the 2006 AOL data traffic

McCain [Keyword Chart]
receives 456,862 monthly visits while

Barack Obama [Keyword Chart]
receives 375,168. Obviously both candidates receive
far more visits than this each month from sources like links, direct traffic and
long tail keywords. But if we assume that these numbers align as ratios then one
is led to believe that John McCain is the Internet leader. Or is he?

While Barack is a pretty unique name in North America, John is equally as common.
That mean’s McCain’s #1 ranking for John throws a wrench into the works.
Clearly many more people searching Barack are looking for Obama than people
querying John are seeking McCain.

We will have to look at some other indicators.

  • Barack Obama has 240 queries in his keyword chart. John McCain has 152.
  • Obama has 31 #1 rankings. McCain has 10.
  • Obama has 77 top ten rankings. McCain has 23.
  • Obama has 101 top thirty rankings. McCain has 26.

Clearly Barack Obama has a big advantage when it comes to the volume of keywords
he ranks for achieving high Google rankings. Therefore I predict that Barack
Obama will win the 2008 Presidential Election.

Obviously this is not scientific and just for fun, but there are some search
engine optimization lessons to be learned here. When you look at the two websites,
at first glance the content is nearly identical. Just change the face and the name.
However, beneath the eye-candy there is a world of difference SEO-wise.

  • Obama has unique title tags on every page.
    McCain has identical title tags throughout much of his website.
  • McCain’s site has no HTML outlines. Barack’s site is a textbook example
    of using h# tags.
  • Barack’s website has a thoughtful collection of text links in his template.
    He also makes sure to complement image links with text links.
    McCain uses mostly image links with few text links. In fact, the links in
    McCain’s website footer look as though they were his content management system’s
    default selection.
  • Barack has lots of text on his homepage, which is reflected in his keyword
    McCain’s homepage displays only images and a handful of text links.
  • On issue pages, Obama uses text with outlines and bullets for his talking
    McCain places all of his text between span tags, choosing not to use HTML’s
    native h# hierarchy system, or inserts them into images that search engines
    will not read.
  • Both websites employ CSS drop-down menus, which is good. However, I’d
    say that they both overindulge in CSS image replacement too.
  • I really like Barack’s use of Flickr.
    McCain’s image collection is dizzying and difficult to use. I had to take
    time to figure it out.

Someone on Barack’s team clearly understands
SEO and made sure that SEO was regarded as highly as the design and the content.
As for McCain, it is painfully obvious that search engine optimization was not
embraced. I feel sorry for Senator McCain. The two websites are near
identical. They both received top notch content and design advice. But because John
McCain’s site did not make use of SEO, McCain failed to rank highly for many important
search queries or his site did not rank as highly as Barack Obama. I’m sure this
cost him in visitor numbers and donations.

If Barack Obama wins the election on Tuesday, which is my prediction, SEO will have played a
huge role in his online success.