Every political candidate for elected office needs a website. There’s no exception to that.
A candidate without a website is a candidate without a campaign.
A candidate without a campaign 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 you should 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 for things online, 73% go to Google.
In the little white search box on their computer or their phone, they enter a search term. I
n 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 that lead directly to your website.
It’s essential that this happens as you need Google to lock on to your campaign website and spit it out on 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?
The majority 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 for Denise Trager Dvorak who was 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 turns up on Google:
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’s, 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 was known professionally as 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 seeking.
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.
However, as simple as the 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 worthless.
I repeat, the others are useless.
When people type in or speak a web address they are programmed to type .com at they end.
Their muscle memory is not conditioned to .com — not .net or dot anything else.
Dot Com is the norm and the standard.
Make it easy for the voters to visit 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 a 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 yourname2020.com.
It’s unnecessary and lame, so 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. t’s not happening.
And what if you win and don’t take office until 2021?
If you intend to have a website up while in office or run for re-election in 2020 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 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 tha — 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 money because it won’t be driving search traffic for your name to your website.
Never never never get a domain for your campaign that does not contain your name.
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.
It’s also easy for them to remember and is another way of you putting your name out there with the voters.
A website named in this format – FirstNameLastName.com – is without a doubt the type of domain name you choose for your campaign if it’s available.