Search Engine Marketing for the Politician: It’s All Semantics Anyway, Go Vote!

By Lance Neuhauser, Executive Vice-President, Strategy

Inspired by the myriad of political debates in and around the office, I found myself relating the process of debating politics to that of search engine marketing.

To truly accept the analogy I ask that you do two things:

  1. Look for no hidden agenda. Once again this is not an analogy founded upon political debate or partiality, but rather the impartial PROCESS of debating politics.
  2. (And this is a big ask) Assume that all the people, who after 20 months of indecision, will remain undecided and opt not to vote due to apathy, lack of preference and/or choice paralysis. And therefore, we are left with conclusive feelings amongst all that remain, and the rest are chalked up as, well as….

Let’s begin by outlining the process of debating politics (for idealized politics there’s always the West Wing):

  • Two able bodied and well versed minds tangling on issues that have no right or wrong answer, but rather separated foundations for opposing theoretical conjectures based upon historical precedence and analysis.
  • Isolate issues and associated preferences for tackling each issue. There is no pressing need to speculate the effect of each decision on the entire political ecosystem except for the financial repercussions (a.k.a. if you want healthcare and education how will you pay for both, but in most debates there is no need to understand the effect of healthcare on education).
  • Build upon conclusions to reach temporary finality (and yes that oxymoron was intended). The facts will remain the same. The conclusions drawn by the debater are done so through interpretations, ideals and feelings which cannot be debated (try arguing with your significant other when they say, “But your actions made me feel this way”). And therefore, the debate is not intended to change the debater, but rather form the ideals and interpretations of an audience that is willing to interpret facts, create ideals, and contemplate change to the point of finality. Then, as soon as another audience appears the debate begins again.

Now let’s over simplify the process of search engine marketing:

  • We use the addressable nature of search to collect data and support conclusions. The only time conclusions are not drawn is when (you guessed it) there is apathy (more pressing client needs), a data stalemate (lack of preference) and/or a paradox of choice leading to paralysis (too many potential solutions, which yes is diabolically opposed to my analogy, but you see the point). Let’s face it though, we’re search marketers, we draw conclusions and hunt for data on a daily basis. Ask yourself, how many of your peers remain undecided in this election? Didn’t think so.
  • We then use data as a foundation for theoretical conjectures based on analysis of historical activities and associated performance.
  • We attempt to isolate the variables within the data to reach statistically significant conclusions. We recognize that the world is not perfect and our data sets may have overlapping variables (ex. we may see a landing page conversion % uptick due to a multi-variant test, but certainly offline marketing campaigns and seasonality will impact results). However, we have a fiduciary responsibility to make a recommendation as to how we should proceed to give our clients the best chance at future success.
  • We then arrive at our conclusions to reach temporary finality. The data will remain the same. The next step optimizations are put into play and rationalized through interpretations, ideals and often time gut feelings. Our goal is then not to influence the past data or even influence those who took action on our website in the past, but rather setup future tests to influence the next visitor who is willing to give our clients’ message a chance.

Evan Esar once defined statistics as, “The science of producing unreliable facts from reliable figures.”

He then defined a statistician as, “A man who believes figures don't lie, but admits than under analysis some of them won't stand up either.”

Now, replace statistics and statistician with; marketing/politics and marketers/politicians.
Funny, isn’t it?

One last quote…

My bubby used to say, “I might not always be right, but I’m never wrong”. She did so because she always had some logic or rationale behind whatever it was she felt or said.

I ask you to do the same thing on Tuesday.

No matter your logic or your rationale go vote and take a chance on being right, because not voting is the only way you can be wrong.


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