Stephanie is a millennial mom with a husband and two kids. She hasn’t been to church in years, but her recent struggles with anxiety, marriage, and motherhood have caused her to reconsider.
She searches for “church near me.” Guess what she finds?
Second Baptist Church of Clairemont, the little church on the corner 10 miles from her house with a website that hasn’t changed a bit in five years. What she didn’t find is your church - the one across the street with a marketing budget larger than Second Baptist of Clairemont’s entire annual budget.
You’ve probably put a lot of money into your website. And if you haven’t already, you’re most likely considering a new website because yours is looking outdated and people say it’s hard to navigate.
But if you want Stephanie to land on your website, and more importantly, if you want her to find what she needs to engage with your church when she lands there, then you need to avoid the three most common church website mistakes.
Paul can “be all things to all men.” Your website should not. Constant staff requests for new pages can lead to long, messy navigation and repeated content. When guests can’t find what they want, they bounce. You have 15 seconds to capture someone’s attention before they will leave your website. Every person that bounces, and every piece of repeated content, results in lower search engine optimization (SEO) rankings.
Why did Second Baptist of Clairemont’s website show up first? By leaving their website unattended for years, they unknowingly avoided mistake #1.
Google now indexes "mobile-first." The search engine begins with your mobile website to evaluate where your website ranks in search results, and only after that will look at the web version.
Your website should be designed for mobile, then adapted for web, not the other way around. A mobile-friendly design will hurt your SEO. Here are five of Google’s best practices for mobile-first indexing:
An attractive design is important, as it speaks to the excellence of your church and organization. People will leave a website with an unappealing design. It’s also important to avoid template websites that all look the same.
Your website is the front door to your guests. What story do you invite them into if they walk through that front door? How easy have you made it to find the information they need and take a first step of engagement - passing through the doorway into the living room?
If Stephanie lands on your website, here’s what she should be able to answer in 15 seconds of scrolling:
1. Are these my people?
2. Can I connect here?
3. Do I share their values?
4. Is this a place for my family?
5. Can I easily get the information I need to take a next step?
If that sounds like a lot to fit into 15 seconds, it is. But with the right strategy and design, you can offer more people the opportunity to step through the front door and join your church family.
Your website should be a clear representation of your mission and values as a church. But just enough for visitors to understand who you are, and provide a strong call to action to take a next step. Your website may be the first interaction a person has with your church. Make it count.
Design and content are key components to building a strong website for your church. But, often overlooked, functionality can be a make-or-break element.
To learn more about optimizing your website to reach more people in your community, help people grow their relationship with Jesus, and create a strong digital strategy for your church, reach out to our experienced team.