Getting your church to appear on Google’s first page might not be as hard as you think.
Firstly, make sure your church website has been indexed by Google by typing site:yourdomain.com into Google’s search bar. If you see your website listed, that means your site has been indexed and will be occasionally visited by Google to check for updates.
If you can’t see any listings of your site, submit your website’s URL via Google Search Console. It will take approximately 1 to 2 weeks for Google to visit and index your site.
How Do You Come up at the Top of Google Search Results?
Generally speaking, there are two main ways to help you get your church on Google’s first page: Google Ads and organic rankings.
Google Ads is possibly the fastest way to getting on the first page (for a particular keyword). This paid advertising service allows you to run text-based, video, or local business ads on Google. While it’s easy to set up an account, you can waste money if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you aren’t particularly technically minded, consider hiring a professional.
Getting your church on the first page of Google organically means long-term optimization of factors such as content quality, page speed, and keywords. These factors are the ones that make or break first page rankings.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a great way for your church to gain visibility and reach out to prospective new church member.
Optimize Your Website
Is your church website fully optimized? Does your homepage clearly state who you are and what you do?
A great homepage photo (or a series of photos) might seem appealing, but Google expects lots of relevant words to properly index your site and help people find you.
While you should always think about your reader when creating content (whether it’s on your homepage or blog section), don’t forget about Google crawling your website. Include text on your homepage that accurately describes your church and purpose in great detail.
Make sure that all of your content is relevant and unique. All of your pages, posts, and images need to have meta titles and descriptions which utilize the right keywords.
Keywords are extremely important as they help users and Google understand the purpose of your website. There are many tools (e.g. Google Ads, SEMrush, Moz Keyword Explorer) that can help you discover key words and phrases relevant to your church and the content you wish to publish.
Get on Google Maps
Have you ever Googled something like “dentist” or “handyman services”? If you did, you probably also noticed a map of local businesses from Google Maps. This is also known as “local SEO”.
Google My Business (GMB) is a tool that allows you to manage your church appearance on Google Maps and Google search. Though you’re not a business, GMB is still a great way to ensure that your services show up in Google’s search results and Google Maps.
To get started, do a quick Google search of your ministry to check if any listings come up. It’s possible that Google is already listing your information, in which case you’ll have to claim ownership.
If no listings come up, go ahead and create one. To create a GMB listing for your church, log into your church’s Google account (or create a new one) and go to google.com/business. From there, the process is pretty straightforward: enter your church name, location, and phone number.
Once your GMB listing is all set, try to get some reviews. Feel free to ask your church staff, group leaders, and/or parishioners to leave a review on Google Maps.
Make Sure Your Website Is Responsive
Give your website a better chance to rank high by making sure it’s responsive. Google prioritizes sites that work well on mobile devices over the ones who don’t.
A responsive website provides a smooth and seamless user experience. As your church prospects (or members) switch from their laptops to their phones or tablets, the website should automatically switch and adapt to the screen size resolution.
To ensure that your visitors actually stay and engage on your website, keep the design simple and clear. Avoid oversaturating your mobile site with content and photos, as this might be overwhelming on a tiny mobile screen. Lastly, ensure that your pages load fast.
Start A Blog
Being consistent with content production is one of the best things you can do to rank higher and grow your church community. The more relevant and unique content, the better your chances of ranking on Google. Well-optimized content that connects with your readers also drastically improves a ministry’s visibility and exposure.
In addition to a well-optimized church website and great content, it is also important that your pages and posts are formatted properly. The formatting of your pages tell Google all the important information. You have a number of heading options on your website (H1, H2, H3, etc.) Try to use these headings in a descending order and incorporate your keywords in moderation.
Authority is an important SEO factor. Building links with trustworthy and relevant sites can help to ensure that Google will see your content as credible, rank it higher, and help you reach out to prospective church members.
There are a number of strategies to get your link building started. You can link to helpful resources yourself, and even ask local businesses, newspapers, and church members who maintain blogs to write about your church and add a link to your site.
Ultimately, SEO provides many direct benefits to churches. Ranking well on Google can help your church grow, as well as keep your community engaged and involved. What’s more, it can increase the awareness of your mission and reach out to new church prospects, volunteers, and donor.