Sixteen Forty Six has a problem: we can’t be everywhere at once. We would love to be in your staff meetings to answer all your questions about digital and to help you think through the “how can we communicate this” scenarios. Unfortunately, we’re finite, and you probably are, too. You would probably love to be present every time someone in your community asked about a question about the Bible, Jesus, and what it means to know God. It would be so great to be in the room when people are asking questions that we desperately want to give the answers to!

But we can’t… Or can we?

Search engine marketing (SEM) is the closest to possible we can get. SEM allows you to advertise around given key words and locations. Organizations can bid on specific key words and have their name and introduction/offer be what’s seen first in search. If you’ve ever used Google to search for anything, the first few options are often advertisements. They operate off of the pay-per-click model, which means you’re only charged when someone follows the link to your website. Free advertising, until someone clicks on it, then it’s still free.

That’s right. Google has a grant for non-profits that you can sign up for as a church. It gives you up to $10,000 of free advertising.

This is huge. Google gets billions of searches a day, and they want to help you advertise with them. It’s really just up to you to go through the process of getting approved by Google for the grant. Then you can use Google Adwords to start being digitally present when people are going to the world’s most popular search engine to ask questions about the Christian faith.

Search engine marketing is this generation’s billboard, but so much more effective. Think of it this way, Google’s stock price is over $900 a share, and they started off as a search engine selling ad space.

There are two strategies that churches should use, and they’re aimed at two different audiences. For the part of your community that’s asking skeptical, create content that answers the frequently asked questions about the Bible, then set up ads around those keywords that drive back to those articles/videos/podcasts. For those who are looking for a church, use “churches in my area” as a starting phrase and build ads that drive to your website’s welcome page.

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