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Is Google the future of evangelism?

By Darby Jones

SUMMARY: You won't find search engine optimization (SEO) taught in Evangelism 101. The result is that few church leaders know how to use this tool to connect with online surfers.

Once we break down the science of SEO into chewable bites, you will see a wealth of outreach possibilities. Learn how you can both show up in the top 10 search results and how you can use Google to minister to those in need?

When people look for something online, they are generally more open-minded to the topics that pop up in the top 10 list. What if your church had the answers to those specific questions?

The reality
Imagine someone searching for "Chicago divorce attorney" because she is tired of trying to make her marriage work. What if a Chicago church had SEO content in the first 10 results offering free marriage counseling or advice on how to make a marriage work?

Imagine a teen who is tired of being the school outcast and begins searching for how best to kill himself. What if a ministry had SEO content offering real-time help, such as a live suicide-prevention counselor, or guidance on alternatives to suicide?

Google's Keyword Tool
If your budget is $0, Google offers a free keyword research tool that identifies topics for which people search the most and how they word their searches. Relevantly sprinkling a few keywords into your content is one of many factors that will help your search engine results.

If you want to dive into giving yourself a search engine marketing education, SEOmoz is a great place to start. There is a well-respected blog, articles (some free) and tools (some free).

Best practices

  • Bait-and-switch SEO content is ethically wrong and will fail.
  • Bible thumping is a huge turnoff. Avoid disconnecting people from the start.
  • Provide relevant, helpful solutions to the problems about which people are searching online. These solutions may be different from what they thought they would find, but that doesn't mean these alternative solutions won't help change their lives.
  • Offer instant help such as advice, counseling, a work team or tangible resources.
  • Make connections sustainable. Provide avenues for you to continue helping.

UMC Tools
Methopedia is a great resource on that you can use to prepare your counselors. It covers a wide variety of issues with which people may be struggling. It also will give you some keyword ideas to use in SEO .

MyCom articles explaining SEO:
The little (search) engine that could: all about SEO ABC? XYZ? What on Earth is SEO?

Adapted from an article at