When I’m traveling and need to find the nearest Cracker Barrel, I go to crackerbarrel.com because I know that’s their website. When I need to search for something, I often go to google.com, even though I know I can just type my query in the URL bar. I instinctively associate a company or organization’s URL with its brand.
As you consider your church website’s URL, remember that it’s an extension of your "brand." We recently changed Concordia Technology Solutions’ URL from cts.cph.org to concordiatechnology.org because it more clearly stated our brand (there were also some SEO benefits, more on that in another blog post soon!).
Churches face the challenge that their church name is probably not unique. For example, a search for “St. Paul Lutheran Church” brings up two million results, showing hundreds of Lutheran churches with the name St. Paul.
Your church website’s URL is your church’s digital address. People driving around cyberspace need that address to drive right up to your front doors—no wrong turns and no frustrating detours. It’s important to choose something clear, concise, consistent with your ministry, and easy to remember. Here are a few great strategies for creating a memorable URL:
One of the most common strategies? Use the church name and city. For example, Christ Community Church in Bakersville might use the domain www.christcommunitychurchbakersville.org. While a bit long, it is descriptive, easy to remember, and most likely available for registration.
Drawing from the example above, Christ Community Church may decide to shorten that longer URL to www.cccb.org. While not as identifiable as belonging to the church, this URL is easy to remember, easy to type in, and easy to communicate to others. Again, the domain must be unique to your church and available for registration.
Some churches choose to use a welcoming phrase or a mission statement as their URL. For example, Christ Community Church might choose to have their mission statement—Living Christ’s Love—as the URL: www.livingchristslove.org. While this looks great on publicity pieces, it could be hard to remember. “Was it www.livingchristslove.org or www.livechristslove.org?” While your phrase might be clever or unique to your church, it also might be hard for newcomers to remember whether that URL is for Christ Community Church or some other church down the road.
Survey results showed most churches use the church name—excluding “church”—and the name of the city as their URL. For example, www.christbakersville.org is much shorter than www.christcommunitychurchbakersville.org, easier to remember than www.livingchristslove.org, and more descriptive than www.cccb.org.
Display your new, informative URL on everything you produce that promotes your church—whether that’s bulletins and newsletters, outdoor signs, flyers and posters, or T-shirts. Direct people to your website to receive more information on events, and include the specific path added to your URL (e.g., ChristBakersville.org/Easter). If you tell your congregation why you’ve started to include your URL on more items, they may decide to promote it more with you!
Helpful hint: When displaying your URL on paper or online, remove the “www.” and capitalize the proper letters (e.g., ChristBakersville.org). Changing the cap style does not affect the reliability of the URL, and this style makes it more attractive and easier to remember.
This blog post is an excerpt from our ebook “9 Strategies for Engaging Visitors with Your Church Website.” To download this free ebook and get more tips on how to optimize your church website, click the button below!