Christmas is just over two weeks away, and you know what that means! Among other things, your church will experience an influx of people you haven’t seen in a while (or at least not since Easter).
Your church’s Christmas Eve and Christmas Day worship services are great opportunities for you to engage with visitors or inactive members. For many families, going to church to celebrate Christmas is simply a tradition, or even an obligation, but it is also a wonderful chance for them to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
So how can you use your church website to encourage visitors and inactive members to attend worship this Christmas season? I’ve compiled seven simple steps you can take today to help draw more people to visit your church website.
Amanda’s post this past Monday on preparing your online communications for Christmas shared some great ways that you can add a consistent message to every step of your content framework. The following ideas will help you get more visitors to go through those steps.
1. Optimize Your SEO
To be fair, I’ll admit the following is a gross over-simplification of a complex topic. Nevertheless, it’ll serve our purposes!
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of changing your site to improve its ranking in search engines (in other words, it gets your site to show up at the top on Google). There are over 200 factors that affect your position. I won’t go into most of them, but here are just two things to look at:
- Page Title
The title of your page is the words that show up in the top of your browser when the page is active, and is an important factor in your search ranking. Make sure to include words such as your church name (including the word “church”), the city, and the state. I would also include “Christmas worship” on your website’s page that’s specifically about Christmas worship services.
- Meta Description
A meta description does not show up on your web page itself and, while it also doesn’t affect your search ranking, it does display in search engine results pages (SERPs). A well-written meta description will encourage visitors to click on your link to learn more. Be sure to include those same keywords as in the page title. To learn how to add a meta description to your pages, check out w3schools.com.
2. Set Up a Google My Business Account
While there are other search engines out there, Google dominates the market—controlling almost 71%—so focusing on Google makes good use of your time. Google My Business is the latest name for Google’s program that allows businesses to control their presence on Google. While churches aren’t the same as businesses, people search for them in the same way, so having a Google My Business account is essential.
To get started, I suggest you go to Google and search for “churches in my area.” Click on your church in Google Maps and follow the link that states “Claim this business.”
3. Launch Google AdWords
Sticking with the subject of search engines and Google specifically, let’s talk about Google AdWords. When you search for something on Google, you receive two types of results on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages): organic and paid. The organic results show based on the quality of those sites’ SEO (as mentioned above), but the results at the top and the right are actually paid advertisements.
I know most churches don’t have much of an advertising budget, but that’s ok. Google AdWords lets you set your budget and only pay for actual clicks to your site. Again, this is a rather complicated subject that I am certainly oversimplifying, but I highly encourage you to try it out. Search for keywords in Google that are common for search terms related to your church (i.e., “churches in Bakersville, MO.”) To learn more, read this handy help article about Google AdWords.
4. Run Facebook Ads
Facebook, like Google, makes the majority of their revenue from advertisers. Facebook now offers a variety of ad types, such as Boosted Posts, that can help put your church’s Facebook posts front and center for your desired audience. One of the key features of Facebook advertising is the ability to target a specific audience based on their demographics, location, and interests.
You might be thinking “Why would I advertise on Facebook if I already have a Facebook page for my church?” I hate to burst your bubble. But here’s the truth of the matter: now, only 7–11% of the individuals who like your Facebook page are seeing your posts in their News Feed if you don’t you pay for them.
But, like Google, you can choose how much or little you want to spend when setting up paid advertising. You can also choose to only pay when someone clicks. Plus, with Facebook, your audience can share your posts with their followers, and the effects will snowball.
5. Highlight Your URL
This may go without saying, but be sure to share your URL as often as you can. In this case, I’m not talking about your regular website address (ChristBakersville.org) but about the URL for your Christmas worship service page (ChristBakersville.org/Christmas). Sharing this will let people know just how easily they can find out information about your service times.
So where can you put your Christmas URL? Besides the standards of bulletins, newsletters, and emails, think creatively about your church and its place in the community. Do you have a sign with messages outside your building? Can you print it on a large banner? Can you share it on a community bulletin board? Get the word out as best you can.
6. Email Your Visitor List
Many churches request email addresses from visitors who attend worship thorough the year (if you’re not doing this, really consider it!). Now is a great time to use those email addresses and inform visitors of your upcoming Christmas worship services.
Be sure to make this email a friendly invitation, not just a “News and Announcements” type of email. Since you know these people aren’t actively engaged in your congregation, customize the message so that it does’t sound like you think they are. Make it a simple, friendly, and personal message that helps them feel comfortable visiting your church again.
7. Ask Your Members to Share
Last, and certainly not least, ask your members for help. Make sure they know your Christmas URL and what kind of information is included on the page (don’t assume they’ve already seen it). Ask them to share it with family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers.
Remind your members to think of those who have gone through some major life changes in the last year (death of a family member, loss of a job, addition of a baby, and new empty-nesters). When these things happen, people are more likely to take up new (or old) traditions, especially around the holidays.
These are just a few simple things you can do to boost your website visitors during this Christmas season, but there are plenty of other things you can do throughout the year to assist this process.
What have you found to be most successful for your congregation? I would like to hear about it! Please leave me a comment in the notes below or reach out to us at @concordiatech.
Learn more about how to prepare your website for visitors by downloading our free ebook titled
"9 Strategies for Engaging Visitors with Your Church Website."