As many of you know by now, I am in the process of planting a new church in Phoenix, Arizona. There is a lot that is going in to the strategy and planning for this new work. One of the pieces that I am currently working on is the overall marketing strategy which includes the website and social media plans. I’ve been looking at the websites for churches across the country. Some are done very well and have components that I want to integrate into our site. Unfortunately, there are also some websites that are in serious need of help. Which brings me to purpose of this blog. I want to share, what I think, are some key do’s and don’ts for your church website. Some of this info is, what I feel, common sense. However, some of it is based on my experience in Internet Marketing and what search engines, like Google, look for in determining your ranking in searches.
- DO keep your website updated – One of the common things I come across on far too many websites is the lack of current information. If the front of your website says “Jesus is mine in 2009”, there’s a problem. In fact, this is a major issue and tells me a lot about your church. As a potential visitor why would I attend a church and trust my spiritual upkeep to a church and pastor when they don’t care about the upkeep of their website? Additionally, Google loves updated content. If you want to be found when people search for churches in your area, you will find greater success if your website is current.
- DO NOT have a slow website – If your website takes a long time to load, chances are that I will just close it out and go to another page. Some of the common culprits are Flash and Java applets. If none of these are the culprit for your website, you may need to look at your webhosting company. It could be that they are hosting your website on an old or overloaded server.
- DO NOT embed a song on your home page – This may be a truly personal opinion, but I really dislike websites that have music that begins to play as soon as the page loads. To have unexpected music playing can be startling and/or annoying to many users. Just because the song speaks to you or is your theme song, does not mean that I want to hear it. Especially if it interferes with music that I may already be listening to as I surf the internet.
- DO use pictures – Pictures are an essential part of your church website. Potential visitors want to see who they will be meeting. A good collection of pictures that show people from your church can go a long way to make your website inviting and appealing. If your church is multi-cultural, be sure to show pictures that reflect that. If your church is not not multi-cultural, do not use stock images of other cultures and mix them in with photos of your existing members. We can tell they are fake and it is false advertisement.
- DO tell me where you are located and how to get there – I can’t tell you how many websites I have visited that seemed like they did not want someone to visit. The location and directions to the church are either not on the website or they are so well hidden that I give up on finding them. Your website should clearly tell me what time your service starts and how to get there.