How to Measure Church Website Effectiveness and Improve It

Google Analytics core topics illustration

Quality Metrics for Measuring Your Church Website’s Traffic

If you can't measure it, you can't improve it.

Peter Drucker

The metrics referenced below are gathered from Google Analytics, a free tool churches can install on their website in minutes to monitor traffic.

I also recommend Google Search Console because it’s also free and will provide you with actionable information focused on search terms, error notification and overall site health.

I need to reiterate FREE. These tools take minimal effort to install but the benefits and information they provide — compared to operating a website in the dark — are worth much more.

Google Analytics Audience Overview

audience overview screenshot
The Audience Overview screen provides at-a-glance numbers of some core metrics.

Google Analytics requires a Gmail account (which will also open the door to numerous other helpful Google products and services).

Installation typically takes a couple of minutes and involves some verification and pasting of provided code.

Once your analytics account is collecting data, you’ll see a wide variety of helpful metrics. It can be overwhelming at times, since there’s so much data, but focusing on the core metrics shown below will help you gauge your website’s effectiveness.

Bounce Rate

bounce rate illustration

A bounce happens when a visitor to your website visits only one page.

Bounces aren’t always bad. If someone is searching for your service times and your Service Times page shows a higher bounce rate, it’s possible they’re finding your contact information (or service times) and stopping their search; this is completely normal for some pages. That would show as a bounce in Analytics since only one page was visited.

Lowering Bounce Rate:

All websites have a bounce rate because it’s normal. Lowering bounce rate can be as simple as including links on various pages, so that your visitors can easily find information that’s on a different page. Clicking on a link moves them from one page to another, and this automatically lowers your bounce rate. Some pages may be single search destinations, like those mentioned above.

Landing Pages

The first page a user lands on your site. Typically, this will be your home page or any other content-rich page that answers relevant questions for your visitors’ search terms. 

Once you know your top landing pages, you can guess the behavior that led your visitors to them.

Let’s say your top landing page is your Service Times page. You can make a fairly good guess that people have either bookmarked this page for reference or searched for it frequently. (try searching for “worship service times” for your church).

This metric can also show what type of information is resonating with your visitors: an active Events page? A recent article on escatology? A brochure for summer camp?

Proper Landing Page Segmentation:

I recommend placing your contact info, map and service times on a single, dedicated page. This will help you isolate bounce behavior to a single page. It will also benefit your visitors by giving them exactly what they want in a logical location on your church website.

Time on Site

How much time visitors spend on your website is one of the most important metrics for search engines like Google in evaluating and ranking your church website.

Increasing Time on Site:

I first recommend dealing with any abnormally high bounce rate pages, since there is no way for a search engine to determine how much time is spent on one page versus another.

Interspersing calls to action (buttons, text links) with clear labels throughout your pages will compel visitors to click on them. This is ESPECIALLY important because it offloads the responsibility from your navigation menu which often is hidden once users scroll down the page. (Once a visitor clicks on a link/call to action/button, all your numbers improve.)

A super great and easy to use online software for creating banners, calls to action and so forth is Canva. I use it nearly every day.

Adding video and audio content is helpful since these are very easily consumed.

Unique Visitors

data field with magnifying glass

How many unique visitors are you seeing every month? To understand how Google and others measure “unique,” let’s use an example: Joe visits your website 4 times in July, Sam visits 3 times, and Bill visits 6 times. Assuming each man uses a single device to access your site, the Unique Visitor count would be 3.

Critical Questions: Is your Unique count growing every month? This count tells Google and other search engines how much you’re investing toward increasing your website traffic.

Are you producing new content such as articles, videos and audio to broaden your surface exposure? 

Are you updating your calendar and event pages?

Are you linked to Google Maps and Google Business Local?

New Visitors

I monitor this mainly to compare with the percentage of returning visitors. I typically reference Unique visitors, discussed above, and the same actionable items apply.

I’m also watching new devices here because it sheds light on whether those visitors are traveling through.

Pages Per Session

I focus on this metric first because it tells me whether my content is resonating. Device usage, like smartphones specifically, may have a dramatically higher or lower rate. 

Compelling Content and Clean Layout will Boost Consumed Pages:

Fresh, frequently updated content. Navigation links and interspersed calls to action (highlighted text links, buttons, banners) that call out new and relevant content.

Smartphone users will engage with interspersed calls to action as they scroll through a page.

Traffic Sources

Where are your visitors coming from? Search engines? Fraternal site or directory referrals? Bookmarked links or direct type-ins?

How about social?

How is the bulk of your visitors finding you? Organic search is usually a main source and should certainly be focused on if it isn’t such a source.

Increasing Your Church Website’s Surface Exposure:

Creating new content in the form of articles (pages, posts), along with audio and video will increase your organic search exposure.

If you are considering any paid directory listing services, please know that Google has caught on to this game and is no longer rewarding paid links.

Verifying you’re connected to Google Maps and Google Local Business will help.

Conversions

Are your visitors signing up for anything on your website? Are they converting from passive visitor to engaged follower?

Do you have a signup for a newsletter, or have you built a mailing list?

Are there signup locations just for outreach, where visitors can sign up for any type of social engagement?

Do you have membership signups for activities and events?

Tools for Increasing Engagement on Your Website

Search engines take notice of your church web site when visitors engage with it. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Try this: Sign up for prayer requests. Article / Topic requests. Resources page with links to books, videos and other learning materials.

Calls to action

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Antiquated call to action

A call to action is any link via button, text or image to click and thereby advance toward a goal. These can be scattered throughout your website for easing your visitors experience, especially for smartphone users:

Try this: Introduce a New studies series – make a call to action. Show some intriguing topics and ask visitors to click on a link to learn more. If you’ve written a page or blog post about the new series, link to it from multiple pages.

Link to your service times from multiple locations throughout your website. This encourages traffic from different pages, and lowers your bounce rate.

Link to common resources: whether it’s your ministries or services or contact info, display these links throughout your site NOT just in navigation but in text and button links throughout your content.

Use Canva to build any graphic you want

If your creative muscles are lacking in the call to action department, please can I wholeheartedly recommend that you give Canva a try?

Their huge offering of gorgeous free templates with easy online editing and instantaneous downloading frees up so much creative muscle.

Canva solves SO MANY problems for busy people who just aren’t creative. You’ll be designing banners and calls to action in no time.

Embed a video

One of the best ways to increase time on site and reduce bounce rate; embed a video on your home page and you increase the on-site time. But if you embed the video on a different page and then create a CTA link on the home page, NOW you’re lowering your bounce rate because the visitors are clicking to another page on your site.

Embed a video on your home page. Load time is crucial — most users allow only a second or two for pages to load — and if your video isn’t showing then you’re probably looking at a bounce. Embedded videos solve a world of problems. I wholeheartedly recommend using embeds from YouTube as opposed to uploading the entire video file to your website and hosting it yourself.

Events Page

Increases time on site, encourages return visitors.

Click through call to action – decreases bounce rate while giving your audience an “express lane” to get where they want to go. Service Times, BESIDES just the one navigation link.

Remember: smartphone users will lose the main navigation menu whenever they’re scrolling, so having calls to action interspersed throughout your pages will save time and create more engagement.

Adding Relevant and Engaging Content

The more relevant search terms you have on your page, the more traffic will be directed to it in search results — you’re increasing your website’s surface exposure. This doesn’t always mean TOP search results listing, just that you’ll probably see more traffic because you’ll be listed in more searches.

Try this: Add a new category to your blog. Something that people using your site can reference (“Common Questions”).

Add blog posts to that category. Answer questions (“What happens after I die?”) in several response posts.

If you’re initiating a new study on a topic, by all means write a blog post introducing the study and make sure to link to it from your home page. You can even include the link to the post beside the relevant service time and/or ministry. Wednesday Service – 7 pm – Eternal Security (links to post introducing your new line of study) ** image of service with link **

“Get Saved” page: add real-life questions when citing Romans Road. Asking questions about a person’s definition of sin, to probe the depth of the doctrine you’re stating, will increase interest and engagement while also clarifying your position. Example: “Have you ever told a white lie?” Cite all have sinned and Revelation “all liars.”

The right tools for the job

Wordpress logo
hands typing on laptop with open screen

WordPress has great functionality

Buy our theme, they tell you, and you can design the most incredible pages. Well, I’ve built a lot of pages using a lot of themes and I can tell you that most of them aren’t easy to use without a good background in WordPress, HTML, CSS and PHP.

I struggled with this more than a few times; I wanted a tool my clients could use, something that could be up in running in a second, with ease of use and instant visual feedback; no coding, no fancy, schmancy procedures. Just a wide open opportunity to get work done in the blink of an eye.

When you see a problem, you can fix it. When you get an idea, you can throw it together in a minute. And you can see the finished result instantaneously. At the very least, you can visualize it, plan for it and execute it without having to relearn code, procedure or any other mental obstacle.

Elementor is a phenomenal WordPress plugin

Elementor logo

Elementor is a page builder plugin for WordPress. It’s a tool I use daily, and I train clients to use it as well because I **know** they’ll get it. In 3 webinar lessons totaling less than an hour, I can demo and train on a system that before took WEEKs to train on.

Clients — missionaries, pastors, church planters — adapt quickly and provide feedback that is simply amazing.

What’s best is, they have an accessible tool that instantly helps them build whatever they desire.

There are a ton of other benefits I’d love to share with you. Why not call Faith Builders today?

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