Is Your Own Website Hurting You?

Crying-baby-300You have invested time and money into creating a website.  Now it’s time to see if it was a good investment.  Will it attract new members or customers?  Will you be able to create a brand, a name for your organization that people know and trust?  Implicit in these questions is the question, will people be able to find your website?  Your web builder, the software you use to build your website, may determine whether people can find your website in the search engines.

Is your web builder keeping people from finding your website?

Not All Web Builders are the Same:

There are a lot of options out there for building a website.  There are content management systems, like WordPress, computer-based web builders, like Dreamweaver, web host provided web builders, like OurChurch.Com’s NE1, and you can even build the site yourself from scratch if you really wanted to.  With all of these choices come a lot of different features.  Some are helpful for ranking well in the search engines and others are harmful.  So, what do you need to look for in a web builder to know it will help you in the search engines and not hurt you?

5 Website Builder Features/Attributes to Look For:

  1. Flash®: Will the website be build with Flash®?  The search engines cannot read Flash®, so your site will look empty to them unless the web builder also creates an alternate HTML version.  Even then, however, it’s not as effective as having an actual HTML site.  Also, Flash® sites often only have one URL for the whole site which means that even if you have an alternate HTML version created, your site will look like it only has one page.  Avoid websites made entirely in Flash®.
  2. Unique Page Titles: Does the web builder give you control over the title tag for each page or does it create it automatically with no edit option?  It important to have unique Title tags and be able to determine what words are in that title tag.  Make sure the web builder gives you access to create unique Title tags that you can edit.
  3. HTML Navigation Menus: Some web builders us Javascript to create the navigation menus of a site.  The search engines have trouble reading some javascript and this may make it look to the search engines like your site doesn’t have any internal navigation, making it harder for them to find the various pages of your website.  Make sure the site will have an HTML navigation menu.
  4. Heading Tags: Heading tags (or <h> tags) are used to create headings for pages and paragraphs.  Because of this, the search engines place extra emphasis on the words in the heading tags on your site.  Some web builders do not give you an option as to whether you use an heading tag or not, either preventing you from using them at all or causing the site to have too many.  Either situation isn’t good.  Make sure you can control what text is in the heading tags on your site.
  5. Access to the Head of your website: A web page is made up of two parts, the head (which is not visible) and the body (which is where your visible content is).  The head is where your meta tags and many scripts must be located.  You should have access to add and edit the content of the head of your site.  If you don’t, you may not be able to install analytics software, edit meta tags, geotag your location, and add other scripts helpful for the search engines.  Make sure you have access to the head of your web pages.

There are many other features to look for which are related to SEO (Search Engine Optimization), such as being able to control link text, add alt tags, add functionality like a blog, etc.  The 5 things listed above are the primary things to look for, though.

Because OurChurch.Com offers SEO, we have made sure SEO features are available in every site we build, whether you build your own site using our NE1 Web Builder or you have us create a custom site for you WordPress.

So, if you are shopping around for a web host or a web builder, take a few minutes to look at the SEO features and functionality, especially those listed above.  You don’t want to spend all that time and money building your site and then find out it’s invisible in the search engines and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Share Your Thoughts:

  • Are there any other SEO features/functionality you think are important in a web builder?
  • Do you use the SEO features in your NE1 website?

Kurt Steinbrueck is the Director of Marketing Services with OurChurch.Com. He also serves on the leadership of Family of Christ Lutheran Church in Tampa, FL. You can find him on Google+ as .

16 Responses to “Is Your Own Website Hurting You?”

  1. This is a great article Kurt, however I'd question anyone as to why / how they were building websites in the first place if they didn't use H tags, alt tags, Heading tags etc.

    I'm 90% self taught with 10% coming from some college courses I sat to fill in the gaps, there are enougth resources online to never "not" be able to know the basics these days.

    • Very true. There's really no excuse at this point, except maybe time. There are certainly a lot of resources out there. But I'll tell you what, I still see a lot of sites that don't have alt tags, have auto-generated title tags with no SEO value, and misuse H tags. So, while the info is out there, a lot of people aren't taking the time to learn it. I'm glad to hear you are, though. Great job!

  2. This helps me understand some things about my site.

  3. Great article, Kurt! Love the image ;) I know some people build websites using a web builder given to them and they don't know what kind of control they have. There are others I have spoken to that had websites built for them and weren't aware of these aspects.

  4. Some sound SEO advice!

  5. Great article Kurt, We all know everyone wants and needs a website Correct? I love having a web builder tool to use. Ours includes a little robot that just walks you through the whole thing, This is an Awesome Feature Huh? Another aspect on needs to think about is if it is affordable to the masses. Times are tough my friend. Well great Advice Thanks for sharing Chery :))

  6. Excellent observations. There are several "biggies" in church website design I've looked at – particularly when I was an elder at Presbyterian Church 2 years ago – and I was disappointed. Let's get the word out.

    • Yeah. I've had several churches who asked to partner with us for SEO and after looking over there sites I had to inform them that I was going to be limited in the on-site work I could do for them because their website builder simply didn't give them the capability to do everything that needs to be done. I was still able to help them because there's plenty of off-site things that can be done, but it was frustrating for them and me that their web builder was tying our hands.

      Thanks for sharing, Bill.

  7. Useful information – thanks very much. I will keep it in mind when I'm website shopping (which is quite often, strangely enough).