Search Engine Optimization

I’ve got a good friend who has begun a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) company. This is a term a lot of people aren’t familiar with. It refers to getting your website seen in internet searches. What good is it if someone is searching for you and your website is on page 125 on a Google search? Wouldn’t you rather be on the first result page that comes up? There are actually some easy and legal ways to do this.

So my friend, Mike Glover started this company called Click Finders www.click-finders.com. I had a conversation with Mike and our web guy the other day because we are in the process of creating a new site. Boy did I learn a lot! Probably the biggest lesson was that lots of text is important on your home page. I’ve always preferred a page that is not cluttered with a lot of words. I like those “flashy” flash type pages with cool graphics. The problem is that those graphics don’t help people find your site.

This is important for churches. We need to first ask ourselves: Who is our website aimed at reaching? If all you want is a place for your members to connect with info about the church, then don’t worry about this stuff. Your people already know how to get to the site.

But, if you are trying to actually reach people out there, SEO becomes very important. If someone starts searching for a church in your area your website can help them find you. It is a fact that most people now use search engines to find out about a new area they are moving into. Our area is heavily military, so we have a constant influx of young families moving in and looking for a church home.

Since I work for a bunch of churches, we want our new site to help people find those churches. Our site will be optimized to help people moving to our region to find just the right church for them. So, the new site will have to balance style (flashy) and substance (text).

I’m hoping to set up a workshop with Mike Glover sometime this fall so he can show our churches how to improve their presence on the web. If you are interested in bringing Mike in for a consultation, check out his website (it is easy to find) and give him a call.

Scenario Planning

The military has been doing it for years. In fact, there is a large facility not far from where I live that is dedicated to it. Shell Oil Company has also been using this tool very well for a long time. Many other companies have learned from Shell and have followed suit. What is it: Scenario Planning. It is based on the idea that we cannot know the future, but we can create several scenarios of possible futures, and then plan with these in mind.

I have been studying Scenario Planning, particularly as it could relate to the church world. I really believe it has a lot of advantages over traditional “single point” strategy planning. The world is changing so rapidly that the old “Five Year Strategy Plan” is not very realistic these days. Just go back five years from right now and imagine the political, socio-economic, financial changes that have taken place. A plan based on what you knew five years ago wouldn’t be of much help today!

So far the only source I have been able to find in the church world on this is from the ever creative Robert Perry who wrote Futuropting: How Churches can do Multiple Scenario Planning. I haven’t read Perry’s book yet. Currently I am plowing through The Scenario Planning Handbook by Bill Ralston and Ian Wilson. Though this book is written from a business perspective it is very applicable to churches.

I am looking forward to adding Scenario Planning to my tool box. I really believe churches need to catch up with everyone else and begin looking at the future in a different way. My hope is to work with a few strategic churches this fall using Scenario Planning as a guide.