I just started reading Terrace Crawford’s new book “Going Social”, and I have to say he had me hooked right from the first story. Terrace is a veteran of the social media world. He is a well known blogger (terracecrawford.com), writer and editor for ChurchLeaders.com and a youth pastor. While we served together at Crossroads Community Church, Terrace helped the church move into the Social Media world in a big way.
In the book he covers blogs, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. I work with 63 churches and I can say that very few of them leverage social media in any significant way to connect with people and promote the gospel. I think every pastor ought to read this book, and get a copy for the person in the church in charge of media and web.
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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.