According to a Grey Matters Research, more than 17 million Americans who don't regularly attend church visited a church website. While most are searching for church hours or programs, 26% are streaming video and another 26% are streaming audio. So yes, a website is vital for reaching more people and increasing your members.
There is someone in your community searching for a church. They are:
- In need of hearing the Gospel
- Craving a Christian Community and
- Have an interest in raising their children in church
You need to make your church digital home easy to use and optimized so people can find you when searching for your type of church.
More ways you can reach more people with your church website
1. Claim your local listings
Google, Bing, and Yahoo have business listings you will want to claim so you can make sure your details are correct. These come up first in searches, so if that information is wrong or incomplete, you're losing visitors.
Start with these links to claim your listings:
2. Encourage Reviews
Positive reviews play a huge part in today's online shopping and churches are no different. The more positive reviews you have, the more likely you will be listed higher in the search engine local business pack.
How do you get reviews?
First, ask volunteers and other people you know in your church to leave a review.
This might make you feel uncomfortable, but there’s nothing wrong with asking people you know to leave a positive review. Send an email, make a phone call, or ask them face-to-face to leave a review online.
After you take this step, an additional idea you can consider is to place a sign on at your welcome center or one in a window encouraging people to leave a review.
3. Make sure your website is easy to use, mobile-friendly, and loads quickly
If your church website is more than three to four years old, it's probably time for a makeover.
Lots of changes happen each year in devices and how search engines list websites.
- Make sure your website is responsive so it works on all devices, mobile phones, tablets, and desktop computers. If someone can't use your website easily on their device, they will go somewhere else.
- Optimize all images so they are small in size and load quickly. If your site has lots of images that are not optimized for the web, your site may load slowly. Slow sites have visitors going elsewhere.
- Is it easy for a visitor to find your service times, address, and fast facts about what you believe? Make sure the basic information is easily found within a few seconds of loading your website.
4. Find the keywords people use to find you
Put yourself in the place of someone searching for your church. In Google, what words would you use to search? What questions would you ask? What phrases come to your mind?
These are called keywords and keyword phrases. It's what you type into the search engine to find something.
Finding keywords people are using to find your church and others can be a guessing game, but companies like Cube Creative have tools that help determine what keywords other churches are using to be found, called a Gap Analysis.
After the keywords and phrases are found, it's time to go to the next step.
5. Optimize your website with keyword phrases
Each page on your website is important, not just your front page (or home page). It's important to optimize each page for the content on that page. The items to update are:
- Title Tag
- Meta Description
- Page URL
- Body Copy
- Image Alt-Text
Each page should contain what's called an H1 tag, this is your main phrase for that page. There are tools you can use to help optimize pages.
6. Embed a Google Map
Embedding a Google Map with a marker of your church is crucial to help tie in Google to the location of your congregation. It helps Google with local church searches such as "church near me."
Be sure to include this on your contact page. To do this, all you need to do is search for your church in Google Maps, click SHARE, copy the code from Embed map, and paste it into your Contact Page.
7. Include your address everywhere.
Include your physical address all over your site. The easiest way is to add it to the footer of your site and your contact page. Use the same address that's listed on your Google My Business listing that you edited above.
Help your church get found online.
Your church's website is your number one marketing tool to attract new visitors, show your worship style, and spread the Good News. Helping point more people to Jesus online starts with prayer and good SEO for your church.