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?