The SEO Book of Mormon

Type the word “friend” into Google, and you’ll get the Wikipedia article and the dictionary.com definition. Up next? LDS.org. Huh?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). It shows up as the third and fourth result—even before Facebook.

So what’s the deal? A couple of weeks ago I read a fascinating article by Michelle Boorstein of the Washington Post about how the LDS is using SEO to keep a check on its image, and help control the online conversation about its religion. The article gave some keywords that were successfully being optimized by the LDS: church, old testament, and strangely enough, friend. I was a bit skeptical (friend? really?), so I decided to do some digging.

Sure enough, lds.org is right there for each of them, along with a number of other non-branded keywords like “chastity” and “scriptures.”

Click the LDS link for “friend,” and you’ll see that The Friend is a monthly magazine put out by LDS. Even with this revelation, I still found it interesting they’d develop such a successful SEO strategy around the word, and a number of others.

Is this SEO strategy proving effective? A quick look on Compete shows that after searching “church,” lds.org shows up as the fifth most-visited site:

Same with “Scriptures”:

For “old testament” it’s the third most-trafficked site:

So how much is this costing LDS? Compete shows that about 99.6% of their search traffic is natural. Through their effective strategy, it’s costing them almost nothing to get near the top for a number of search terms:

After all this digging, one question remained: I wonder if scientology.org is taking note?

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  1. Pingback: The SEO Book of Mormon | SEO News & Views

  2. Ryan

    Great article the mormon church has great seo

    Reply

  3. Val

    The reason “friend” brings up LDS.org on the search engines is because of the Church’s chilren’s magazine entitled The Friend. It has been published since 1970. There is nothing sinister going on.

    Reply

    • Brady Delahanty

      I don’t think there’s anything sinister at all. I wrote that “The Friend” is a monthly magazine, but still find it fascinating that LDS has put together such an effective SEO strategy. I think other religious sites would be wise to follow their lead.

      Reply

  4. Rick Noel

    Good for them. SEO knows no political or religious boundaries. It is refreshing to see one of the oldest traditions (organized religion) utilizing new technology to drive distribution of their message. With a Page Rank of 7 and links from the likes of WashingtonPost.com, Bloomberg.com and Wikipedia.org to name just a few of the thousands of high value links to the lds.org domain, its no wonder. Now maybe they can create a donations page and link back to donors as a way to raise capital.

    Reply

  5. Rod Cook

    LDS is great at networking and this proves it!

    Reply

  6. Jeff Wrought

    Very interesting article. So what this means is the LDS actually have a team of web developers and SEO. I guess it makes sense, but I wouldn’t have thought they would be doing this. What other church groups are doing this I wonder?

    Reply

  7. Andrew Dominijanni

    Great post. Clearly LDS is paying attention to it’s web content. Though it seems that the optimization of the keyword “friend” is more of a fortunate coincidence given their long-running children’s magazine, there is no denying their savvy overall. Surely there are certain .va websites that could stand to take note.

    Reply

  8. CJ

    I agree with Rick Noel that more churches and religious organizations should try to utilize SEO as a medium to disseminate their teachings. I wonder if the Catholic Church will ever catch on…

    Reply

    • Brady Delahanty

      Definitely. I think in the next few years, we’ll see some other religious organizations try to emulate what LDS has done. As for Andy’s comment, some sites will start to catch on to the importance of the internet soon enough.

      Reply