Push your church website to the top of Google SERP
I’ve not written for the Elexio blog before, but I’d like you to get to know me a little. Before starting at Elexio I spent the last few years working at advertising agencies, running design studios and managing digital strategies for many clients, some of whom likely have a few products parked in your homes. Elexio was a boon for a worship pastor like me, looking for a place to work while offering a faith family and a common mission in the growth of the global church.
With that background in website information architecture, SEO that includes a deep understanding of the mechanisms of the many Google search algorithms, and a passion for the church I am providing a few basic tips for church SEO.
1. Know what people are searching for in your area
This may sound like a pretty simple thing, but we all make assumptions about our audiences and the challenge here is the assumptions. We don’t always know what interests people in a church, though we might assume that we do. Using tools like Google Webmaster Tools, Google Trends, Google Analytics and others both paid and free can give you the insight that you need based on your own web traffic, as well as traffic to other church sites.
2. Effectively plan your information architecture
Nothing makes a website, sacred or secular, work better in Google SERP than the context of the information. Google no longer cares about keywords the way it once did. Your information must be well organized and well written. Google now analyzes keywords, nested information, internally and externally linked sites and pages, as well as what is actually written in the page to determine how relevant that page is to the end user’s search query.
3. Local SEO is important, even vital
Yes, there is a difference. It’s extremely important if you are a multi-site church. We have a large, multi-site church in the central Pennsylvania region who does an excellent job of optimizing their campus websites. Ensuring that your homepage, or the pages for your various campuses include a broad keyword like “church in my town” in the following areas:
You should also include the address of your facility. If you have created a local business page in Google Maps and verified your church, you should ensure that the NAP (name, address, and phone) on the webpage matches your church information exactly. Even a small difference can cause Google to give you a negative mark, rather than a lift.
4. Don’t overlook Schema
Schema.org is a site that most search engines have partnered with to assist with the categorization of information that appears in search. Categories such as events, news, blog posts, etc… can help Google more quickly identify and categorize your content.
Schema even includes location tags, making it incredibly easy for Google to recognize your address, phone, and even hours of operation.
5. Consider your platform carefully
Yes, what your website runs on under the hood is actually important. Elexio has spent years developing a church website CMS that makes SEO relatively simple and managing content extremely easy.
WordPress is another great option, but you should walk into that world with your eyes open. Cost of ownership is higher than free with WordPress. A bevy of plugins are all but required right out of the gate with WordPress, just to make it more SEO friendly and secure. Then, someone must be willing to manage updates to the system, the plugins, and of course the content. And finally, don’t forget about an event calendar. Right now, a really solid, low-cost, easy-to-manage event calendar system does not exist for WordPress.
Finding the right SEO solutions & answers
In closing, there are many best practices and tips to consider for SEO, but these 5 represent some common problems where church websites frequently suffer. Optimizing by organizing your information, providing context, and ensuring that people within your local area can find you.
Organizing your church doesn’t have to be painful! To match the great work you’re already doing in your church, you need a great ChMS that can keep up with and allow your team to fully express who you are as a church community.