Learnings from the #3 Christian Website in the World - Shea Houdmann with Got Questions
In episode 32 we spoke with Shea Houdmann, the Founder and CEO of Got Questions Ministries. Got Questions is an apologetics ministry that has answered over 650,000 questions about the Bible since they started in the early 2000’s. It is one of the highest trafficked faith based websites.
Shea, graduated from Seminary with a degree in theology, but didn’t feel called to traditional ministry, so he and his wife spent time praying that God would give him a calling into ministry. He decided to start a website where people can ask any question they want about the Bible. They started this as a hobby they could do, while they were trying to figure out what their ministry was going to be. They found they were getting more and more questions and people were thanking them for answering the burning questions they had been wrestling with their whole lives. Since then GotQuestions.org has grown to the 3rd largest Christian Website, with over 12 million visitors per month.
From Cats to Christianity
When you open the door to asking any question, you might find that you get some questions that surprise you. Shea shares with us a story that happened early on in his ministry. He received a question from a woman who wanted to know if her pets would be with her in Heaven. This required a little extra research on his part because he hadn’t considered that question before. So he took the time and answered to the best of his ability, and responded to the women. He was surprised to get a follow up response from that woman, telling him that she had just lost her beloved cat, and had submitted the same question to several ministries, and he was the only one who responded. After seeing his response she decided to read additional questions and answers from his website and ultimately committed her life to Christ as a result.
Leveraging Google for Growth
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has played a critical role in the growth of Got Questions Ministries network of websites. While Shea stumbled upon SEO at the start, he has come to the realization that the search engines are really their mission field. When someone searches for questions on Google or other search engines he wants them to be able to find sound scripturally based answers.
Writing with SEO in mind is not always natural for people who are good writers, so Got Questions uses a combination of training and editing for all of their content to ensure each article they write is both user friendly and SEO friendly. This includes giving guidance to the writers themselves, followed by an editorial process where experienced SEO editors review and tweak the content.
What are some significant trends that have caused you to change?
Link building is one change that Shea has seen change over time, when he started link building was massively important, while having a strong link profile is still critical he takes a more natural approach where links are built based on linkable content on his sites. Other things like meta data, were wildly important when he first started, and now the search engines generally ignore this type of keyword stuffing.
Going forward the biggest trend is with video, in which YouTube is the world's second largest search engine. Converting content to video formats is the next trend that will drive organic growth.
When looking for new opportunities your team provides the best value. There are so many opportunities out there that it’s not possible for one person to keep a pulse on all of them. Listening to your team and their ideas, as well as listening to your audience will help guide which new opportunities to test out, and which you can skip.
Be sure to listen to the full episode to get all the insights Shea shares, and subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss an episode.