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Best Practices For Church Websites
What are the characteristics of a quality church website? A church website should include many of the same elements used in business websites. They should appeal to their target audience, provide helpful information, and work on a variety of devices.
While an inferior website may not cause members to leave the church, it can make it difficult to attract new members. Besides these steps, churches should also take advantage of social media platforms to help spread awareness.
Include Helpful Information and Spiritual Guidance
Church websites are often built for two specific audiences. The website should target both existing and future members.
In one survey, nearly half of parishioners use their church’s website for spiritual guidance and support. Many churches include transcriptions of their services or sermons. They may even record the audio from the services and create a podcast or record the services and upload the video to their website. Spiritual guidance and support can also be provided through blog posts.
Support and guidance are helpful for existing members. To target new members, churches should ensure that their website directs new visitors where to go.
In the first third of the homepage, the website should include a call to action encouraging new visitors to visit the church or sign up for an email newsletter. Both options provide a point of contact with the potential new member. This increases the chance that they will follow through with their action and attend one of your upcoming services.
A church website can also provide helpful information. This includes updated and accurate contact information along with answers to frequently asked questions. Consider some of the questions that new members often ask before joining a church and address these questions in a specific section of the website.
Adding more content to your website is also part of your best SEO practices. Search engine optimization helps websites appear higher on the results pages of search queries. When someone that is new to the area searches for local churches, you want your church to appear at the top of the list.
Providing a lot of helpful content is a good starting point for boosting your SEO. Optimizing each page may also help bring more traffic to your website. Consider using location specific keywords, such as the name of your city or town, without over-using the keywords.
Besides the content of the website, churches should focus on the design of their websites. Websites should be easy to navigate and designed for viewing on all types of devices.
Most website building platforms now use responsive web designs. These designs allow your website to conform to the width of the screen, ensuring that every page appears correctly, whether the user is visiting from a desktop computer or smartphone.
Mobile-friendly designs also help your website get noticed. Search engines now penalize sites that are not optimized for viewing on mobile devices.
These mobile-friendly designs also tend to speed up the loading times for your web pages. Faster loading times are another factor that search engines use when determining search engine rankings.
The layout and structure of the website are also important. The pages should each have a menu with clear, descriptive titles. Users should have no problem navigating the website and finding the pages or information that they are searching for.
Making the website more personable may also help attract new members. Instead of using stock photos or illustrations on your site, use real photographs from your church. Show people what the inside and outside of your church looks like. Highlight any special features or details that you find interesting.
You can also use real photos of your existing members. Show the packed seats during your Sunday services, with the permission of your parishioners.
Using a drag-and-drop website builder may make it easier for websites to incorporate these best practices. Platforms such as WordPress or Wix provide free options for setting up a website without any previous experience. You may even purchase a domain name for $20 or less per year.
Shared web hosting is also affordable and allows churches to host professional-looking websites built with WordPress or other website-building platforms.
Incorporate Social Media Profiles into Your Website
Social media is also an integral part of maintaining a modern website. Most people spend more time on Facebook and Twitter than they do browsing the web.
You can integrate these platforms into your website. Both platforms make it easy to showcase your latest posts or tweets directly on any page on your website.
Daily posts and tweets also help to increase the online exposure of your church. The information that you send out on social media can be shared, liked, and retweeted by your followers.
Churches often use social media posts to share inspirational messages and to let people know about upcoming events or changes to the church’s schedule. By integrating social media profiles into your website, you can ensure that website visitors see these posts.
While social media posting is beneficial for all types of organizations, it is important to avoid posting too frequently. Bombarding your followers with multiple posts throughout the day can cause some people to stop following. One relevant post per day is enough to help increase awareness without annoying potential new members.
A church website is an online representation of the church. The same care and attention that goes into planning a sermon should go into the creation of the website. Existing and future members use these sites to gain more information about the church. They may also look for spiritual guidance or support. To meet these needs, the website should include helpful information and a lot of content.
Church websites should also use mobile-friendly web design to ensure that everyone can access the website from any device. These sites should use responsive designs and provide a streamlined user experience. Easy navigation and fast page loading speeds can help boost search engine rankings. Along with these tips, churches should incorporate social media in their sites and become more active on the various social media platforms.