Before you launch an online ad campaign, have a SEO agency make you rank #1 in Google, or start yet another re-design of your website; consider investing in your content. If you cannot engage your audience with good information, articles, videos, audio, and social media interaction; they why waste money by driving users to an empty space?
I think churches need to consider the points in Paul Boag's article and the subsequent rebuttal on the topic of SEO. This is mostly because of the fact that churches operate on limited budgets. If you have a very small, finite amount of money to work with, you need to get the largest return on investment.
I am not saying that you should stay away from ad campaigns or SEO companies. I am saying that your primary audience is people, not search engines. Although you are trying to appease search engines and help them realize how good your website is, reaching actual people with the message of the Gospel is your ultimate goal. With that said, how can you invest in your content?
Hire a copywriter
Instead of sinking that cash into online ads or SEO companies, hire a full or part-time copywriter. If this is out of your range, consider contract-based services that you can utilize for your most important endeavors. These would be landing pages and microsites for special events.
Invest in current staff
Do you have someone that already does this work? Invest in them and send them for some training, such an online class. A one-time investment will pay for itself with years of improved writing. Perhaps a member that recently retired would be interested in a part-time job as your editor. I mentioned in a previous article that older church members without much technical skill can easily serve in these capacities.
Create a testing group
Ask for volunteers to test out draft version of your copy. Make the content available to them and ask for suggestions (i.e. this instead of that) or at the very least spotting problems (i.e. use simpler language here). This could possibly evolve into a group that regularly meets for coffee and shares feedback either on smaller weekly updates, or larger monthly campaigns
There are many good reasons to hire an SEO company or to create an online ad campaign. Yet I would encourage your church to deeply consider and pray over how you might better invest that money in your content. Writing better content will help those who find your website more easily digest the message are trying to convey. Site analytics may show that the number of visitors may go down, but other indicators such as time on site and number of pages viewed should go up as your writing gets better.
Photo courtesy of Gesine Kuhlmann