SEO is a scary acronym.
Everyone seems to be talking about SEO, and it sounds important, but how does it fit in with your church? Isn’t having a website enough?
Not anymore—now, your website must be optimized for search engines. It sounds like a time-consuming, expensive process, but improving your church website’s SEO is actually pretty easy.
First, a little SEO crash course: search engine optimization (SEO) is basically what allows search engines (like Google or Yahoo!) to find your website and determine where it falls in the search list (are you the first link or are you on the tenth page of results?). A large number of factors play into SEO: website code, the URL, integrated media, text, and much more. Based on these critera, the search engine will decide where your website will fall in the list of results.
While SEO might sound a little like luck of the draw, it’s actually a very calculated science. And while there are a number of ways to boost your church’s SEO, one of the easiest (and cheapest) ways is to edit the copy (or text) on your website. All you need are a few basic tips, and your site’s SEO will instantly improve:
Identify your market
Before actually editing your website text, you have to determine your market. In other words, who is going to be searching for your site? Most likely, your website will be geared toward people who are looking for a new church.
After you identify who your target “audience” is, think about what they’ll be searching for—literally. What will they type into the text box on Google? “Lutheran churches in St. Louis” or perhaps “Mega churches in San Antonio” or maybe even “Contemporary worship in Denver.” Make a list of search criteria that fits your church.
This tip might sound silly, but repeating consistent words and phrases on your website is one of the easiest ways to boost your SEO. After you’ve identified the search words and phrases that people will be looking for, be sure to include those in your site. Make sure these words are utilized in headers and body text.
Don’t overdo it, though—you don’t need to say your denomination name in every sentence. While you want to include those key phrases on your site, the quality of the writing is more important to your visitors than the quantity of keywords. Just remember: write for the end user and use the same words they would use.
Links, links, links
Hyperlinks (clickable text that takes you to another web page or website) boost your church’s SEO as well. Link to outside resources, such as your denomination’s website or local community partners, but also provide links to other pages on your site. For example, if you briefly mention your church’s beliefs on your homepage, provide a link to your “What We Believe” page in the text. If you have a page dedicated to new visitors, link to that from the homepage as well.
Different words in different places
You might not think about the different types of text on your website, but there are actually a variety of places for text: the heading, headers, body text, footer, sidebar, etc. Make sure the words and phrases in those places coincide with the criteria your visitors will be searching for. Your title should obviously feature your church’s name, but in your header, feature a word or phrase someone might be searching for. Repeat those phrases in your body text. Remember, don’t overdo it. Think quality rather than quantity.
With these few helpful tips, your church website’s SEO can easily be improved. You don’t need a knowledge of HTML or website development to boost your SEO, although it certainly helps. Simply editing your website text will allow visitors to find your site more easily.
A church or pastoral blog is another great way to boost SEO for your church website. Not sure how that works? Download our free ebook Why Pastors Should Blog to learn more!