Your church has a website, but it’s not helping with growth. What’s wrong? It could be as simple as learning a little more about SEO for churches.
Search engine optimization is crucial for helping people find your website in search results. For instance, we searched for “church in Madison, WI” and got over one million results.
If you want to stand out, master SEO and you’ll start seeing more visitors to your church’s site and more new visitors to your church.
Focus On Local
SEO for churches is a little different than just marketing a website. You’re marketing a physical location, which means you have to focus on local SEO. The difference is you’re telling search engines that your site is for a set location. For instance, if your church is in Middleton, WI, you’d want Google to know this so your site would appear in localized search results.
Some key things to remember for local SEO include:
- Use the same address and contact details across all marketing channels
- Include your city, state and denomination in meta descriptions, image tags and keywords on your site
- Claim local business listings (more on that later)
Write Content For People
Google isn’t interested in a bunch of keywords. Instead, the search giant prefers relevant content written for people, not search engines. While keywords are still important, they should be used naturally. For instance, this post focuses on “seo for churches,” but you won’t find it in every headline, paragraph or even section.
The good thing about writing for people is it actually boosts your site’s search rank naturally. When content is useful and relevant, visitors stay on your site longer (which is great for your rank), you get more high-quality backlinks (another great booster) and more people share your content (jackpot!).
Since Google changed algorithms with the Panda and Penguin updates, old SEO tricks stopped working, such as keyword stuffing. Now, you must focus on writing content with the reader in mind versus search engines.
Claim Local Listings
You’ve probably searched for a restaurant or store and gotten a list of local results along with reviews. One of the best ways to improve SEO for churches is to claim your local listings. You might think if your church hasn’t created a listing on popular business listing sites, it’s not listed at all. However, this isn’t true. Your church might still be listed, but it may not have any contact information or reviews, which causes potential visitors to look over it.
If you haven’t already, start claiming your local listings on every major listing/review site. Vertical Response lists the seven most popular sites to get your business noticed. You should also encourage your members to leave reviews to boost visibility.
Use Keywords Strategically
Keywords aren’t dead, even though they shouldn’t be your main focus. A decade ago, it wasn’t unusual to read a blog post that was filled with more keywords than complete sentences. Choosing a natural keyword phrase usually works best.
For your website, focus on local keywords that include the city, state, denomination and name of your church. For blog posts, use a relevant keyword as it’ll lead to better organic search traffic. If you need a little help with keywords, try these tools suggested by Ahrefs. For more in-depth tips, see what tools 127 keyword experts prefer.
Keywords should be used in image names/tags, meta descriptions, blog post titles, domain name, page titles and other key locations on your site.
Social Media Matters
When you think about SEO for churches, you likely think more about your website. However, social media has become a major part of SEO. This is especially true for local SEO. While social media isn’t a direct ranking factor, it does increase backlinks and traffic. It also helps you build a dedicated audience that engages with your website.
Think of it as a companion to your other SEO efforts. By having a website, blog and social media presence, you’re creating a powerful combination to drive traffic both to your site and your church.
Be Prepared For Mobile
If your church’s website isn’t mobile-friendly, it could negatively affect your site’s search rank. More people than ever are using mobile devices and that includes using mobile to interact with churches online. If your church’s site isn’t mobile-friendly, Google might not even include it in search results on mobile devices.
Mobile sites aren’t optional any longer. Having a responsive design instantly helps boost SEO. Combine it with all of the above and you’re well on your way to mastering SEO.