Reaching The 99
Ninety-Nine percent of the people who visit your church will visit your church website first and 99% of the people who visit your church website will never visit your church. To validate this statistic, take a look at your church website analytics and see how many unique website visitors that you've had over the past 30 days. Now, count how many people visited one of your church gatherings for the first time over that same period. Ask those who visited for the first time if they visited your church website before they visited your gathering. Please share your results in the comments at RenovateConference.org/99.
If the purpose of your church website is to get the people who visit the website to come to church, then the average church website fails 99% of the time. But we can change that! In my new book, Fishing On The Other Side, I outline steps that churches can take to evaluate the effectiveness of their websites from the perspective a person who is looking for a church to visit.
Try this simple test: look at the home page of your current church website and count how many times a first-person pronoun (we or us) is used. Then, count how many times the second-person pronoun (you) occurs on the page. You can easily count word occurrences on a web page from most internet browsers by using the command+f or ctrl+f keys and typing a word in the search box. Try this on several pages of your website and compare the number of occurrences of first- to second-person pronouns. If the website is more about “we” and less about “you” then it is more church-focused than visitor-focused.
Here is another test: Look to see if your church location, especially city and state, is one of the first things that you see on your church’s website. Current church members already know where the church meets, but potential visitors need to know immediately if they’ve even landed on the right website. For example, if you conduct an internet search for “Calvary Church,” you will notice on the search engine result pages that there are many churches with “Calvary” in their name. Some of these results will have the location clearly marked with city and state either in the head title link that takes you to their site or in the search snippet below the link. For some of the search results, it is difficult to tell whether or not that particular “Calvary” is even in your neighborhood, city or state. If you were a potential visitor, which one would you click? Try clicking on several of the links in the search results. When you land on a church web page, look at it through the eyes of someone unfamiliar with the church. Does the church website clearly indicate the church’s location without having to scroll to the bottom of the page or click to another page?
Now, go back to your own church website. How does it look to a prospective visitor? Is the location clearly indicated at the top of the page? Ideally, the location should be in the header, next to or below the logo. Is there a phone number? Are there links to social media pages? Is there easy to find information about what to expect or what to do on Sunday mornings including worship times? These are all things that you can look for as you diagnose your church website for visitor friendliness.
In Fishing On The Other Side, I also share Search Engine Optimization Tips and information on how churches can relieve the Google Ads Grant for $10,000 per month in online ad credits. I also ghave an online course on Renovate.Digital with Michael Woods, Social Media Director of First Baptist Church of Orlando. If you need website, SEO, or social media help for your church, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Mark Weible