Increase website conversions? Is that something churches should be thinking about? If you have been following along in this series, we have been looking at ways to reach people who might not be specifically looking for a church.
In Church Website Content: Keywords to Discovery, we looked at ways for our churches to be found not just by people looking for your church, but by people searching for other things the church offers. Then, in another post, Winning Church SEO with Daycare, I wrote about the things you can do with your church childcare ministry page to move up in the search rankings. But all of this will only help to get people to your website. It is up to you to follow through and help them get to know your church.
Once people find your website through the best keywords and proper Search Engine Optimization (SEO), what happens next? That is an important question and the one we will tackle next.
If you have been following along with this series, you may have decided to do some work to be found by people searching the web for daycare. If you put in all the work, how will you measure success? It would be tempting to measure incompletely. You could gauge your progress by looking at where your website ranks in Google. Success using that metric would be finding yourself at the top of the search results. Yet, that is an incomplete means of measuring. You could take it one step further and measure the number of unique visitors who visit your childcare ministry page. Better, but still incomplete. You could even measure success through enrollment applications at your day school. That would seem like a complete approach, but it misses the purpose of this exercise.
Measuring SEO Success
If you go back to the first post in the series, you will see that this has been about helping people to discover your church. There are a few ways to measure success for that goal. The most obvious statistic would be the number of new people who are visiting the church – especially those who made initial contact through your childcare ministry web page.
That can be tricky to measure, but it is possible. Given the size of most churches, you could ask new people how they found out about the church.
Even if you are not ready to start measuring, you need to take the next steps to help people move from visiting your childcare ministry page to visiting your church.
First, let’s own that not everyone who shows interest in your day school is going to be interested in your church. In fact, they may already go to church somewhere else. However, remember from the first post in the series that there is one thing we know about almost everyone searching for daycare: they have kids. Maybe they are grandkids, foster kids, nieces, or nephews. They are kids. And we know that “the presence of children in a household increases the likelihood of someone going to church for the first time or going back after an absence.”
So, while not everyone who visits our childcare ministry webpage is going to be interested in our church, it is likely that we will find some people who, while they are searching for daycare, they are also searching for something else.
So, let’s offer it to them.
Increase Website Conversions by Making your Childcare Ministry Page Excellent
In my last post, I pointed out some of the content that should appear on the landing page for your church’s childcare ministry. What I left unwritten was the point that this should all be created, designed, and maintained with excellence. This will help the reputation of your ministry and your church. People make decisions about your program and your church in seconds. Before they read one word of text, their brain has evaluated the site and created an impression that won’t likely change.
Things like color, font choice, layout, images, and even load times are critical. So, once you have designed your site, show it to some people who aren’t associated with your church and hear their gut reaction to the site.
Increase Website Conversions by Using Consistent Branding
I am still surprised by the number of churches who have day school programs whose websites look nothing like the church’s website. There are all sorts of reasons for this. I am not going to go into them here. Let me just say, I don’t agree with any of them. If the day school or mother’s day out program is an outreach ministry of the church, it’s branding should look like the church. That means using the same fonts, the same color scheme, and the church’s logo. If the school has a logo of its own, it should compliment the church’s logo, and they should both appear prominently on the page.
Increase Website Conversions by Creating Links and Buttons to Related Church Activities.
A look at the statistics of some church websites will show that often, more people visit the childcare ministry page than visit the main church website. If the school or care program is an outreach ministry of the church, wouldn’t we want to, at least, invite people to engage in the other ministries of the church?
This is especially true for ministries that are related to caring about kids. For even the smallest church, I would think a link that says, “Did you know we offer Sunday School for kids of all ages on Sunday morning?” Also, if your church offers Vacation Bible School, kids choirs, parenting classes, or other family activities, those should be easily discovered from your childcare ministry page.
Increase Website Conversions by Providing Links to Information about Faith.
As I have mentioned (more than once) people may be on your site looking for childcare, but they may also be searching for something more. If they don’t participate in a faith tradition and they find their way to your page, might they be curious about what your church or any church is about? They might want to know for the sake of their kids they are considering enrolling, or they might just be curious. I can envision a link that says something like, “Have questions about the Christian faith?” or “Do you want to know more about what we believe?” or even, “Do you wonder why a church offers a day school program?”
Increase Website Conversions by Using Your Blog to Bridge the Gap.
In my last post, Blogging Your Way to Winning Church SEO, I wrote about adding a blog to help improve your search engine position and to provide valuable information to those searching for child care. A blog is also a great place to bridge the gap between just looking for childcare and learning more about your church.
In that last post, I recommended some topics for blog posts, but I want to mention a few more here. What if you included posts that shared thoughts about how church might be helpful for children and their parents?
- How Faith Formation Prepares Children for Adulthood
- Why is it Important to Attend Church as a Family
- More Than Bible Stories: What Can Children Learn in Sunday School?
- How Can Church Help Me Be a Better Parent?
Again, just some idea starters but hopefully that gives you something to start with. Just remember, this is about bridging a gap. I don’t recommend using all your posts to invite people to church. However, posts like these, including among a generous library of other helpful information might help people make the leap to visiting your church.
This wraps up this mini-series on keywords and search engine optimization. There is a lot left unwritten on this topic. There are even more ways you can use your webpage to reach new people. I could write another series on supplementing this effort with social media.
I would love to hear your comments, suggestions, struggles, and success stories. Feel free to start a conversation in the comments below. Or, reach out to me on Twitter @pastorwill.
Is it time for a new website for your church? Check out my new webinar series, “Church Websites for Everyone.” Rio Texas Conference United Methodist Churches can click here for more information. All other churches are invited to sign up here for another webinar open to all churches.