When the average person these days has a question, where is the first place they usually go? Google.com. Google is the beginning of most every journey in life.
People have questions - lots of them (billions per day for Google.com). This is where people, at least initially, look for answers. And they aren’t just searching for dinner recipes, jokes, foot fungus symptoms and movie times. They are quite often searching for the answers to life’s most profound questions.
The good news is that the Catholic Church has the answers they are looking for. The bad news is that search engines, like Google.com, don’t entirely know it yet. That’s our fault.
For instance, if I type “What do Christians believe?” into google.com, there is not one Catholic result returned in the top ten. A few are Catholic friendly (some not), but none explicitly and accurately represent the Catholic perspective.
Now, that is admittedly because we often use “Catholic” instead of “Christian” in our online material. But is that what the average person types in when searching?
And either way, even if you search on “What do Catholics believe” instead, it’s not a stellar result. Yes, there are a few outstanding sites returned with excellent representations of the Catholic faith. But there are a few that look…let’s say, unimpressive. And there are a few anti-Catholic sites too. Of course, some of that will be hard to avoid in a search engine, but this type of search should be pulling up the best of our best. And we should have more than a few strong showings.
You’ll notice the Vatican website doesn’t show up in either of these searches…and not even in the first ten pages of search results (I got tired of digging after that). That’s pretty unfortunate when somebody searching on what Catholics/Christians believe can’t get the website of the foremost authority on the planet (the Vatican) in the first ten pages of search results!
Another search: “Is there a God.” Results: Half theistic. Half atheistic. Zero Catholic sites.
Another search: “Who is Jesus.” Results: A Lutheran site. A Mormon site. Lots of Evangelical/Fundamentalist sites. Zero Catholic sites. The mormon’s have even bought sponsored links for these searches. That’s how dedicated they are to evangelization.
Anyway, google results are not the end-all be-all. But they are pretty important these days. We have so much great Catholic content online. We just need to polish it up a bit and get it formatted, presented and shared in a way that those searching for it will easily find it. And especially when there are so many other distractions out there doing a better job of it than us.
Improving this one aspect of our evangelization efforts really could have a much bigger impact than I think we realize.