CV Global Acquires Searchable.Church

I can't be more excited to share with you that CV Global has acquired Searchable.Church from our company.  While this might sound like more of a business exchange, I can promise you that this is way more of a ministry partnership.  

A little more than a year ago I got tired of encouraging churches to take advantage of the Google for Nonprofits program where Google offers churches $10,000/month in FREE Adwords Advertising (no joke!!!) and them not taking advantage of it.  I understand it's confusing and complicated, but it's over $100,000/year in legitimate value that ministries can take advantage of.  So, I decided to create a business solution that would do it for them.  Over the past year our team in partnership with Jen Miles has been able to help dozens of churches take advantage of this opportunity and spent more than a million dollars in Adwords campaigns helping churches reach more people in their community and throughout the world through Google search.  

About 3 months ago, I met Nick Runyon of CV Global at a meeting here in New York City.  We hit it off with a lot of likeminded ministry passions around technology.  He had a similar idea of what we were doing with Searchable Church, but his heart was not for a business initiative, but to give it away and help churches at no cost. With the team in place at CV Global it was clear that they would be able to take Searchable Church to another level not just helping dozens of churches, but potentially thousands of churches across North America and we quickly came to an agreement to transfer the platform under the umbrella of CV Global.

Moving forward, I can't wait to see what they do with it and how many churches they will be able to help.  Your church can get started today by simply going to Searchable.Church and signing up for a FREE account.  Seriously, there are no strings attached.  Just Kingdom minded leaders who see an incredible ministry opportunity that can reach people in such a unique way at such a unique time in history.  I'm grateful for Nick Runyan and the team at CV Global for pressing into the limits of technology for the sake of the Gospel and seeing this opportunity and making the investment to come alongside the local church in this way.

Connecting People through your Church Website

We have better opportunities than ever to more effectively connect people on our websites.  Rather than than just giving people information, you should look to share information and give an opportunity for them to connect immediately. These opportunities can range from event registrations, small group information, volunteer opportunities and more.  

Here are some best practices in connecting people through online forms on your website:

  1. Keep Forms Simple - if you ask for too much information people are less likely to complete the forms.  Ask for the bare minimum that provides for most effective follow up and next steps.

  2. Connect Forms to Database - when possible connecting forms to your church database is extremely valuable.  This integration allows for more effective follow up and long term understanding of your church members and the information that they are interested in.  

  3. Embed Forms into the Website - linking out to an external form often creates confusion for those your are looking to connect.  Using forms that embed seamlessly into your website is optimal.  

  4. Make Sure Forms are Mobile Responsive - it is likely that more than half of your website browsing on a mobile device. You need to make sure that your forms function well on a mobile device.  

At Community Bible Church we have chosen to use Formstack integrating with our Fellowship One Database. For my business I love using Squarespace and Squarespace forms. Another great option that many churches are using is Wufoo.  

I would love to hear what technologies and best practices that you are using!  

Church Website SEO

When you are looking for something where is the first place that you go? Google, of course.

To say that Google runs the internet might be an understatement. Historically people found our churches while driving by or seeing our ad in the Yellow Pages. Those days are over. Even if they do find us via those two paths, their likely next step is to Google your church to get more information.  

So, the question is: how do we make sure that our website ranks high on Google searches?  

Honestly, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is quite complicated and the details of how Google ranks website is unknown to most. There are however some best practices in order to optimize your website for Google results.  

The first thing you want to do is think through the top 3 search terms or phrases that you want your church to pull up. For Community Bible Church there are 3 primary search phrases that we focus on: “Community Bible Church”, “San Antonio Church”, and “Online Church.”  In order to make sure our website performs well in these searches we need to make sure these phrases are on the homepage of our website.  One common mistake that churches make is not having their church name on the homepage of their website. It is visibly there through a graphic logo, but it is not searchable because it is not searchable text.  

Beyond making sure your key phrases are integrated into the homepage of your website here are 3 additional things you can do to make sure your church is searchable:

  1. Utilize Google for Nonprofits - Google offers nonprofit organizations $10,000/month in FREE Adwords advertising.  Maximizing this resource can make sure that your church is Searchable in your local area.  

  2. Utilize Google Webmaster Tools - this might actually be the most important step as Google will help make sure your site is optimized for Google Search Results.  

  3. Setup Accounts on Google+ and other Social Networks - many of the top search results will pull from Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and other Social Networks.  Having a Church account on each of these will help in search results.  

Know that SEO takes time to build and it takes minutes to destroy. Please do not buy into link pyramid scams that can often get your website blacklisted by Google. Work hard to create a great website with a lot of traffic and Google will steadily take notice. Building strong Google Search results is a long term play with huge return for your church.  

What are you doing to make your church more searchable on Google?

 

Measuring the Effectiveness of Your Church Website: Google Analytics

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How do you measure the effectiveness of your church website? For Community Bible Church our primary goal of the website is to lead people from website visitors to worship attenders.  That’s very hard to measure though.  While it’s hard to measure, we still try to measure all that we can and strive to enhance our website to become the most effective ministry tool that we can.  In order to measure the effectiveness of our website we primarily measure 4 things via Google Analytics:

  1. Overall Website Traffic - we believe that the better we make our website the more people will visit it. People will come through social sharing, personal invites and Google search results. We desire for our church to grow and often that church growth is directly in line with the growth of our website traffic.  

  2. Time On Site - while we don’t want people to live on our website, we do want people to spend significant time on our website finding out more about how they can get connected, watch sermon videos, and more. We primarily measure the time on site of our first time visitors to see well we are engaging this audience.

  3. Google Search Traffic - optimizing our site for Google search results is very important. People primarily navigate the Internet through Google and we want people to find our church through their searches.  

  4. First Time Visitors - the primary goal of our website is to reach new people in our community. If all we have are returning website visitors we are providing value to our church members, but we are missing our primary target audience.  

How do you measure the effectiveness of your church website? What other opportunities do we have to measure the effectiveness of our websites?

 

Make a Great First Impression with Your Church Website

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At Community Bible Church we have consistently seen that 40% of our website traffic are first time visitors from our local area. These visitors are primarily coming from Google Search and Social Media.

When they visit our site we have found based on analytics that they are interested in 4 things:

  1. Service Times & Location

  2. Kids information

  3. Staff/Senior Pastor information

  4. Sermon Media

We have also found that returning visitors go to 3 primary pages:

  • Online Giving

  • Sermon Videos

  • Events

While we don’t want to hide information from our members or returning site visitors, we have found that their time on site is longer and they will spend the time to find what they are looking for. If a first time website visitor has a hard time finding the key information they are looking for they will likely to disengage and move on. So, how do you make a great first impression with your website?

This first starts with defining your goal for your website visitors. For Community Bible Church that is attending a worship service at one of our physical campuses in San Antonio or attending our Online Campus if they live outside of San Antonio, Texas. My guess is that your goal is pretty much the same. So, how can you do this?

  • Clean and Vibrant Design - your website should look much like your church lobby: welcoming, clean, and clear. Use images or videos that give visitors a look into your worship experiences and church campus. Show friendly faces and engaging imagery.

  • Communicate Clearly - make sure your service times and locations are easy to see and find. Also, make sure it is clear what families are expected to do with their kids and what that check-in process will be like before they arrive.  

  • Meet the Pastor - while your church is more than your Pastor, people still desire to feel a personal connection to their pastor. While you don’t need to feature your pastor on the homepage, you should make sure that people can get to know them on the website before attending.

  • Offer Video Messages - before we go to a restaurant or hotel we check out the reviews.  We want to see pictures, hear what others say, and get the best understanding of what we are about to experience.  By offering your sermons via video on your website you allow potential visitors to get the great possible perspective on whether your church might be the best fit for them and their family.

So, leave the clutter behind and create a great first impression that helps move people from curious website visitors to worship service attenders.  

How else are you helping to make a great first impression with your website? What sites out there do you see that make a great first impression?

One other recommendation that I would encourage you to consider is a great value add that we have created: Live Chat. We have added a live chat feature to our website where a digital receptionist is logged in and ready to answer questions via live chat or visitors can leave a message that are returned within 12 hours.  This level of engagement has proven to create a “wow factor” and personalization to the first impression we are creating with the website.