What does SEO have to do with your ministry?

A woman stood up on a table at a crowded, noisy party. She asked, distraught, “Who is Jesus?”

The host of the party took her by the hand and led her past several folks (including Adventists, let’s say) who could have answered her question. But the host ultimately led her to a group of Mormons and said, “They can answer your question.”

The Mormons had a great relationship with the host, so anyone who asked a religious question, the host directed them to the Mormons.

The woman represents online seekers.

The Host is Google.

All the potential question-answerers are different websites, social media profiles, etc. 

The relationship between the host and the Mormons is SEO.

(Paraphrased from thegospelcoalition.org/how-mormons-are-winning-the-internet)

As over-the-top as this sounds, you may be familiar with how the LDS Church has been using digital marketing best practices to reach the online mission field. And it’s working.

Think of all the good we can do if we worked together to reach the online mission field in a big way! It’s a huge opportunity for each of our ministries.

SEO is all about helping the right people in the online mission field find YOUR ministry—connecting your target audience to your services.

You may have heard the terms “SEO” or “Search Engine Optimization” if you work with websites, content management, social media, or web development. (It can also be referred to as Search Engine Marketing or SEM.)

It’s a catch-all term to describe a collection of efforts to make your web presence more prominent in search results after someone types a related phrase into a search engine (most likely Google, but some use Bing, Yahoo, etc.)

Because it’s such a widely-applied and ever-evolving process, SEO does not have a set definition in a dictionary—it has several definitions! The most important thing to keep in mind, however, is that:

SEO is all about people—their behaviors and preferences—not just search engines.

It’s about your target audience’s needs, desires, and questions, and how you can best make the connection so they realize that yes, you can provide what they need. You are worth their time.

Then they either buy from you, subscribe to your content, follow you on social media, join your cause, or come to your event or location (all possible calls to action—which will be studied later in the series!).

SEO combines some technical work with creative, strategic content work. Often a complete SEO project involves an SEO Specialist, a Content Strategist (copywriter), and a Web Developer. However, there are several SEO best practices you can implement yourself as a content manager, communication director, or webmaster.

The process of SEO can have a big effect on your ministry’s online presence, whether your audience is local or global.

SEO is so big in the business world that there is an overabundance of tools and techniques being pushed by various “authorities” in the industry. It can be an overwhelming field to train into, keep up with, and even to work in as an experienced specialist.

That’s why the Center for Online Evangelism wants to help guide you through SEO fundamentals, baby step by baby step, to make sure our church’s ministries do not have to miss out on these potentially far-reaching benefits.

Lesson 1, Part 2 continues next week.

Stay tuned!