Search engine optimization doesn’t have to be confusing or intimidating. With the overwhelming amount of insight available pertaining to SEO, we want to provide you with a brief guide explaining how to improve your local SEO. Your website is important, and by taking the necessary steps to improve your SEO, we can make sure it’s discoverable. By improving your church’s local SEO, you’ll be able to reach new audiences near you!
Create/Claim Your Google My Business Page
Google My Business is the first place a person looks when searching for your church. It’s a free tool offered by Google to verify your church’s location, manage your presence on Google Maps, and maximize your presence in “local searches”. Google My Business correlates with Google Maps, so that when unchurched people search using the terms, “churches near me,” or “local churches,” GMB influences the results. Capturing local searches is valuable to drive growth by exposing new people to your church. Verifying and managing your Google My Business page is necessary and enables your church to rank competitively.
Google wants to be confident in the accuracy of your location. Creating and claiming your Google My Business, not only creates a great first impression for searchers, but also improves local SEO. To discover the ins and out of Google My Business for churches or have any questions, we’d love to hear from you!
Claim Local Directory Listings and Citations
Directory listings and citations compile your church contact information to make you more discoverable online. These directory listings allow churches to list their name, address, phone number, hours of operation, website, and even photos. There are numerous online directories that your church can utilize, including: Google My Business, Apple Maps, and Bing. It’s important that your information is consistent across all directories.
Again, Google wants assurance that the locations listed for businesses are correct, and the same thing goes for your church. By claiming and maintaining your listings with accurate and consistent contact information, Google is more certain of your name, address, and phone number information. This reassurance leads to higher search rankings, and ultimately, attracts more new people to your church. If you want to learn more about the impact of online citation directories on local SEO and how we can help ensure consistency across directories, Missional Marketing can help.
Choose Keywords to Target
In today’s world, people go to Google first with all their questions. The church is able to reach the people turning to Google to learn more about Jesus and Christianity by choosing the right keywords to describe your church. Keywords are specific words or phrases used to connect your church’s website or in citations and directory listings to an individual’s search. Picking the right keywords to attract an audience of unchurched people not only improves the SEO of your church, but also enables the spread of the gospel. We wrote an article about church keywords that reach people who are ready for Jesus, that we’ve found work best to reach people who are ready for Jesus. Without the right keywords, an unchurched person won’t be able to find your church. If you’re curious how discoverable your church’s website is in Google searches, use our Keyword Analyzer Tool.
Improve Your On-Page SEO
On-page SEO is the process of optimizing individual webpage metadata with keywords. Differentiating local SEO versus on-page SEO can be tricky, but ultimately, on-page optimization attracts topical searches, and in some cases (i.e. for location based topical searches), local and on-page SEO work hand-in-hand.
To further explain on-page SEO, let’s look at an example. If your webpages use topical keywords such as “youth ministry” and “Christian counseling,” your church will rank higher when someone searches keywords in Google. Improving your on-page SEO includes researching keywords for each page on your website, optimizing each page’s metadata with keywords, cleaning up any SEO errors, and publishing an XML sitemap. With greater optimization on individual pages, your will be improving your church’s local SEO as a whole, and your site as a whole will receive more local traffic.
Garner Google Reviews
Many factors contribute to SEO ranking, but Google reviews are becoming more and more impactful in search results. It’s extremely important to acquire online reviews for your church to improve SEO. Additionally, just as someone would look at the reviews of a restaurant before trying it out, an unchurched person uses reviews as a source of information. Positive Google reviews improve trust along with SEO, and both promote your church to new attendees.
Receiving reviews may seem daunting, but it’s easier than it seems. The 7 out of 10 people will leave a review if they are asked to do so (source: https://moz.com/learn/seo/the-nitty-gritty-of-getting-reviews-mozcon-local-2017). Ask for reviews on church handouts, in social media posts, and in emails with your congregation–odds are, they’ll say yes!
If you’re ready to harness the power of local SEO, we’d love to help you with improving your church’s local SEO today! Get your free local SEO report and contact us today!