Visit Political SEO Case Study: Louisville Metro Council Website for the whole story

Highlands Campaign Site

A site that I was lucky to work on during this 2020 election was that of Shawn Reilly, a candidate for Louisville Metro Council District 8.   The site is aesthetically pleasing, the candidate picked out a good template for that.  The template does incorporate some oddities in its coding and utilizes a page builder that was new to me.  Elementor remains my go to favorite page builder and is widely used, this template uses Bold Builder which reminds me a little bit of King or WP Page Bakery.

The page builder can be unintuitive and clunky at times requiring creative fixes and CSS hacks.  Ultimately though I’d say the page builder is neither an asset or a liability for this theme.

Reillyforcouncil.com wasn’t my preferred domain name, I prefer the candidate’s name but I joined the effort after the initial decisions were made, including the web host.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an effect on the election.  The way it is carried out and the date have had to adapt.  The candidate created a smart section to the site about this new factor in the election.  A Coronavirus resource page for Louisville called Highlands Strong is now up and running.   This resource may eclipse the typical draw on a campaign site such as the Issues page which outlines the candidates causes for the Highlands neighborhood.

This candidate site has been an exception to my past ones with a more involved candidate and that has translated into a less controlled environment for me.  You might think a more involved client is better but generally in SEO the more centralized the decision making process with an SEO the better the results for the site.  Where a candidate might know his or her message to voters, the SEO knows how to get Google to deliver that message to the intended voters.

Shawn Reilly Is A Doer

The candidate for Louisville’s Metro Council race is a doer.  He’s know as a hands on neighborhood champion and that message was the primary focus.   It’s been evident in past news articles such as when Shawn did the city’s neglected work and paved a pothole.  This grass roots can do mentality may be great for a councilman.   He’s experienced in local politics and serves as the president of a neighborhood association within the Highlands.

Shawn Reilly Site Speed

Notice that the site receives an A in PageSpeed.  As I have noted to many clients this is not telling you that the site has a good page speed.  This just reflects how much optimization is incorporated on the metrics that GTMetrix reviews.  It can be said then that this site is optimized and the page speed won’t be improved through more optimization.

I prefer for SEO efforts to have the site on a VPS cloud server but the site is hosted on a shared plan, much like most clients begin with these are budget options but tend to come with speed deficiencies.  Speed wise the site is clocking in at 5.9s which is double the standard goal of 3 seconds.  The lack of a CDN is something I plan to address with the candidate this week.  Obviously my preferred vendor here is Cloudflare.  I suspect that will move the site load closer to 3 seconds…generally a CDN cuts load times in half.

SEO Is More Than The Content

Social Media is paramount in providing early rankings in Google with desired keywords.  The work we did together was primarily focused on the site’s creation, he has worked to bolster the content but the site’s SEO efforts haven’t really been addressed.  These largely fell outside of the scope of the work I was hired to do but are coming to my attention as a need to deliver a solution that really works for the client.

I’ve noted in previous articles and also on Quora that SEO is more about what happens off site than what happens on the page.  In Is SEO optimization easier than we are led to believe?  I noted “Anyone who thinks SEO is about content should go out and build a site with the absolute best content and then sit there and tell us what happens. If you want a spoiler, nothing happens…you’re content will sit there alone and die a slow death from loneliness. If youre tinkering with the content you must have already done the hard work, that actually makes up about 75% of a site’s ability to rank. Or you don’t know what ranking factors are more important and then yes….you can believe you’re doing SEO. Most ranking factors have nothing to do with the on page factors.”

In this case the site has the content and has the regular updates but at present is ranking for only about 2 keywords on Google.  The opponents site is not ranking any better which demonstrates that Political SEO is still too often an after thought.  I hear campaigns now and then say that they hadn’t seen results in the past, and thats largely because SEO wasn’t given the same priority as building the site itself.

Political SEO Case Study

This creates an interesting opportunity for me to demonstrate the changes a site might receive with a concerted SEO effort.  The Shawn Reilly site has been up for about 2 months and found 2 keywords on Google.  SEMRush shows little organic traffic earned for the site or the opponents site.

I plan to address the SEO speed issue with a move to include a CDN.  To push the campaign to post video blogs on Youtube and Facebook which link back to the site and to build relevant backlinks to the site.  It’ll be interesting to compare the two sites SEO visibility as we get closer to the election.

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