Populating your site with quality content is only a small piece of running a website that drives users to find out more about you and your ministry and to create a lasting relationship.
Making sure that both users and search engines can find your content online is extremely important. If search engines such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo, can’t find your content or easily read it, chances are anyone who is looking for your content through a search engine (which would be most people) won’t find it either.
Here at Worship Times we can teach you some quick search engine optimization best practices, work side-by-side with you each month to help you optimize your entire site, generate monthly reports about your site’s traffic, and all of our customers are set up with local search engine optimization and basic search engine optimization from day one.
Aren’t sure what search engine optimization is? That’s okay! Let me give you a quick rundown, share some best practices, and show you how to do a quick audit of your own website. Let’s get started!
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice to increase the number of organic visits and the quality of the traffic to your website by ranking higher in the search results of major search engines. “Organic visits” means that you are not paying to be ranked higher on search engine results, and the quality of your traffic refers to the idea that real people are taking the time to visit your site.
How SEO is Different than an Ad
Most people – when using any major search engine – often do not look very far down the list of results. This is why it is incredibly important to make sure your ministry appears as one of the first results on the page, and that the information is accurate.
Now, one might ask, “why can’t I just pay for ad space to be ranked higher?” That is an option, however, that process can quickly become expensive and once you no longer want to pay for ad space your visibility disappears and you are replaced by a site with better SEO (not to mention they are not paying for that space).
Additional Benefits of Great SEO
SEO itself also helps to better the experience of your visitors, optimize your site for searching through content, and can help to organize and increase the speed at which you site functions.
Many people tend to avoid SEO because there is a misconception that it only helps with being ranked higher on search results. In reality, the steps to better your site’s SEO align with a variety of best practices for website maintenance. Practices to increase a site’s SEO can be as basic or as advanced as you want them to be. Chances are you are already doing some great basic things for your site’s SEO, and here at Worship Times we can further assist your SEO goals however large or small they might be.
5 SEO Best Practices
Below are 5 things you can start doing with your website today to increase your site’s SEO:
- Consistent and Clean Page Layouts: One of the easiest things that you can start doing today is to keep your site’s pages organized and formatted in a consistent manner that makes reading content easy. A good practice to get into is to split page content into headings and subheadings. This helps search engines get an idea of the content and keywords on the page, and it helps users to quickly scan for what they are looking for.
- Quality Content that is Linkable: More than anything, quality, accurate, and trustworthy content for the end user is incredibly important. Being able to link you content – meaning there is a single link that one person can send to another person – helps your site’s SEO as the search engine can provide the searcher with a direct link to the information they are looking for. Making sure your URLs are short, yet descriptive go hand-in-hand with this idea. Finally, linking to other pieces of information on your site, and having other reliable sources link to your website increases your SEO. Having other websites include links to your website increases your site’s trustworthiness as another site finds your information reliable enough to share with their own viewers.
- Categories, Tags, and Keywords: Organizing your content in an efficient manner is another very important step. This starts with categorizing pages and posts, tagging content with target words, and including keywords on posts and pages for search engines to track to help people find your information. Categorizing and tagging is easier to start with. Specific categories and tags are best to help search engines and users separate content into more manageable chunks to search through. Selecting keywords can be trickier, because if poor keywords are selected, they can bring the wrong audience to your site. Here at Worship Times we can assist you in selecting keywords and phrases for your content to bring in the intended audience you are targeting.
- Dynamic, Fast, and Reliable Website: A website that is both fast and secure is becoming more important than ever. Making sure images and content load quickly on any device, that your website is responsive and looks great on mobile devices, and making sure your website is secure from malicious threats will increase your site’s SEO. Humans – and search engines – don’t like waiting for content to load nor are they likely to recommend a site that has security issues. This step can involve a lot of different solutions from obtaining an SSL, a responsive theme, a storage solution like Amazon S3, and more. As a client of Worship Times we will take care of this step for you. All of our sites are secure, and we will optimize media to make sure it loads promptly, and efficiently on all devices.
- Local SEO: Local SEO refers to searches that have geolocation phrases such as “near me” or “in southeastern Minnesota” within a search. If someone is visiting a town and Google searches for “churches near me” you want your ministry to appear with an accurate name, location, link to your website, phone number, and business hours. At Worship Times, all of our websites use industry standard tools to make sure all of your ministry’s information is up-to-date AND easy to update when it needs to be changed. If you are looking to make sure your Local SEO is up-to-date we recommend Yoast’s Local SEO plugin and creating a Google My Business account to be able to manage this information.
Conduct an SEO Audit
Now that you are aware of some best practices to get started with, go and take a look at your own website:
- Google your ministry’s name and examine the accuracy of the content that results from the search. How high up on the list of search results is it?
- Try a search with “ministries near (enter your location).” Does your church appear high on the list of results? Is the information accurate and complete?
- View your website on both a desktop and mobile device. How does it look? Does your website still function as intended?
- Is content easy to ready across your site?
- Try searching for several specific pieces of information. Are they easy to find?
These are just some small steps to examine where your website needs the most help. Below are just a few additional sources of information, if you want to continue to further your SEO knowledge base.
- The Beginner’s Guide to SEO by Moz
- The beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO by Yoast
Here at Worship Times, we implement SEO best practices in each and every one of our projects. We realize that the process to increase your site’s SEO can be a long, tedious, and confusing task.
We can give your site a thorough SEO audit and work with you each month to examine how you can continue to increase your site’s SEO and how our team with years of experience can assist and guide you along the way.
Whether it be helping you create a new site that implements SEO best practices from the very beginning, or working with you and your existing site to better optimize your search engine visibility, let us help you today!