This article was originally written by Joshua Steimle for Forbes. The following is an excerpt:
We tend to think of religions as being conservative, stodgy, or lagging when it comes to anything that has to do with technology, and especially online technology. Therefore it may come as a bit of a surprise to find out that at least one religion, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members are commonly known by the abbreviation “LDS” or the nickname “Mormons,” is one of the most advanced large organizations in the world when it comes to SEO, content marketing, and the use of social media [Full disclosure, I am an active member of the LDS Church].As a member of this religious community and someone who makes his living from consulting with businesses regarding digital marketing, I have been more than curious to learn from the campaigns the LDS Church has engaged in to get their message out. Here are some of the lessons entrepreneurs and businesses can take from the Mormon way of doing digital marketing.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO, which stands for search engine optimization, includes all activities that influence the ranking of a website on a search engine for a given keyword search. The higher a website’s rankings, the more traffic it gets. Digital marketing consultant Justin Briggs analyzed the SEO efforts of the LDS Church in 2010 while working for SEO consultancy Distilled and published his results in a well-read blog post. Given the time that has passed, I decided to revisit a few of Briggs’ findings when it came to the LDS Church’s SEO tactics and results.
First, I looked at rankings for non-branded, generic keywords. Although exact results may differ from one person’s computer to another, when I used the SEO software tool SEMRush to analyze Google rankings for the following keywords for desktop users in the United States, I found LDS.org rankings in the top five results for these searches:
- bible dictionary
- church music
- holy bible
- holy ghost
- jesus christ
- king james bible
- new testament
- old testament
It is not easy to rank for these keywords. Using SEMRush’s competitive analysis tool, the only website that outperformed LDS.org on these searches was Wikipedia, and this doesn’t take into account the fact that LDS.org is only one of the more than 100 websites the LDS Church maintains. Others include Mormon.org,ProvidentLiving.org, and OvercomingPornography.org.
But the name of the game isn’t just to rank for highly competitive, simple keywords like those above, but to also target a large number of long tail searches, or keyword phrases that are more specific. The number of searches for “holy bible” is certain to outnumber those for “isaiah let us reason together,” (LDS.org ranks fifth on Google for this search) but when you add up the aggregate visitors from millions of specific searches they outweigh the visitors searching for a handful of generic terms. The LDS Church appears to have mastered both. Perhaps this shouldn’t be too surprising coming from a religion that has an official statement on SEO, in which it says “We view SEO as a method to spread the gospel online…”
Read Steimle’s full article at forbes.com.