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    Best Practices! - Entries from September 2009

    Home - Blog - Best Practices! - Entries from September 2009
    MonMondaySepSeptember28th2009 Make Your Location Map Interactive
    byBryan Young Tagged New Features 0 comments Add comment

    Use the Google Map Widget to Embed an Interactive Map on Your Church Website

    To make it easier for your church website users to visit your ministry in person, consider embedding a map, like the one below, from Google in your About Us section.

    To make a map like what you see above, follow these steps:
    1. Edit or create a news item, page, or event.
    2. Select the Widget button from the Editor's toolbar.

    3. Click on the Google Map link to expand the feature.
    4. Enter in your location's address, the size you want your map, and your desired zoom level and Add.

    5. Change the status of your page to Published and Save.
    6. Bask in your new found knowledge as well as how you now are providing an interactive map to the users of your church website!
    After you save your changes, navigate to your new page and insure you like what you see. If you would like for it to appear differently, go back through the steps that you have just taken and adjust the map accordingly. When users of your website visit this page, they can interact with the map getting very detailed directions.

    MonMondaySepSeptember14th2009 Bounce Rate and How to Reduce It

    What is Bounce Rate?

    A bounce occurs when a person visits your church website and leaves without visiting any other pages on your site. This is the equivalent to a visitor attending your church and then leaving after they hear your opening prayer. The problem with this is obvious.

    Bounce Rate is a term used in website traffic analysis. It represents the percentage of visitors to a site who "bounce" away to a different site, rather than continue on to other pages within the same site. The formula used to calculate bounce rate is: Bounce Rate = Total Number of Visits Viewing One Page ÷ Total Number of Visits. 

    Just as you want church visitors to stay longer than the first 10 minutes of your service, you want your website visitors to stay on your site long enough to learn about who you are as well as get connected to your ministry. Lowering your Bounce Rate is the key to achieving that goal.

    A high Bounce Rate from any page means that your site's pages don’t give visitors any reason to stay, so making your homepage and other pages as relevant as possible to your visitors is crucial.

    Ways to Reduce Bounce Rate and Keep Visitors on Your Site

    1. Streamline Your Menu
    2. Your menu is the most important tool to navigate your site. Visitors want to find information quickly and easily, so don't bog down your menu with too many choices. Limit your main menu categories to the 6-7 most important, and only include relevant pages (five or less) as sub-categories.

      Use the example menu below as a good rule of thumb:

      • Home
      • About Us
        • Our History
        • Our Mission
        • What We Believe
        • Weekend Services
        • Staff
      • Ministries
        • Men's Ministry
        • Women's Ministry
        • Student Ministry
        • Children's Ministry
        • Small Groups
      • Media
        • Sermons
        • Videos
      • Contact Us
      • My Church

      In a previous blog entry entitled, "Spring Cleaning for your Website," we talked about simplifying a site's menu by combining items and making it easier to navigate by using breadcrumbs--all great advice for helping your users find information.

    3. Add Highlights with Thumbnails
    4. On the sidebar or footer of each of your site's pages, news items, events, and other items is a space to include up to five highlights--links to other content on your site. Adding highlights that relate to the content on each page is an easy way to entice users to explore your website. For example, on the home page, you might include highlights for your "Weekend Services" page, "This Week's Sermon" blog, "Meet the Pastors" event, and "Our Mission" page. (See this help file to learn more about highlights.)

      Include a thumbnail with your highlight to make it "pop" off the page. Read this help file to find out how to add thumbnails to your items.

    5. Add Recent News or Events with Smart Tags
    6. With Smart Tags, you can embed content from your site inside other content. To let your visitors see the latest happenings in your ministry, use Smart Tags to display the most recently added news and upcoming events. Here is an example of a page with events embedded within it.

      You can also embed recent blog entries inside of other pages--so on your senior pastor's staff page, you can include the latest entries from his blog and connect with visitors on a more relational level.

      Learn more about Smart Tags by clicking here.

    7. Create Ads Which Link to Other Pages/Site Features
    8. Ads on your site act to promote the content within. Use flashy images and compelling text to advertise other pages, blogs, photo galleries, or media.

      Have a Podcast of your weekly sermon series? Create and ad which links to it and display it on your home page. Don't make visitors hunt for your features. Lead them there. Click here to learn how to create an ad.

    9. Sign Up for Google Analytics
    10. Utilizing free Google Analytics is an important step in understanding how your site traffic works. Analytics allows you to chart your Bounce Rate on individual pages or site-wide, creates reports that show your hits per day, month, or the change over the course of a year, and tracks clicks on individual links or ads. And that's only the beginning.

      Once you plug your Google Analytics number into your iMinistries website, check out your bounce rates on this page. To learn more about statistics like this and how to use them, read this help file on adding your Google Analytics number to your iMinistries website.

    Sources for This Blog and More Reading on Bounce Rates

    What does Bounce Rate Mean? - Google Analytics
    MonMondaySepSeptember7th2009 About Us: Beginning The Conversation

    Use Your About Us Page to Introduce Yourself to Visitors

    When you first meet someone, you both ask questions to begin your interaction.

    What do you do? Where are you from? What do you like to do?

    The answers to these initial ice breakers often dictate how the exchange continues. If you both share common interests or personality traits, you could find yourself in a deep conversation. If not, it could end up just a brief chat.

    When people visit your church website for the first time, they are seeking similar information about your ministry. They should be able to find these answers immediately, and all in one place, or the “conversation” may end before it begins. This is why a well thought out About Us section is vital to an effective website.

    Next to the homepage, the About Us section of your website is the most visited by new users. It is more than just a place to list your history or address, but its goal should be to connect with visitors by taking steps to building a relationship with them.

    The three main questions that should be answered in this section are:

    • Who are you?
    • What do you do?
    • Why should I trust you?
    About Us should be offered in your menu and can list several pages as submenu items. Below are pages that you can include within your About Us section:
    • Ministry History
    • Basic Ministry Information
    • Ministry List/What You Offer
    • Beliefs/Values
    • Contact Information
    • Staff
    • Extension Ministries/Partners
    • Employment Opportunities
    • Ministry Location, Directions, and Maps
    • Frequently Asked Questions

    The more information you provide, the more trust you earn from visitors, the more credibility you give to your ministry, and the better likelihood of engaging in a meaningful conversation.

    Blog Sources/Further Reading

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