Free Chart of LDS General Authorities & Officers

The May issue of the printed Ensign and Liahona magazines include a 2-page chart showing the General Authorities and General Officers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

You can also download a printable PDF. It is available in many languages by going to the page for the May Liahona and selecting a language. Then scroll down to the row labeled “General Authorities and General Officers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” and click on the download link to the right.

lds-general-authorities-officers-may-2015

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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Primer

This article is an overview of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It contains best practices that may be helpful to you if you maintain a blog or website. The information is from the page Search Engine Optimization (SEO) on LDS.org, provided as an SEO overview for those who maintain the Church’s country communication pages on LDS.org.

search-engine-optimization-seoAdvances in Internet technology have changed the way people find answers to questions or information related to topics they are interested in. Today, Google and other search engines serve as modern-day library card catalogs. The role of a search engine is to determine what a person is looking for (search intent) and then return the most relevant results.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the art and science of making websites findable in search engine results pages (SERP) when someone’s search intent matches content published online. There are standard guidelines provided by Google and tested by the SEO team and countless other SEO professionals that will help the church attract visitors who are searching for Internet content it publishes.

We view SEO as a method to spread the gospel online and encourage others to treat it as such. By being actively engaged in improving our websites for search engines, we help them (e.g., Google, Yahoo!, Bing, etc.) provide more relevant and accurate results to their customers. At the same time, we are able to introduce the honest and pure in heart to accurate and relevant truth as it relates to their search query. This document serves as a set of standard guidelines that must be followed on all church websites in an effort to effectively spread the gospel online.

Title Tag Information and Example

The title tag is one of the most important on-page factors in regards to ranking on search engines.

  • It is visible on both the website and the search engine results page (SERP).
  • It lets both users and search engines know what your webpage (URL) is about.

Best practice is to keep the title tag descriptive, succinct, and unique.

  • Keep the title tag’s length to 65 characters or less or else it will be cut off (by ellipsis) in the SERPs and/or could be seen as “spammy” by search engines.
  • Use hyphens (-) and pipe bars (|) to separate keywords (keyword phrases).
  • Every webpage needs to have a unique title tag.

Generally, targeting no more than three unique keywords per webpage is ideal.

  • Focusing on three root keywords avoids the practice and appearance of “keyword stuffing.”
  • A webpage will still be relevant for related long-tail keywords (i.e., “Mormon radio” will be relevant for “Mormon radio station,” “Mormon radio channel,” etc.), even if you just focus on three.

SEO_1

Example title tag for http://www.lds.org/churchmusic/:

Put the most important keywords at the beginning of the title tag.

  • Search engines put more weight/value to keywords at the beginning of title tags, so put the main keyword first.

Normally, title tags are short snippets of keywords or small phrases—not sentences.

  • Since these titles are displayed on the SERPs, they should be able to digest quickly at a glance. Normally, people don’t want to read a whole sentence while in the initial search phase.
  • The keywords that you use, if searched for by a user, will be bolded in the SERP.

Meta Description Information and Example

The meta description is very important for a URLs click through rate (from SERPs), as well as website usage stats and data.

  • It is not visible to users on the website (unless you view the source code), but is visible for users on the SERP.
  • This is an opportunity to go into more detail about the webpage, as well as offer a call to action and utilize a few targeted keywords.

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Best practice is to keep the description relevant (to that particular webpage), write as a sentence, and keep it unique (per webpage).

  • Keep the meta description’s length to approximately 150 characters or else it will be cut off (by ellipsis) in the SERPs.
  • Shy away from excessive use of “sales” writing, but it is okay to have a relevant call to action where relevant.
  • Every webpage needs to have a unique meta description.

Utilize at least one (and up to three) targeted keywords in the meta description from the title tag.

  • Use keyword(s) naturally; keyword variations are okay (i.e., pluralizing).

Keyword Targeting Information and Page Content (HTML Text)

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Naturally include keywords within the copy.

  • Either during or after writing the copy, be sure to check that the targeted keywords for that particular webpage have been used at least once each. Good practice is to not use a particular keyword more than three times, as it will appear unnatural and spammy to search engines, as well as users.
  • It is okay to use variations of the targeted keywords as long as you use each targeted keyword once “as is.” For example, if the targeted keyword is “Mormon,” the copy could use “Mormon,” “Mormons,” and “Mormonism” and still be okay—in fact, this usage will look more natural to search engines and users.
  • It is suggested (although not uber-imperative) to bold one usage of each targeted keyword using a tag. Even though this practice has lost some effectiveness over the years due to abuse and manipulation, there is still some value in doing so (as it is an indicator to search engines that it is an important word and also stands out for users).

Write in small paragraphs and structure them with subheadings (i.e., headings, headings, etc.).

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Image File Name Information and Example

Every image used on church-owned websites should have a relevant file name and alt tag to help search engines determine what the image is about. We also recommend including the image size information in the tag.

Where appropriate, keywords relevant to the image should appear close to the image itself before and after the code. This will give even better signals to Google and other search engines regarding the content of the image.

Information about images on each page should be contained also in the XML sitemap. Doing so may help search engine robots find, index, and rank images on our websites quickly and more accurately.

The file name for images is a key indicator to search engines of what the image is about.

Example file name for this image: wilford-woodruff-mormon-prophet.png

wilford-woodruff-mormon-prophet

  • Best practice is to keep them unique, descriptive of that particular image, and utilize a targeted keyword or variation (if possible).
  • It should be a keyword phrase that describes the image.
  • Sentences or very long file names are discouraged.
  • Separate words with hyphens (avoiding underscores).

Image Alt Tag Information and Example

  • The alt image tag serves as an indicator to search engines on what the image is about and displays if the image does not load.
  • It is not visible to users unless the image does not load.
  • In addition, for users that have vision impairments and special website browsers, the alt tag will be read aloud to users.
  • Best practice is to keep them unique, particular to that image, and utilize a targeted keyword or variation (if possible).
  • It should be a keyword phrase that describes the image.
  • Sentences or very long image alt tags are discouraged.
  • Can closely resemble or even be the same as the image file name.
  • If the image is only aesthetic in nature and has nothing to do with the content/text of that webpage, it is okay to leave it null (i.e., alt=””).
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Elder-Sister-Bednar-Face2Face-a

Are you planning to participate in the next LDS Face-to-Face event with Elder and Sister David A. Bednar? It is perfect for an LDS Mutual or family activity.

The event will be streamed live on May 12, 2015, at 6:00 p.m. MDT in 10 languages. You can watch or join the conversation at

Elder and Sister Bednar will talk about how to strengthen your testimony as you learn a pattern for receiving answers to your questions.

Youth from around the world will be able to ask Elder and Sister Bednar questions before and during the event. All youth are invited to participate and are encouraged to invite their friends and family to join in.

Elder-Sister-Bednar-Face2FaceYou can submit questions before the event by commenting on the youth activities page. You can also send questions during the event on the same page or you can post questions on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using the hashtag #LDSface2face. Before submitting a question, seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost. If you had only one chance to ask an Apostle and his wife a question, what would it be?

Watch the 2 previous LDS Face-to-Face events:

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The first Saturday in May is Free Comic Book Day, a day when people celebrate comic books and some comic book shops give away free comic books.

Although they are not comic books, the Church offers free downloadable graphic novel versions of the scriptures. Below are the download links (and they are available year-round, not just on Free Comic Book Day.)

Old Testament Stories from the Bible
English PDF | Español (Spanish) PDF |Français (French) PDF | Deutsch (German) PDF | Nederlands (Dutch) PDF | Italiano (Italian) PDF | Русский (Russian) PDF |Українська (Ukrainian) PDF | Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian) PDF | Tagalog PDF| Faka-tonga (Tongan) PDF | Gagana Samoa (Samoan) PDF | Suomi (Finnish) PDF | العربية (Arabic) PDF | 中文 (Chinese) PDF | 简体中文 (Chinese, Simplified) PDF |日本語 (Japanese) PDF | 한국어 (Korean) PDF

New Testament Stories from the Bible
English PDF | Español (Spanish) PDF |Français (French) PDF | Deutsch (German) PDF | Nederlands (Dutch) PDF | Italiano (Italian) PDF | Português (Portuguese) PDF| Русский (Russian) PDF | Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian) PDF | Cebuano PDF| Tagalog PDF | Faka-tonga (Tongan) PDF |Gagana Samoa (Samoan) PDF | Suomi (Finnish) PDF | Հայերեն (Armenian) PDF |中文 (Chinese) PDF | 日本語 (Japanese) PDF| 한국어 (Korean) PDF | Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese) PDF | Hrvatski (Croatian) PDF | Ελληνικά (Greek) | Kreyòl Ayisyen (Haitian Creole) PDF | ພາສາລາວ (Laotian) PDF | Malagasy PDF |Polski (Polish) PDF | Română (Romanian) PDF

Book of Mormon Stories
English PDF | Español (Spanish) PDF |Français (French) PDF | Deutsch (German) PDF | Nederlands (Dutch) PDF | Italiano (Italian) PDF | Português (Portuguese) PDF| Русский (Russian) PDF | Cebuano PDF |Tagalog PDF | Faka-tonga (Tongan) PDF |Suomi (Finnish) PDF | العربية (Arabic) PDF |中文 (Chinese) PDF | 简体中文 (Chinese, Simplified) PDF | Hrvatski (Croatian) PDF| Ελληνικά (Greek) | Kreyòl Ayisyen (Haitian Creole) PDF | Hiligaynon PDF |Hmoob (Hmong) PDF | ພາສາລາວ (Laotian) PDF | Malagasy PDF | Polski (Polish) PDF |Română (Romanian) PDF

Doctrine and Covenants Stories
English PDF | Español (Spanish) PDF |Italiano (Italian) PDF | Português (Portuguese) PDF | Русский (Russian) PDF| Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian) PDF |Cebuano PDF | Tagalog PDF | Gagana Samoa (Samoan) PDF | العربية (Arabic) PDF| Հայերեն (Armenian) PDF | 中文 (Chinese) PDF | Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese) PDF | हिन्दी, हिंदी (Hindi) PDF | Hmoob (Hmong) PDF |ພາສາລາວ (Laotian) PDF

This article is based on the post “Free Comic Book Day: Graphic Novels of Bible, Book of Mormon, D&C.”  See it for several additional languages, as well as a printable PDF of pass-along cards with a QR code to make it easy to get to the original article, which will be continuously updated.

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Studying April 2015 LDS General Conference

The text and PDF of the general conference issues of the Ensign, Liahona, New Era, and Friend magazines are now online and in the Gospel Library mobile app. Printed copies are in the mail to deliver to subscribers’ doors.

The Ensign and Liahona magazines include a 2-page chart showing the General Authorities and General Officers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Download a printable PDF copy.)

Did you know you can subscribe to get an extra copy of the conference Ensign? In addition to the regular 12 monthly issues, this subscription option includes one extra copy each of the May and November (general conference) issues.

You can also order DVDs and audio CDs at store.lds.org and they will be shipped as soon as they are available. You can also subscribe to have the DVDs or CDs sent to you automatically every conference.

I recommend you take a look at the “Get More Out of Conference” section of LDS.org. It gives ideas on how to improve your study of general conference, with ideas for individuals, families, and teachers.

get-more-ldsconf

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From the Church’s MormonNewsroom.org site:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has approved an electronic method for members in the United States to pay tithing and submit other charitable donations.

The Online Donations system will allow members in the United States an additional method to submit their contributions to the Church. Historically, donation envelopes and contributions were given to priesthood leaders in each ward and branch. In the future, this same process may still be used. However, for those who wish, they may make their contributions through the online donation system developed by the Church.

online-tithing-LDS

The Church Online Donations website will be rolled out to congregations in the US throughout 2015, and the Church will notify local leaders when it is available in their area.

The Church’s Finance and Records Department says the initial site not only demonstrated a simplified donation process for members, but also showed that this new approach reduced the load on local leaders and clerks charged with processing donations.

And for those with a friend or family member serving a mission, the website allows anyone with an LDS Account — Church member or not — to donate to help financially support that missionary.

For Latter-day Saints, tithing is a natural and integrated aspect of their religious belief and practice. By the biblical definition, tithing is one-tenth, and Church members interpret this as a tenth of their “increase,” or income, annually. It is paid on the honor system. No one asks to see income statements or pay slips.

Tithes and other charitable donations help the Church carry out its mission of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, caring for the poor and strengthening members’ faith and commitment to Jesus Christ. (Learn more about tithing and charitable donations.)

Below is a screenshot of the Donations History portion of the Church Online Donations website:

online-donations-LDS-2

Below is a screenshot of the Donor Statements portion of the Church Online Donations website:
online-donations-LDS-3

 

 

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Video: “I Am Not a Son”

not-a-sonSister Stone finished a batch of indexing and was ready to hit the submit button, when she clearly heard the voice of a young girl say, “I am not a son.”

Watch Sister Stone’s testimony about family history work in the following video:

Read the rest of the story in the article “I Am Not a Son” from the April 2015 Ensign.

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Joseph-Smith-First-Vision-LDSAll 4 of Joseph Smith’s firsthand accounts of the First Vision are now available in 10 languages. The Joseph Smith Papers and the Church History Department have translated these accounts and placed them online.

The best known account is the canonized version produced by Joseph in 1838 that is published with his personal history in the Pearl of Great Price. It has long been translated into many languages and distributed throughout the world in the church’s standard works.

The other firsthand accounts were produced in English in 1832, 1835, and 1842. Now, non-English speakers can read these essential records of Mormon history for the first time in Chinese, FrenchGerman, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. To see images of the documents, along with English transcripts, visit JosephSmithPapers.org.

Each of these firsthand accounts was related by Joseph Smith at different times in his life, under different circumstances, and for different audiences. The accounts vary in detail, offering different perspectives of the same event, but relate a consistent story overall.

A detailed explanation of each of the accounts can be found on the Gospel Topics essay page “First Vision Accounts” on LDS.org.

The Joseph Smith Papers team has also created several short videos that provide additional insight about each firsthand account.

Video “Firsthand Accounts of the First Vision:”

Video “Joseph Smith and the First Vision:”

 

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lds-missionary-display-temple-squareWhy do so many young ‪‎Mormons‬ leave their family and friends behind to serve the Lord on an LDS mission? Find the answer at a new exhibit on ‎Temple Square‬ that highlights the stories of 8 missionaries.

There are over 85,000 missionaries serving full-time missions in 80 countries across the globe. The new display at the North Visitors’ Center invites you to take a closer look at missionary work and the everyday lives of missionaries by showcasing the stories of 8 missionaries who served their missions in San Diego, California.

The stories are told and presented in a unique way. As you walk into the display room, the first thing you see is an incredible wall decorated with 1,500 missionary name tags donated by former missionaries from all over the world. Mounted on that same wall, there are 3 large flat screens set up to watch the film. Each story is told in its own short film that you can select from the iPad stationed in a dock on the first row of the theatre.

The missionaries share their story before, during, and after their missions, providing a special perspective on their lives. The objective of the stories is to show how the teachings of Jesus Christ and the message of hope found through the gospel have meaningful effects in the lives of the missionaries and in the lives of the people they served.

Learn more in the article “8 Stories: Missionary Display at the North Visitors’ Center.”

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13 Ways to Study the Scriptures

study-scriptures-1Here are 13 great ideas on how to make your scripture study more meaningful.

The following article originally appeared in the April 2015 Ensign magazine as “13 Ways to Study the Scriptures,” by Kristen G. Walton:

A spiritual feast—that’s what I anticipate during my personal scripture study time. But it wasn’t always so. I first had to change my attitude about studying the scriptures, and that meant changing how I study. I find it easier to have consistent, meaningful scripture study when I vary my methods.

Online Resources

Listen while you work. I play recordings of the scriptures while I work in the kitchen and on my MP3 player when I go for a walk. Download your free audio copy at lds.org/scriptures. You can also purchase CD audio recordings of the standard works at Church distribution centers.

Study online. I often read my scriptures online at LDS.org. The linked footnotes make it easy for me to access cross-references.

With Music

Listen to beautiful music as you read. Music invites the Spirit and enlightens the mind. Sometimes I play classical music while I read by candlelight.

Use the hymnbook. I like to read a hymn’s lyrics and then look up the scriptural references listed after each hymn. I find it helpful to do this during the administration of the sacrament each week.

Study Aids

Use scriptural resources. The Topical Guide and Bible Dictionary are often overlooked as study tools, yet they contain much added insight and information. They are especially useful resources when you want to study a specific topic.

Take notes. I keep a small notebook with my set of scriptures and write down impressions I receive while reading them. For me, this is the best way to retain and review these precious insights.

Keep multiple copies. I have several inexpensive copies of the Book of Mormon, for instance. In one of my copies I have marked in red each mention of Christ and the Atonement. Each copy is like a blank slate, ready for me to highlight according to topic or any way that will help shed new light on a verse.

Refer to Church magazines. In the Doctrine and Covenants, we learn that “by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (1:38). Conference addresses, First Presidency messages, and other inspired articles are also considered scripture and should be included in our studies.

For Variety

Read outdoors. I love to read my scriptures while enjoying nature. Sometimes I read in my backyard or hike to a favorite secluded spot.

Memorize a verse each week. I like to write down a selected verse on a 3-inch-by-5-inch card that I carry with me. I review it whenever I have a few spare minutes, such as when I’m in line at the bank’s drive-through, waiting at a doctor’s office, or preparing dinner. Before long, I’ve got it memorized.

Study a scriptural hero. When I am facing adversity, I love to read about my scripture heroes. Reading about Esther helps me to feel braver. Learning about Job helps me to keep things in perspective. Enos’s example teaches me about the power of prayer.

Prepare a talk. Sometimes I like to pretend that I have been assigned a talk for sacrament meeting. The best part is that I get to assign myself the topic, so I choose something of special interest to me or that might help me overcome a challenge. I study and research the topic, then write the talk—just as if it were the real thing. I save my “talks” in a binder and if appropriate use them for family home evening lessons or in case I’m actually asked to speak in church.

Set goals. I loved participating in the Book of Mormon reading challenge that President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) issued some years ago (see “A Testimony Vibrant and True,” Ensign, Aug. 2005, 6). As I read the Book of Mormon then, I felt the presence of the Spirit more in my daily life. Because of that experience, I have tried to set additional reading goals so that I’m always feasting upon the spiritual nourishment provided in the scriptures.

study-scriptures-2The standard works are available in a variety of audiovisual formats at Church distribution centers or online at store.lds.org. For free downloads of the scriptures and other gospel study materials, go to lds.org/scriptures or lds.org/media-library.

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200,000 Historic Books Online Free

free-online-historical-booksThe Family History Library now has 200,000 books available for family history research on its website. A growing host of partner libraries, organizations, and volunteers are digitizing historical books and making them available online for free.

The effort began in 2007 to help genealogists and family historians find ancestors. FamilySearch has set up mobile digitization pods at partnering libraries and organizations across the United States. Volunteers are scanning family histories, local and county histories, telephone and postal directories, and other books of historical significance.

To search the digitized records, sign in to FamilySearch.org, then select Search, and then select Books. Or, once you are signed in, you can go directly to books.familysearch.org.

Libraries, organizations, or individuals who want to participate may contact Dennis Meldrum, project manager at FamilySearch, at meldrumdl@familysearch.org.

Learn more by reading the article “FamilySearch Reaches Milestone with 200,000 Historic Books Online.”

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Update to the Gospel Library Mobile App

Gospel-Library-mobile-app-iconBeginning today, when you log in to the Gospel Library mobile app, it will be updated to make the documents in the library easier to find.

Below is a screen shot showing what the main navigation will look like.

You will notice some new categories, such as the following:

  • Jesus Christ is a new category to make it easier to find content about the Savior.
  • Lessons groups all the lesson manuals together.
  • Magazines groups all the magazines together.

gospel-library-main-screen

This is the new category Jesus Christ:

gospel-library-jesus-christ-category

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meet-mormons-dvd-walmartThe movie ‎Meet The Mormons‬ is now available on DVD and Blu-ray in retail stores, including 3,500 Walmart stores nationwide.

Meet-the-Mormons-DVDIt has over an hour of never-before-seen footage and bonus features. One of the bonus features is a new story about “The Artist,” Italian-born Giovanna Nezhati. The DVD and Blu-ray have soundtracks in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

See a list of all the stores where you can find Meet the Mormons.

Kathryn Allen has written an article “9 Things to Do with an Extra Copy of Meet the Mormons.” If you can buy extra copies, she gives some great suggestions on how to use them to #ShareGoodness.

Learn more about the movie Meet the Mormons.

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2015 LDS Mutual Music Video and Song Downloads

fragile-lds-2015-mutual-theme-videoThe Church has released a new music video “Fragile” to highlight the 2015 mutual theme.

The music video depicts a young man and young woman who struggle with their identity and face bullying. “Remember what you are worth” is the simple, yet powerful message of this song. We must be kind to others, and when we ourselves are hurt, we must turn to Jesus Christ, who knows and loves us always.

You can download the entire 2015 Mutual Album, which includes “Fragile” by clicking here. (The download begins when you click.)

If you want to download selected songs, visit the 2015 Mutual Resources page.

Read more about the 2015 LDS Mutual theme.

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7-tip-social-media-lds-callingsThe video “7 Tips for LDS Members Using Social Media in Church Callings” gives helpful tips in using social media for your calling. It was made by the Church’s Pacific Area office.

For more instructions, see my article “Using the Internet in LDS Church Callings” and the page “Use of Online Resources in Church Callings” at internet.lds.org.

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