There are lots of ways to improve a church website, many more than five. In just a matter of moments I jotted down 15. But you don’t need or probably want 15 ways to improve your website. Five for now is good enough. However, I must give you a warning. I may have gone a little too deep into a couple of the ways. With that said, here are my top five suggestions.
1. Add Fresh Content Weekly
No one is going to keep coming back to the same content. Isn’t the idea of having a website to put new stuff on it regularly? For a church, having some new content weekly is a worthy goal. After all, churches operate on a weekly cycle, pastors sure do. Remember “Sunday is coming!”
Fortunately, you don’t have to generate all the content. There is a whole church for that. I do have a few suggestions however for finding fresh content for your website.
First, add a blog or vlog (video blog). Perhaps your site already has a blog. Then schedule out bloggers for the next several months. Have different people in different ministry positions write it as guest bloggers for you. Tell them to write between 500 to 800 words maximum. You can give them topics or just let them write about what interests them. Use a google calendar to schedule when they are due.
Second, you may have some old content that you can bring up to date. This will allow you to have relevant content without having to write all new stuff. For example, several years ago I wrote a piece on using Trick or Treat on Halloween as an outreach opportunity for a family. I gave several easy to do ideas. For several years our state Baptist paper and even Baptist Press ran the article. The only changes were the dates and some of the resources available. You may have content related to calendar events like this. You may be also to repurpose some other content. If you are a preaching/teaching pastor, you may have sermons or lessons that could be repurposed for a blog on the website.
Third, you can have new content added by allowing others to add content such as comments to blogs and to forums. The internet is a rich hub of information and user opinions. People today are more willing to share their sentiments on subjects they feel most connected with. Therefore, creating a sense of community within your site is a good idea to promote a regular readership. This all begins by asking readers to comment on questions or issues that you bring up in your blog. You can also thread them to a forum.
2. Use free online tools to optimize
There are several tools and strategies that can help your website become more recognizable on the internet. I’ll just mention a few. One of the tools and strategies is to use SEOs, or Search Engine Optimization. This will increase your website’s ranking in Search Engines. The web service I use has a tool that will help anything I post and every page on my site have the best SEO. It is part of the package. You may have that on your site as well.
A second tool is checking the Google Search Console data to see what keywords are bringing visitors to your site. If your content doesn’t already contain the most popular keywords your site visitors are using, it’s time to revise some of your posts to include those keywords—where they’re a natural fit. You can also use those keywords as a list of potential topics for new content.
If you don’t already have your church listed in a Google Business Profile, you really should create one. This will help people who are searching for a church in your area to find you faster. It will also help you to give them the best directions to your church with service times and opportunity to receive ministry. This is free and it allows you to take charge of the way your church or ministry appears on Google Search and Maps. I’ve corrected and make more clear directions for several ministries using this tool.
3. Update the website’s design
Every year or 18 months I recommend changing the layout of the site. Within two to three years, change the color scheme and design. Not doing this is like wearing the same clothes every Sunday. It gets old and boring.
One important thing about the design is to make sure it looks good on mobile devices. Right now, on our site, we have 53% mobile to 47% desktop. The website builder we use allows us to view every page, before and after we publish them on a mobile as well as a desktop view. It is amazing how some things that I put on a page change when viewing on a smartphone or tablet.
4. Invest in social media
If you don’t have Social Media icons integrated into your website then this is a simple way to update your website that could see huge benefits for your church. This connects the two together.
Popular Social Media platforms Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have become indispensable
tools in helping churches promote their ministries. They allow you to personalize the guest experience, strengthen your branding and familiarize yourself with your potential attenders.
By setting up a social presence and adding this to your website in the form of icons, you’ll give your website visitors the chance to engage with your ministry on another level. It also means that they may decide to follow you on social media, allowing you to target them with content and stay at the forefront of their minds.
Furthermore, if these visitors begin to follow you on social media, they can potentially become promoters of your church’s ministry by re-posting, liking and sharing your content with their own social media friends and followers.
I’ve written more about what not to do on social media here: Five Things I’ve Noticed on Church Social Media…
5. Make it someone’s job to stay on top of the website
I figure by now you’re thinking that this is more than an “add on” job for the youth pastor or admin assistant. It is that important. This will take dedicated time, energy, and cultivation. If you have staff meeting, you likely take prayer requests, go over the calendar, check the offering and attendance, etc. When it comes to checking in on each of the church’s ministries such as worship, assimilation, small group ministry, you will need to also go over your digital footprint. Others have said this before and I have echoed them, your digital (online) team is just as important as your worship team. This is the world we are in right now, and it is moving more in this direction every day.
I want to be as kind as I can, but this is so important to understand. The world is not going to conform to your old ways of communication. They will just leave you behind. You may not like it, but that doesn’t change the fact that you can’t talk to people with whom you are not engaging. The Apostle Paul said he would become all things to all people so that by all means he might win some (1 Corinthians 9:22). I believe if Paul were alive on earth today, he would be using online ministry to the max!
Before guests enter your doors, they have gone through the online doors of your church. If you don’t have your best foot forward online, then you may lose them before they ever come in person. If you don’t any online presence, and many churches don’t, you are missing out on engaging people in this not so new anymore frontier of outreach and evangelism.
If you begin with these five ways, over time you will see a digital presence in your church that you can be proud of and where first timers and members will visit often. It will become another location of vital ministry for your church.