What's in this session?

  • Other than passing the speed test, what are some tips and tricks to improve our site’s SEO? (0:59)
  • How many times could or would you play the same video announcement for an event? (9:08)
  • What are your thoughts on Facebook fundraisers for nonprofit and whether you think it can be a good tool for my church to utilize to accept donations, offerings, etc.? (10:46)
  • Is there any information or ministry that DOESN’T make the cut for the church website? If so, how do you decide? (15:27)

Show notes and resources

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The Transcript

Brady: Today, on the Ask Brady Show, we talk about SEO improvements that you can make to your church’s website.

Well, hey there, and welcome to the Ask Brady Show, episode number 61. We’ve got four great questions from the people of Pro-Church Nation, and I am joined as always, to my left, your right, it is Roxanne.

Roxanne: It’s true.

Brady: True it is! Behind the camera the editing wizard himself, Joe [Next 00:00:43]

Joe: Fa! Fa! Fa! Fam!

Brady: Fa! Fa! Fa! Fam!

Roxanne: Fa! Fa! Fa! Fam!

Brady: The man with the cam, Alex Mills.

Alex: Thanks. It’s not really as special as it sounds, because I work here, but I’m here.

Brady: Roxanne, why don’t you take us away with the first question?

Roxanne: Alright. First question comes from Nate, and he says, “Other than passing the speed test, what are some tips and tricks to improve our site’s SEO?”

Brady: Well, thanks for the question, Nate. SEO, for those that are unaware, stands for Search Engine Optimization, and it refers to how well your church’s website is indexed and optimized for search engines, such as Google. The better the SEO on your church’s website, the more likely you are to rank high in search rankings. This is very important, because first impressions in 2018 and beyond, are being made online. You want your church’s website to rank as high as possible in search, so that when someone is searching for a church, and thus searching for hope, and purpose, and community, and a group of believers to walk through life with, and discover Jesus and to grow closer to Jesus, we want your church’s website to rank high, because if you’re watching the Ask Brady Show, I would suspect that your church is great. We want more people to attend it and find the hope in Christ that your church believes in and is centered around.

One easy way to do this, that Nate referred to, is making sure that your website loads quickly. You can go to Pingdom Website Tools and you can run your website through the speed test there. It will give you a ton of feedback on what your church’s website is doing well, how it can be further optimized, and how quickly your page is loading. Google directly uses page load speed to determine part of their ranking algorithm. It’s very complex. We don’t know all the equations and variables, but page speed is a factor.

What are other ways things that you can do to improve your church’s presence on search? Well, the first two that I want to talk about actually have nothing to do with your church’s website. Those are Google My Business and Facebook Reviews. Google My Business is not a phrase saying, “Go Google my business.” It’s an actual product from Google called, My Business. If you type in Pro Church Tools in Google, you will see a photo of our office. You will see our office hours. You’ll see a phone number, an address, an email, as well as a number of different reviews for our company. When you search an individual company, organization, or church’s name in Google, it will bring up the Google My Business profile, if it exists. It’s one of the best ways to add a little bit of robustness to your Google search indexing, because it doesn’t just show the title with a description, but it actually shows a bright photo.

It’s usually on the right hand column of the screen, so it’s kind of in a different spot. It looks a little bit different than most Google search results. You definitely want to make sure that you are indexed and ranking within Google My Business. All you have to do is go to Google My Business in Google. Go Google, Google My Business. You’ll find it there. You can fill it all out. Google will send you a letter in the mail, to make sure that you can verify the address.

Roxanne: Yep.

Brady: You can verify, yes, that this is a real address that we are at. Then you’ll show up a couple of weeks later. This is where all of your Google reviews will be hosted. This leads me into the second thing that you can do to improve your SEO, not anything to do with your website, and that is to get a ton of positive Facebook and Google reviews, so that when someone searches your church or searches churches and you come up, they’ll see a ton of great social proof from real people saying, “Hey, this church is awesome and we know first hand, because we are a part of it or we have been there before.”

You can do this by incentivizing people. I would run a contest for a month. We’re recording this in the month of April. Maybe for the month of May, you do a big review contest at your church, and you’re giving away a $100 gift card to everyone’s favorite restaurant in the community. Only way to be eligible to win the gift card, is to leave a review for your church on both Google and Facebook. It’s a great way to add social proof, to add a little bit of validation that your church, you don’t just claim that you’re great, but you are actually great, because you incentivize people through a contest to write reviews for you. Okay, but they don’t need to know that. This is an important part of communication, making, you know, with all reviews, this is the thing with reviews. You only leave a bad review.

Roxanne: True.

Brady: You said this, I think last week.

Roxanne: Yeah.

Brady: You never go out of your way to be like, “I received my food on time and it tasted adequate.” You just don’t.

Roxanne: Yeah.

Brady: That’s a great way to improve your SEO. When it comes to actual things on your page, we talked about speed. The next big thing is going to be keyword tags and keyword optimization in your title tags and headings. Recently, for the fun of it, I bought the domain niagara.church, because for some reason no one had picked it up, so I decided, you know what, if one day Brady starts a church, I’m going to have that domain. The reason that I bought that was because if someone searches, “Church in Niagara Falls,” or “Church in Niagara,” the domain niagra.church already has the keywords that you’d want to rank for in the domain name itself. If you don’t have that going for you, you want to make sure that the keyword of your city or region, whatever people are searching for, and the word church is optimized across your website, especially on your homepage in the H1 tags. That way, when someone searches Niagara Falls Church, it shows up in Google, because you are ranking for that keyword.

Roxanne: Yep. Okay, quick question for you. Alex just recently bought a domain as well for his church. Then he got like a bunch of phone calls from people that were like, “I work and do SEO for companies.” Is it worth paying somebody to do it for you? Or is it you’ll get the same results if you just do it yourself?

Brady: Well, firstly what Alex should have done when he bought his domain was also bought the private feature, because when you buy a domain, what happens is your contact information is connected to that domain.

Roxanne: Right.

Brady: All of these agencies will look to see all the new domains and then do cold calls for people. Alex bought, let’s say the domain niagara.church. Psyche! I own it. He actually has a church. I do not, but I own the domain. I also own lifeabundant.ca, which is the name of his church.

Roxanne: That’s so funny.

Brady: I bought that for the nucleus demo, and then I texted him. I said, “Why do you not have lifeabundant.ca?” He’s like, “I don’t know.” He’s like, “Oh, could I get it?” I was like, “Not anymore!.” What happens is, if you pay extra, I think it’s like 10 bucks extra, you can privatize your name and information …

Roxanne: Right.

Brady: … so that when you buy a domain, you don’t give out your information to the world. I never used to do this, but then I would get all of these calls, cold calls saying, “We noticed you set up your domain.”

Roxanne: He got a lot. He got like 10 in one day.

Brady: No, it’s bad. Now I always set that up so that my information is completely private and no one knows that I own niagara.church or millennial.pizza. That’s right, millennial.pizza.

Roxanne: Think about it.

Brady: Owned by me. Oh, you want to set up a millennial pizza shop? Psyche!

Roxanne: Too bad!

Brady: You’re not getting the domain. Just wait til I get the trademark on millennial.pizza. Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! Then we’re going all in. Sorry, Pro Church Tools, we’ve got a new product. Nucleus? Eh, it had a good run. Millennial Pizza is the future.

Roxanne: Only delivered by drone.

Brady: Wow! Okay, side note, what would be in a Millennial pizza?

Roxanne: Good question. It would definitely have, like, artichoke hearts, and like, kale.

Brady: Yeah, and it would have, instead of tomato sauce, it would have avocado paste.

Roxanne: Yes, and some kind of like, fancy, like Garda cheese or something.

Brady: Mmm! I believe it’s pronounced, gree-yale.

Roxanne: Alright, I’ll trust you on that one.

Brady: I worked in a delicatessen.

Roxanne: It’s true. It’s true.

Brady: Don’t phase me with those. Okay, what were we talking about? Oh, your question.

Roxanne: Paying for SEO.

Brady: Paying for SEO. I have never personally done this. There are very good agencies that can help with this and SEO can get complicated. SEO is very much abiding within the Pareto Principle, which is the 80/20 rule, where essentially you can get 80% of the results by doing 20% of the work.

Roxanne: Right.

Brady: If you put into practice kind of the five best tips that we just talked about, you would get like 80% of the quality that you could with SEO. You pay a good agency, and they can get you that remaining 20%. SEO is constantly evolving and incredibly complex and that remaining 20% is very difficult, and you know, it’s just crazy equations and math. You pay a good agency, they can do that for you. Most are not very good.

Roxanne: Right.

Brady: They’re going to charge you to do those five things, that 80% that we just talked about. You can do that yourself.

Roxanne: Yep.

Brady: There are great ones that can work on that extra 20%. I’d say for most churches, it’s not worth the 10K you’d spend on them though.

Roxanne: Right. Alright, question number two is from Paul, and he says, “I have a question about video announcements in the church service. How many times could or would you play the same video announcement for an event? For instance, you’re promoting an event, say six weeks out. How many times should you change up that announcement and why?”

Brady: Good question, Paul. I will reuse video announcement scripts time and time again, because I think it’s okay to use the same script and promo. What I will never do is replay the same announcement. The reason for that is because it’s unlikely that you would play the identical series of video announcements one week after another.

Roxanne: Right.

Brady: Not impossible, but unlikely, and I don’t like replaying the same thing. It’s already hard enough to gain an individual’s attention. If they sense, for even a second, that they’ve seen something before, they will tune out completely, so I would never replay something. It can kind of seem like, “Oh, this would be convenient. It will save us time.” You will completely sabotage any and all attention that you could get from that. The reason that you cannot take just a single announcement within a video and inject it into another video is, if you’re using the same presenter, suddenly their hair and shirt is going to change, unless you’ve coordinated to be the same shirt, but their hair’s probably not going to be identical, because it’s been a week.

Roxanne: Yep.

Brady: Unless it’s a girl with really long hair, which you can maybe get away with.

Roxanne: The men, I don’t know.

Brady: If you’re using multiple presenters, you could take one announcement and stick it, like into another video, but I would always just re-record it. At that point, you’re doing a bunch of extra work and I think it’s just not worth the attention you’re going to lose to gain that bit of extra time.

Roxanne: Alright, third question comes from Matthew, and he says, “Hey, Brady, I wanted to know your thoughts on Facebook fundraisers for nonprofit, and whether you think it can be a good tool for my church to utilize to accept donations, offerings, etc. They don’t charge any fees and currently our church is small and mostly consists of older members that we don’t feel doing full online giving would be beneficial for at the moment.”

Brady: Thank you for this question, Matthew. Firstly, I would suggest, because you even said this in your own question, “Currently we are an older church and we don’t think setting up online giving is worth it.” If you at all want, in the future, to become not what you currently are, you want to kind of set up those processes beforehand, you know? It’s one thing to react when a bunch of young families come, and then you prepare for them. It’s another thing to prepare for them in advance, so that when they come, they feel like, “This is a place for me.” Now, to suggest that online giving is going to be the difference maker for a young family is ludicrous and I’m not making that suggestion. What I will say though, is you could set up your online giving with a company like Tithe.ly. We know them personally, out of San Diego. They’re great. Tithe.ly online. They charge zero dollars a month. They do have a per transaction fee, as every online merchant does.

Roxanne: Yeah.

Brady: 2.9%, plus 30 cents. That’s what we pay for Stripe, our online merchant. You need these to be compliant, to be secure and safe, and you can’t just take people’s credit cards online without following all the infrastructure needed, so these companies build them. But with Tithe.ly, they have a great deal with Stripe, which means they get a small percentage of the Stripe fee that you would normally pay, and they don’t charge you any monthly cost, which means, you can set up online giving. No up front cost, no ongoing cost, and you only benefit when people actually use it. Then you pay the small 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction. When I looked into the Facebook fundraising, forgive my ignorance, because I haven’t used it personally, and I haven’t known of any churches.

I know when it came out, I heard a couple of ministries talking about the idea and this idea of, “We’re going to save the 3%,” which they were really excited about. When I went onto the Facebook documentation for the Facebook fundraiser, they said, “Facebook fundraising has zero fees, except you might be charged a third party transactional fee.” That made me think that even Facebook is using some type of merchant to process all of these payments and they’re just giving you the software to do it for free, because there’s two different parties in these setups, right? For instance, we use Stripe to process our payments, but we built Nucleus, the software, to accept the payments. You might use Stripe to process the payments, but you use Tithe.ly, the software to accept the payments.

Roxanne: Right.

Brady: Or you might use Stripe to process the payments, but you use Shopify to accept the payments. Facebook might be this, before Stripe setup, so they’re free. Like, Shopify, you’d have to pay for. They’re saying, “We’re not going to charge you anything, but you still have to pay the merchants fee, on the back end.” I’m not certain. I could be wrong about this, so I would look into it, but it did strike me as a little bit weird and it gave me a warning flag when I looked into the Facebook documentation and the first thing it said was, “We’re free! You might still get charged a small transactional fee.”

Roxanne: Right.

Brady: Because the thing is, I’ve never heard of small transactional fees not existing. Now, if there’s anyone that could do it, it would be Facebook, because they would just choose to absorb the hundreds of thousands of dollars of fees, because they think it’s worth it and they’re such a conglomerate. They’re one of the few companies in the world that could actually do that, but that’s unheard of, which is why you’re probably suggesting it. I would suggest, do not do that, because yeah, you might get by with it, but there are some warning flags. Two, you can set up with Tithe.ly for free, no upfront costs, no ongoing costs. You only get charged 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction, when it actually gets used. If it does actually get used, it’s easy to kind of write off that 3%, because you’re like, “We never would have got the 97% otherwise.”

Roxanne: That’s true.

Brady: Would you rather have 97% or 0%? I think that’s an easy answer. I would suggest going with a company like Tithe.ly. There are a ton of companies that will charge you huge, ongoing rates. There’s one company that can charge you up to $7,000 per month, plus the transactional fees, depending on volume. You’re not going to ever hit that, but most churches I know are paying $100-$200 a month, plus the transactional fees, and the company’s like, “Hey, you get a free app,” and I’m like, “Oh, goodness.”

Roxanne: Let’s end that there, because we don’t want to talk about apps.

Brady: Good call, Roxanne.

Roxanne: Last question comes from Chandler, and he says, “Is there any information or ministry that doesn’t make the cut for a church website? If so, how do you decide? I’m in the process of redesigning and we currently have 7 folders and 44 pages that make up our website. This seems like overkill to me.”

Brady: A great question, Chandler. I believe that your church’s website should be an exhaustive overview, an exhaustive catalog of every single thing within your church. What you don’t want to do is make all that information on the, like, put it on the homepage or even put it in the navigation menu. It’s okay to keep stuff password protected. It’s okay to keep stuff very difficult to get to. For instance, with Nucleus, we limit the number of navigation menu items to seven top line navigation menu items.

Roxanne: Right.

Brady: Then we have these sub-cards that you can imbed within a different card. You could have a card for small groups, and then you could have categories that are sub-cards. Then you could have individual small groups within each individual category.

Roxanne: Yeah.

Brady: Now you’ve got, like, say 40 different pages. That’s a lot, but none of those are cluttering up the homepage. As long as you’re not cluttering up the navigation, or the homepage, or the footer, you can have as many pages as you want. That’s okay.

Roxanne: Yeah.

Brady: Now, it could be difficult for you to actually maintain them all, but for the most part these are probably ministry pages that aren’t changing frequently. You can have multiple users, you know, for instance, that could be accessing and managing these pages. But I think that your website is one of the few places where you want to have every and all information available. You know we did this with Nucleus where we have the blog and we’re working on this thing called the Nucleus Playbook. We have Pro Church Daily, and we’re like, I want to have every single, possible question, possible feature documented and discussed. We have a help center in Nucleus of more than a hundred articles, breaking down even the most minute, seemingly basic things that you can do within Nucleus. We don’t put that all on the homepage. It’s not easy to get to, necessarily. You can navigate to it, but it’s all very well, you know, managed and categorized, so that it’s not cluttering the most important areas. Those being, the NAV, the footer, and the homepage.

I think it’s okay to have it as exhaustive. You can use sub-cards. You can use password protected. On Nucleus, we have another feature called just, you know, Hide From the Homepage, so you can hide it altogether. People can only access it, if you give them the URL directly. But you do want to have all of these things available. You know, you can also hide them from Search. You know, you can use no index or no crawl features, so that search doesn’t even actually index them, so they’re like, truly secret. But as long as you’re willing to do the work, which I think is important for the one home based platform that you do have, which is your website, build it out, every single page. Just don’t clutter the NAV, the footer, or the homepage.

That’ll do it for this 61st episode of the Ask Brady Show. If you want your question answered, send in an email to Hello@ProChurchTools.com. Roxanne will get it. If it’s a video, you’ll be sent immediately to the top of the queue for future episodes of the Ask Brady Show. If it’s a message, hey that’s cool. You’ll still be added to the queue. Of course, if you want to ask on social, you can do that on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, #askbrady. If you want to keep it secret, send me a DM to @bradyshearer, and I will add that to the list, if you’re okay with that, as well. Thanks for watching Pro Church Nation. We love you so much. Go seize the 167 and we’ll talk real soon.

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