Have you ever wondered why when you search for your church’s website on Google it doesn’t always show up where you think it should, or maybe doesn’t show up at all? Many people think that when you create a website, it automatically appears in Google search results. Unfortunately, this isn’t actually the case. In order for a site to rank in search results, it has to be crawled and indexed by Google bots. Google has a unique algorithm that determines rankings within search results. If you’ve ever wondered, “Why isn’t my church showing up on Google”, this is the blog for you! To make things simple, we breakdown some key reasons why your church website might not be showing up in Google search results and tips on how to fix it.
Basic Google Principles
Google bots are constantly searching the internet for sites to crawl. As Google bots crawl websites, they index the pages, making them able to rank within search results. When a user types into Google a specific search query, it draws the results from its index. If a page isn’t indexed by Google, it can’t show in the results. As a reminder, Google’s main goal is to show extremely relevant and accurate results for a user’s search intent. The more relevant a page on your site is to a user’s search query is, in addition to other factors like their location, device, and language, the more likely it is to show up in search results. Since most users do not click past page one of Google search results, the goal is to rank on the first page to maximize the chances of users clicking through to your church’s website.
Your Site Isn’t Being Indexed
If you’re wondering, “Why isn’t my church showing up on Google?”, it’s a good idea to confirm that your site is in fact being indexed by search engines. To do this, you can directly type into Google your church website’s URL. If it shows up, this means Google is aware of your site and is indexing at least some of it, which is great. However, this doesn’t mean that all pages of the site are being indexed which may be why it seems like your site isn’t appearing in search results, among other reasons that we’ll discuss later in this blog.
If your site isn’t being indexed by Google, this could be happening for a few reasons including your site being too new if you just launched it. Generally, it takes about 2 weeks for a new site to be indexed by Google. You can easily submit your sitemap to Google by going to Google Search Console and clicking on Sitemaps in the left sidebar to ask Google to crawl and index the site.
To make sure that your church’s website has the best chances of being crawled and indexed by Google, here are some basic things that you can do:
- Have a clear, easy to navigate site structure
- Make sure your site is fully optimized for mobile
- Remove no-follow tags from pages that you want to be indexed
- Confirm settings are correct on robots.txt files
- Increase site speed
Your Site Isn’t Ranking For The Terms You’re Using
If your site is being successfully crawled and fully indexed by Google, your site might not be ranking for the keywords that you’re searching for when you try to bring up your church’s site. This could be for a variety of reasons including keyword difficulty and the optimization of your site. Some keywords are extremely challenging to rank for on Google, especially on the first page of search results whereas other keywords are much easier since there’s less demand. For example, when you type in your church’s name directly to Google, it most likely is one of the top results, unless you have a very generic name that’s used by other places. A more challenging keyword could be something more general like, “non-denominal church”.
If your website isn’t ranking for keywords that you want it to rank for, you need to properly optimize your website for those keywords. In order to communicate with Google, you have to speak in Google’s language.
Local SEO efforts are crucial in pursuing rankings for location-based search results. For example, in the map-based results for queries like “church near me”.
On-page SEO helps to tell Google what keywords and topics your site is relevant for in organic search results. A large number of factors play into on-page SEO success. Circling back to the previous example, if you don’t have the term “non-denominal church” on your website, it probably will not rank well for that keyword. A few strategies for on-page SEO success include:
- Using short keyword-rich page titles and URLs
- Properly tagging and titling each page on your site with elements like meta tags, alt tags, H2s, H3s, etc.
- Creating high-quality content and landing pages optimized for meaningful keywords
- Strong internal linking
- Utilize schema markup
- Optimizing your site for a nice blend of difficult and easy keywords
Suspended Google My Business
Google has in more recent years prioritized local search results. This is especially key for churches to keep in mind when optimizing their sites since users searching online generally want to find a church geographically close to them. Google My Business is directly related to local search results and managing your Google My Business is an important part of Local SEO.
If you haven’t checked your church’s Google My Business listing yet, now is a good time to do so. Occasionally, a business’s Google My Business listing can be suspended due to an error. When a listing is suspended, it will not show in local search results so it’s important to get this resolved as quickly as possible.
Whenever you make an update or change on your Google My Business page, Google may re-review the information. Extremely simple mistakes can cause your profile to get flagged and your listing to be suspended. For instance, if the name on your church’s physical sign on the building doesn’t exactly match the way it is written on the profile, this could be a reason for a suspension. Another seemingly benign cause for a suspension is not having your address on the GMB profile listed the way it appears on your website. For instance, if your website lists your address as 1001 North Street but your GMB profile shows it as 1001 N. Street, this could also be flagged as an error.
You’ll know if your GMB is suspended because it will alert you when you log in to your GMB profile.
Once you have corrected your Google My Business errors, you can request your GMB profile to be reviewed again through an appeal process by going here.
Low Domain Authority
Another reason for your church’s website not ranking well in search results is that it doesn’t have high domain authority. A site that has a higher domain authority will generally rank better in SERPs. Backlinks are one of the major signs that tell Google that your site is a quality source and authoritative. You can think of backlinks similarly to citations in a research paper. In general, it is better to have high-quality backlinks than a large volume of poor quality backlinks. For example, if a very authoritative, established site like newyorktimes.com did a spotlight on your church, linking back to your site, this would help boost your site’s domain authority.
A good beginner strategy to generate backlinks is by entering your church’s website into a wide variety of free online directories such as yellowpages.com and Yelp. Additionally, you can find church specific directories such as https://www.churchfinder.com/.
By creating high quality, shareable content, your church’s website will organically gain backlinks from people linking back to your site. Just as a reminder, gaining strong backlinks takes time and isn’t an overnight process. If you’re looking to expedite this process, there are some strategies you can take like working with a marketing agency that can help put a plan in place to solicit third-party backlinks using their connections and partners via guest posts.
Get Your Church Ranking on Google
At Missional Marketing, we understand that most pastors and church leaders don’t have the time to spend optimizing and maintaining their church’s website. Our team of SEO experts is extremely experienced with helping churches get found on Google so that pastors and other church leaders can focus on growing their ministry. To speak with a member of our team, give us a call at 480-420-2007 or get a free audit now. We’re excited to partner with you and watch your church grow!