The Lenten season is both a special and a busy time of year. For your church’s website Ash Wednesday may have been the busiest day of the year, but Easter isn’t far behind. One of the websites I’m responsible for is my company’s directory site, Seek And Find. Seek And Find is a church listing directory that contains basic (and hopefully current!) church information along with a copy of our church customer’s bulletins. On Shrove Tuesday our typical daily volume triples and then on Ash Wednesday itself it increases by a factor of five. Over this two day period, the 85,000 visits we had on the site downloaded 143 Gigabytes of church bulletins in .pdf form. With the average size of the bulletins being about 3 meg, that’s a whopping 48,000 bulletins downloaded.
While there’s a good deal of scripture information, catechetical material, and stewardship suggestions in these bulletins and on the website itself, chances are these visitors were really interested in one thing and one thing only, “Tell me again, when is Mass on Ash Wednesday?”
While I feel our website, Seek And Find, serves a valuable service like other similar sites: ParishesOnline, The Catholic Directory, and MassTimes.org, the responsibility for your church’s information begins with you. These services, like your diocese website, augment your data online, but the first place people should go, the place with the most accurate information needs to be your church’s website.
If you’re willing to take on this responsibility, here’s the assignment I’d like to give you in preparation for the rest of the Lenten season:
1. Validate the mass times on your website. Are they updated? Do they include any special or holiday services?
2. Can you find your church’s website on Google? Do a query for your church’s name plus your city’s name? Do these queries return your website at the top? Let’s say your with St. Joseph in Amarillo, TX. Do these queries return your site at the top of Google’s list:
- “St. Joseph Amarillo”
- “St. Joseph Amarillo Mass Times”
- “St. Joseph [your zipcode]”
If you can’t find your church at the top of Google’s 1st page, you’ve got some SEO and/or content issues to address. Google’s Webmaster tools are a great place to start if you’re not sure how to improve your SEO. If the reason you’re not coming up is you’re having trouble managing your website or easily updating the content, then please take a look at these recommended website providers. It maybe time for an upgrade to your existing website. Then take a look at the other results your getting for your church. You may be surprised to find who’s listing your church. My church comes up on no less than 15 different listing services and 4 social networking services. These too could use some updating, but start with your local website and help your parishioners and guests find the mass they’re looking for.