10 Link Building Strategies for Church Marketing
Below is a list of link building strategies to get you started as you add link building to your church marketing strategy. It certainly isn’t an exhaustive list, but it can get you moving in the right direction and help give you ideas. The ideas are not listed in any particular order
1. Denominations and Associations: If you belong to a denomination or association of churches, make sure the main denomination/association website has a link to your church’s website. Most denominations have an online directory of sorts, so you will probably be able to simply request that your church’s site be listed. Even better than just being listed in the directory would be to see if you can get a special feature or story posted on the site about your church. There may also be regional divisions of the denomination such as districts, states, or dioceses. Get a link on every one of those sites. These are especially good links to get because they are extremely relevant and denomination/association headquarter websites tend to be seen as authoritative sites by the search engines.
2. Other Churches: See if other churches will link to your church’s site. This is especially probable from other churches within your denomination or association, but any church may be willing to link. If they ask for you to link back to their site, don’t be afraid to do that. It can help their online church marketing as well.
3. Search for church related sites and contact their webmaster requesting a link: These can be sites that offer church supplies, church related services, sites that help setup and promote church events, etc. If you contact them via email, be sure to send a personalized message which shows you are familiar with the recipient’s website/organization and be sure to address specific reasons why it would be beneficial for them to link to your site. Emails aren’t the most personal form of communication. A phone call or even a visit (if they are local) can be very effective. Tip: Links from sites related to your site’s topic are more valuable in search engine marketing than links from unrelated sites. So, focus on getting links from Christian or church related sites. Sites related to the city your church is in can be relevant as well and help with local keywords.
4. Register your website with directories: This is one of the easier link building strategies as you don’t have to convince someone to list you (that’s what directories do) and there are plenty of sites that don’t require reciprocal linking (reciprocal linking is when you have to link back to the other site). Directories are also helpful in telling the search engines what your site is about because you put your listing in a specific category. If you don’t want to spend hours and hours submitting your site to directories, there are companies that offer directory registration services. Christian directories and church locator sites are especially good.
5. Ask your members: Unlike most companies, churches have a built in support base. People who not only like the church but want to actively support the church. Your members may have personal sites, MySpace profiles, or company websites where they can put links to your church. They want to help, so don’t be afraid to ask.
6. Offer services: This may be something like starting a food bank, becoming a Salvation Army drop-off location, or hosting midnight basketball. These are services churches and businesses can support regardless of denomination or religious affiliation, broadening the spectrum of websites that are willing to link to you. As a bonus, these can be great ministries helping the community, giving members ways to serve, and bringing people to Christ. Professional services can also be effective. Most churches already offer wedding facilities. If you have a gym or fellowship hall, you could make the facilities available for people to rent. Spread the word around town to event planners and other organizations and ask them to link to your church.
7. Schedule an Event: Hold a concert at your church or bring in a special guest speaker. Host a conference or charity event. It’s natural for people, companies, radio stations, etc. to link to the website of the place hosting and event. So, you probably won’t even need to ask people to add a link.
8. Create great content: This is both the easiest and most difficult way to get links, depending on how you look at it. It’s easy because you don’t actually do anything specifically trying to get links. The idea is that if your site has enough great content, people will want to link to your site without you having to even ask. On the other hand, it can be difficult to create great content and continue to offer new great content year after year. Most churches don’t ever even think of offering great content on their site. They limit their site to announcements and general info about the church, but you can also have Bible studies, topical resources, online tools, and other content available on the church’s website. The extra benefit of this strategy is that it not only can generate links, but it also keeps visitors coming back giving you lots of return traffic and gets more people to visit the church.
9. Request links on local information/service sites: Most cities have at least some sites dedicated to information about the city. Some examples would be the city’s Chamber of Commerce, sites listing local places of worship, tourist information sites, etc. The purpose of these sites is to list websites and locations like your church. So, you have a good chance of getting a link. In addition to just getting an extra link, links from these types of sites also reinforce to the search engines that your church is from that city. That helps you to rank better for local keywords.
10. Create content, video, or pictures that are unique and exciting and then promote them around social media outlets (YouTube, Facebook, etc): This can be a lot of fun and have a great message. Many pastors have a blog that is syndicated and more and more churches are podcasting sermons. Videos, especially, can be a great youth group activity. Done right, you can create what’s called a viral marketing campaign where people find your content and tell others about it. Those people tell their friends who tell their friends, etc. If successful a viral campaign can generate thousands of links in a very short amount of time.
Time to Get in Gear:
The purpose of your church’s website is to have an online presence for your ministry. Link building is a way to increase that online presence, to reach more people, and expand your ministry. In search marketing, inbound links that have been around awhile can be given more weight than new links. So, it’s best to start sooner rather than later. You don’t have to choose just one strategy. In fact it’s usually best to use several, especially creating great content on your site. It’s time to start getting links to your site and turn your website into an online juggernaut for Christ.
Kurt Steinbrueck is the author of the Church Marketing Online blog. He has been Director of Marketing Services with Ourchurch.Com for over 5 years providing Christian search engine optimization services including services specific for church marketing solutions and private school marketing. Kurt is also a Deacon at his church.