How can your church use the web more effectively? Having a proper church website strategy is critical in ensuring your church website becomes a home for relevant, compelling, and regular content.
Developing a strategy should be done as a part of your overall church communications strategy, and not in isolation. In order to succeed it also needs to be developed with the full support of your ministers and other senior personnel.
When developing a church website strategy, here are some areas to think about:
Church Website Purpose and Aim
Asking yourself what the purpose of your website is the first step in developing a church website strategy, as it will set the direction as you develop the rest of the plan.
Consider who you are wanting to reach and what you want them to do as a result of visiting your website. Are you exclusive looking to reach people in your area with the sole goal of getting them through the door of your church? Or perhaps you looking to reach people and provide an online ministry to them without ever visiting your physical church.
In developing your purpose, it’s important to know out what people actually want online from a church website. Different people want different things. Church seekers want a glimpse into your church life, and to find if they will fit in well (and find any reason not to attend). Existing members want news, events, and so on. Then there are others who aren’t seeking (yet) and aren’t attending (yet), but still stumble upon your website to have a certain question answered.
It’s important to have a well informed purpose, and to have it well defined, before you go any further.
Church Content Strategy
What type of content do you want to distribute online?
In which format will you distribute it? Text, Podcasts, Video, Photos?
How often will this content be published?
How will the content help you reach your desired audience?
How will the content help you meet your aim?
If you want to reach people via your website, you need to start thinking of your church website as more than just a static online brochure – updated once and since forgotten. It needs to be constantly updated with new relevant information.
Churches produce a lot of content every week, and often never think of putting it online. Even smaller churches tend to produce sermons, bible teaching, slide shows, video clips and graphics. These are used within the Sunday service but never make it onto the web.
Search Engine Optimisation
Content is the perfect way to reach new people via the search engines. Once you have determined your content strategy, you can determine your search engine optimisation strategy. To get started I suggest you read up on the latest SEO techniques, starting with this SEO Crash Course.
In essence, you should be publishing quality content regularly and optimising it for the keywords you think will perform well for your site. You can use tools such as the Google Keyword Planner to help you determine the keywords.