church search marketing

Is SEO Or SEM The Right Choice For Your Church Site?

church SEO or SEM
Written by georgenewton

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This is a guest post by George Newton. Read more about how you can guest post on Christian Web Trends here.

When setting up your church website, you’ll want to make sure that people can easily find it online. You’ll need to find the right strategy to make it findable on search engines, so you’ll be looking at either SEO (Search Engine Optimization) or SEM (Search Engine Marketing). Which one should you be using, and what’s the difference between the two?


Firstly, let’s break down what these two terms mean. You’re very likely to have heard of SEO as you started setting up your church site. SEO is all about helping your site rank high enough on search engines like Google, so you’ll be discoverable by your audience. 

Benefits: SEO is something you want to be looking into, as it is usually free or very cheap to put to use. You can do a lot of the work yourself, which is good news if you have volunteers donating their time to put the site together. It very much depends on finding the right keywords to use on your site, in order to bring visitors in. 

Once you have put the work into your SEO, you should be seeing your site show up on the first page of search results for your keywords. For example, if you’ve used the keywords ‘church in my area’ to target locals that may want to attend your church, then they should be able to find you easily. 

Drawbacks: While SEO is easier to set up on your own, you’ll see that you’ll have to play the long game with it. Getting ranked highly will take time, so if you want quick results this won’t be the way to get them. 

Plus, SEO won’t always guarantee you the exact result you want. Google keeps its exact ranking system a secret, so it’s hard to know exactly what you can do to get the results you want. As such, you may put all that work in, and still not get to the front page. 

On the other hand, you have SEM. This is the process of placing ads on Google, so you’ll catch the attention of your target audience more quickly. Many wouldn’t think of using ads for their church, but it can have some good results for you. 

Benefits: With SEM, you’re going to get much quicker results. It’ll get you noticed right away, and ensure that your site link is seen as soon as possible. 

You have a lot more control over where you show up in searches, too. When you create your ad, you’ll show Google just where you want to show up, and what keywords you want to show up for. “If you’re trying to get your church site noticed by the right people, SEM will give you a boost,” says Adrian Marshall, a marketing blogger at Write My X and 1 Day 2 Write. “You can change up the links and settings in your ad too, to test things out and see what works best.”

Drawbacks: The biggest drawback with SEM will be its cost of it. Unlike SEO where you can handle some if not all of it yourself, you will have to pay upfront for SEM. If you’re not experienced with it too, you can spend that money and not get the results that you’re looking for. 


So, should you use SEO or SEM when you’re looking to improve your church site’s discoverability? The truth is, a combination of both is usually key. “If you use SEO or SEM, that doesn’t stop you from using the other technique too,” says Maddie Peters, a business writer for Origin Writings and Brit Student. “As such, you can use them both and get the benefits from each method.”

Using SEM as a boost to get your site noticed at first, and using SEO in the background to organically improve results is a good way of using both methods. That way, you can get the best of both of them, and ensure that the right audience is finding you. 

Now you know the basics of both SEO and SEM and can decide how you’ll use them to rank higher in search results. Using a mixture of both is usually the best way to get the results you’re looking for. 

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    About the author


    George J. Newton is a writer for Write My Personal Statement and PhD Kingdom. He covers website development and discoverability. He also writes for Next Coursework

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