UPDATED for 2017 Ash Wednesday kicks off Lent and is often the busiest day of the year for church websites. Are you going to get your ash in gear and build a dedicated Lent page that works? Here are 10 steps showing how to get your site ready for Lent to make the most of that traffic spike from Ash Wednesday.
- Create a permanent page for your Ash Wednesday and Lenten schedule of events and prayers. You want a spiderable page that is going to show up well in searches over time. If your only mention of Lent is a fleeting one on your home page or is relegated to a calendar page that’s soon going to look like last year’s news, then you’re missing the opportunity to reach potential visitors. You should still link from the homepage and your calendars, but use a fixed page and give it time to get noticed.
- Give your page a short, memorable name. Think http://www.example.com/lent/ or example.com/lent.html. Use a virtual directory or a forward to preserve you information architecture if necessary, but don’t expect someone to remember example.com/content/calendar/holydays/year/lent2007.yaddayadda.
- Include your daily and weekend Mass schedules on your Lent page. Again, you want to make the offer to those newcomers, and established parishioners, looking to do something extra for Lent.
- Before the start of Lent, have your entire schedule of events posted, including Holy Week. This may be your only chance to reach newcomers; make sure everything you have to offer is there. Doing so also increases the chances it appears in the snippet of a search engine result.
- Include your street address and neighborhood nicknames on the page. You want someone looking for “ash wednesday [town name or neighborhood]” to find you.
- Include links to driving directions, parking and any other content you have for newcomers. Even if this content is in your regular navigation, call it out here.
- Leading up to Lent, push the Ash Wednesday dates to the top of both your Lent page and home page.
- As you get closer to Easter, move your Holy Week schedule to the top.
- Tie your other events to Lent, even if they are not explicitly Lenten events. Anything prayer related has a natural tie-in to Lent. Same with other educational opportunities and prayers/reflections.
- Include a printout of your page(s) or equivalent content in your bulletin. Make sure your URL is prominently displayed along with your street address and phone number. If someone wants to post the info on their fridge or share it with a friend, the recipient might not already “know” that the info came from your church. Leave no doubt and spell it out.
[Here’s the ancient St. Charles Lent page from my previous parish back in the day. Seen any good Lent pages out there? Share them in the comments.