Inevitably, people will search church websites and come across dead pages, bad links and seriously outdated information. These Web visitors probably will not visit in person. Don't let this happen to your church.
1. Audit your site. One of the best things you can do regularly is to perform a site audit. Tools are available to help that will give you some idea of where the church website might need assistance. Hubspot has a great audit tool. You will have to input your email, which will most likely put you on their email list. They have great content to share. Freegrader is a more simplified website grader that can give you a general idea of your website needs. If you want to jump into the needs of your content, VisibleThread’s Clarity Grader will analyze the writing, links and other content within your website. WooRank will thoroughly analyze your website as well. Nibblr is another free website audit report option. If you have the time, you can run several auditing tools and compare the results. Make those needs that show up across the board your first priority.
2. Review every page. The worst thing a visitor to your website can do is find old and broken information. At least every year, check each page on your site. If you come across a page that features an old event, then take it off the live portion of your website. Put it in a “draft” or archive folder. If you want to keep the page live, perhaps because it had photos of the event, change the written copy so that it is clear that this event already happened. If the event happens annually, you can update the upcoming “save the date” information. Also, look for broken graphics, links or contact information that has changed.
3. Build your SEO. Since you’re already reviewing each page, it is a good time to work on SEO (search engine optimization). We’ve highlighted some of the best practices for building great title tags on your webpages. Check out our SEO templates for popular church Web pages to help with this process.
Though adding “alt tags” to your images doesn’t affect SEO much, you should still check images and add them for their original purpose of helping people with visual disabilities to access your site. An example of adding an image alt tag might be to put a tag on your homepage photo of the church as “First United Methodist Church of Smalltown, 123 Main Street, worship at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday.”
4. Build your content calendar. Visitors and Google like to see an active website, which will likely be interpreted as an active church. Creating a content marketing strategy does not take a huge effort. This guide will help get you over the first hurdle.
- Open a journal (notebook page or online word document) and begin a brainstorming list. Write down a temporary title, the general idea or outline and an ideal time to post this online.
- Write all frequently asked questions (FAQs) to archive on the website. Ask staff to keep track of common questions they answer via email and add them to your FAQ list.
- Look through the liturgical calendar and write some of the stories, thoughts or historic information associated with the liturgical calendar.
5. Add functionality. Website content-management systems are always adding functions to their services. If they are not, you probably need to try a new CMS. Familiarize yourself and implement some of the new functionality.
Example: If you have a website on Wordpress, utilize a plugin like Post Expirator, which you can use to set pages or posts to go offline when a certain date hits. When you are adding a page that highlights a Bible study, you can set the page to go offline when the study or registration ends. This will speed up next year’s spring-cleaning process.
Set a time to spring clean your website. This will help give visitors a great first impression and encourage them to visit your physical church.