After reading Part 1 of this series, you know what SEO is and how it works in general. Let’s now apply this to church websites specifically so that you can get a better grasp on how to use this information.
Let’s think for a moment about how someone would go about searching for a church to attend. If they were to Google it, they would probably search for something like, “churches near me” or “church in [my city].” When a search like this is entered into Google, two kinds of results show up. At the top of the Google results page, they’ll likely see what we’ll call map results.
Below those, they’ll see a list of standard results:
Let’s look at the most important ranking factors according to Moz.com for each of those types of results in turn.
- The most important factor when it comes to map results is the church’s proximity to the search location. This isn’t something you can really control, but clearly, Google chooses churches that are near to the person who is searching over churches that are farther away.
- The second is a physical address in the city of search. Again, this has to do with location, which you can’t control.
- The next most important factors all involve Google My Business. By claiming your business on Google and filling out your information as thoroughly as possible, you’ll instantly improve your search results ratings. In fact, claiming your business this way might be the most important thing you can do to improve your SEO.
- Finally, your website ranking will be better if other quality websites link to yours. You can improve your website here by providing quality content that other websites will want to link to.
Many of the important ranking factors for standard results are similar to those for map results, but there are a few important differences.
- The most important factor for standard results actually has to do with other websites linking to yours. Again, you can improve the quality of your content here.
- The next thing you need to worry about is “Topical (Product/Service) Keyword Relevance of Domain Content.” All this actually means is that your church website should be about your church. Pretty simple.
- This is really important. Not only does your website need to be easy to use and accessible on a computer, it needs to be equally appealing on a mobile device. Make sure that your website design adapts well to different devices.
- Does your church website mention the community it’s located in? Make sure that the name of your town or city is mentioned on your website.
Okay. So now we know what the most important ranking factors are. How is that information actually useful? How does this apply to your church website, and how can you start today?
- Verify that your website is indexed by Google. You can check this by typing into Google, “site:[youraddress].com.” For example, we would check Five More Talents’ website by typing in “site:fivemoretalents.com.” If you see no results or only one result when you know that you have multiple pages on your website, your website isn’t indexed by Google and you need to change your settings.
- Claim your GMB page. FIll it out as thoroughly as possible. Google your church and click the link below the business details on the right side of the page that says, “Own this business?” They’ll need to verify that you actually are authorized to claim your church, which they’ll probably do by calling your church phone number or sending a postcard to your church.
- Make sure your content is as compelling and share-worthy as possible.
- Use a tool such as Yoast SEO to optimize search-results and on-page keyword usage. Yoast SEO is the tool for WordPress, but other web hosting platforms offer similar tools. This tool will allow you (among other things) to edit the title and description that will appear in search results.
- Make sure your website is mobile-friendly and uses “https” instead of the less secure “http.”
- Ensure that as much of your content as possible uses schema.org markup. This isn’t something we had time to discuss in this blog post, but we recommend that you research this separately if you want to take your SEO to the next level.
Whew! We realize this is a lot of information to cover in one blog post. Think about how your church’s SEO can be improved. Learn more by reading the first post of this series, or watch our webinar. How can you take action?