By The Rev. Corinna Olson
© The Medical-Legal News 2007
Before I arrived at my current church, where I serve as the Priest-In-Charge, I tried to do some research about the church online. I had no luck. When I tried to get to the site through the diocesan site, nothing came up. The same thing happened to me when I went through the national church site. As far as the Internet was concerned, we did not exist!
Then I got an email from one of the members of the vestry (church board) giving me the address. Imagine my surprise to find out that the church did have a site and, though not perfect, it had a lot of information that a person looking for a church in our part of the world might like to see.
So this was one of my first projects when I got to the church, to make our site visible to the larger Internet community. I had a big task and almost no money!
The first thing I did was to call a friend and find out a little bit about domain names. We had a personal BellSouth page with a terrible name. My friend directed me to a site called Mydomain.com. There I found that I could get a name for $17 for two years. With a little time on their site, I found a name that worked for us and bought it right away. Once I had the name, I added URL forwarding and pointed the new name to the old web site. This way anyone with the old name could continue to use it.
Once I had the new name, then I started getting it known. The first thing I did was to let those who were trying to link to us have the new name. The old one had been made up of seemingly random numbers.
At this point, it became a bit more tedious. I started searching for the church on all of the search engines and web crawlers I could find. Though it is probably not an exhaustive list, here are the ones I used: AOL search, Google, Netscape Search, Yahoo Search, Alta Vista, A9, Clusty, Gigablast, Lycos, MSN, Ask, WiseNut, Hotbot, Google Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSN Maps and Mapquest.
On each site I looked for ways to list my site. I put a listing on all of the free sites I could find. I kept a journal of each site I updated so that I could go back in the future and check for the update. The journal was priceless in this process.
Here is a list of the sites I updated: Dmoz.org (I am told this is really an important one), allPages.com, Googlemaps, Floridasmart and Superpages.
I did not list on any sites that required money.
Once everything was working, I was ready to put it aside and say, “that’s done.” But it was not done! About a month later, I checked on the local site and found that the link no longer worked. So now, I check the information about once a month to make sure that it is still working.
As of today, we can be found on the first page of every search engine I check. It might not always be our site, but it is a click away. I am happy to report that we have had several new visitors because of our visibility on the web! •
The Rev. Cori Olson is pastor at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Miami ,firstname.lastname@example.org.