Why SEO...for Ministries?
I recently attended a week of Advanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Training at Bruce Clay, Inc. -- arguably the world’s leading SEO Consultancy and Training organization.
The first module of the training was a high level overview that aimed to answer this question: “Why SEO?”
As we progressed through the 15 or so slides that comprised this module, we heard phrases like, “increase brand awareness” and “increase qualified traffic” and “increase revenue.”
We learned that long-tail search phrases (4 or more words) make up 54.5% of all search queries and lead to more targeted results (and, thus, a higher click-through rate). We learned about scientifically proven eye-tracking patterns that tell us where people click. And we learned that ranking does not equal traffic, but ranking is exponentially correlated to click-through rate and more click-throughs equals more traffic!
What’s more, we learned that the Top 3 results on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) are the new Page 1. And if you don’t exist in the top 15, you don’t exist, but generally, people have found what they are looking for within the top 3 results. Be assured of this, we were told: Real estate is scarce and the competition is fierce. This is a seller’s market, people.
Suffice it to say, 1 hour into our 5-day training, we were sold.
Good Great Superior SEO strategy is not only important for any company or organization with a digital presence, it is imperative. SEO is no longer optional.
More Than Rankings and Analytics
As our week’s training continued and in the time I’ve reflected on it since, I’ve naturally been making the connections between what I learned about SEO and how it impacts businesses to how it impacts ministry.
Certainly, most (all?) ministries depend upon donor support and many rely on product sales as their model for financial sustainability. And, as we know, a strong digital strategy and web presence is foundational to that model. Thus, one might conclude that the “why” of SEO for ministry is that it leads to improved rankings = increased click-throughs = increased traffic = increased donations and sales.
And you would be right. Improving SERP rankings may very well result in increasing donations and product sales. But, I think, for ministries, the “Why SEO” is ultimately about something more.
One of our SEO clients recently said to us, “I know you guys want to see the ranking and traffic stats increase -- that's what you do, but sometimes there are other considerations.”
Oh yes -- yes there are!!! It is so easy to get wrapped up in the stats, isn’t it? When we hear the compelling arguments like I did for competitive SEO, it makes us want to push our way out into the crowd and elbow our way to the front of the line! It motivates us to work just that much harder than the next guy to reach the top of the results page and achieve that coveted #1 position!
After all … that means we’re doing our jobs well! We have poured over our Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools and we have seen the patterns and trends and have made the correct adjustments in our playbook. We have correctly identified our users’ intent, we have chosen good keywords that people use naturally when they search, and we have optimized our on-page content and establish our link strategy better than anyone else! We win!!
Oh, but to be clear: for ministries, when we talk about SEO, we must realize that this isn't just about rankings and analytics.
What we are doing with SEO is about extending your ministry's reach. It's about leveraging the technology we have so that when someone who has NO IDEA who (for example) this particular ministry is ... but has a stirring notion in their spirit that there MUST be "something more" out there and they happen to type into Google one day: "Did dinosaurs really roam the earth" ... we want to make sure they find this ministry FIRST! Because this ministry is not only going to answer their question about whether or not dinosaurs really roamed the earth, they are going to reach them with the Gospel Truth.
This isn't about being first in the rankings or increasing site traffic -- those are just the means by which we walk out our mission. This -- these analytics, these ranking reports, these keywords, this on-page optimization -- this is about expanding the Kingdom of Jesus Christ and reaching people for the sake of the Gospel. This is about ministry being found for the purpose of LIVES transformed for eternity. Ultimately, this -- SEO -- is about multiplying impact!
How can we help you multiply your ministry’s impact with SEO today?