Most of the churches we serve know (in general) that website speed and website traffic both impact a website’s rank in search engine results. And how high up a website appears in search results affects how many people can find that website — and the church it belongs to.
However, few church staff members and volunteers who are responsible for website updates, church email newsletters, and social media outreach have had the benefit of advanced training. So how would they know that routine practices can undermine the website (and therefore the church’s ability to reach newcomers looking on the web for a new church home)?
If you’re involved in website updates, email newsletters, or social media posts for your church, here are some guidelines you may find helpful:
- Take every opportunity to link to your website. For example, if your newsletter includes information about an upcoming event, don’t include all the details about the event in your newsletter. Instead, publish just a line or short paragraph and a direct your readers to get more info about that event on your church’s website. Include a link to the web page about that event.
- Likewise, if you’re publicizing an upcoming event on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other social network, always include a link to the event info on your website.
- Do not post your flyers or registration forms on third-party websites such as Constant Contact or Eventbrite. Doing so directs your web visitors away from your website, which is not helpful. Instead, use your website’s capabilities, which include event registration as well as event announcements.
- Do not post flyers created for other purposes (bulletin inserts, bulletin boards, PowerPoint slides, etc.) on your website. Almost always, text in those flyers is not legible on mobile phones, so using those images on your website undermines your website’s mobile-friendly design and frustrates your readers. Another reason not to use flyers on your website: Search engines cannot read text embedded in images and may downlist your website if it includes a lot of those images.
- Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, YouTube and most other social networks provide a way for you to create a dedicated URL (web address) for your social accounts. For example, our Facebook address is https://facebook.com/friendsofministry because we set it up that way. If we had not, it might look like https://facebook.com/(and a string of letters and numbers). URLs that include your ministry’s name helps search engines identify your accounts and display them in search results. The process for establishing URLs with your name is different for each social network and changes without warning, so it’s best to ask Google how to set set up a dedicated URL for (a specific social network).
While these are small changes you can make, they can have a really significant impact on traffic to your website, which can affect your website’s rank in search results, which affects how many people looking for your ministry can find it on the web. Small changes can yield big results.