Church Website SEO | Everything You Need to Know

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How to make sure Google will find your church website when people are searching. Jason Hamrock and Bart Blair from Missional Marketing discuss the finer points of church website SEO. Speed, security, crawlability, content, sitemaps, and more of the specific details that make a website optimized for search engines, especially Google.

Podcast Notes

Read more about Church Website SEO on our blog.

Podcast Transcription


Bart Blair: Well, hey there, my name is Bart Blair and I am a digital outreach strategist with Missional Marketing. And I’m joined on Zoom with my friend and the CEO of Missional Marketing, Jason Hamrock. Jason, how are you doing today?

Jason Hamrock: Hey, Bart, I’m doing great. Doing great.

Bart Blair: Jason is in sunny Arizona. I am in sunny Texas. And what we’re going to do is shine some light on the topic of Church Website SEO. Did you see what I did there? Sunny Arizona, sunny Texas and shine some light.

Jason Hamrock: That wasn’t planned, was it?

Bart Blair: It wasn’t planned. I just I just did that right off the top of my head, feeling creative today. All right. We’re going to talk about Church Website SEO. This is something that you and I have an opportunity to talk to churches about pretty much every single day. What I find when I talk to church leaders, is that they have some exposure to SEO and maybe know some of the language, some of the lingo. But really not a thorough understanding of what search engine optimization is, how SEO works. And so, what I’m going to get you to do here is just kind of talk me through some of the key components of Church Website SEO, search engine optimization. What is some of the low hanging fruit, some of the things that we can do with our church websites that make them more Google friendly, more searchable. And then maybe we’ll talk about maybe some of the more complicated things, but let’s start with some of the low hanging fruit. What are the easy things that we can do with our Church Website as it relates to SEO?

Jason Hamrock: Yeah, well, the first thing I always do when I talk to a church about this is, every church is going, yeah, I’ve heard of search engine optimization. And some people will say they know what they’re talking about, but they they kind of make it so you don’t really understand it. So let me, let me make really clear. There’s two types of of SEO in Google’s world. We’re talking about Google here, right? Google owns ninety two percent of the market share, so 9 out of 10 people use Google. So we’ve got to play to the rules of Google, hands down.

Jason Hamrock: And so when we talk about SEO, there’s two types. We have local SEO. Local SEO, meaning it’s a brick and mortar thing. Google wants to drive traffic, who’s looking for something like a church, and they they deliver you in the Google Local Pack if you have your local SEO in shape. Different topic, different conversation, we have other content on that. Then the second type of we’re talking about today is On Page SEO, on your website, your Church Website SEO search engine optimization. And it’s just what that is, you optimize your page or your content on your website so that a search engine like Google can search it, find it, and make sure it’s in the organic search results when somebody is searching. So if you’re looking for…

Bart Blair: Wait, wait, wait, wait, I’m gonna stop you. Organic search results.

Jason Hamrock: Yes.

Bart Blair: What does that mean, organic?

Jason Hamrock: Yeah, so let me explain it. So if you’re looking for things like churches near me, okay, really important. You’ll get that page on Google, you’ll maybe see an ad or two at the top. That’s great. You’re going to see the Google Local Pack, but underneath that, there’s going to be ten search results on every page of Google, page one, ten, page two, ten, page three, ten and so on and so forth. Those are organic search results, that’s you’re showing up organically. Well, it’s important to be in that space because as people are looking, they like to cruise through page one, maybe even a page two, or three, but they’re looking for what’s relevant to whatever they’re searching for. And so we always, we always break down your audience in three different rings, ring one are people who go to your church. Ring two are people looking for a church. And then there’s ring three, ring three are felt need type of searches. You know, I’m looking for how to fix my marriage, how to be a better parent, how to overcome an addiction, fix my finances, who is Jesus, like, how to be forgiven, and a ton more. And so you really want to focus on your search engine optimization content on your website so that you have half a chance to show up organically when somebody is searching for that particular topic. So in a nutshell, that’s kind of like, SEO.

Jason Hamrock: When I break that down a little bit, the biggest, most important thing about that is content. Google can’t crawl a video. They can’t crawl a PDF. They can only crawl content, text. But truth be told, there’s several things that matter when it comes to optimization. Like the URL name, what is the URL? It’s your Church Website dot com forward slash. You know, it’s some long string of digits, that means nothing to Google, it needs to be whatever you’re talking about. How to fix my marriage, then the title of the page, How to Fix My Marriage, then the opening paragraph, How to Fix My Marriage. And have those keywords in there, then have a body of content text on the page, at least seven hundred fifty to a thousand words. So that when Google crawls that page they go, huh, these guys must be somewhat of an authority on the subject matter of “how to fix my marriage.” Well, we’re going to grow them organically over time when somebody is looking for the help, because that’s a good search result. Google cares about two things, making money, and they’re really, really good at that, and they care about their users. You’re never going to search for how to fix my marriage and see something for how to make donuts, that’s not the way Google works. You know this it’s always wanting to be a match. So if you want to compete with other people that are also working on their organic search results, you got to do the right things.

Bart Blair: And am I’m going to stop you for a second. I want to come back to this idea of content, like seven hundred and fifty words on a website page. Like my Church Website does not have seven hundred words on any single page, so we’re going to, we’re going to come back and talk about that in a minute. But one of the first things that you said when you started talking about this was you said Google can’t crawl this, and crawl that, and crawl…What in the world does crawling mean? Tell me what that means.

Jason Hamrock: So Google has these little spiders that that will crawl your site, and they do this in nanoseconds and they do it all the time. I mean, there’s literally billions and billions of pages. And the way Google’s algorithm works, is they’re going to crawl your website, literally they’re going to look quickly through your website and through all the different pages. That’s why it’s really important to have a thing called a site map. It’s like the, the front…When you read a book, you have your table of contents, that’s kind of what a site map is. It kind of tells Google these are these pages, and this is how they’re made up, and where they are. And so Google crawls those things fast, right, and so they’re looking for things. And if they don’t see any content, then forget about it, you’re never going to register in Google as competent. You must be an authority on this particular subject matter. So these little crawlers, crawl all the time. They’re crawling your website, they do it all the time.

Bart Blair: okay, that makes a little more sense. okay, crawl, crawling. What are some of the other things besides crawlability, that make a website Google friendly?

Jason Hamrock: Lots of things. I mean, there’s a lot of things that I’ll speak into just a little bit deeper, like I always see, I did this today with the church. I was talking to the, and they were really proud of the fact that they wrote a blog post. And it was a blog post dealing with how to speak to your kids about racial issues, pretty relevant topic right now, September 2020, I don’t have to say that. But they actually… I’m so proud of them because they wrote a page and they had… Like Jason, we took your advice and we wrote all the stuff. I’m was like, awesome. You have a URL structure in place, you’ve got a title in place, you’ve got lots of content. I said, but there’s two things you’re missing on this. Number one, I looked at the image. I right clicked and looked at the name of the image, and had nothing to do with the title of how to talk to your children about race. It was just image_2423.JPEG, that means nothing to Google. You want to name your image, what that content’s about, it’s all part of the optimization of that page. Second thing from a user standpoint was, there was no extra call to action. So just a side note there, have some call to action so the user can actually do the next step. It’s pretty important, that lowers your bounce rate, right? If people engage on your site, Google sees this, you’re looking at Analytics, you see time on site you see engagement rates, it’s so important to Google.

Jason Hamrock: But beyond just the crawlability of that page, there’s a few other things that you really want to pay attention to. There’s a thing called like a rank or domain authority score that your website has, Google is giving it to you. Right. And it’s from like zero to one hundred, Google gets like a ninety nine, and there’s top websites are just up there, well your websites in there. And they’ll look at that, and there’s ways that you can improve your rank or your domain authority. Number one, adding content. I’m telling you, adding content. One thing you could easily do, take your sermon from this past week and transcribe that, and get that on that page with where you see the video. Because you’re adding like two or three thousand words every week to your website, that helps your rank authority.

Jason Hamrock: Another little tidbit. I was on the phone, I had a lot of calls today. Another church in Texas had an issue with an associate pastor a number of years ago, he fell into sin and it was just, it was a bad situation for him. Just put it that way. The news caught it, they wrote an article about it. And so if you Googled this church’s name there, it’s number four or five listing right there, that’s the article from the local TV station about this scandal. And I said they’re asking, how do we get rid of that? You’re not going to get rid of it. You can’t, maybe we can help push it down. And you know why you’re never getting rid of it? That’s a news source. What’s so relevant on a new source? This is a TV station that puts all of their content online, they literally have millions and millions and millions of words on their website. They are a high ranked authority because they’re a news source, Google crawls their content, lots of text. Churches, we’re on the opposite end of the spectrum, we think less is more. Let’s show more images, less content because nobody reads. The problem with that is you’ve totally played against what Google wants, right? So you’ve got to work on content.

Bart Blair: Well, let me ask a question. Let me ask you a question on that, because this is something that I don’t know if this is true or not. So if you know the facts here, you can straighten me out.

Jason Hamrock: Okay.

Bart Blair: So when Google crawls websites, like if I get online and I do a search right now, and I searched know pizza restaurant in Texas. Right? Google is not in that instantaneous moment sending those crawlers out at that particular second to go find that website for me.

Jason Hamrock: Already done it.

Bart Blair: Google has already done it, and it’s stored that information in its own memory banks. Right?

Bart Blair: So this is my understanding of this, and again, maybe I’m right, maybe I’m wrong. But because news websites are consistently adding content, Google has learned that Google needs to crawl those websites more frequently. Our church websites tend to be more static and we tend to not add consistent content. And since we don’t add consistent content, the website doesn’t get crawled as frequently. However, if we were adding new content through blog posts, or through the transcriptions sermons, and those sorts of things, do you believe our websites would be crawled more frequently so that we have a chance of actually showing up in organic searches more frequently?

Jason Hamrock: Yep, yep. Plus, also re-submitting a site map, right, running an XML site map of your site and re-submitting that through your Google Search Console and whatnot. Absolutely, that’s  the name of the game if you don’t have an active website, Google has no reason to pay attention to you. That’s why it’s so important to keep adding content to your website.

Bart Blair: Okay, that’s interesting, and I’m going to come back to content again because, you know, content is king. But I got a couple of other things that I want to ask you about. So you mentioned bounce rate when you were talking about the fact that some pages need to have calls to action. Right. Giving someone an incentive to click again, like another click going further into the website, getting more more information. What are some other things that might contribute to high bounce rates on a website?

Jason Hamrock: Well, there’s a thing called pogo sticking. Do you guys remember, remember pogo sticking, pogo sticks when you were a kid? Boing, boing, you jump on those and you bounce around your driveway. Pogo sticks, fun.

Bart Blair: I actually, I’ve done it not too recently. Yeah I’ve done it.

Jason Hamrock: Yeah. They’re fun. Well there’s a thing called pogo sticking in the digital world, and you’ve done it, I’ve done it, everybody’s done this. You’ve searched for something, I’m on my phone, I’m looking for something. And I’m like, I get a search result page, SERP – search engine results page. I’m like, oh, maybe I see an ad, click on the ad. Or maybe I see an organic search results, I click on it. I’m now on that page. okay, if it’s not what I was looking for what do I do? I hit the back button, where am I going back to? I’m going back to Google. And then I’m going, let’s check out the next one, click. Now, I’m on that page, but like, it’s not what I was looking for. What do you do? You hit the back button, go back to Google, look at the third one, click. That’s what I was looking for. And it could I could be talking about anything here, and it’s like, boom, that’s exactly it. So now I’m engaged. I’m reading that content. Oh, call to action, click next, I just went to the next page. Google knows this is happening, they are watching. And when they see Pogo sticking happening, guess what they’re doing? Those two websites that you visited and went back, they’re like, hmm, probably not a good search result for our users. And if they see a pattern of that, well, guess what happens to your organic search result? You drop down, because others are more relevant to what the user was looking for. That’s a real thing, and that happens in real time, and that’s been proven. You will see websites that, they’ll drop because what they work to get up there is not what the users are looking for. So pogo sticking is a real thing, that’s called a bounce. If somebody gets to your website, and they don’t engage, and they leave, they just bounced. There’s a bounce rate, and really bounce rates are all over the place, if you’re north of 60 percent and the bounce rate got some work to do. If you’re in the 50s, or are in the 40s, you’re doing not not too bad. If you’re in the low 40s, or 30s, or 20s, you’re doing great because you can’t expect everybody to like what they’re looking for. Right? Out of 10 people. it’s just obvious that maybe three or four are just kind of like, ah, that’s not what I was looking for. But if you have like seven or eight that are not liking it, then you’ve got a bad website, you’ve got to work on some of that because people are not liking what they see. That could be an old website. it could be just the calls to action or horrible, the images are bad. There’s no benefit, that you’re like, that is not what I was looking for. So boundaries are really a big deal.

Bart Blair: Now, I want to break that bounce rate down a little bit, just so they make sure that those that are watching this video and understand those percentages. Right. So when you say a 50 percent bounce rate, that means that half the people who come to my website leave before clicking on anything else, or engaging with the content of the website. Right,and that’s what that means, a 50 percent bounce rate. If it’s a 70 percent bounce rate, that means seven out of 10 people that come to our website are leaving before they do anything else?

Jason Hamrock: Right. And that really penalizes you in Google. That’s not to say that they didn’t get what they are looking for. Whenever I go to a Church Website and I see your address, your service times, everything right there on the home page, I have no need to really click. That’s why I was looking for, I’m out. Well, I think if you’re actually looking to go to that church, it’s okay to get a person to click one time. Don’t make me think about it too much, but one time to see your service times and directions. I’ll click once, okay, don’t make me click two or three or four times, especially if I’m new. But if you just gave me all the information on your home page, I have no reason to click on anything else, so I probably will bounce. Does that mean that person is not going to come to your church? No, that means they’ve got what they’re looking for, they left. So you kind of got dinged from Google standpoint because of the bounce, but you probably did help what they looking for. So there’s kind of a balance there, right? I’m always wanting to have really good called actions on a homepage, because it’s your most important page on your website, especially above the fold. Right. The very, very top section, above the fold, at the very, very top of the page is the most important page on your entire website. Maybe next to give page, because that’s pretty important too. But your homepage page, above the fold, really, really important and you’ve got to have great call to actions and strong benefits. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, put your mission statement there.

Bart Blair: Okay, we’ll save that conversation for another another video, okay?  Now I’m going to share something, when I’m surfing the Internet, one of the primary reasons that I will hit back quickly is if the Web page loads too slowly. Do you want to talk a minute about speed, and what the importance of website speed is as far as SEO is concerned?

Jason Hamrock: Yeah, so there’s a guy on our team who’s really, really smart. His name’s Jason as well, and he can talk really detailed about how a page loads and all the intricate details of that thing, he’s really good at that. What I sum it up to be this, okay, as soon as I hit enter. I’ve gone, I’ve clicked on either, you know, I’ve typed in your URL or I’ve clicked on Google and I saw your website and I click. As soon as I start going there, there’s a load, there’s a load time, right, on your website. And that starts usually at the top, and it starts loading. And there’s it’s either pulling up the video that you put on there, it’s pulling up all what’s called the the CSS, like how it builds, like all the colors, and the images, and the text, and the font, and it’s [inaudible]. It’s loading up really, really, really, really, really fast, ideally.

Jason Hamrock: Sometimes, though, load speeds can be really slow. If you are north of two and a half, three seconds, you could have some problems, right? I have seen websites that took 16 seconds to load. Now, that’s just that’s the laziness, because that means your Web programmer added a photo that’s like twenty two hundred by sixteen hundred and they just shoved in that space.  It takes time for the browser to load that up, rather than optimizing it to just a small, short little thing, right, or your videos or whatever it might be. You want to have fast load speeds, so you want to make sure your page is optimized to load really, really quickly. Because again, like you just said, if I’m like loading, loading, loading, I’m out. I will give you a second or two, and if I don’t see what I’m looking for… I did that the other day, I was just like, are you kidding me? So as a client of ours, I’m going to fix this load speed, it’s crazy. And sure enough, it was like we have a dashboard, it was like 12.87 seconds to load this page. Unacceptable! Google also recognizes this, and they know how fast your your page is loading.  Another thing could be your server that you’re on. So there’s a lot of ways to look at lowering the load speed, if you will, for a website. We’ve got a technical team, they are unbelievable at this stuff. If you have a, if you think you have a slow load speed, let’s talk. I mean, we can at least help you fix that issue, because that’s a big issue.

Bart Blair: Now, Google actually has a developer tool called, I think it’s called Google Speed Test, I think that’s what it’s called. And you can just load that page up, put your URL in, and it’ll give you a, Google will tell you how fast your website is.

Jason Hamrock: Google it.

Bart Blair: Yeah, Google it. There are a lot of different things that contribute to a slow, slow load time for a website. You’ve already mentioned images that are not optimized, video that’s not optimized, and those things are actually things that most church communications people can actually handle. Sometimes those slow load times are a result of bloated CSS, or JavaScript that needs to be cleaned up, there’s more technical stuff under the hood. And I always would say, you know, managing a website is really like maintaining a vehicle. There might be some basic things that you can do, but sometimes you need to get an expert under the hood to get them to take a look at it and diagnose why the website is loading slowly.

Jason Hamrock: Yeah, and it’s not very expensive, but it has huge benefits to do it. So you’ve really got to do it.

Bart Blair: Yeah. And sometimes churches will spend lots of money to build a website that ends up loading slowly, and that is such a waste. If you spend five, ten, fifteen or twenty thousand dollars on a website, it can be a real source of frustration if it’s loading slowly. The last thing that I want to say about speed is that your own people, ring one, they will tolerate a slower load time because they have a specific agenda, typically for being on your website. But new visitors, people who are checking you out for the first time, people who don’t yet know you, if your first impression is a slow, struggling, you know, slumpy website, that’s a bad first impression. So fix your speed.

Bart Blair: Hey, I’ve said, I’ve used the phrase CSS, you used the phrase CSS, cascading stylesheet is what that technically means. But those are actually the initials of the three things that are most important for website SEO. We’ve already talked about the C, which is crawlability, the first S, which is speed, and the third s. Can you think of what I’m thinking?

Bart Blair: Security. Yeah. Let’s talk a little bit about security, website security.

Jason Hamrock: Yeah. The other day I had to call the church, and he was interested in using the Google Ad Grant, whole other subject matter. But he said, Jason, we really want to use this Ad Grant. I said, well, the first thing you’re going to have to do is get a lockbox on your website. He’s like what? I showed him on Zoom. I said, take a look, see that little thing right there was his unsecured and it has it does a little red arrow there, or not a red arrow, but a red line. He goes, yeah.  I go, that’s because your website’s unsecured. What’s that mean, He goes. Well I explained to him that it’s because your website is just htpp not https, it’s not over secure. And so you’ll, just go to, use Firefox, use Chrome and go to your church website. If you look up in the corner and it says, not secure, not good. Not good. That means you need to have a certificate, right, and that certificate will then make sure that your website is secured. And so it’ll be a little green lock that says yes, your website is very, very secure. And those, we can help you with that, it’s a security certificate that will ensure to Google that your site is indeed, every page on your website, is indeed secure over https.

Jason Hamrock: Why that’s pretty important. Well, a number of reasons. One is browsers, these days, don’t want to load a website that’s unsecured because hacking can happen, spam can happen, they can drop some bad stuff on your computer. Hackers are doing it all the time, they’re trying to figure out how to get your information, that’s just one thing. If you’re transmitting information, like if you’re submitting an email, you’ll never be able to go to an unsecure website and give online. It’s just not going to happen, the bank or whoever’s processing that’s never going allow that to happen. But if you want ads by Google or Facebook, you’ve got to have a secure website. Now, they’re cracking down on this pretty hard these days, and so it’s just better to go get your certificate, and we can help you out with that. But you’ve got to do it, because not having a secure website also tells the user…Sometimes you have this thing, you’re entering a website that’s unsecured. That’s not really good for somebody who’s thinking about coming to your church, I’m just saying.

Bart Blair: Jasan, so this is another piece of security. Sometimes you can actually have a security certificate installed that encrypts it and makes it secure, but there are different parts of your website that are not secure because it’s not installed properly or a security can be broken. And I actually encountered this yesterday. We were compiling a list of the top church leadership podcasts. Right?  We’ve got our own podcast, which we think is pretty good, but there’s a bunch of others out there that are really fantastic. And I actually, I was doing some Google searches, and I was looking for a specific podcast that is a top church leader podcast. And while I could get to the main page, every time I clicked on the podcast link, my Chrome told me it would not let me go to that page because it was unsecure. So even though it was part of the same website, there was unsecure links or, unsecured data on that page. And I couldn’t actually access that top church leader podcast on their website because their security is broken on the website.

Bart Blair: I should call them and see if they want to buy security from us.

Jason Hamrock: Yeah, yeah. You’ve got to have that SSL certificate implemented through your whole website. And sometimes that happens, right, and sometimes it’s an image or something’s gone on. And you might not be able to figure that out, we can help you out in that space.

Bart Blair: Yeah. All right. So we’re going to wrap up here, but we’re going to come back to the topic that we talked about periodically throughout our discussion, which is this whole concept of content. Right. And this is a huge paradigm shift for churches to understand that less is not more when it comes to your church website. Having actual crawlable content on your website makes it more Google friendly, and actually increases the possibility that more people will actually come to your website and find information that they’re looking for. So you’ve talked a little bit about writing blog posts. blog posts are a fantastic way of adding new content to the website on a regular basis. Sometimes the blog post can simply be, you know, an eight hundred or thousand word summary of the pastor’s sermon each week, something really simple, it doesn’t have to be new content. Maybe the new content that you add is actually sermon transcripts, actually, either sometimes pastors preach from a transcript, so they’ve already got it typed up. Sometimes you can use an artificial intelligent intelligence platform an AI platform that’ll automatically transcribe it for you, so\o you can put the transcript on the on the website. And I’m going to be clear when we’re saying put the content on the website, such as a transcript, we do not believe that any human being is ever going to actually read through the transcript. But Google will.

Jason Hamrock: That’s right.

Bart Blair: And Google will always read it. And while Google is working on technology that allows it to read the videos, the content that’s in the videos, I’m not convinced yet that they’ve fully mastered that. But they have mastered reading the content that’s actually on the page. So we talk about blog posts, about sermon content. What are some other ideas that churches can implement to add more content to their church websites?

Jason Hamrock: Oh, I mean it. Well, think about this, so and I do this with every church. When I talk to a new church, I look through their website, I look for a couple of pages. First page I look for is, do you have anywhere on your website that actually walks somebody through the gospel?  Do you have anything that actually shares who Jesus is and what he’s done for them? Usually, I don’t find anything. I go, okay, well, it’s probably probably a good starting point right there. I go, let’s look at some other felt needs, because in my opinion, and this is just common sense, but it’s also been proven to see in search results. There’s really five areas that you really want to focus on marriage, parenting, addictions, finances, and of course, Jesus, like faith related. Start there, right, start with building a page that actually answers somebody’s question. So I’m a big fan of blog posts because I think we can do, we have a lot of we have a lot of DIY’s out there. They want to do it themselves, but they’re looking for help, they’re looking for a guide. Just a little plug there on the story brand thing, but they’re looking for a guide to help them with their problems, they want to DIY it. Well, a sermon’s good, it’s fantastic because it really can help people engage and get a flavor and get fed. You can have content on it by your ministries on there, but you really want to focus on the felt needs of people are searching for. And it’s not so much just here’s some information, come to our Wednesday night Celebrate Recovery Group. No, no, if I’m dealing with an addiction, start with answering their question, how to overcome one, or how to help a loved one. That’s where you…what would you say to them? Write that out,  step one, do this, step two, do this, step three, do this. It’s a page optimized, that’s focused on explaining and helping somebody who’s trying to deal with that issue. You should do that for all kinds of felt needs content, that’s building pages. You can blog about it, a blog is typically almost like a journal in a sense, or the transcript on the on the sermons. All of those should be informative for the user, helpful for the users, with calls to actions on what they should do next.

Bart Blair: Yeah, I was actually on a call with a church yesterday that when we looked at their care ministries, they offered a premarital care ministry, a marriage ministry, a 12 step recovery ministry, a financial assistance and stewardship ministry, and these are the felt needs. But then we went and looked at the individual pages for each one of those ministries, and they basically all had about a maybe a hundred and twenty word description of the ministry, and then a button to click on finding out when the next group was meeting or how they could sign up. And those are fine if you’re expecting people to come through your front door and to know exactly how to get to page.

Jason Hamrock: Ring one,

Bart Blair: Right, ring one people. But that will never track in terms of organic search. And also, if you ever like I mean, this was the conversation we had. I said, you know what you need to..if you’re doing celebrate recovery,or regeneration, you know, you’ve got this 12 step recovery program. You need to write a thousand words on that page that describes what it is, and what people can expect. Maybe share a story of someone who’s successfully recovered, you know, had a recovery story that’s a result of that ministry. And then clear calls to action on how they can they can connect, and how they can get involved. And even better than just having that page from for an organic search, is actually run a Google search campaign, an ad campaign, for that specific topic.

Jason Hamrock: That is right.

Bart Blair: It is, let’s face it, it’s hard, it’s a lot of hard work to get real organic search traffic when it comes to those types of topics. Because there are a lot of publications, and a lot of websites, that have been spending years to maximize their organic search quality. Right. But we can run ads locally through Google search, so when someone in our neighborhood, someone in our community is Googling help with my addictions, we’ve got an ad for our church and our recovery ministry that pops at the top of that page and we can connect with people. I think these recovery ministries, especially today, 2020, we’re kind of…I don’t know if we’re in the middle, or the end, or where we are in the COVID crisis.  We’re somewhere in the COVID journey here, people are hurting and people need help. And a lot of our churches have, they’ve successfully pivoted many of their care ministries to being able to minister to people online. And so being able to get those ministries out in the forefront, and not just parking them on the back side of the website, and hoping and praying that people find us some way. I think that’s that’s a shame, because we have so much to offer there.

Jason Hamrock: Right. That’s right.

Bart Blair: Jason, anything as we wrap up, anything that you want to add about SEO? Okay, I figured you probably did.

Jason Hamrock: So if I had to back up and I’d say, what’s the most important thing when it comes to SEO? Backlinks. People are going to go backlinks, what are backlinks? Backlinks are really, really important. Okay, what is the backlink, and then we’ll wind it up. A backlink is where another website finds your website so valuable, they have a link to your website from their website. That’s a backlink over to your web, not you linking out. Well, that might be a backlink for them, but a backlink from them to you. Why is that important? Well, if you’re Google, and they’re looking at, well, how relevant are you as a website? You could have tons of pages, which is really, really good. And you can have tons of content, which is really, really good. And great structure, all that kind of stuff, it’s really, really good. And it’s secure, it’s really, really good. But they’re also looking for backlinks, how relevant are you in the Internet space, how many people find you so valuable that they link to your website? Very, very important. And not, you might remember the days, or you could ask somebody, back before Google released one of their algorithms, I think maybe Penguin or some like that. You could go buy backlinks from some, like India. You could just buy like 5000 backlinks and all of the sudden Google is going, my goodness, there’s five thousand websites that think you are something, that’s huge. Well, that’s, they see right through that now. You’ve got to have real backlinks from authority related type of websites, not just some rinky dink website, but a really strong website. For example, a newspaper. If you had a backlink from a newspaper to your website, that is gold. I’m telling you, that’s awesome. That’s why whenever I tell a church, oh, you’re redoing your website, what are you going to do about your all your old pages? Oh, we’re going to throw those away. No, you’re not, because maybe three years ago the newspaper wrote an article about some event you had, they linked to your event. And it was like a follow link, it’s a real link, and it’s still active. The minute you kill that page, guess what you just did? You killed that link, and that is website SEO suicide right there, you never want to do that. And so it’s one thing to go ahead and, which we can help you with this, is an audit of the current backlinks you have. Because you may be have some bad backlinks, alright, some websites that are linking your website and you don’t really want Google, that could be penalizing you, but you’ve probably got some really good ones too. So when I talk about backlinks, I’m always saying, well, okay, Jason, how do you get more backlinks? Well, maybe there’s some organizations you partner with in the community. Maybe there’s some like, you know, an adoption agency, a food bank, maybe there’s some like international ministries you work with. That if you ask them, hey, could you put a link to our website from your website, we’ll do the same thing. That’s a really, really good thing. We do that at Missional Marketing with some of our partners, we love to link to them, and they link to us and we’re sharing SEO juice is what I like to call it. And so adding the backlink is really, really important. Now, we’re not saying go get three hundred backlinks, but what we’re saying is just start getting some more backlinks from some some of your closer partners. Right. That’s just a really good thing to do. Maybe some of the businesses that go to your church, business owners, maybe they could put a link on their website to say I’m a proud member of my church and here’s a link. Why not? Those are, that could be a really good backlink. So there’s just some ways and some strategies to add backlinks. So I got to tell you, it’s probably pretty much the number one thing you can do to your website from an SEO perspective, add backlinks.

Bart Blair: Yeah, I’ll add a couple more to the list. Right. You’ve talked about newspapers, huge. Press releases are a great way to get those backlinks from local newspapers.

Jason Hamrock: Yeah.

Bart Blair: Those are not always, there’s a, we won’t get into details of this, but there’s follow and no follow links. And a no follow backlink is not going to help. By the way, if you’re trying to get your church listed on Wikipedia in your community, those are always nofollow. So a link from Wikipedia will not help your SEO. But The Chamber of Commerce, sometimes churches and church leaders have joined the Chamber of Commerce, get a link from the Chamber of Commerce. Working with local schools, maybe you do volunteer work in school programs, maybe schools, schools will have good authority on their on their websites. Your denomination is like a no brainer, especially if you’re part of the more substantial, well known denomination that has a good website. Denomination, whether that’s the whole denomination, like the the main denominational website or like a district that you’re a part of. Those are some places that you can get some backlinks. Be creative, be strategic, make sure they’re good. Don’t go to Fiverr and hire someone and pay them five dollars to get you a guaranteed thousand backlinks, those are not going to be quality…

Jason Hamrock: That’ll hurt you.

Bart Blair: Yeah, that will hurt you. Those are not going to be quality, relevant backlinks. Hey, we should probably wrap this up. This has been pretty good, interesting conversation for me, I hope it has been for those that are listening to this.  All of the things that we talked about in this conversation today, we have members of our team that can actually help with all of these things, crawlability, speed, security. We even have some content services that we can provide as it relates to getting sermons online, or some of those felt need things that people might be searching for in your community, and we can help out with that. So visit our website, you can schedule an appointment. You can schedule an appointment with Jason, an appointment with me, we’d be happy to have a follow up conversation. And one thing I’m going to ask you to do, if you’re listening to this on our podcast. If you listen on Apple podcast, or Stitcher, or Google Play, if you haven’t left a rating or review for our podcast, would you do that? Because that’s like the backlink, that’ll help more people find this podcast. And we’ve been working hard to bring good content to you, and we’d love to be able to share it with more people. So please do that for us. Jason. Anything else you want to add?

Jason Hamrock: No. God bless you guys. I know it’s a tough ministry season right now, but God is good, and He’s up to good stuff. So keep pressing on.

Bart Blair: All right. Until next time we’re out of here.

Jason Hamrock: Take care.

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