Your church website shouldn’t be static.
It's not something you can “set and forget.”
Rather, it should adapt to updated technology and how people interact with websites, which is continually shifting.
This doesn’t mean you have to revamp your website every month.
Far from it.
But there is a precedent for keeping an eye on how well your website is performing.
Is your website leading people to visit your church?
Is it helping visitors to engage with your church community?
To help you assess whether your church website is serving a purpose and not collecting dust, here are five things your site should accomplish—today.
#1 – Clearly display your purpose
Your website must be (really) clear.
I’m not talking about the quality of your images.
Instead, what I have in mind is the communication of the ONE step you want your website visitors to take.
Do you want them to visit your worship service?
Do you want them to listen to the most recent sermon?
Do you want to promote what ministries you have available?
Ultimately, what ONE action do you want visitors to take?
Now, let me ask you these follow-up questions:
Is this ONE thing made crystal clear on your website? Can your website visitors easily find this ONE thing? Or is it buried in one of your website’s internal pages, toward the bottom of your homepage, or crowded out by 10 additional calls to action?
If you don’t make your ONE purpose clear on your site, then you’re making a big mistake.
Based on a recent study, when someone first visits your church’s website, he or she will only spend 5.59 seconds reading your homepage’s written content.
What’s the moral of the story?
If the ONE step you want people to take isn’t clearly displayed, then the majority of your website visitors will not take that step.
Action: Ask five people (friends, colleagues, volunteers, staff) to look at the homepage of your website for six seconds and answer this question: After looking at our website, what would you say is the ONE thing we ask you to do?
#2 – Improve your website load time
Your website has to be fast.
Like, really fast.
According to the same study I mentioned above, nearly half (47%) of the people visiting your website expect it to load in two seconds or less. If it takes your church's website longer than this to load, then your website visitors will bounce.
Here’s the deal:
You can have a slick website. It can have killer images, crazy good copy, and stunning design. But if it takes longer than two seconds to load, then your website will be more like an online trampoline.
Action: Go to PageSpeed Insights by Google to see how long it takes for your church’s website to load. This is a free service, and Google will provide you with some tips on how to improve your website’s speed.
#3 – Help people find your church
Your website doesn’t have to be complicated.
In fact, most people visiting your website are looking for practical information.
Based on a report by GreyMatter, here’s what visitors are looking for:
- What time are your services?
- What activities or ministries do you offer?
- Where are you located?
- Can I listen to or watch a sermon?
Make this information easily accessible.
Fight the temptation to bury this deep within your website.
You want your website visitors to quickly figure out where you’re located and what time they need to be there.
Regarding your sermons, uploading your most recent content is a bonus.
Based on a survey conducted by the Pew Research Forum, 83% of respondents said that the “quality” of the sermon influenced whether they chose to visit a church.
When you first read this, you may be tempted to compare yourself to the local megachurch pastor.
The definition of “quality” differs from person to person.
Preach the Bible.
Upload your sermons.
Call it a day.
Action: Make practical and useful information available and easy to find on your church’s website.
#4 – Make your church website is easy to find online
“Churches near me.”
“Easter service near me.”
“Churches in Atlanta.”
“Baptist church Charleston West Virginia.”
These are common phrases people use to find a church in their town.
If you want these potential first-time guests to visit your worship service, then it’s best for your church’s website to appear on the first page of results.
Per MOZ, a leader in search engine optimization, the majority of organic clicks (71.33%) take place on the first page of search results.
Know what else?
Results that rank in the 1–5 range will receive 67.6% of EVERY click.
To get the attention of these would-be visitors, you’ll need to brush up on what’s called “search engine optimization” (SEO). I understand this sounds technical. But you don’t need to be a software engineer or have a considerable budget to boost your church’s ranking in search results.
There are practical things you can do to improve your church’s SEO.
Action: Read 3–5 articles on church SEO, and see if you or someone in your church can help improve your website’s SEO. If you hit a dead-end, consider hiring an SEO expert to boost your church’s rank.
#5 – Show people what your church is all about
There’s one last way you can make it easier for people to visit your church:
Let them see what your church is like.
To do this, it’s essential to include photos of your church on your website.
From pictures of your church staff to candid shots taken during worship services or church events, include as many images as you can.
Adding photos of your church to your website will help people see what your church is like. It will help them get a better feel for your style of worship, what to wear, and what they should expect.
Action: Get someone to take high-quality, professional photographs of your staff and candid shots of services or events. This person can be on your staff, a church member, a volunteer, or someone you hire. Upload these images at relevant locations on your church’s website.
Improve your church’s website
There you have it.
The five things you can do to improve your church’s website today:
1. Clearly display your purpose
2. Improve your website load time
3. Help people find your church
4. Make your church website easy to find online
5. Show people what your church is all about
After reading this post, take 10–15 minutes to walk through the action steps above. These short exercises will place you well on your way to making your church’s website a more effective tool for communicating with your church members and community.