Local SEO for churches: How to use digital marketing to help spread the Word
What happens when someone is looking for a new church but doesn’t know anyone in the area to ask? They’ll look online, and hopefully, that’s where they’ll find you. We’ll go over the basics of search engine optimization (SEO), how to apply them to best serve your mission, and the importance of local SEO for churches.
Boost your online presence with SEO
Optimizing your church’s website for search is important because it will help you reach the people who are looking for a church just like yours. Here are the basics for boosting your online presence by tweaking items like page titles, URLs, descriptions, and more.
Select a unique keyphrase
Select a well-researched keyword or phrase for each webpage and blog post you publish. That way, you can organize content around that one topic, making it clear to search engines that your site is hyper-focused on that topic.
You can rank for terms like “small church in [your city]” or “local [your city] church,” meaning you can reach people in your community looking for exactly what you offer. We’ll talk a little more about local SEO for churches in the next section.
Here are a few places you should include your keyword or phrase;
- Page title: Your page title is the first thing people see in search results, and it’s your first call-to-action to click. Your keyphrase should be in the title, ideally near the beginning.
- URL: Keep your URL short and succinct, while making it clear what the page is about even if that’s all your viewer sees. For example, a good URL looks like yourchurch.com/small-portland-church, and a bad URL looks like yourchurch.com/23lk7dg.
- Meta description: This is the page description under your page title in search results. Clarify what visitors will learn by clicking on your page, and don’t forget to include your keyphrase.
Focus on your area with local SEO for churches
Let’s take a look at hyper-targeting the people you have the most potential to help. Although global broadcasting is a worthy goal, it’s lofty and takes a lot of time and effort. It’s part of the plan ultimately, but right now you’ll be more effective focusing on your local communities.
Adding location references to your content will help you optimize for search terms with a geographic location attached. If someone searches for “large Presbyterian church in Phoenix” you want to show up near the top (if that applies to your church). You’ll have a better chance of ranking for that phrase than “large Presbyterian church,” which is much more general.
Link to quality sources
The quality of your internal and external links will affect your SEO and page rankings. Internal links are pages that link within your own site, and external links point to an outside resource. The better the sources you link to are, the more useful your content will be to readers—and the better you’ll look to search engines.
Utilize good design
Web design pays attention to overall website structure, as well as how each individual page looks. It investigates images, navigation, colors, and more. For SEO, you want to pay attention to your site map and image alt texts.
Having a website that’s easily navigable will help your readers and search engines “crawl” your site. That means they’ll know where to find different information at a glance.
Another part of having a good design is including relevant images to keep your readers interested. This is great for readability, and a best practice for publishing online content, but search engines don’t “see” images the same way your readers do. That’s why you need to add alt tags to each of your images to let search engines know what the image is about (don’t forget to use your keyphrase).
All this information may seem intimidating at first glance, but there are plenty of tools out there that can help you reach the people looking for your church without the headaches. Here are a few of our favorites.
- A beginner’s guide to improving your church’s SEO – an introductory guide that covers some of what we’ve discussed here more in-depth.
- BrightLocal – a local SEO reporting service that will help you track and monitor how you’re doing, so that you can improve where needed.
- 30+ Church Website Search Engine Optimization Strategies – this article has actionable SEO strategies for churches, as well as church directories you can get listed on.
Did you have any questions about local SEO for churches specifically? Share them in the comments or email us!