The US is light years ahead of us in its use of the web as a political tool. Even in the 2004 election, grassroots activity organised through blogs nearly managed to break the hegemony of the Republicans and Democrats. And this time round Obama’s use of the web as a rallying tool gave him the biggest warchest in political history.
There’s been an increase in political blogging in the UK over the last couple of years and it looks like this might be the first election where the SERPs become a political battleground. Following the Sun’s announcement this morning that they are backing the Tories, some wag at the Labour Party ran an AdWords campaign throughout the morning on the search term ‘labour’ – claiming that “The Sun was wrong on Hillsborough, and they’re wrong on the Labour Party” (although they’ve since denied this was an official Labour Party campaign).
This afternoon, The Sun have struck back – again on the keyword ‘Labour’ – publicising their switch to the Conservatives.
I suppose that this was inevitable, but it looks like the SERPs are going to become a keenly fought-over space over the next six months. I was over at Google for some AdWords shindig earlier in the year and sat next to a guy from a German company whose name I’ve forgotten who said that his company was primarily employed by the political parties to make sure that their sites (and therefore point of view) would rank for issues of the day. It’s an interesting notion that I don’t think any party in UK politics seems to have grasped – leaving the SERPs to be dominated by newspaper articles and scabrous comment from the blogosphere. Try searching for ‘public spending cuts’ and see if you can spot a political party anywhere in sight…
On which subject, if the Government or opposition parties are reading this, now is an excellent time to consider an SEO campaign to get top spots in time for the election 😉