Election Day in the United States was last week, right? In fact, that was the “other” Election Day—when periodically, we as citizens gather to exercise our right to vote for governors, mayors, city councils, propositions, initiatives, referendums, etc. While we perused the positioning statements of local candidates and cast our vote last Tuesday, we continue to cast votes today and every day.
Is this a case of massive election fraud? No. It is just all of us casting daily local votes: Where to buy a morning cup of coffee and pick up a local paper? Where to take the car for service? Where to eat lunch, get a haircut, rent a movie? While a 50% turnout rate is considered high for a traditional Election Day here in the US, practically 100% of us vote each and every day.
We vote each day with our pocketbooks. Last week, political winners threw parties and losers gave concession speeches, but every day, businesses win and lose at the whim of the voters. Upstarts try to unseat incumbents. Incumbents try to flex their leadership muscle.
How do we know who to vote for? Signs, TV ads, web sites, direct mail, and other media aim well-crafted messaging at us and our vote. The political campaigns are over, but the marketing campaigns wage on. With the advancements in local search sites, there is now nearly as much useful information available about where to buy a bagel as who to send to the Senate. This helps us make better and more informed decisions every day.
And the power of voting with our pocketbook is even stronger if we can let others know about our decisions. Most local sites support this. Letting us rate and review businesses encourages the free exchange of opinions. We can stump for our favorite establishments and debate the merits of others.
Web sites themselves are ballots offering many choices. We click on what we like, we don’t click on what we don’t like, and we use the write-in box (search) to indicate what else we want but do not see. The more a site tallies its votes (chads and all), the better it will understand the will of its constituents. If the site responds with more of what their customers want, the customers will reward it with increased usage and viral marketing, and purchases at local businesses.
Some of my favorite data from my years at MSN came from monitoring the top search queries for each day of the year. With this, we could build a daily editorial calendar that ensured we highlighted the right content at the right time. To verify, we monitored the real time tally of user clicks on our headlines. This is similar to what local businesses can do now to align their merchandise and service offerings with how their customers are voting.
And online democracy is not limited to campaign sites and political elections; your neighbors are gathering at sites like Open List, Yahoo Local, Yelp, and others. They are voting online and with their pocketbooks for local businesses and services.
So get out the vote! Today and every day.
Chris Linnett is director of Open List for Marchex, where he blogs regularly about all things local at LocalPpoint, in addition to his regular column for Search Engine Land. The Locals Only column appears on Mondays at Search Engine Land.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.