5. Data, Obviously

It's important, but there's more

What's your goal, anyhow, to collect data? The world as a whole is too hung up on data. It can be useful, depending on your goal, but churches and schools have bigger missions than bowing down to the data aggregators. For example, I'd bet polling data would indicate that the pastor at your church should give shorter sermons. Does that make it the right thing to do? Is it so important that traffic increase to your website by 20% every month? Is that even possible? Do you give up and say Satan won if you fail? You probably want to create metrics to measure if the site is effective. I can't stop you from doing that. However, you might realize that people expect sites exist but don't necessarily make decisions about churches or schools solely based on those websites. While you can maybe drive someone away with a pastor's wife Facebook page, most other incarnations of a web presence are pretty standard.

Match similar sites in area

If you really want to get into the numbers, I recommend you just try to match the similars. Find churches or school with similar attendance and then look up their online rank compared to yours. There are some services that will give Alexa ranks or similar scores. Look around for a free tool that seems to give usable results. Then make it your goal to match the top competitor in the area. Make sure you check out the comparable sites, too. Maybe they all pale in comparison to your new CMS, but maybe a few have items you could use. For example, every car I've ever owned has had one or two features that seem ingenious, and only found on that car. What if someone took all those cool and unique features and put them on one car? Make that your website.

Unique visitors and new visitors

As you are working to get more people to visit your site, pay attention to unique views and new, relevant visitors. Is a hacker looking for a back door to your site from Russia an important visitor? Is your own IP address important? You're looking for people coming from referring pages like those with whom you've exchanged links or from Youtube or Facebook. You're looking for unique search terms that you've somehow captured. For example, before our church got redesigned by a persuasive yet skill-less businesswoman, I checked it's top ranking search terms because she said her company would fix all the problems with the site. Our site was in the top 10 on Google for something like why god or why jesus, and you can imagine that such an obvious search phrase would be awesome to have. However, today the site is a CMS that has been abandoned and the search term longer even registers on Google after I add the church name because that specific static content that had been there for years as a beacon to anyone asking the same question was now gone. Find out what people might be looking for an give them what they need.

 Written by Brian Jaeger, owner of Satisfamily, McNewsy, PassivNinja, Educabana, RealWisconsinNews, ManCrushFanClub, WildWestAllis, SitcomLifeLessons, and VoucherSchool