Every political candidate for elected office needs a website. A candidate without a website is a candidate without a campaign and isn’t going to win on Election Day.
But how do you pick the domain name for your website?
Here’s 5 do’s and don’ts to follow.
1. Use Your Name for your Campaign Website
You name your website for the exact same reason you have a website in the first place – so voters can find information about you online.
Therefore you need to make it easy for them to find you.
When people are searching things online, 83% go to Google.
In the little white search box on their computer or their phone they type in a search term.
In your case they’re looking to learn things about you as a candidate so the search term they will be using is — wait for it — yep, your name.
Using a domain that contains your name will help Google return results to the searcher that lead to your website.
It’s essential that this happens as you need Google to lock on to your campaign website and spit it out in the first page of the results.
94% of people don’t look at results past the first page of Google results so you better be there.
You also want your website to show up in the top three returned results. Why?
Because 63% of search traffic goes to the links that show up first, second, and third on Google.
That’s also why Google sells pay-per-click ads for three spots at the top of the search results for specific keywords.
They know what people click on when faced with search results.
Because of this, I tell all of my clients to buy their full name as their domain.
That’s what I did this in 2016 for Denise Trager Dvorak who is running for Judge in San Bernardino County, California.
I specifically bought the domain denisetragerdovak.com because it would help Google direct voters to her campaign website when researching her candidacy.
Here’s what the search of her name turned up on Google during the campaign:
You couldn’t ask for a better return in Google search results – and the campaign didn’t even have to pay for the rankings!
I recommend that candidates get a domain name like Denise did, just using your full name and nothing else.
You don’t need to use your middle name or your maiden name with your married name if that’s not how your name will appear on the ballot.
Your first and last name will be fine.
Denise is known professionally and was on the ballot as Denise Trager Dvorak, therefore her domain was her entire name.
Using your full name for a domain works great.
It’s easy to type, it’s easy to remember, and it contains the most essential keyword for your campaign – your name.
It’s also nice and short on any campaign email addresses you create.
Additionally, if you run for another office, having a website with only your name in it makes it possible to use the same domain name again without having to buy and build an entirely new website.
But what if your name is too common or not available as a domain?
In such instances you should buy a domain that contains the office you are running for.
If you’re running for a city council seat get a domain that says yournameforcitycouncouncil.com.
If you’re running for the board of education get a domain that says yournameforschoolboard.com.
You can also put the name of the location or district you are running for, but it’s not necessary and it’s usually too long.
However if you do, don’t abbreviate the district’s name.
For instance, the school district in my home town is the Corona-Norco Unified School District, abbreviated by insiders as CNUSD.
Such insiders would be tempted to use that abbreviation in a web domain like yournameforcnusdschoolboard.com
That’s a bad idea.
First, it’s too long
Second, it’s not going to help with search rankings.
Third, voters are not insiders usually and they won’t be searching for the abbreviation.
They’ll be searching for your name – so make sure your website contains your full name and you’re golden.
This by far is the most important rule for buying a campaign domain name, so I’ve written about it the most.
Yet,as simple as they next four rules may seem, they are also important when it comes to choosing a winning website domain name.
2. Use .COM and Nothing Else
When you purchase your website domain you’ll have many options like .com, .net, .org, .us – you name it.
There’s only one you want and need to get. It’s the .com.
The others are for the most part worthless.
When people type in a web address they are programmed to type .com at they end.
Their muscle memory is not conditioned to type in .net or dot anything else.
Dot Com is the norm and the standard here in America.
Make it easy on the voters to type in your domain or to tell people where your website it.
Stick to .com and don’t deviate. There’s absolutely no reason to.
3. Use “For” Never “4”
Hopefully you noticed in the examples above I suggested domains like yournameforcitycouncil.com.
I didn’t use “4” instead of “for” and neither should you. Always use the written word for in your domain name.
First, people don’t type the number 4 instead of the word for when they are searching or entering a domain name, so again make it easy on the voters to find your site by keeping it simple.
Second, you’re not Prince.
He got away with that because of who he was and he wasn’t running for office. He was the Purple One.
You’re candidate for office, so use “for.”
4. Don’t Include a Date
I’ve seen plenty of candidates use the date of the election in their domain name, like yourname2016.com.
It’s unnecessary and lame. Don’t do it.
Yes, it has your name in the domain, but no one is searching for your name with the year of the election on Google. It’s not happening.
And what if you win and don’t take office until 2019?
If you intend to have a website up while in office or run for re-election in 2022 you’ll need to buy a new domain.
Simply buy your name as the domain without the date and cut down on any multiple expenditures.
As the line in the movie Patton says, “I don’t believe in paying for the same real estate twice.” Neither should you.
5. Don’t Use a Website Without Your Name
Does this rule seem redundant and just the mirror image of the first rule?
Yes it does and yes it should. That’s because the first rule is so important when picking a name for your website.
Too many candidates think they want to show their commitment to the community when they’re running (which is a good thing by the way) that they get a website that reflects this and ignores their name (which is a horrible thing).
So if you’re thinking of getting a domain for your campaign website like that, here’ my advice: Don’t!
Stop what you’re doing and read this article again.
A website domain that does not contain your full name is a waste of a money because it won’t be driving search traffic for your name to your website.
For example, if I were to run for Chino Hills City Council promising to reduce crime and used the domain makechinohillssafer.com, how much search traffic is going to generated by that website name?
Very little if not none.
Never never never get a domain for your campaign that does not contain your name.
Now you’re set.
Go and buy your campaign’s website domain from either GoDaddy.com or Bluehost.com
Then either set up your website on WordPress or hire someone who will build and maintain you a website for $1000 or less.
If you’re paying more than $1000 for a website and not running for President, you’re being ripped off.
And if you adhere to these five rules, once your site is up and running, you’ll have a website that’s easy for the voters to find when they go online and Google your name.