Six Church Website Mistakes

Okay, so I have been on the road for a few weeks doing a little experiment. I decided since I was traveling across a big portion of the midwest, I would evaluate websites of local churches to see how “we” are doing.  “We” is a very broad term for all of us local church lovers.  I know the “business world” is doing pretty good at making websites shine and ultimately be profitable, but in my experience the “church world” can get a little lazy in regards results to effort ratios.  I think it’s related to the whole pragmatism thing, but that another story for another blog post.

Right now, I just wanted to see if churches were including the right things on their websites and eliminating the bad things that can often distract first time local church guests.  I wrote three separate emails to my followers and then created a summary page.  I am making the summary page  available to everyone, because it is very important that “we” (church folk) do this website thing right.

I have pasted the emails and the data below this summary page cheat sheet that I have created for you. You can get this nice one-page PDF by entering you info below.

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Email Reports

 

 

Website review of 5 churches in a large city in the plains. Report #1

Hello Friends of the Local Church!

Since I am driving across the country to attend a family reunion, I thought I would do some website reviews of local churches in the communities where I am visiting or spending the night.

Because we are releasing a set of videos on church visibility, I though it would be a good idea to give you some hands-on, real-time data.

This is the first of several reports over the next few weeks of my travels. I will not be naming the cities or the churches, but reviewing their sites as if I were new to the community and considering attending. Since I am a Baptist, I have simply typed in “baptist church, ABC city and State” I have reviewed the top five hits on Google excluding any paid ads. Also, I have include a more detailed section of data below my summary.

Today’s review is covering just website basics. The community is over 250,000 in population. The next report will cover church contact information availability.

  • Four of five had nice and newer looking sites with sliding banners and easy navigation.
  • Only half had the address and services time in plain site. This info is the number one thing a person searches for. Make sure yours is “above the fold”.
  • Only half had a map on the main page. Again, this is vital info.
  • None had clear pictures of the approach of the building or the pastor. Both of these help greatly putting first time guest at ease.
  • Only one had an easily found sentence informing guests of what to expect when they arrived. (more on this in another post)
  • One church had no accessible website. BAD!

Summary: I’d check out the very first one which had most of the basics, a sentence telling me about the church and short video showing some of the ministries.

Tomorrow’s report will come from a large mid-western city (100,000+) and will review some basics and cover contact information.

Thanks for reading. I had better hit the sack. It looks like another 10 hour drive tomorrow!

Mike

P.S. If you’d like to get on the list to get the visibility video training click this link. https://app.convertkit.com/landing_pages/54529

SUMMARY DATA

Church A
Website accessible from Google search- YES
Website Attractive and Up to date- YES
Service times and address above the fold-YES
Map on main page -YES
No picture of church
No picture of pastor
What to expect- Yes, paragraph explaining basic position.
Extras- Nice video of ministry
4 reviews
Church B
Website accessible from Google search- YES
Website Attractive and Up to date- YES
Service times and address above the fold-NO
Map on main page-NO
No picture of church
No picture of pastor
What to expect-NO
Extras-calendar, and sermon links
1 review

Church C
No website
1 review
Church D
Website accessible from Google search- YES
Website Attractive and Up to date- YES
Service times and address above the fold-Times YES Address NO
Map on main-NO
No picture of church
No picture of pastor
What to expect- NO
1 review
Church E
Website accessible from Google search- Yes
Website Attractive and Up to date- No- Filled with Easter stuff
Service times and address above the fold-YES
Map on main-YES
No picture of church
No picture of pastor
What to expect- NO
1 review

 

Search Engines vs. Websites- Church report #2- Midwestern city of 120,000

Good News and Bad News

Today we are checking contact information on the top five ranked Baptist churches in a town of about 120,000. If new folks want to get a hold of you, finding the right address, right phone number and right time to contact is vital. Sometimes each engines and websites will differ. BEWARE! Sometimes they will be completely wrong! If your church is relocating to new building or being assigned a new area code, sometimes Goggle can lag way behind. Our church plant was “relocated” by Google to a town 150 miles away that had an identical address. It took two years to get is straightened out.
Here is my summary and suggestions:
Summary:

  • Most of these sites had matched data on Google and the church’s website.
  • The sites that worked had physical addresses easily seen on their website.
  • It is a major error in having your church site not properly connected to Google.
  • No church website means you don’t want to put out the effort for new families and guests.
  • Typos, misspellings and out dated information on events, tell people you are not on top of things. “If they don’t pay attention to their website, they probably won’t pay attention to my personal needs either.”

Suggestions:

  • Check addresses on major search engines: Google, BING and Yahoo.
  • Double check all info such as phone numbers, addresses, etc…
  • Double check sites like Superpages, Yellowpages. They feed off of other search engines and often take a longer time to update.
  • Make sure website contact info is on main page or a primary menu item.
  • Double check location/review websites like Yelp and Four Square.
  • In contact menu, post “how to get in touch” hours or procedures.
  • Create a “email the pastor” button. Openly solicit questions and feedback.

The main focus of this post is search for yourself (or have someone else do it) and make sure things are correct. Much of the search engines and listing business is automatically done. Just remember automatic does not always mean it is correct!

Time to get back to driving. This texting and driving is killing me. ha!

Mike

Here is my anniversary photo of me and my dear bride (taken by my 14year old). 32 years of togetherness, but not sure what this means??

Church Data –

Midwestern town- 120,000 top five listings on Google “baptist church”

A
Google had address and phone number-YES
Website had same address and phone number- YES
Address and phone number on front page-YES
Contact button in top level menu-YES
Office hours posted on Google- YES
Office hours on website-NO
Extras- Contact page had a email form and names but no descriptions of who they were.
B
Google had address and phone number-YES
Website had same address and phone number- YES
Address and phone number on front page-YES
Contact button in top level menu-NO
Office hours posted on Google- NO
Office hours on website-NO
Extras- Address and service time on top of home page!
C
Google had address and phone number-YES
Website had same address and phone number- NO Went to another prophetic ministry website
Address and phone number on front page-NO
Contact button in menu-YES- but went to another site
Office hours posted on Google- NO
Office hours on website-NO
Extras- VERY CONFUSING- Button on Google page sends to unclear page.

D
Google had address and phone number-YES
Website had same address and phone number- YES
Address and phone number on front page-YES
Contact button in menu-NO
Office hours posted on Google- NO
Office hours on website-NO
Extras- Sermons and events were 9 moths old.

E
Google had address and phone number-YES
Website had same address and phone number- NO WEBSITE
Address and phone number on front page-NO WEBSITE
Contact button in menu-NO WEBSITE
Office hours posted on Google- NO WEBSITE
Office hours on website-NO WEBSITE
Extras- NO WEBSITE

 

Do you know the 3 types of pictures that need to be on every church’s website?. Report #3

Websites and Photos-What you need to know.

People are attracted by pictures because they help us discern what a church will be like. There is always a level of tension when a person visits a new church or any place that is unfamiliar. We are wise to use photos and printed information to make the guest experience more comfortable.

Here three types of picture to make sure are included on your website. They need to be on the main page or very near the top levels of navigation.

  1. Familiarity Pictures- Photos of the building and key leaders. This creates quicker recognition, which is a key to eliminating discomfort.
  2. Ministry Pictures- Use snapshots of activities in progress, so new guests get an idea of what is important to you.
  3. Real Pictures- Use real people form the church doing real things, staging photos is okay, just stay away from relying heavily on “picture perfect” stock photos.

Summary:

  • Most of these sites I reviewed had a good use of real pictures.
  • Most had moving banners.
  • Contact info needs to be front and center along with service times and directions.
  • Make sure your site does what it is supposed to do. One site went straight to a denominational HQ page. BAD!

Suggestions for your website:

  • Check and make sure your business hours do not exclude Sundays. Google will same you are closed when it really is your most important day of the week! (See below)
  • Take “real pictures”. Get rid of stock photos and use real ones.
  • Take time to setup photos of nursery and kids programs in action.
  • Close ups are better than broad far away shots. Crop if necessary.
  • Use moving banners
  • Make a simple video welcoming and showing some of the ministries.

<<To learn more about how to make your local church more visible in your community, ReachKeep will soon be releasing a FREE video course covering several aspects of how a community views the local church and what you can do to make it more effective. Follow this link to get on the list and be the first to get the course when it is released. (Visibility Course Wait List)

NOTE: Google “CLOSED TODAY” SYNDROME

Search Criteria for this report:

Bible believing church- suburb of large metro area 1.5 million
Quick Lesson: someone looking to attend is ‘browsing” more than researching.
graphics tell more faster that words.

1.
church building outside-NO
pastor -YES
real people- not stock photos-YES
ministries-YES
map-YES
moving banners-YES
video, but not a message-YES

2,
church building outside-NO
pastor-YES
real people- not stock photos-YES
ministries-YES
map-YES
moving banners-YES
video, but not a message-NO
3.
church building-YES
pastor-YES
real people- not stock photos-YES
ministries-NO
map-NO
moving banners-NO
video, but not a message-YouTube Button

4.
LINKED TO A Denominational HQ and website-BAD! BAD! BAD!

5.
church building-YES
pastor-NO
real people- not stock photos-NO
ministries-NO
map-NO
moving banners-NO
video, but not a message-NO

 

 

Effective Websites Reach Young Families

Learn the 8 most important things to include on your church's website!

Discover six big bad booboos that will make your church look irrelevant!---This is a single page, printable, in PDF format.

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Mike Holmes

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