Location is a major factor when looking for a church. People may even start their search on Google maps by typing in the essential query: churches near me.
This means Google Maps SEO is vital for your church to be discovered online. People aren’t willing to scroll far, so getting to the top three results is an important goal.
Don’t worry; it is possible, and we have six easy hacks to improve your ranking on Google maps. These tips can help your church rise to the top of the search page over time. Let’s dive in!
Table of contents
- What is Google Maps SEO?
- 6 Hacks for Google Maps SEO
- Wrapping Up Google Maps SEO
What is Google Maps SEO?
Search engine optimization is the process of improving the ranking of a website or profile. The higher the ranking, the more likely people will find your website.
Google Maps can be considered a type of search engine.
In addition, when people type location-based queries like “churches near me” or “churches in [your city]” into the general Google search bar, the first thing that pops up on the search results page is a map with the top three rankings.
This display is known as the Map Pack or Local Pack, and local SEO strategies are especially important for these rankings. Here are some tips for getting into those top three results.
6 Hacks for Google Maps SEO
1. Claim your Google Business Profile listing and optimize it.
Your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business or GMB) allows your church to appear on Google Maps. Claim and verify your listing as soon as possible if you haven’t already.
The problem is, many churches and businesses will set up their listing and only fill out bare-bones basic information. Or they set it and forget it.
Just having a basic listing isn’t enough to get noticed and rank highly.
Take some time to fill out every possible field and use intentional keywords (we’ll talk about that next). Also, update your Google Business Profile regularly for accuracy. You can use the profile features like Updates and Events to keep it relevant and interactive and push new announcements to the top.
Check out this episode on setting up your church Google Business Profile.
2. Use the right keywords in your profile and website landing pages.
Keywords are essential for organic SEO and equally vital for Google Maps SEO. Instead of building your website and Google profile like an online brochure, you need to flip your perspective and think about what people are searching for.
Keywords are the phrases and questions people use when they search for something on the internet. So, if you want your church to appear on Google maps, you must use the right keywords that contain local or location-based phrases.
Here are a few tips:
- Use local keywords like “churches in [city]” or “best churches near me.”
- Use relevant keywords like “kids programs” or “youth group” or your denomination plus location.
- Feature keyword phrases that match people’s search intent, like “churches that are good for families” or “churches with great music.”
You can use Google’s Keyword Planner, a free tool, to help you find the right keywords for your church landing pages, social media, and Google Business Profile. There are also excellent paid tools out there to help you build your keywords list.
3. Use Google Ad Grants and location extension.
Google Ads include location extensions that allow you to add your church’s address, phone number, and a link to maps or your business profile.
Although you want to work on your organic Google maps SEO, paid ads are a great way to get to the top of the search results page immediately.
Google for Nonprofits offers Ad Grants, which means you can receive up to $120,000 per year in free Google advertising. This can go a long way in helping you reach your target audience.
Read more about getting started with Google Ad Grants.
4. Include videos and photos.
Video is everywhere and is the primary type of content every social media platform is pushing right now. So be sure to include videos and photos on your Google Business Profile.
Google also makes some specific recommendations about the categories of images you want to have:
- Exterior photos
- Interior photos
- Photos at work (for churches, this would be events and services)
- Common areas
- Team photos
Be sure to include photos and videos featuring these categories.
5. Get lots of reviews and embed them on your website.
When you click on Google maps results, you’ll see two automatic filters pop up: Rating and Hours. Searchers can easily click on the rating button to sort their results.
As a church, you want to have as many reviews and high ratings as possible. Google uses a star system (from one to five), and each business’s average review score is factored into its ranking.
People won’t automatically think about doing a Google review, so you’ll need to make a direct ask for reviews.
You can also embed reviews on your website using a plugin or working with your web developer. This has a dual purpose: first, it will show up on your website as rich snippet data, which can help your SEO. Second, when visitors to your site see all those amazing reviews, they’re more likely to visit your church in person!
6. Build links and citations.
Last but not least, focus on building links and citations to improve Google maps SEO.
Links are built when another website links to yours. The more high-quality websites that link to yours, the better. They tell Google that you are a real, reliable, and reputable business or organization.
A citation is simply a mention of your church name, address, and phone number on another website. One crucial factor is that your Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) are identical in all online citations.
Check out our comprehensive guide to using local directories to improve your rankings.
Wrapping Up Google Maps SEO
By following these tips, you can improve your church’s ranking on Google Maps and reach more people in your community. Remember to be patient; SEO takes time and consistency to see results.
If you need help with your church’s digital marketing plan and SEO strategy, check out our Local SEO page for more info.