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Reaching the Unchurched in Your Town

Written By: Toby Wolf

Webs 4 Christ has been providing Church web hosting, Church web design and Church Internet Marketing Campaigns to Churches for over 4 years. During that time we have discovered some sure fire techniques for not only getting your Church excellent placement in search engine results pages for people who are actually ‘church shopping’ on the Internet, (SERPs), but in helping you reach the unchurched in your community. Those people who are not searching for a Church at the moment, but who are looking for some other information about your community.

First the question some of you will ask is “Why do I want to do that?” It’s simple really. Its a matter of building name recognition for your congregation and, if you have designed your web site in such a way that you have exciting things to show a casual visitor, visiting your website may stir the first longings within someone who has either fallen away from the church or never been churched. (But that is a topic for another article *smile*)

Another reason is that by bringing in visitors for information related to your community, you are also laying the foundation for a link program that will help your church gain ranking with search engines. Why? Because if you provide useful information to the community, others will link to you for that.

So what can you do to help gain exposure? Stop right here! I will tell you it is a lot of work, but well worth it if you have the time and/or assistance from others in the church. Our latest marketing campaign is for a fairly small congregation of 165 average attendance in Palatine, Il, called St. Paul United Church of Christ. We designed their website and, in June, began to slowly build the site to attract casual visitors.

The first thing we did was capitalize on the upcoming 4th of July celebration in Palatine. The church was participating in the parade, providing parking for attendees of the 4 day festival, and also having a church picnic and fireworks watching fellowship gathering. We will list the things we did here step by step and then tell you what the results were:

  1. First we did a search on major keyword phrases that we assumed people looking for information on the Palatine 4th of July Family Fest. We took a look at the sites that ranked high for Palatine IL combined 4th of July Parade, Fireworks, Home Town Fest and parking.
  2. Then we created separate pages on our website for each of those items. Being sure to optimize the pages for search engines.
  3. On our home page, we have a prominently placed “What’s Happening” area. In this area, we placed links to those pages. At this time, Google et al were only hitting the St. Paul website about once a week, so we had to move fast.
  4. Within 2 weeks, St. Paul was ranked #1 in Google, Yahoo and MSN for search phrases “Palatine 4th of July”, “Palatine July 4 Parade”, “Palatine Home Town Fest”, “Palatine July 4th Fireworks” and “Palatine Fireworks Parking”! Even the sites sponsored by the city itself did NOT outrank us!

The result? In June, the St. Paul website had 724 visitors and 426 unique visitors. Only 1 person added that site to their ‘favorites’. Between July 1st and July 4th, the website had over 400 unique visitors, and 12 of them marked St. Paul as a “favorite”. Which means that they found the St. Paul website while looking for 4th of July activities, but actually took the time to look at other areas of the website, saw things they liked, and bookmarked us for future reference.

Another result? During July, one of the slowest months for church attendance, (particularly for visitors), St. Paul’s average attendance increased, AND it had an average of 5-8 visitors in attendance every Sunday. St. Paul doesn’t always formally collect information on how visitors found out about them, but in this case they know at least 2 people every Sunday found the Church through its website. During July and August St. Paul had 3 couples come to the church to make plans for upcoming weddings – each of those couples had found St. Paul by ending up on its website.

In conclusion, staying in touch with special events in your community and helping to promote them on your church website will not only add value to members of your congregation, but will also increase your church’s recognition in the community, its search engine standings, and maybe, just maybe, your church will have the opportunity to share God and His love to a newcomer.

If you are looking for assistance with helping to promote your Church’s website, please stop by Webs 4 Christ. We offer a variety of services and ALL of our services have affordable, reduced rates for Churches

About the Author

Toby Wolf has been involved in Church growth, visioning, and creating effective Church websites since 2000. Toby also is the founder of A Christian Web Hosting & Design Ministry, and AlphaOne Technology Web Hosting & Design.

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