When your church website becomes popular, it often seems that reason you have a lot of traffic is because…you have a lot of traffic. But how do you get traffic in the first place?

Organic rankings on search engines such as Google or Bing will get you traffic, especially if your site is clearly targeted. However, this traffic may not be as high as you might hope.

So why not trade a little money for traffic?

Major search engines offer paid-for spots on their search results pages, and through various programs also slots on websites with similar content to your advert. The most well known paid-for advertising schemes are Google Adwords, Microsoft Adcenter and Facebook Ads, and they all work in a similar fashion. You place a maximum bid on a particular word or phrase, and enter into a competition with other advertisers for placement on pages – generally speaking, the higher your bid and budget, the more often your advert will be seen. When the advert is clicked, you get charged – this is Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising.

There is also the option to target particular consumers – geographical location, age range, and more. As a church, you most likely want to attract local people, or people with a certain ideology. This highlights a failure of print advertising – anyone and everyone can see the advert, and you would pay for the advertising space based on total circulation, even if only 5% of that circulation would find your advert useful or interesting.

Is this a good way to get traffic?

Yes and no is the simple answer! While the results are unquestionable – paid-for adverts get clicked, and get clicked often – the fact remains you are having to pay for this traffic. Many companies spend a fortune on these kinds of adverts, and frankly many do not need to. Do you really need reminding that eBay exists every time you search for something?

With a church, it’s a little different. If you want to get instant traffic to your website, and have little experience of other methods of driving traffic, then PPC advertising is the way to go. Other ways of getting traffic quickly include the use of Youtube, Twitter and Facebook Pages – but again, you need to have an idea of what you are letting yourself in for, and results from these sources can be disappointing.

Remember that there’s always the temptation to let the campaign run for “just one more day” – but you must always monitor the figures to make sure that this strategy makes good financial sense. If you have already spent 1000s on advertising and not seen a great return from it, there’s a problem. It may be that your site isn’t providing the expected information, or possibly that your advert is unintentionally misleading. Maybe the wording of the advert does not appeal to the right people – or maybe it would never work no matter how many people visit your site.

The key is knowing when to walk away and try something new. If you keep working with the same advert, year after year, you may eventually see a return – but you really need to tune it to resonate with people.

Always monitor the traffic, and always monitor your PPC spend. If it’s not working, it’s not working, so adapt and change!

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