This weekend I came across an article from the Gospel Coalition about “How the Mormons are winning the internet”. It’s a pretty provocative title but the basics of the article are this. Mormon’s have managed to get their results top (thanks to Search Engine Optimization) for a few common search results of questions like “Who was Jesus?”, “Bible” and “Jesus”. That means when someone goes on the internet and searches the answer to these questions (and others) they aren’t met with orthodox Christian answers, they are met with people who have a fundamentally wrong Christology and theology.
While this isn’t necessarily anything you can do about in the larger world of web searches, it is something that you need to be aware of for your local church. In fact, your church can’t afford to get SEO wrong.
What is SEO?
Just to be clear, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Its the process of using different methods and means to make a web page appear higher in a search engine (let’s be honest. In Google). Some of these methods may be approved, such as making sure you use a good and relevant title or including a meta description which features the words you think people will search for. But it can also include underhanded methods. In the past, this included link farms, where dumb useless web pages would link to content to try to get it higher, or keyword stuffing, where people would use the words they wanted people to find their site on again and again and again.
As time has moved on, companies like Google have found new ways to avoid these bad practices and the bad guys have found new tricks as well. That’s the basics history of SEO. Google (or Facebook if you include them as a search engine which isn’t the worst idea.) changes how it measures good webpages, the bad guys adapt and some innocent people suffer.
Why Your Church Needs to Care About SEO
Imagine there is someone in your local area who is going through questioning their life. They wonder if there is more to existence than everything they’ve been told before. They’re searching for answers and start looking for them online. Perhaps they want to find a church and so turn to Google. If your church isn’t performing well, then who knows what they might come across. Furthermore, it’s a chance for us to show true love and pastoral care for people in need and protect them from those who would take advantage of them.
What Can I Do?
Well, I suggest checking out the list of resources on The Gospel Coalitions article. They have some really good starting points that can help you and your church up your SEO game.