Strategic Web Communication Principle #3 of 5

Link relevant content to search-centric promotion.

The reality of communicating with people online, and particularly via email fundraising, is that you have to constantly collect new email addresses. The typical growth rate in 2008 for any ministry list was 25% per year, which was comprised of 5% new names, less 3% name loss to unsubscriptions and bounces (mostly bounces). Said differently, if you’re not prospecting for new names constantly you can expect to see a 3% per month attrition in your email lists. Since people will move on for one reason or another, you need to replace them with new friends.

How to do this? Populate your website with relevant content that’s consistent with search-centric promotions that you conduct online. Relevance is key. If someone is searching the Internet for a church in Dallas, and you are one, that’s relevant. But if you’re a homeless shelter in New York or Dallas, that is NOT relevant. You need to start by targeting keywords: determine the Internet search streams that are relevant to what you offer, and then optimize your site to those searches via your site content and code. That way, your website is more likely to pop up in a Google search and get you qualified traffic from people who are looking for what you have to offer. That also means you must regularly update your website to relate to changes in relevant search terms.  You might call this keyword marketing.

Practical Tip: Search engine optimize your site.
So let’s talk about optimizing your website so that you can be easily found when someone looks up terms relevant to you on Google, Yahoo, Bing, or other search engines.

If someone searches a topic such as “how to help a troubled teen,” your site can get listed in the results. But unless it’s in the top 10 results, or on the first page, it probably won’t get many visitors from those search results. There’s a whole science to getting your site listed at the top, which again is too detailed to go into here, but the basic process—known as keyword marketing via search engine optimization—is something you should know. It involves finding the search terms related to your ministry, including those search terms in relevant content on your site, optimizing your site copy and code for the search engines, and finally submitting your site to the search engines. In most cases, this core process will result in you getting ranked higher in the results, thereby driving more qualified search traffic to your website.

Here are some examples of what organic search term results look like:

Google: How to Help a Troubled Teen


Yahoo: How to Help a Troubled Teen


Bing: How to help a Troubled Teen


Google and Wordtracker offer free keyword online marketing tools for finding common search terms:


You can input your own keywords to see how many people are searching those terms. Don’t get tempted to expand your terms if you see people searching on a topic that doesn’t relate to your primary goal – instead, stick to what you know, and your outreach ideas will be the most effective. You won’t be sorry if you put your effort into thinking up and searching for the search terms people are looking for that relate most directly to your ministry.

What do you have within your organization relevant to what people are searching for that you can develop and put online? This is a new level of site content depth – deepening the relevance of what you’re saying overall. You may have a particular niche – maybe issues related to teens, or matters of the heart for women, or guy stuff. By deepening your content in these areas, you establish a deeper focus that is really relevant in a particular area, and then you develop it and make it search-centric.

For example, you might learn that a lot of people are searching for “war in Iraq.” If your ministry doesn’t have anything relevant on this subject, you wouldn’t want to develop it just because someone’s searching for it. On the other hand, when The Presidential Prayer Team learned that many people were searching for “soldier’s prayer” because of the war, PPT developed a printed version of a soldier’s prayer, entered into a pay-per-click advertising agreement with Yahoo and Google, and then, when people clicked to the site to get the soldier’s prayer, asked them to adopt a soldier to pray for. Visitors also could sign up for the Adopt Our Troops e-newsletter. The strategy did a great job of building their Adopt Our Troops email list.

If people find your site through a search, they will quickly leave if they don’t think the content applies to their needs. To have a better chance of helping them see your site’s relevance, avoid the common mistake of talking too much about your needs, such as ushers and gifts. Visitors want information that addresses their search needs, and that’s what you should give them.

Once you’ve learned how to get listed in the search results, your qualified site traffic will take off, giving you plenty of new friends to build relationships with. So, optimize your pages so people can find you through search engines, and then make sure your pages are relevant to those search terms. If you need assistance, Pathmaker Marketing provides search engine optimization services that will help your website rise in the search rankings.

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