If negative advertising turns you off, but if you really would like people to know the facts that make a candidate look bad, Daily Kos has a plan for you. The highly influential progressive blog has launched a scheme called “Grassroots SEO.” It’s billed as a way to use the power of internet search engines to increase political activism.
Noting that, as the November 2010 election approaches, conventional Democratic playbooks focus on efforts to get out the vote [known in inner circles as GOTV], Daily Kos asks its followers to get involved both in traditional and non-traditional ways.
Here at Daily Kos, we are going to engage in very different, but still very important, form of election activism. It’s a type of activism no one else is working on, and it is well-suited to our medium as a blog.
The goal of Grassroots SEO is to get as many undecided voters as possible to read the most damaging news article about the Republican candidate for Congress in their district. It is based on two simple premises:
- One of the most common political activities people take online is to use search engines, mainly Google, to find information on candidates. (For more information, see the Pew Internet and American Life Project’s report on 2008 online political engagement.)
- These results of these searches are always in flux based upon hyperlinks anyone posts anywhere on the Internet, including message board comments and social networking sites (but not email).
As a result of this, not only is it possible for us to use our hyperlinks to impact what people find when they search for information on candidates, but we would be foolish not to do so in a way that benefited our preferred candidates.
To get its reader/bloggers involved, Daily Kos has created a series of search-engine-optimization tips, which it publishes on the blog itself and makes available via email alerts.
The first tip is called “Clicks Matter.” Daily Kos’ Chris Bowers explains it like this:
What to do: Once a day, spend a couple minutes conducting a Google, Yahoo or Bing search on the name of a Republican running for Congress. Look over the summaries of the first 50 results and, when you do, be sure to only click on the links that appear unflattering to the Republican candidate.
Why it works: The links you click on during any search will become a little bit more prominent the next time someone else conducts the same search. This is a type of influence search engines themselves grant you, and which you can use to help other people see your preferred articles on any subject matter.
To help participants focus their efforts, Daily Kos has compiled a list of 98 competitive Congressional races. It’s all perfectly legal, says Daily Kos, and within the rules established by Google.
But if this kind of negative effort makes you uncomfortable, just don’t do it.