If you are reading this post, I am guessing you already have somewhat of an idea of what Church SEO is. But, just in case, let’s assume you don’t.
SEO is an acronym for “Search Engine Optimization”. It refers to the process of setting up your web pages and doing certain other tasks to make sure your site is:
- Indexed by the search engines (like Google)
- Deemed by the search engines to be an important enough site that it comes up (preferably) on page 1 of a search for a relevant term. A page 2 appearance is not good and anything else means you are not really on the internet.
Why is this important for a church?
A church web site isn’t selling anything. It doesn’t need to have a bunch of traffic. It’s just there for the members … right?
REALLY? You don’t really believe that do you? If you are from “1st Methodist Church of Dallas”, wouldn’t it be great than when someone typed in “Dallas Methodist Church”, your church was the first entry on the page. And wouldn’t it be even greater if there were 3 entries for your church on the first page. It just make sense that you want people who are looking for a church like yours to be able to find it. More and more, people are using the web for that kind of thing. Not the phone book. Not the newspaper. Are you still spending $50/week for your add in the paper? Shame on you. You could easily put that same amount of money towards SEO and be getting many more people seeing your church every week.
But, let’s take it one step further. Let’s say that your church is targeting young families. You have a vibrant childrens and youth ministry, not to mention great small groups for young married couples. Wouldn’t it be great to also rank for “Family Church” or “Family Worship”.
OK, let’s move away from the “self promotion” type of SEO and more toward the “self help” category. What if you have something like “Celebrate Recovery” or other 12-step type program for drug and alcohol abuse. Wouldn’t it be great for people to find that when they searched? What about “depression”, “divorce”, “family troubles”, “financial trouble” … the ministry possibilities are endless.
Your Church Website as a ministry tool
Church SEO is the process of getting your church web site to come up when people search for particular terms. What words make your site come up on the first page? What words do you wish would make your site come up? That is why Churches need SEO. It is a ministry tool. It turns your web site into a ministry tool. Of course, that may also change the content of your web site.
A web site that comes up when you type in depression that only has one page, a picture of the pastor and the service times isn’t going to engage anyone. In fact, chances are, that site would never be able to rank for “depression” anyway because the site content isn’t about “depression”. That means that someone is going to have to create some “good content” for your site. It means that they guy who comes in on Wednesday night to put the most recent sermon recording on the site isn’t going to be the only one who knows how to put stuff on the web site. It means your church is going to have to get serious about the internet.
New World Media
Jesus said “… go and make disciples of all nations, …” (Matt 28:19). In the first century, that was by traveling around and preaching. Much more recently, it was getting bibles in the hands of everyone. Today, reaching people means the Internet. You may not like it, you may be ignorant of it, but it doesn’t change the facts. There is nothing inherently “sinful” or “unholy” about the internet. Embrace it. Master it. Use it to minister to the needy, the poor in spirit, those with bad health, the marginalized. But use it!
And, quit spending money on print ads and start doing SEO! It is one of the best ways to reach people today!