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.

Event Promotion from Scott Vaughan

I “attended” a webinar with Scott Vaughan www.svministry.com yesterday on the subject of promoting church events. As always Scott had practical stuff to say on the subject. His main point for promoting an event is to follow this formula:

The Right Message to The Right Audience by The Right Method at The Right Time. 

A good test he suggested was to ask yourself, “Would I attend this event if someone else was putting it on?” If the answer is “No”, then don’t do the event. He also suggested that you make it fun, know your audience, start on time and finish early, think first class but don’t over do it, and always try to add value by offering a little something extra. This last point reminds me of Seth Godin’s great little book “Free Prize Inside”  http://www.sethgodin.com/freeprize/.

Another good point Scott made about “knowing your audience”, was that you can’t move the audience closer to where you are, you need to move closer to where the audience is. Learn their language, understand their hurts and needs, and change the way you do things to win them. I pass by a particular church just about every day. And weekly (or I would suggest weakly) they change the message on their sign. The messages are always those Christian gobbledy-gook  sayings (technical term)  that are amusing to believers but nonsensical to anyone else. You know, stuff like “God receives knee mail.”

Do churches really think anyone on the outside is going to move closer to attending their church based on these goofy unintelligible sayings? (I think I’m about to get myself in trouble here.) Instead, why not talk to the people in your community, find out what they need, plan something that meets that need, and put that on your sign!

REMARKABLE!

So often these days customer service is non-existent. This is really odd since blogging and social networking give us all an instant voice to the world. Companies pay lots of money on advertising only to blow it with lousy customer service. Just when I have begun to think no company gets it any more I get a real surprise. Here is an email exchange between me and Hachette Book Group:

FROM ME:

I purchased the box set of Malcolm Gladwell’s three books on audio. On disc 6 of “Outliers” there is something wrong with the audio. This occurred right out of the box so I know I didn’t damage it

THEIR RESPONSE:

Good day Chuck, sorry to hear you have a defective disk. Please let me know what your street address is and the ISBN number for the audio book so we may send you a full replacement.  

Thank you, Julie

Hachette Book Group

Customer Service

(I SENT THE INFO)

THEIR RESPONSE:

Thank you Chuck for this information. You should receive the replacement in about a week

Best regards, Julie

Hachette Book Group

Customer Service

A few days later I received a replacement for the whole three book boxed set (worth $80). Now that was unexpected! I would have been happy with a replacement of just the defective disc.  This is what Seth Godin refers to as “remarkable” (in other words, special enough that you want to remark about it).  And now look, I’m bragging about Hachette Book Group… on the internet.  That is the marketing world we live in. We MUST do the remarkable to survive in this world!