You may not have thought your church needs to take advantage of all the internet has to offer in order to advertise it, but never doubt the powers of the online world. Think about all the churches in the world, and then think about how many churches there are in your general area. That is a lot of churches — and they are all your competition.
Local search engine optimization is how you are going to reach out to people searching for a new spiritual home. Say someone just moved to the area. They are most likely going to do a quick Google search on “churches near me,” so it is important for you to harness the powers of search engine optimization for churches.
Local search engine optimization contains a lot of little moving pieces that work together, but don’t worry if you don’t know where to start or what search engine optimization even is. In this article we will discuss what local SEO is, why local SEO is important for churches, and how to utilize local SEO to help your church succeed.
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Local SEO for Churches
Local search engine optimization, or SEO, for churches is the process of improving the quality and quantity of website traffic to your church’s website from a search engine result page. SEO targets organic search results rather than paid search results.
Local SEO is an excellent marketing strategy for churches because it adds a location-based targeting to the marketing techniques. So, instead of marketing internationally, nationally, or even state-wide, you are focusing on targeting a local audience within a set of physical and geographical boundaries. This makes the most sense for a church because people are not going to travel long distances to go to church.
For example, someone may search “church near me” or “churches in Portland near me.” Those keywords tag it as a local search with physical, geographical boundaries. So, a church in Salem does not appear on the search result page for a search query for a church in Portland. It will also help advertise to people looking for services a church may offer, like weddings, funerals, marriage counseling, food banks, bible school, scholarships, and more.
Maybe you noticed the number of churchgoers dwindling at your location or a new church just opened nearby and yours could use more parishioners. Local SEO for churches is a great tool to help you raise the number of attendees and get people to choose your church over the competition.
Why Local SEO is Important for Churches
So, now that we have explained what local search engine optimization is exactly, you are probably wondering why you need it and what its benefits are for your church. Churches are mostly funded through donations and other community-based programs, so if the number of churchgoers are dwindling, it’s imperative to increase your local SEO efforts if you are based in an area where there is other competition.
With local SEO for churches, you can bring better online leads to your churches with the use of marketing techniques by increasing credibility, visibility, traffic, branding, and reputation. This may not sound like much, but we promise it will make a world of difference when standing out from other churches in the area. Since the invention of the Internet, our lives and businesses are becoming increasingly ever present online, so it is crucial to understand how to take advantage of that to become the church people want to go to every week.
Here are the top reasons why you should use local SEO to aid in promoting your church and its services online:
One of the biggest, if not the biggest, ways local SEO will help market your church is increasing your website visibility. This means potential churchgoers can locate you easily on the internet if your church is listed under the first three results on Google, called Google’s local 3-pack. If you are listed under the local pack, your church will be one of the first ones a churchgoer sees.
Credibility & Reliability
Just like your church credibility, your website credibility matters. People are more likely to visit your establishment if you have a website that is higher up on the search engine result page because it contributes to your credibility, reliability, and authority. A potential churchgoer is more likely to click on your church’s website as a result even if they have never heard of your church or know what the church has to offer. A vote of confidence can be linked directly to Google’s website rankings.
Incorporating local SEO for churches to your marketing plan means you are focusing primarily on organic search results, not paid search results. This means you are saving money! You can spend less money on acquiring new churchgoers and invest those extra funds into some other aspect of your church. This is because other forms of advertising are much more expensive than the SEO techniques we will show you later.
Also, with local SEO, it means a churchgoer is already looking for a church or the services a church may offer, so there are no resources wasted. The customer is doing the hard work of searching for a church; you just have to present yourself to them.
How to Use Local SEO to Market Your Church
Let us divide local SEO for churches into two sections: on-page factors and off-page factors.
On-page SEO refers to anything you control on your website. This includes:
- Keywords in your content, URLs, page titles, and headings
- Adding alt-tags to images
- Improving the web development of your church’s website
- Incorporating responsive web design into the website
- Including original and updated content
Off-page SEO includes:
- Link building
- Social media
- Directory submissions
- Local SEO
- Reputation management
Off-page SEO is just as important as on-page local SEO because it tells the search engines your website contains quality content and is relevant to the search query. More positive off-page local SEO factors means Google marks your church’s website as having a good, reliable reputation and will show your website to more people.
Remember, integrating local SEO does not happen overnight. It takes time, effort, and careful consideration of the options available to you. Here are seven local SEO tips to take into consideration when working to improve your local SEO strategy for your church:
Keywords are a small but integral part of setting the foundation for your local SEO strategy. Keywords are important because when Google sends its web crawlers to comb through websites that relate to a user’s search query, it will look for these keywords in your church’s website content or Google My Business profile. If it contains a keyword, Google will tag it and index it, and present it to the user on the search engine result page. The more keywords that match the search query, the higher up Google will display your website.
A good place to start is with keyword research and identifying the phrases and words people will use to find your church online.
Once you have those keywords chosen, you can incorporate them throughout your church’s website’s pages in the titles, meta descriptions, headings, and body paragraphs.
Web Design and Development
A large part of creating a reliable and trustworthy website is making sure the user experience is just as great as the services you offer in your church. That means your website should be responsive, easy to use and load within a couple of seconds. Any longer than that and a potential churchgoer is going to click away because no one wants to wait that long just for a page to load. Also, make sure your website is optimized for mobile. When people conduct a local Google search, more often than not, they are doing it on their phone. If your website is not optimized for mobile, the layout will be wrong and the user experience won’t be great.
It is also important to make the website for your church is appealing to the eye. Pick a cohesive color scheme. If your church has a particular symbol or phrase it uses to identify itself, include that somewhere in the website near the top. Optimize the layout of your menu and make sure there are multiple pages, not just one big page with everything on it. Remember, every page on your website has the opportunity to rank individually on the search engine result page, so utilize each one for specific long-tail keywords.
For example, instead of optimizing your entire website for, “church near me Portland,” you can identify what each particular page is about, whether that be sacraments the church offers, information about bible school, or ways to get involved. Limit each page to only a couple keywords so you get the best chance of ranking for several different search queries.
Once you have a list of keywords that will help with your local SEO efforts for your church, you can starting creating or improving content on your church website. Make sure to incorporate the keywords in the content. Content could include any of the following:
- Blog posts
- Photos and videos with captions
Or anything else you think is appropriate to include, but be sure it is relevant to your church. Since the explosion of podcasts in the entertainment world, many churches are embracing the idea of a podcast as a way to publish services they record — mostly sermons. This definitely adds power to your local SEO efforts and you get the chance to appeal to an entirely new audience!
Just remember when you are creating content that quality is better than quantity. It is very easy to just pump out a ton of new content but it may not be that engaging to churchgoers. It’s a good idea to take a minute to think of new content ideas that are a little different than one might expect coming from a church. You’d surprise yourself in what you can come up with!
Original content is also important because it sets you apart from other churches in the area. You want people to recognize your church’s name and logo because you posted something exclusive to the church. Bringing a new perspective or new information to your content will allow you to be much more successful in catching the reader’s attention.
Link building is the practice of earning links that lead to your website from other websites, which are called backlinks. Backlinks are one of the top factors Google looks at when ranking sites on the search engine result page because they act as a vote of confidence from other sites to yours. For example, a link from a well-known local news outlet will carry more weight in terms of local SEO than a link from someone’s personal blog.
You can find backlinks to include in your church’s website by searching for sites that discuss similar topics as your church. Then, email someone who writes for that site, give them the link your website, and ask them to link your site next time they publish a writing for the site. When they publish the post that includes your link, you will receive a new link that also directs website traffic to your site from theirs. It’s easy and free advertising!
Church SEO at SEO Design Chicago
Yes, that was a lot of information about local SEO all at once! Your time may be better spent at your church interacting with the congregation or organizing church events. That’s why you should consider SEO Design Chicago ‘s church marketing services! SEO Design Chicago has worked with many church clients throughout Chicago and across the country, providing advertising and consulting services as well as digital strategy. If you are struggling to figure out where to start or do not have the time to implement local SEO into your marketing plan for your church, don’t be afraid to message SEO Design Chicago — we will help you succeed in gaining more members for your congregation through local SEO efforts!
Whether you are based in Portland, Los Angeles, or Miami, SEO Design Chicago is here to aid you in your digital marketing efforts.
- What is content creation for churches?
- What is local SEO for churches?
- Why is local SEO important for churches?
- What are keywords for churches?
- How can I use local SEO to market my church?