Top 5 things to Know When Growing Your Web Audience
Want people in your community to find your church on the web? Running a website can be intimidating, but hopefully we can clear away a lot of anxiety by sharing 5 easy steps to starting and maintaining a healthy website that meets the needs of your current audience while still attracting a new audience as well. 1. Your website will not become a success story over night.
The hardest part about starting and growing a website is the allowance for time. On average, sites like Google and Bing require websites to be running for a minimum of two to three years before they start to climb higher on the results pages. Be careful of hiring anybody to manage your website if they promise immediate success. You may not need to hire a SEO professional but if that is your direction then I would recommend Google’s video, https://youtu.be/piSvFxV_M04.2.
2. Regular content helps build a stable audience.
Joe Pulizzi in his top selling SEO book “Content Inc.” says consistent content is the key to successful websites, and to building healthy growth over time. Google and Facebook both use algorithms to determine how high to place your website on their results pages along with whether or not they should put your site on their recommended sites page. Both require content to be updated at least once or twice a week and updating your website with information three to four times a week almost doubles the chances of Facebook recommending your page to someone.
This also is a key to building a regular audience. Updating your website on a consistent schedule allows your audience to understand what to expect and when to expect it. Gaps in updates along with a non-traditional content cycle will both confuse and irritate your audience, which may hinder future growth.
3. The more specific you are the higher your results will be.
When building an audience, your website will generally tailor towards a unique demographic. Capitalize on this and understand that your content needs to reflect your intended audience to become discoverable on places like Google, Facebook, etc. When measuring where you are on results pages try to be as specific as possible. If you are a smaller church who has been working on a website for a few months, Googling the words “best churches” will not help create realistic results and will generally disappoint you.
A better example is to Google the words “best Christian churches near me” or best churches in northern Atlanta (example city) to see where you compare on the results pages. Generally, the goal should be on the first page of Google, but if your website is under a year old than being on page 2 or 3 is not a bad starting place. When testing out your results remember to try to use things like incognito mode or a computer that has not been to your website before to test out your results because viewing the site regularly will affect where you are on the results page.
4. Use tools such as Google Analytics or Facebook analytics to help understand your audience and growth.
When creating a website, there are free tools to let you know certain statistics about your website. Google and Facebook’s analytics pages are free tools designed to help website owners understand the traffic that is coming into your site and includes things like how many of your viewers were on a desktop versus a mobile phone. The demographics will show how many viewers are from one city or another, how many are male or female, etc. This is helpful when deciding if your website is too tailored for one demographic over another. For example, if you have an 80% female return compared to a male return than is your site is not meeting the needs of your male audience.
5. Your website will need to be cleaned up regularly.
The last point is to keep your site clean. Things like old pages, links, and connections all need to be cleaned up on a regular basis. If you create a page for an event, make sure to remove the page shortly after the event has ended. Things like old and dead links to your page will not only make your site look outdated, but will also hurt your results on places like Google that may assume your website is dead or dying and not want to place you high up on their results pages. Also, make sure there are no major bugs or flaws on your website. If you add things like videos or advance graphics than make sure to test the pages on both desktops and mobile sites. As your site grows larger and more popular, you will want to make sure all parts of your website are as healthy as possible.