True North: The Missionary Work of SEO

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As part of our True North Campaign, we are publishing articles that highlight the impact of Anglican Compass. Here we welcome Holly Shaheen, who explains the missionary work of SEO and shares how she has used Anglican Compass. Enjoy!

Do you remember how you first found Anglican Compass? You may have been emailed a link by someone at church, or clicked on a social media post shared by a friend. But if you’re like the majority of readers, you probably started by asking a question in Google.

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In the past 6 months, 233,818 people have visited Anglican Compass. That’s nearly twice the number of members in the entire ACNA, and it’s roughly the population of cities like Richmond, VA and Spokane, WA. 79% of those readers found Anglican Compass through a Google search.

Like many of the stories you’ll be hearing in the True North series, I am a long-time reader of the Anglican Compass, and can name countless ways it has helped me in ministry and my own journey as a Rookie Anglican. I’ve also had the pleasure of occasionally sharing insights from my day job as an SEO strategist to support Anglican Compass.

What is SEO?

Since this is the first question I usually get when I tell people what I do for a living, a quick description might be helpful. SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization.” As an SEO strategist, I analyze how Google’s algorithm works – how it decides what websites or content to show you when you search for something. Then, I make recommendations to websites to help them get displayed in search results more prominently and more frequently.

A Global Reach

The Anglican Church is a global communion, and the readership of the Anglican Compass reflects that. While authored primarily in North America, the city with the single highest readership of Anglican Compass in the past 6 months is London. In that same time period, Anglican Compass has reached 214 total countries and territories. Some of the most engaged visitors, based on the time they spent active on the website, are from Guinea, Maldives, South Sudan and Solomon Islands.

When we think of missions’ work, we often think of the valuable, irreplaceable work of individuals and families evangelizing worldwide. But the writers and editors that comprise Anglican Compass are discipling the nations in their own way!

Questions and Answers

Looking at what search terms led readers to the Anglican Compass also gives insight into who it ministers to. While there are thousands of search terms, here are some of the most common:

Why Does This Content Perform So Well?

The grounding statement of Anglican Compass, “clarity and charity,” pairs well with another piece of SEO industry jargon, EAT. EAT (my last acronym, promise!) stands for Expertise, Authority & Trustworthiness. Google tries not only to understand if the content of a webpage alone is good or bad, it also tries to understand if the source of the content is relevant. For example, if presented with two descriptions of how to perform heart surgery, one from a cardiologist and one from a bank teller, you’re probably more likely to trust the cardiologist’s take on the subject.

Google and readers alike have recognized that the content on Anglican Compass clearly answers the questions searchers are asking, and does it in a way that is trustworthy. This is a testament to the quality of writing and research on Anglican Compass to date, and it is important to maintain that caliber moving forward.

Regular Content Keeps the Mission Alive

Imagine you have a friend who emails you updates about their life weekly, consistently for years. You look forward to hearing from them each week. Then, those updates slow down to maybe once a month, and one day they just stop. At first, you follow up to make sure they’re ok and keep an eye out for an update. Those old emails are still valuable, but over time you think about your friend less and less.

While it doesn’t have the emotions associated with a decrease in correspondence from a friend, Google functions pretty similarly. It values regular updates from websites to show that they’re still active and trustworthy. But, if those updates slow down or stop, Google can take that as a sign that maybe that website shouldn’t be as top of mind as it used to be.

Anglican Compass still has great readership! But since publication has slowed with the changeover in ministry leadership, so has traffic from Google. From July through October of this year, Anglican Compass received 28% less clicks to keywords in Google compare to the same time period last year. Without the support of a full-time, paid managing editor, that traffic could continue to decline.

A Personal Note

I enjoy my career in SEO and digital marketing, but it’s even more fulfilling when I can apply that knowledge to support websites I care about to the glory of God. Anglican Compass and the team behind it have been invaluable resources to me. Just looking at my email history, I can see all of the times I’ve shared links with family members, or have been sent articles from my own priest. Growing up in non-liturgical traditions, the Rookie Anglican guides have helped answer a ton of questions for my husband and I, like “Why do Anglicans make the sign of the cross?” or “Why does the priest face the altar?” As we helped plant a new church in our city, we’ve relied on articles from Anglican Compass to help us explain Sunday worship to newcomers and teach other Rookie Anglicans about Confirmation. As a lay catechist, I’ve found books to read with my fellowship through recommendations and reviews. And, when I was having a hard time finding Anglican resources for an upcoming study of the Stations of the Cross, former managing editor Joshua Steele took the time to help me research the topic. I’m so grateful to the new team and president, Rev. Peter Johnston, for taking up this ministry that has been so important to me personally.

Making Disciples of All Nations

Anglican Compass is a vital ministry – educating, evangelizing and encouraging readers all over the world. But like all missions and ministries, it needs the financial support of those who see its value. Please consider donating today to continue answering the questions of those who search!

Please support the work of Anglican Compass, so we can continue the work of mission to North America and to the world!

Published on

November 29, 2022

Author

Holly Shaheen

Holly Shaheen lives in Lakewood, Ohio, with her husband Seth. She works full time in digital marketing, and both Seth and Holly serve as lay leaders at St. Anselm Anglican Church.

View more from Holly Shaheen

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