What happens when you change the name of your church

How Changing Your Church Name Affects GoogleLast Updated: June 12th, 2021

Changing the name of your church is a big decision. Ask anyone who’s been through the process and they’ll tell you that there is a lot of paperwork and administrative complexity involved. Tax and banking and property ownership and insurance policies are just a few of the details that have to be worked out when making a corporate name change.

Of course there are also logistics related to your property and signage. You’ll need a new logo and brand guide for the church, probably a new website. If you’re a creative type, these are actually some of the more enjoyable parts of the process.

You might be considering a church name change or perhaps you’ve already made the decision to change the name of your church. 

No doubt that if your church is an older, more established congregation there are likely to be a lot of emotions involved in making the name change. People are attached to your church and they are attached to the name. And the process of renaming their beloved church can bring out some heartfelt feelings that can make the process difficult.

Reasons for Renaming Your Church

  1. There could be a new vision and strategic plan for the ministry where a new name can reinforce that new direction
  2. The current name might be connected to a geographic location that no longer exists
  3. A church might change its name because there is a word or term that is misunderstood by people outside the church. It creates confusion and is possibly a barrier for evangelism
  4. A name change related to denominational changes
  5. To avoid confusion with another church with a similar name
  6. Church mergers or adoptions

Whatever the reason for the name change, the process should be well thought out and all short term and long term implications considered.

Your Church Gets Lost in Google

One implication that many churches fail to consider is how renaming the church will affect your Local Search Rankings in Google and other search engines. We call this Local SEO. SEO means Search Engine Optimization. 

And whether you’ve been intentional about your church’s Local SEO or not, over time, especially with an older church, you have established an internet presence that will essentially vanish the moment you rename your church.

Here’s why: One of the primary ways that Google determines how high your church ranks in local searches is based on what are called “citations”. Citations are directory listings on hundreds of websites across the internet, cross-referenced by Google to verify that you are who you say you are and more importantly, that you are WHERE you say you are.

Some of these citations will have familiar names: Facebook, YouTube, Yelp, Yellow Pages Others are far more obscure: Brownbook, Local Stack, Cylex USA

When Google indexes your church website for local search traffic it will verify the name, address and phone number on your website, compare that to those same details on your Google My Business Page and then cross reference these other directory listings.  Google is looking for details that match perfectly. The more matching data, the more authority you have. 

When you change your church’s name, even by a single word, you create errors in your citations and lose valuable Local SEO authority. For instance, if you change your name from First Baptist Church of Springfield to Springfield First every directory must be changed accordingly. Again, some of those will be obvious.  You’ll change your Facebook and your YouTube and hopefully, your Yelp. But what about all those other citations? When was the last time you logged into your Cylex USA account?

Local SEO is Critical for Your Church

If you fail to address this aspect of SEO, you will see your church drop significantly in your search rankings. We’ve seen a church drop from the #1 spot in the Google Local Pack to a position on page two when they changed their church name. Don’t let that happen to you.

If you have changed your church’s name or you plan to change your church’s name, make sure to connect with an agency like Missional Marketing that can help you maintain or even improve your important Local Search rankings with a Local SEO service, claiming, correcting and maintaining all those very important citations.

Contact us today for a review of your church’s current Local SEO profile and a discussion about how it can be improved.

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