COMMUNITY CONNECTION SERIES: PART ONE
Every week, all across the country, people are searching for a church to visit. Someone might be interested in visiting your church this week. What if God has empowered your church to help them, but they never discover you?
Now, what if you could magically interact with them just at the moment when they’re thinking about visiting a new church? There actually is a way that you can intersect with church seekers precisely when they’re interested: by setting the stage on the Internet to intercept people who are searching.
A web search is the most likely first action of a church seeker. Last year there were approximately 7,080 searches done for “churches in San Diego” alone! These searches are being done in every city across the country including yours, but if you haven’t taken the necessary steps to maximize your church’s web presence, those searchers never graced your doors.
Does reaching nearby searchers sound too difficult for you to achieve? It’s not. By now, you’ve probably heard about search engine optimization (SEO), social media, and the things you do to rank high on Google. But if you’re like many church leaders, you haven’t implemented “local” optimization or worked on developing a strong presence for your nearby searchers. Being visible to a proximate audience—“near-user marketing”—is different from traditional SEO, and it should be your church’s priority today. Why? Because “church” searches are “local” searches, and when local people are searching, you need to capture their interest.
This is even truer when those searches are done on a mobile device. There’s something about mobile searches that yield a much higher ratio of action (church visits, emails, calls, and direction downloads) than searches done on a PC. That’s why mobile searches are extremely important.
And mobile ranking carries high stakes. The difference between ranking 1st and ranking 4th means a 90% drop in click-through rates. In other words, if you’re 4th in a search done on a PC, you’re doing OK. But if you’re 4th in a search done on a mobile phone, there’s a 9-out-of-10 chance you’re never even going to get a web visit. That’s why it is so important for your church website to rank high for local searches.
One factor that helps your church’s website rank higher on search engines is having reviews. And those reviews will have an impact on the church seeker. Investing in a quality website is important, as it helps you put your best foot forward. But you also need to have a big online footprint so people find you. When the church seeker sees you everywhere, it builds trust in their mind, and that influential first impression is reinforced by your quality website along with quality reviews they read on other public sites. These early seeker touch-points are the precursors to church “door-swings.”
If you believe that your church has something to offer—if you really believe it—then you should make it your highest priority to help the people who need you to find you. Near-user Internet marketing is a strategy you can’t afford to ignore.
Author bio: Steve Wolgemuth is CEO of YDOP, Inc, a Christian-owned company dedicated to helping businesses and organizations reach a proximate target audience. Their Near-user marketing approach incorporates local search engine optimization, discovery optimization and social strategies to create phone rings, email dings, and door swings.