When you are looking for something where is the first place that you go? Google, of course.
To say that Google runs the internet might be an understatement. Historically people found our churches while driving by or seeing our ad in the Yellow Pages. Those days are over. Even if they do find us via those two paths, their likely next step is to Google your church to get more information.
So, the question is: how do we make sure that our website ranks high on Google searches?
Honestly, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is quite complicated and the details of how Google ranks website is unknown to most. There are however some best practices in order to optimize your website for Google results.
The first thing you want to do is think through the top 3 search terms or phrases that you want your church to pull up. For Community Bible Church there are 3 primary search phrases that we focus on: “Community Bible Church”, “San Antonio Church”, and “Online Church.” In order to make sure our website performs well in these searches we need to make sure these phrases are on the homepage of our website. One common mistake that churches make is not having their church name on the homepage of their website. It is visibly there through a graphic logo, but it is not searchable because it is not searchable text.
Beyond making sure your key phrases are integrated into the homepage of your website here are 3 additional things you can do to make sure your church is searchable:
Utilize Google for Nonprofits - Google offers nonprofit organizations $10,000/month in FREE Adwords advertising. Maximizing this resource can make sure that your church is Searchable in your local area.
Utilize Google Webmaster Tools - this might actually be the most important step as Google will help make sure your site is optimized for Google Search Results.
Setup Accounts on Google+ and other Social Networks - many of the top search results will pull from Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and other Social Networks. Having a Church account on each of these will help in search results.
Know that SEO takes time to build and it takes minutes to destroy. Please do not buy into link pyramid scams that can often get your website blacklisted by Google. Work hard to create a great website with a lot of traffic and Google will steadily take notice. Building strong Google Search results is a long term play with huge return for your church.
What are you doing to make your church more searchable on Google?