Promoting Your Church Website
A common misconception is that, "If you build it, they will come..." The fact is, they won't unless you tell them to! Another common misconception is that the best way to promote your website is through search engines. While this is good, it's still not the best way! The absolute best way to get visitors to your website is word of mouth. When that isn't enough, promote your web address in everything you do! For instance...
- Worship service bulletins
- Phone book
- Newspaper ads
- Religious directories
- Cups, t-shirts, hats, etc.
Take this quiz:
- True or False: If you create a website, it will draw in your target audience
- True or False: If you promote your website in search engines, they will draw in your target audience
- True or False: Using an automatic submission service is the best way to get your site in search engines
- True or False: It costs money to get your site listed in the best search engines
- True or False: Getting listed in a Christian website portal is necessary
Answer key: FALSE to ALL.
Major Search Engines
Based on experience, there are only a few key major search engines that you need to be in, in order to have traffic sent to your site. These are: Google, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Netscape.
Lots of others are out there, get used, and will direct traffic to your site, but these have consistently remained the top 5 major search engines to send traffic to all of the websites we manage. Submitting to these 5 search engines is pretty easy to do:
Google, AOL, Netscape, and multiple other search engines all use submittals from one place, the Open Directory Project. It's a simple process to follow, it only takes about 10 minutes to read through the directions and submit your site. Start here.
Once you've gone through this process once, submitting to Yahoo is just as easy. It's a similar process to submit to the appropriate directory and consequently the search engine. Since everyone readng this I suspect is submitting a local church/religious organization website, be sure you don't go down the path of having to pay for your submittal. Yahoo desperately wants to make money on the submission process, but if you select the appropriate directory (based on geographical location) you'll find you don't need to pay for the submission. Start here.
MSN is similar to Yahoo, implying it requires a pay-for-submission. If you are submitting a non-commercial site, you can get into the MSN search engine by submitting to Zeal, a competitive organization to the Open Directory Project. Start here.
Note: Never in my eight years of web development have I paid for a submission (I skip the sites requiring payment), and yet nearly all my sites still appear in the pay-for-submission sites anyway. Don't waste your money!
Christian Search Engines and Portals
In addition to the major search engines, there are Christian-specific search engines. If you develop your site beyond the basics to an interactive site, (see our presentation for our definition of enhanced and interactive sites,) you may find submitting to Christian search engines useful. This site will be developed further soon, with listings of popular Christian search engines.
Note: According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project research, only 4% of spiritual seekers use religious portals to find new sites. These probably aren't worth your time.