At this point in time, the only interesting local race already defined for the November, 2011 elections is the one for Loudoun County Sheriff. Sheriff Steve Simpson, an Independent, is likely to run for another term, there are four Republican candidates who will square off in a primary, and there may also be a Democratic candidate.

I decided to conduct a quick experiment to see what sort of information is available on the Web about the 2011 Loudoun County Sheriff race, on the assumption there could be some typical Loudoun County voters out there looking to get informed.

This will serve two purposes: Giving a snapshot of currently available information about the candidates, and also showing how each candidate is doing so far in terms of search engine optimization.

The methodology is non-scientific but, I think, representative of how people would search: I used the search term “loudoun county sheriff candidate” in both Bing and Google and recorded hits on the first six pages – only links that are relevant for 2011 and which provide direct access to relevant info. I recorded candidate Web sites, news coverage and blog coverage.

SUMMARY: So far, Verne Dickerson, Mark Davis and Ron Speakman are each doing pretty well, about equally well in the SEO department for their campaign sites. Mike Chapman has to improve his search engine ranking, although he does get some news mentions, and Steve Simpson is nowhere on the radar except for some negative press.

[UPDATE: Needless to say, Steve Simpson does not NEED to have an active campaign Web presence at this time nearly as much as the others because Sheriff Simpson will come up in the search results for anything having to do with "Loudoun County Sheriff" because of all the Sheriff's Office Web presence. Incumbency provides a big SEO advantage so you can start your Web campaign later.]

Here are the results in the order they came up as of February 24, 2011.

Bing search

Page 1

Loudoun Times: “Another candidate wants to wear the sheriff’s badge” (Verne Dickerson)

Loudoun Times: “Mark it down: Loudoun Sheriff’s race gets fifth candidate” (Mark Davis)

Page 2

Mark Davis campaign site

NOVA Common Sense: “Who’s in? Who’s out? Loudoun’s Sheriff Race Shapes up”

Too Conservative: “Mark Davis Joins The Loudoun GOP Sheriff Crowd”

Too Conservative: “Another Sheriff’s Race Post” (mentions Mike Chapman)

Verne Dickerson campaign site

Page 3

Verne Dickerson campaign Facebook page

Washington Post: “Loudoun sheriff donates controversial funds to charity” (Steve Simpson)

Page 4

Loudouni.com “Convicted Felon’s Campaign Donations Raise Questions” (RE: Steve Simpson, with quotes from Mike Chapman and Ron Speakman)

Page 5

Page 6

Nothing else by page 6 – nobody’s going to search past page 6.

Google search

Page 1

Loudoun Times: “Another candidate wants to wear the sheriff’s badge” (Verne Dickerson)

Loudoun Times: “Sheriff’s candidate announces part of Step Up action plan” (Mike Chapman)

Ron Speakman campaign site

Mark Davis campaign site – “Republican” page

Page 2

NOVA Common Sense: “Who’s in? Who’s out? Loudoun’s Sheriff Race Shapes up”

Too Conservative: “Mark Davis Joins The Loudoun GOP Sheriff Crowd”

Verne Dickerson campaign Facebook page

Loudoun Times: “Candidate for sheriff announces intentions” (Ron Speakman)

Page 3

Mark Davis campaign site

Too Conservative: “Another Sheriff’s Race Post” (mentions Mike Chapman)

Page 4

Mark Davis campaign Facebook page

Loudouni.com “Convicted Felon’s Campaign Donations Raise Questions” (RE: Steve Simpson, with quotes from Mike Chapman and Ron Speakman)

Verne Dickerson campaign site

Mark Davis – “A Better Loudoun” page

Page 6

Leesburg2Day.com: “Sheriff’s Race Opens With First Challenger; Speakman Presses Leadership Change”

Nothing else by page 6.