One of the most common statements I hear from ministry leaders is that people in their communities don’t seem to know they exist. For the majority of people, the first way to find information is through Google or Facebook.
While we’d all prefer face-to-face invitations, leveraging SEO is the best way to reach a large group with accurate information. Your communication strategy must include digital marketing.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. With millions of websites, SEO is necessary to ensure search engines accurately understand the context of your website content. Churches and nonprofit organizations incorporating SEO into each piece of digital content will improve organic reach with their target audience. SEO includes on-page, technical and off-page techniques.
Tips for Churches Using On-page SEO
Optimizing your website will help search engines understand when to present your website link to someone searching for information. For example, when someone searches “church near me” or “nonprofit near me,” your website should appear for the correct search.
The best way to optimize your website pages is using an SEO plugin such as Yoast or RankMath. Both platforms will walk you step-by-step through optimizations.
Optimize the Homepage for SEO
Using your SEO plugin, you want to create a title tag and meta description that includes your name and the areas you serve. Using a tool such as Mangools, you can ensure you make a clear title tag and meta description that includes relevant terms your target audience is using.
Consider this example:
If someone in Chicago searches “non-denominational church” or “Chicago youth group,” this church should become one of the options.
Do Local SEO Keyword Research
You may wonder how to know which keywords to use. This is where social listening becomes your best tool. What are the questions people are asking on Facebook about organizations like yours? Are people asking where the best place to donate items is? Are people searching for ways to volunteer? If your organization has a food pantry and needs volunteers, a properly optimized web page will connect you with people searching for ways to help.
Write About Local Stories & Events with Blog Posts
While it may feel like bragging, it’s important to remember that people are looking for more information about you! So one way to write about an amazing week at Vacation Bible School without “bragging” is by asking a volunteer to submit a story about their experience.
Leave out the “number of souls saved” stats and instead focus on how your community enjoyed time throughout the week. For example, did you have an epic water balloon fight on a hot day? Make sure you post photos that express the joy.
Optimize Each Page for On-Page SEO
In addition to using your SEO plugin for title and meta optimization, it’s important to ensure each page uses on-page SEO best practices.
- Add a clear title that explains the content
- Add headers
- Add internal links
- Add images
Create an Excellent Contact Page
One of the best ways to help people in your community realize you exist is by making sure your website contact page is accurate. Add your NAP (name, address, and phone number) to your website’s footer and contact page. Every company you work with will review your contact page to confirm your legitimacy. Make sure the details are correct and up to date. Go above and beyond with technical SEO and add location schema to the page.
Off-page SEO for Churches
Now that you have an optimized contact page, you can help people find you through commonly used apps and search engines.
- Create and optimize your Google Business Profile (GBP)
- Your Google Business Profile, formerly Google My Business, connects to Google Maps. While Google creates company profiles, they don’t always include accurate information. If your location used to be a warehouse, your church may be categorized as such rather than a place of worship.
- Owning and optimizing your GBP is the best way to ensure your address is correct across all external digital links.
- A fully optimized GBP can include worship service times, upcoming events, video content, and more.
- Create a Bing Places Profile
- You can sync your GBP and Bing pages when you set up the pages in the correct order. First Google, then Bing
- Create a Yahoo Profile
- Yahoo profiles aren’t as easy to establish as the previous two. However, it’s still worth a try. Learn more here.
- Create an Apple Maps Listing
- Apple uses an independent system for maps. Therefore, to ensure your information is accurate, you need to take the additional step of creating a listing for Apple.
- Create a Nextdoor App Business Listing
- Get Listed On TripAdvisor
- Submit an SEO Listing to ChurchFinder
- Church directories such as church finder a popular with people moving to new communities. Don’t overlook this free off-page SEO opportunity.
While setting up external listings may seem like a hassle, this is a vital part of SEO for churches and nonprofits. Each listing adds an additional opportunity for someone to find you and increases your website’s authority.
Spend Time on Special Events Promotion
SEO is about increasing visibility. Whenever you have a special event, you can tell people you exist. Here are a few ways to promote events online:
- Create Eventbrite Promotions
- Create Facebook Events
- Leverage Your Email List
How Do I Know My Efforts Are Working?
Connect your website to Google Analytics and Search Console to track where your potential visitors find your information and the keywords they use to find you. Your GBP will also offer insights about the keywords for churches in your area.
Whether you’re looking to increase your organic traffic or ensure people in your congregation stay up to date with current events and activities, Church SEO is important to increase visibility in search engine results.
Are you ready to increase your visibility online? Do you think your church or nonprofit would benefit from an SEO consultation? Contact me to learn more.