Ode to the dead sites of the Labour leadership campaign

Every day thousands of web domains come on to the open market after their owners fail to extend them.

This goes by the affectionate name of link rot.

Buyers can do what they like with the page. Sometimes this can be at odds with the original purpose and other sites linking back to the domain.

This is something that may leave former Labour leadership hopeful Andy Burnham wondering should he ever decide to go for the top job again.

He won’t be able to use andy4labour.co.uk – not unless he’s planning to campaign on a platform of free tracksuits, hoodies and trainers.

This is because the domain behind Burnham’s doomed 2015 campaign for the Labour leadership has been acquired by an online shop selling the latest in sports fashion.

Thus, this…

Andy Burnham's leadership website

… has become this:

Andy Burnham's new site

Even though Corbyn won the leadership in September 2015, Burnham kept the site live until at least April 2016.

This may have been because no one could be bothered to switch it off. When you’ve had a bad result, the last thing you want to do is get a broom out.

Then in August an eagle-eyed retail entrepreneur snapped up the url and turned it into an online store.

But by the time Burnham’s ownership of the domain expired in June 2016, around 70 sites were linking to it.

Although they are not spammy links, many are from political blogs, commenting on the campaign. Moreover, the pages appear to be running through to 404 errors, so any link juice (probably not much because the links are not relevant) has been lost.

This doesn’t help the site and definitely shouldn’t help Andy4Labour.co.uk (the clothing store that is).

At the same time, according to Moz’s Open Site Explorer, it has a domain authority of 23 out of 100.

Sadly, the site’s link with Burnham has not led to any traffic. According to SEMRush, from a peak of around 2,000 impressions a day during the leadership campaign, Andy4labour.co.uk appears to be flatlining.

Other Labour leadership campaign sites

Obviously, we don’t know what has gone on with this url or any of the others on this page. But Burnham’s the only site from the 2015 leadership campaign that seems to have remained in action.

Liz Kendall’s original site Lizforleader.com has been deleted. In its place has arisen a blank WordPress install. The owner’s details are unavailable, although it looks as though it remains with the owner who created it in May 2015.

Again it has plenty of links pointing to it from political publications including the New Statesman.

Is now:

Yvette Cooper

Yvette Cooper’s site — yvetteforlabour.co.uk — did not emerge from the FirstWord review particularly well. The site featured the tagline ‘Proud of our values. The strength to win’.

The slogan may not have got Cooper through to a second ballot, but the site has been strong enough to hold on – albeit in a zombified state.

The images and the stylesheet are missing although the form allowing you to sign up to the campaign is still there. As is the Twitter link.

The domain has been paid for by someone until 2018.

Strong enough to survive without a style.css file.

Corbyn keeps it in place

Jeremyforlabour.co.uk would have made a great store for cloth caps and tweet jackets. However, Corbyn has kept control of the site, which is simply celebrating his win of the Labour leadership.

Jeremy Corbyn revamped his campaign site

It might be worth a recap of the Corbyn team’s original site. At the time, we thought it was significantly ahead of the others in terms of content and presentation.

And they clearly thought about the site when the election was over.

On the morning after the EU referendum, the streets were littered with discarded posters. Many ripped down by people who did not appreciate the result.

One of the benefits of print is that the elements will eventually take care of it. But decay is a lot slower online.

The moral of this is to beware what happens when your campaign or your content aren’t needed any more. Today’s message can be at odds with tomorrow.

Maybe that is why 2016 candidate Owen Smith’s domain owen2016.com is dormant.

Ode to the dead sites of the Labour leadership campaign is part of Content24, the blog for London content marketing agency FirstWord.