The North American Division (NAD) recently released its first comprehensive guide to search engine optimization for ministries. The Search Engine Optimization guidebook is designed to help Seventh-day Adventist entities evangelize online through effective content creation, website ranking best practices, and reputation management.
“The Seventh-day Adventist Church has historically been at the forefront of using tools and technologies to advance present truth — from print to radio to television. Now is the time to leverage the untapped potential of digital communications such as search engine optimization for the customization of our ministry services as part of a broader digital strategy that relies on making data-driven decisions,” states Alvin Kibble, vice president for Big Data + Social Media, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty, Literature Ministries, and Executive Coaching, Training, and Development for the NAD.
The 142-page document is a culmination of nine months’ work as well as a collaborative partnership between the NAD’s Social Media + Big Data department and the Center for Online Evangelism.It’s a step-by-step guide designed to be easy to follow and implement, leaders reported. It will be a “living document,” which will undergo regular updates as technologies change, while the underlying philosophy will remain largely the same.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is an ever-evolving set of strategies used in online marketing to help organizations reach more of their target audience. It is the process of utilizing a variety of techniques to improve a website’s visibility in unpaid search engine results. The higher a website ranks when a person enters search terms related to it, the more web traffic it receives. Most people do not scroll past the first page of search engine results.
“Our challenge as a Church is to embrace these techniques in order to cut through the clutter online and reach more seekers in an increasingly digital world,” said Jamie Domm, digital strategist for the NAD. “This guide is designed to equip ministries of all sizes to truly ‘meet people where they are.’” Today, that’s online.
“By being intentional and strategic, we can improve our digital curb appeal and encourage more people to encounter and possibly embrace our message,” Domm added.
A good example of the effects of SEA is that 74,000 people Google “Bible study” each month. The name “Jesus” is Googled 1,500,000 times per month and “Adventist” 18,000 times per month.* This data comes from keyword research tools Keyword Planner (Google Ads), Ubersuggest, and Keywords Everywhere.
“People are literally Googling for God but not finding our messages of hope and wholeness. We can no longer ignore the potential of this vast online mission field of people that already wants what we have to offer — an audience we may never otherwise meet!” said Amy Prindle, lead content strategist at the Center for Online Evangelism. It is a significant ministry opportunity if Adventist websites can rank higher in the search results Google displays for these search terms, she said.
“I believe the next Great Awakening will be a digital one. This is our generation’s Great Commission,” Domm said.
With some education, Domm added, every ministry can invest the time to implement these valuable techniques. “It is your chance to learn insider information for free and use it for the gospel,” she said.