The arrival of a new year offers an opportunity to refresh and revitalize your church website.
Giving your site a great start in 2016 by implementing some key changes will help you gain clarity. It will also provide time to re-assess and re-prioritize some vital goals. Today, I want to mention several key steps everyone can take with their church website to start off 2016 successfully.
Step One: Prepare For Mobile Traffic
The increasing importance of mobile devices today requires special attention from churches. During the past five years, mobile devices have gained popularity. I’m talking about everything from phones, tablets, and a wide array of wearable tech. We’ve quickly moved away from a world where everything on the web is viewed on a desktop.
Just recently, Google made headlines when it revised its formula for ranking websites by penalizing sites that do not accommodate mobile devices(1). In the new ranking, Google rates your site much higher if the content loads and displays well on both large and small screens.
Now beyond just ranking better in Google, a mobile friendly website is better experience for your mobile users. If your site won’t load and display well on smaller screens, then your visitors probably won’t spend much time on your church website.
On another note, try and see how your website loads on various browsers. Some of the most popular include:
You may discover that your site displays more clearly using some browsers than others. If that situation occurs, don’t worry: we’ll revisit this topic again in some depth in the final step.
Spend some time now reviewing the general appearance of your web pages. Correct any typographical errors or other visible issues. You may also find that by re-arranging site content, your website does load and display more easily on many large and small computer screens.
Step Two: Check Your SEO Profile
Next, spend a little time looking up your website in several places:
How quickly can you locate your website using the Google Search Engine?
Check your site in Yelp, too.
Also, consider submiting your listing to both Google Maps and your local Chamber of Commerce website.
You’ll also need to mention your church location on your website in order to rank well in some local listings.
Step Three: Implement a Call to Action
You need to provide a clear call to action to your church website. Without a clear call to action, you’re not clearly articulating what you want your audience to do. Some typical calls to action include:
- A call for a visitor to join a small group;
- A call to for visitors to plan a visit to see your church;
- A call for volunteers.
Step Four: Reinforce Your Website Security
Okay, let’s talk security. Does everyone who has access to change your website use unique passwords? Do you have a protocol in place for changing passwords frequently? These measures will help protect your site against some malicious cyber attacks.
Insist that everyone use different passwords for computer login, email access, and website management. These unique activities deserve the enhanced protection that you obtain by utilizing multiple passwords for separate functions. Using tools such as LastPass For Enterprise may provide some assistance.
Step Five: Seek Useful Feedback
Perhaps the most important step in this process occurs last. After you’ve taken constructive measures to accommodate mobile devices, reviewed the ranking of your church website in major search engines, implemented a call to action, and upgraded your site security, you must still ensure that visitors navigate seamlessly through your site.
You can accomplish this goal very easily by bringing in people from the outside to evaluate your church website and test its navigation features across a variety of different platforms. It’s best seek out the help from a few church volunteers that did not participate in building your church website. Simply ask them to try and complete a few basic online tasks (i.e. signing up for small group, finding worship times, etc… ) and record how easy or difficult those tasks were.
Make 2016 Your Best Year Ever!
By following these simple guidelines, you’ll enhance your church’s website for 2016. By spending some time tweaking the performance of your website, you’ll enjoy an opportunity to welcome more online visitors and improve your church members experience on the web.