The Church is called to become the city set on a hill, a beacon of light in a world surrounded by darkness. And to step up to such a noble calling in this modern-day society, your church has to make it to the top of Google search results. Here are the SEO best practices that help the church swing it.
Location, Location, Location
When people search for a church on Google, they’ll likely include their specific location in their search term. If not, Google will take the initiative and display local churches first. This is why it’s very nifty to include your location details on every page of your website. And the best way to do this is to add your address in schema.
Schema markup is a code you can paste into your website’s HTML so search engines can easily read and identify your church’s physical location. This also ensures that you have a uniform address on every page of your website, i.e., Street will always be spelled “Street’, and not as “St.”.
Mind Your Key Phrase
Think of your audience. What key phrases do they type in Google to find your church? If you don’t have any idea what keywords people are using to get to your site, fret not. You can install Google Analytics on your website so that you don’t have to give yourself a headache with guesswork.
Google Analytics should be able to tell you what keywords visitors are using to find your church website. Other nifty information like which websites or social media sites refer them and which page they’re browsing on your church site is also available.
Another way to come up with key phrases is to go to Google Keyword Planner and discover keyword ideas. You’ll also get to check how many people on average are typing in those keywords every month. Simply key in your church website URL and the tool will generate keyword ideas.
Once you have your keywords and key phrases, make sure that you optimize your webpages using these. Specifically, you’ll want to have those phrases in these strategic places:
- Title Tags.
- Page URL
- Meta Description
Go for a Responsive Web Design
As more and more people search for stuff on the web using their smartphones and tablets, Google is keeping up with the trend by prioritizing websites that display well on a host of devices. The onus is on you then to opt for a responsive web design for your church website.
This is not just for search engines’ sake, either. When your webpages render well regardless of what kind of device your audience is using, you’re making it easier for people to find and connect with your church.
Put a Name on it
A picture may paint a thousand words, but if you want to optimize it for the search engine, you’ll have to use words too. While people can easily see that people are having fun just by looking at images, search engines won’t know what it’s all about when all it can read is a bunch of words and letters like IMG8769.jpg.
That’s lost opportunity there when you can come up with a relevant key phrase like “fall festival in Orange County”. Search engines can better identify what the page is all about just with that simple tag and you have better chances with getting that page indexed and ranked for that specific key phrase.
Google My Business
This is a key area that you should focus on for your church SEO. First, you need to create a Google account for your church to get the ball rolling. If your church already has an email address, use that one to create a Google account.
Then, log on to that Google account and search your church on Google. Once you find it on Google’s local listing, you will notice links underneath your church name and address that say: “Claim this business” and “Suggest an edit”.
Check out the name and address displayed. If it is correct, click on “Claim this business”. If not, click on “Suggest an edit” to correct the information displayed. Just follow through with the next few steps so that Google can verify that you have the authority to represent your church or make some changes to the listing. It may take a phone call or postcard to complete the verification process but it’s definitely worth the effort. This will singlehandedly put your church on the map–literally.
Invest Time in Your Blog
Having a blog on your church website is another way you can reach out to people who have yet to come to your church. Give them reasons to come visit your website regularly with fresh new content even when they can’t attend the church service just yet for whatever reason.
Besides, it’s not just people who’ll be attracted to those new content. The search bots will be onto your new page as it goes live on the website. And when you have lots of pages indexed by search engine bots, you’ll have better chances of making it into Google’s search result.
Remember: Google Loves Google
Google loves its own, there’s no doubt about that. Thus, utilizing some Google properties on your website can be a boost to your SEO efforts. And these are pretty nifty tools to embed in your church website as well:
- Google maps. Embed this on your “Contact Us’ page. Aside from the SEO cookie points, this is a practical tool that gives driving direction so that visitors can easily locate you.
- YouTube. On its own, YouTube is hailed as the second largest search engine, boasting of more than 3.5 billion searches per month. No wonder, even dental practices find it worth their while to post on this popular video-sharing site. Now, take stock of those videos of sermons and events that your church has. Upload those on YouTube and then embed the video on your site. You’re hitting two birds with one stone with just this practice.
Ask for Reviews
Having reviews on your local listing is a sign to search engines that your church is an active one with real people talking about it. Besides, review from real people holds some weight to potential visitors as well. Those reviews are social proof, the kind that can influence people’s decision-making. So, ask church volunteers and long-time members to leave an honest review on your church’s listing to get the ball rolling.
Fish for People
Remember that SEO is not the ultimate goal. It’s just a tool to connect to a wider audience — especially people who are actively looking for a church they can belong to. So while SEO is worth all your effort, you must always remember to write your content with people in mind. This means, don’t overdo on those keywords and don’t write like a robot. Mentioning your keyphrase five times in a 500-word article is just unnatural and your audience will know that instantly.
Even at an age when everyone’s competing to make it to Google’s first page, the church’s call will still be to fish for people, not search engine bots.
Your church’s online presence is an excellent way to reach out to people who have yet to come to a Sunday service. We live in the digital age where most people are online, so the church must go where people congregate. The online platform is an excellent spot to shine your light before men for the glory of your Father in heaven.