5 Content Errors Made on Church Websites
These days it almost goes without saying that a church website has become essential for effectively marketing your church to the wider community. But we’ve all stumbled upon countless websites (whether it be church websites or not) that have been incredibly difficult to use. I attend a church which spent tens of thousands of dollars on a website, and yet I still can’t find anything I’m looking for on it. I make this point because you don’t have to bankrupt your church budget to have a user-friendly church website.
What churches and pastors really need is quality content. To have good content you have to avoid some mistakes that churches frequently make on their websites. Here are 5 common content and copy-writing errors to steer clear of. (Adapted from an article in Smashing Magazine.)
Error 1 – Writing Inwardly
This is way too easy to do and not even notice it. As a pastor, church planter, or web manager of the church you know the church’s values and the benefits it brings to the community. But that doesn’t mean someone visiting your website for the first time knows those things. Actually, that’s probably a huge part of why they are checking out your church website before they visit on a Sunday morning … They want to discover who you are and why you exist.
Make your church identity and mission very clear on your website. What would someone who’s never been to your church want to learn before visiting?
Also, if the website is directed solely at current members, a visitor may get the vibe that they aren’t welcome before they ever step foot in the church. Don’t make this mistake. Write to the needs/desires of a first time visitor.
Error 2 – Hiding the Point
Please, all website users beg that you don’t make it hard to find information. Attention spans of people now-a-days are little to none. Make it easy for someone to find the point for each page on your website.
Why have a “Contact Us” page that doesn’t give your address? Or even worse, why have a “Location” page with a map but no address? Don’t hide the point of your pages. Make it easy for the user. If you make it hard for someone to learn about you or even find you, they may never visit your church. It’s a chance that can be lost fast.
Error 3 – Misusing or Not Using SEO for Search Engines
This is a mistake most churches make simply because they don’t have anyone on staff who has the time or knowledge on how to optimize church websites for search engines such as Google and Yahoo.
Test your website out. Go to Google right now and type in your church name and city. Is your church website the first result? What about if you type in other keywords like “(your denomination) churches in (your city)”? Now does your church website pop up in the search?
If so, nice work. If not, it may be time to look into adding some Search Engine Optimization (SEO) data to your website. If you don’t know anything about SEO, Google’s SEO Starter Guide is a good place to begin.
Error 4 – Having Too Much Content
Are your staff bios a page long? Do you have an entire page dedicated to the history of the church? If so, you probably have too much content.
Keep it short. Keep it simple. Make it easy.
Error 5 – No Place to “Learn More”
Is there a clear and easy way to find a page on the site that allows a visitor to submit a prayer request, comment, or even sign up for an upcoming event? This is an easy way for someone who may be uncomfortable calling the church to get in touch with you. And even better, now you have their contact information and you can follow up with them, and possibly even share the Good News, which your church exists to make known.
The main takeaway is this: church marketing begins with your website because that is the first place people will go to learn about your church. That is why something as simple as making your website more accessible can go a long way in showing that your church welcomes visitors.
Please feel free to join the discussion. What commonly made mistakes have you noticed on church websites? What would you like to see churches do to make their websites more user-friendly?
I try to live my life pleasing to the Lord. Marketing strategist for d2design. Excited that retirement isn't an option for Christians.