SEO - What You Need to Know

If you’re a typical church leader you probably don’t even know what SEO stands for (Search Engine Optimization).

If you’re a techie you probably have a lot of thoughts and opinions around the subject.

Here’s the reality: whether you know about it or not, it is very important to your church! 

Think about it: how do you find anything these days?  You go to Google.  Even when people navigate to websites that they regularly visit they rarely type in the URL, but just type in the name or a couple of key words and then click the link to the site in Google.  In many ways Google owns the keys to the internet. 

So, how does this affect your church or organization?  If you want people to find you, Google must know about you and be displaying a link to your website for people searching in your area.  Many people wrongly assume that it's luck that gets them to the top of Google list, but the reality is that there is a reason/solution: Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

As a consultant I provide services for Search Engine Marketing, Social Media Management, Content & Media Marketing and more.  In this work I create monthly analytics reports for several organizations.  some are churches and some are not.  All of them though receive at least 50% or more of their traffic from Google.  For one website this is more than half of a million people/month that are finding this ministry thanks to Google. 

Do I have your attention?

So, how do you optimize your website for search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.)?  I don’t know.  Okay, that’s not completely true, but I wouldn’t trust anyone who tells you that they know how.  Google doesn’t give away their secret sauce to how their algorithms work, but we have learned over the years some proven techniques that work and don’t work when it comes to algorithms.  We know that there are significant factors like how many people clicked previous searches for that site, how long they stay on the site, and other similar information.

When it comes to optimizing your website, I can’t tell you everything that you need to know, but here are 3 steps that I think can help you move in the right direction:

1)   Develop a List (Keyword Analysis) – think about the top 20-30 keywords or phrases that you would want someone on the internet to search and find your church.  For instance: at Community Bible Church in San Antonio, TX here are a few phrases: San Antonio church, san Antonio youth, San Antonio kids choir, etc. 

2)   Search that List (Competitor Analysis) – simply start searching those terms in Google and see what pulls up.  Click the links to these sites and see what is unique about each and how they incorporated these terms into their site.

3)   Incorporate these terms into your website copy (Meta Tag & Site Content) – Read through your website and see how you might change the copy (text) on your website to incorporate these words (that’s how Google is searching after all).  Web page titles are extremely important, general site copy is very valuable and page tags are also helpful. 

After making these updates begin monitoring your website traffic and see what you find.  Know that it takes time (sometimes weeks) for Google to “Index” these site changes, so be patient.  After making these updates please let me know your results.  

If you have any questions or want help with SEO on your website please don’t hesitate to ask in the Comments or click the Contact link to contact me directly.