SEO for ministry

March 5, 2009 — 3 Comments

web_searchIn my survey on Internet ministry, I asked the participants if they had optimized their site for search engines. Forty-two percent of the respondents said that they had indeed done some form of SEO. And thirty-two percent stated that they counted on search engine results as the primary means for people to find their sites.

I also left a spot for comments on just how these ministries were doing “search engine optimization” (SEO) on their sites:

“The more we are integrated with other sites (Facebook, blogs, etc.) the better.”
“Ask the congregation to search for the site.”
“Create web pages for other churches in the area.”
“I believe that doing SEO is just part of doing good site design. If you have a web site, you want people to find it. If you want people to find it, you must show up in search results.”

In my e-business strategy class this week, we spent some time reviewing SEO concepts, using Google’s starter document on search engine optimization as our talking point.  Now, there are two components to ranking high on a Google search: 1) good SEO design on your web page, and 2) lots of other sites linking to yours. You have full control over the first, not so much over the second. Many will say (see comment above) that the best SEO is done by making your site the greatest site in its niche.  And this is true and will surely help you in the second component listed above. But why not follow Google’s advice and design your site to be as search-engine friendly as possible?

Anyways, all this is to say that if you are trying to figure out how to make your site show better in search results, then one of the best places to start is Google’s SEO document.  Most of the changes discussed in this document require you to know how to modify HTML on your site, so you may want to give this to your webmaster/tech guru.


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Online ministry researcher and educator. Associate Professor and Director of Innovation for the Crowell School of Business at BIola University. Author of Ministry in the Digital Age.

3 responses to SEO for ministry

  1. Hi Dave,

    A couple of questions about the survey…

    How did you go about getting participants in your survey?

    If the survey was completed by ministry leaders who found it online, then there is going to be quite a bit of bias in the results. You would end up with participants who were much more Internet savvy than average. I’ve talked with a lot of church and ministry leaders and I’d be surprised if 10% of church/ministry sites had any SEO done on them.

    Second, when you asked people if they had done some kind of SEO for their site, did you define what meant?

    The reason I ask that is because of the comment that one person left saying they did SEO by “Ask[ing] the congregation to search for the site.” I think we both know that is not SEO and is not going to improve a ministry’s search rankings.

    SEO is extremely important for ministry websites. I think most people are starting to understand that now, but there are lots of myths and misunderstandings about how to do it. It’s good to see you pointing people in the right direction.

    Paul Steinbrueck

    • Paul –

      Thanks for the comment. This survey was done over the past two years as part of a larger research project on successful internet ministry. You may want to look at my full research report, available in the sidebar of the blog. I am making no claim that any of the commenters search ranking increased! But thanks for helping clarify and agreeing that this is the right thing to do.


  2. Dave thanks for your reply. I look forward to reading your research report.

    - Paul

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