Search engines have quickly become the new Yellow Pages. According to some studies I saw last year from PewOnline, more than 65% of people looking for information, a product, a business, or a church start by doing an online search. That number grows each year. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if at this point the number is more like 70%. That means that being listed in the search engines is more important than being in the phonebook (though I’d do both).
I’ve talked about how search engine optimization (SEO) is a great way to get high rankings in the search engines; however, if you don’t want to wait for the high rankings SEO can get you or you find that, at least right now, you can’t rank well for certain keywords, pay-per-click advertising in the search engines is a good alternative and one that is usually reasonably inexpensive for churches. To help you get started, below you’ll find six steps to setting up an Adwords campaign. I’m focusing solely on Adwords because at this time, Google controls the vast majority of pay-per-click search marketing, so they would be the most beneficial for your church to use.
What Do I Do?
Below you will find information on how to setup a basic pay-per-click search marketing campaign in Google Adwords:
1. Setup An Account:
The first step in creating your PPC campaign in Google Adwords is to go to the Google Adwords login page and either login with your existing Google Account, or create a new Google account. After logging in, click the “Click to Begin” button. If you don’t have an account, just click the “Click to Begin” button without logging in.
Next you will have the choice to setup a Starter Edition or Standard Edition Adwords account. If your church only wants to have listings relating to people finding a church in your town, then a Starter Edition account should work fine for you. If your church is a larger church and you want to setup listings relating to different services and ministries your church offers as part of your church marketing campaign, then you will want to setup a Standard Edition.
2. Location and Language:
One of the great features in Google Adwords is that you can opt to only have your ad shown when the person searching is located in a specific geographical location. This is called, “geo-targeting. For example, if you want to have a listing for the keyword “church” and your church is located in Crescent City, CA, you don’t want your listing showing up for people searching in Manitoba, Canada. So, you can geo-target your local area.
3. Setting Up Your Ad:
Here you will select the destination URL of the ad (the web page people will be directed to if they click on your listing). For most churches, this will be the homepage of the church site; however, if you are targeting keywords related to specific topics or ministries, then you should choose a destination URL (web page on your church’s site) that is related to that specific topic or ministry.
In addition, you will setup the text for the ad, including the headline (possibly your church name) and 2 description lines. You can change this information later. So, if you find that you aren’t getting the results you want from your Adwords campaign, you can try different ad text. You’d be surprised at the difference some of the smallest changes to ad text can make.
4. Choosing Keywords:
You probably have an idea of the keywords you want to target, but Google also has features that will suggest additional keywords and help you do a little keyword research. Remember it’s not really important how much a keyword is searched for. So, feel free to include keywords that Google predicts will have a low search volume.
You also have the option to select match types for your keywords. The match types determine whether your ad will be displayed only for the exact keywords you select or a broader criteria that includes related keywords to those you select. If you are setting up a basic Adwords account and just targeting keywords related to people searching for a church in your town, then you may want to choose the “broad” match type. That way you don’t have to select to target every possible keyword, but rather target more general keywords.
Google also has the option to choose negative keywords. If you select the “broad” match type, you may want to check your account from time to time and see for what keywords your ads are being displayed. If your ad is being displayed for keywords that either aren’t relevant or are keywords you don’t want to show up for, then you can enter words from those keyword phrases as negative keywords and thus prevent your ad from being displayed again for those keywords. For example, if you selected the keyword “worship” and then see that your ad is being displayed for “Hindu worship services”, you could enter the word “Hindu” as a negative keyword. Then your ad would not be displayed for any keyword phrases containing the word “Hindu.”
5. Limits and Currency:
Next you will be able to choose the type of currency you will use to pay for the clicks. You will also setup your monthly expense limit. Google will not exceed that limit each month.
6. Activate The Account and Get Started:
At the end of the setup process, you will be sent an email that contains a verification and activation link. Simply activate your account and you’re on your way. You can then login to your Google Adwords account at any time, check on the progress of your campaign, and make any changes you want.
For additional information about setting up a Starter Edition Google Adwords account, Google has provided an online slide show with audio describing the process.
Don’t Miss Any More Visitors:
If you have just started optimizing your church site or (I hope not) you haven’t done anything for church marketing, I encourage you to look into setting up a basic pay-per-click search marketing campaign. You can set it up in about an hour and be in the search engines by the next day. People are searching today. Don’t miss out.