Heal Your Church WebSite

Teaching, rebuking, correcting & training in righteous web design.

What we can learn from The (Evil) Genius of Content Spammers.

What can we learn from the scum of the Earth? That having your church website linked at high visibility websites will help improve your search engine visibility. Does this mean we of God’s Body should also engage in such a despicable practice as comment spam? Whatta you think? Check out this article from Wired’s “The Complete Guide to Googlemania:”

The bloggers hit with these strange messages were victims of an insidious new species, now called “comment spam.” But this was a strange sort of spam: Why would someone go to the trouble of spamming thousands of blog pages to deliver only glad tidings and hollow compliments?

The answer, oddly enough, is that the spammers weren’t trying to win the attention of the bloggers or their readerships. They were trying to win the attention of Google, like the high school bully beating up the class nerd to impress the homecoming queen. The nerd feels violated, but the truth is that it isn’t really about him at all.

I know what some of you are saying, “but Dean, I don’t use MovableType or pMachine to maintain my church website.” That may be true, but it has nothing to do with my point, which is, we all need to learn to make our church websites more search engine friendly. You also need to LEGITIMATELY pursue as many hyperlinks to our church website from quality/well indexed sites.

The reason for this is best explained in an article entitled “How Google’s PageRank Works:”

The abbreviated version is that PageRank is an indicator of “Link Popularity” — you gain PageRank as a percentage of the PageRank of sites that link to you, divided by the number of outbound links on the site linking to you. So if you are linked to by a page with a very high rank and few other links, you get a substantial boost to your PageRank (not to be confused with the vaunted PigeonRank).

This means is a link from another page increases your site’s rank, as long as the site linking to you isn’t essentially a “link farm”.

For a more technical explanation of this, I recommend Ian Rogers’ “The Google Pagerank Algorithm and How It Works” or the “WebWorkshop’s Google’s PageRank Explained and how to make the most of it.”

Why? The Sermons subdomain at Redland Baptist Church receives some 30,000 unique page loads per month. Many of these sermons are well linked by other churches and lay ministries. These in turn boost the relevance and ranking of Redland’s front page when someone seeking and/or new to the second largest city in Maryland and queries for the first “Baptist Church Rockville Maryland” he or she finds.

This is what the content spammers we’re after, only they chose to do it by stealing. As members of God’s Body, we are not allowed to engage in such despicable practices. That said, there are legal, legitimate and accepted ways of improving one’s search engine visibility.

Okay still, you ask why? I think Paul’s advice best explains the need for this when he writes in Romans 10:9-17:

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

This is why I’m always preaching that content is king, to lose the Flash-based Splash pages, the Jesus Junk, the evil page stuffing, to put to better use your <title> tags, to check your description meta tag and to never, ever delete a well indexed page. To me, church websites are an extension of the people inside … so do whatever it takes (within the scope of good netiquitte, decency and the law) to get your website to get seekers in the door to meet the smiling faces that populate your pews. From there, it’s just a matter of servanthood and ministry.


  1. Mercifully, pMachine users have been unscathed with comment spam. One of the benefits of not dating most popular CMS….;)

  2. So far I think Word Press hasn’t had any real issues with comment spam either, but WP is starting to grow in popularity so we’ll see.