Optimizing Your Church Website for Google RankbrainLast Updated: January 3rd, 2021

What is Google Rankbrain?

Google Rankbrain was a major update to Google’s algorithm, first introduced in 2015. Google Rankbrain saw Goole incorporate machine learning for the first time within its algorithm, and until its release, the algorithm was hardcoded. Since its introduction, there have been a number of further updates to the algorithm, to further improve the algorithm. The latest update, called BERT, helps Google understand natural language better, particularly in conversational search. 

How does this affect my church website?

The Rankbrain algorithm, and more recently the BERT update, both have had an impact on how Google ranks websites in its search results. The algorithm has become more sophisticated, and now measures more ranking signals than ever before, to decide where a website should rank. GOne are the days where simply adding a bunch of keywords to a page, and getting a few backlinks would result in a high ranking. That simply won’t cut it anymore. 

How to Optimize for BERT?

While Google has said that there is no optimizations necessary for the BERT update, it has been found that there are some steps you can take to ensure your website improves its ranking, or retains the ranking it already has. 

  1. Content
    Content was always an important part of SEO, but possibly now more than ever. Adding fresh content to your website is really important, but it has to be the right type of content. Here are two factors to consider.

    Firstly, there is a higher importance on internal linking. Ensuring that pieces of content on your site is linking to other related sections of your site helps Google recognize that your site contains information on certain topics. For example, blog posts that relate to a ministry, should all have text links within the content linking to other similar blog posts, and also to the main page for that ministry.

    Secondly, Google now understands natural writing a lot better, so you can write your content naturally, and it will be understood as intended. There does not have to be a focus on stuffing your content full of keywords. Just write content for users, like you always do.
  2. Bounce Rate
    Bounce Rate is the percentage of people who visit your site through a Google search, and then leave your website without visiting any more pages. It is widely reported that Google is now placing a bigger weight on Bounce Rate as a ranking signal. If a page is receiving visitors through a Google search, but the users leave the page without visiting any more pages, it can be viewed that the page did not meet the user’s search intent.

    According to a report on GoRocketFuel.com, the average Bounce Rate range is between 41 and 51%. If you are experiencing bounce rates higher than these levels, it could be a good idea to try and reduce them. The first step you can take is to ensure that there are plenty of links to other areas of your site. These can include text links within the content, ‘Related Post’ sections, and a well laid out main navigation.

    Another major factor in causing a high bounce rate is a slow loading site. If a visitor lands on your page and is not served the content they are looking for within a couple of seconds, they are likely to navigate away from your site, and cause a bounce. You can see in the following graph how bounce rate increases dramatically the longer your site takes to load.

  3. Click-through-Rates (CTR)
    A click-through-rate (CTR) is the percentage of people who see a link to your site in Google’s search results and take an action to click through to your site.

    If a page of your website is receiving a lot of impressions in the search results, but people are not licking the link, then this results in a low CTR. This could harm your SEO, as Google may view these pages as not being relevant to the searcher’s intent. FOr this reason, it is important to optimize your search engine listings as much as possible, to entice people to click the link. You can do this by optimizing your title tags and meta descriptions. Your title tags and meta descriptions tell people what the page of your website is about. See this example below of how a page of our website displays in Google:

In conclusion, these are some useful steps you can take to ensure that your website performs as well as it could in the search results. If you would like to discuss this further with a member of our team, feel free to get in touch. 

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