According to Google Trends, more people search for “church” around Easter than any other time of the year. This statistic has proven true year after year since 2004 (the farthest back Google Trends reports).
So now you’re probably thinking, this information sounds important but what exactly does it mean? Why should I care about Google Trends? And how is this impacting my church?
Well first let’s talk about how Google calculates these numbers. Basically Google Trends is an analytical tool that measures and compares the popularity of search terms across the United States. It rates search terms on a scale of 0 to 100, meaning the closer the number is to 100, the more often that term is searched.
So let’s take a look at the data for the term “church” the week leading up to Easter:
April 2017: 95
March 2018: 100
April 2019: 95
April 2020: 85
April 2021: 71
These numbers show that “church” was searched at some of the highest rates, if not the highest rate, the week leading up to Easter compared to other times in the year, even Christmas.
So why does this matter to your church?
Searched terms lead to websites. And, church websites are the front door to a church. Prospective guests will visit the church’s digital front door well before they ever step through the church’s physical front door.
Prospective guests will visit the church’s digital front door well before they ever step through the church’s physical front door.
In other words, your website is important when it comes to drawing new attendees. It’s your chance to put your best (and most accurate) foot forward. But, is it up to the task? Here are eight tips to ensure your church website will bring guests to your Easter service:
1. Remember Your Audience.
Who is your church website for? Most of your website visitors will be prospective guests. You may have a few church members who visit it from time to time to check event information or access your online giving page, but for the most part prospective guests make up the bulk of the audience who visits your website.
Therefore, the home page should be geared toward them. Make sure your homepage is visually appealing, easy to navigate, and information is easy to find. Place member content on other pages in your website.
2. Ensure Information Is Easy to Find.
Three of the most commonly asked questions by prospective guests are:
When is the service?
Where is the church?
What should I expect?
On your homepage, make service times and location(s) obvious. If you have a separate children’s ministry or childcare, parents will want to know. Include information on your homepage or prominently place a link to your children’s ministry page.
3. Make Your Belief Statement Easily Accessible.
What does the church believe? Prospective guests don’t like to be surprised by a church’s beliefs.
Add an “About Us” tab to your homepage so visitors can easily click on it to go to a page that goes into more details about your church’s beliefs, mission, and vision.
4. Include Sample Sermon Videos.
How does the pastor preach? Prospective guests like to get a taste of what they can expect should they attend a service. If your church shows services online, make sure there is a “watch a service” tab on your homepage. This can link out to your Youtube channel or wherever you host your videos. If you don’t already share services or sermons online, that’s ok. Record one or two and make them available on your website. Doing so will allow visitors to see what your church is really like.
5. Have a “What to Expect” Page.
What will the experience be like? How should my family dress? Where do I go when I get there?
Answering questions like these can make a prospective guest feel more at ease. Either include short answers to these questions at the bottom of the page or insert a tab that links to another page that goes more in depth on what to expect during someone’s first visit. To really maximize this page, create a video that highlights the Sunday experience at your church.
6. Use Your Church Photos, Not Stock Images.
What does the church look like? Some churches use stock photos of people and places that don’t accurately reflect the church. But prospective guests want to see what your church is really like. This is a wonderful opportunity to show the outreach your church is able to provide, the lives you’ve impacted, and a reflection of the joy people experience at your church. They say a picture has 1,000 words. Take advantage of this. Share your church’s impact on members and the community through photos.
If you have the resources, hire a professional photographer to capture images on a Sunday. Or, you may have a volunteer well versed in photography that would love to help. High quality photography on your website will create a better first impression and more accurately display your church.
7. Utilize Links.
Make links to online giving and social media easy to find on your homepage.
Social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube) can be an extension of your homepage to show prospective guests what your church is really like. After all, social media has become a go-to method for researching the people and businesses we interact with. Make it easy for your guests to find out more about your church in this way.
But let’s say they decide to commit and attend Easter Sunday. They may feel moved to give during the service. With so many new things to take in and the impact of the pastor’s sermon, it’s easy to miss a text-to-give number or the web address for your online giving. Make sure to include a link to your digital giving on your homepage. This will make giving easier for everyone- both new and regular attendees.
8. Allow Visitors to Get Connected.
Someone has visited your church, loved it, and wants to get involved. What’s their next step?
Maybe this is something as simple as just coming back next week. Or maybe you have more opportunities for them to get involved like attending an upcoming event, volunteering in the local community, or joining a small group. So, make sure to have a section of your homepage that shares information about upcoming events and how new attendees can get further connected in your church.
People are searching the web leading up to Easter. Is your website ready to bring more people to your church? Use the above tips to enhance your website. Doing so will make it easier for someone to know what your church is like and if it’s the right fit for them. This will remove any uncertainties they may feel ahead of time and make their visit to your church more enjoyable, encouraging them to come back Sunday after Sunday!