My wife’s church is in the market for a web-based ChMS, so I thought I’d check out Church Community Builder. Imagine my surprise to discover questionable search engine optimization (SEO) on their home page.
First, notice the obvious keyword stuffing on the right side of the page. Then, look in the barely-readable footer and notice more keyword stuffing.
Second, turn off CSS and notice that the keywords are enclosed in h1 tags. Those aren’t titles at all and they’re being obscured by clever use of CSS. In my view, it’s a form of cloaking to put h1 tags around things that aren’t titles, making them appear huge and important to search engine crawlers, while using CSS to make those things appear small and unimportant to humans. This is the most concerning thing I see on the page.
Finally, while it’s not a bad SEO technique per se, I have a negative impression of any company or organization that tries to optimize for competitors’ company names and product names. This is certainly something we wouldn’t engage in ourselves. That is, we wouldn’t try to optimize our site to capture people searching for another church down the street by name. Similarly, we wouldn’t buy search engine advertising related to another church or its programs. Instead, we’d focus on trying to help people find us who are looking for us. If they’re looking for another church by name, we’d want them to find that church, not us.
Two days ago I sent an e-mail to Chris Fowler, the president of the company about this. He vigorously defended his company and their SEO practices while saying that he would be open to my point of view. I explained my concern and how to fix it. So far he hasn’t responded further or changed the home page.
What do you think? Does it give you a negative impression of the company? How would you advise Chris in this situation?