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SEO Primer (Part 2): Basic SEO tips for churches

Jason Dailey October 9, 2013

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Defining SEO

In Part 1, we laid a foundation for your new experience with SEO by covering the basics of internet search engines, spiders, and Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Now that you understand those terms, it’s time to prepare to actually do SEO. And that’s where the waters of this topic get much deeper. But first, let’s wade into the shallows with a simple definition of SEO that’s relevant to your church’s internet mission: SEO is any number of tactics used by your church to improve its website’s SERP ranking.

Improving your church website’s SERP ranking helps the website to be found. Helping the website to be found then drives “traffic” (visitors) to the website. Driving traffic to the website then helps increase the likelihood that some of those website visitors will become actual church visitors. Church visitors can then become church members.  Do you see the flow? These days, the importance of a church website to the growth of a church can’t be overestimated. Check out these statistics provided by Church Tech Today.

A Reality Check About SEO

Those statistics justify the importance of your church embracing at least some kind of commitment to SEO. But, where do you start? This two-part blog can be a good place for your church to start if it’s completely new to SEO. Being a primer, it’s intended to be just that – a place where you can gain an introductory understanding of SEO from which to launch into your own intermediate and advanced studies on the subject.

Before continuing, you need to realize that gaining a prime position on the SERPs takes time and diligent efforts. Even then, there aren’t always guarantees of the highest success. The territory is extremely competitive, and not everyone plays fair. Nevertheless, with just a quick internet search, you can find a multitude of church SEO success stories. Bearing in mind the purpose of your church’s internet mission, I believe you’ll find SEO efforts well worth the investment too.

Start Creating an SEO Plan

SEO Plan

As you move beyond the shallows and transition into the deeper waters of exploring SEO, it’s important that your church creates an SEO plan. Expending efforts for SEO without a plan is a waste of time. So, the more organized that your church is with its SEO efforts, the more successful those efforts are likely to be. The simplicity or complexity of the plan is entirely up to the church. Even writing down a few general goals and ideas is better than nothing, and it can provide a planning foundation to build upon as you learn more over time.

 

With your plan, think about things such as who will be involved in the SEO research and implementation efforts as well as how much time and money might be spent. For example, SEO research can possibly yield results that recommend extensive revisions to the structure and content of your church’s website. That’s just one possible way that your church’s commitment to SEO can be tested early on. So, a plan is important.

A Few SEO Tips To Consider

At this early stage, it’s a good idea to examine some well-known tactics commonly used for driving traffic to church websites. So, let’s learn a few fundamental SEO tactics given in the form of tips to help your church get the creative ideas flowing and be equipped to make informed decisions regarding its creation of an SEO plan.

First of all, think for a minute what I’m doing with this blog. From my personal perspective, I’m intending to help your church start learning about SEO. In doing so, I intend to provide useful information to you – the reader. In writing to you about SEO, at least some of the success with my intentions is directly related to my concern for my reading audience and my personal interest in what I’m writing about. I’m referring here to the attitudes and motives underlying my own SEO-related aims with this blog. Here’s where I want to encourage you to always keep your church’s internet mission at the forefront with your SEO efforts.

SEO Tip #1Build your church’s SEO plan on your church’s commitment to its internet mission.  

I care about providing useful information to people, and one way that I can maximize the usefulness of what I’m writing about is to do my homework. With this blog, my homework involved a significant amount of time researching the topic of SEO. That’s one way of ensuring that my readers receive useful information. My blog about SEO can’t be useful if it’s not technically accurate and presented in a way that readers can make practical use of. In other words, the content must be valuable. Your church has multiple ways to provide valuable content to its website visitors such as blogs, video resources, and audio resources.

SEO Tip #2Make the efforts to provide valuable content.

Speaking of valuable content, let’s talk about sharing valuable resources. This can be done through providing links to other websites. Remember, the spiders crawling your church’s website aren’t just looking at words – they’re following the website links contained in the website. Those spiders even have ways of checking how reputable the websites are on the other side of those links. And those results can affect the SERP ratings for better or worse.  There’s a lot of great information on the internet, but there’s also a lot of junk too. Use links to other sites, but take the time to do your homework and ensure their reputations are solid.

On the internet, enormous volumes of information are constantly flowing. As your church generously shares links to other websites, mutually beneficial relationships can develop where your church can become linked from other websites. But, in those pursuits, don’t lose sight of SEO Tips #1 and #2 that affirm the importance of reaching people according to your church’s internet mission while providing valuable information to them.

SEO Tip #3Make the efforts to provide reputable links.

What kinds of services and outreach efforts does your church provide? Especially if your church seeks to reach and draw in people with specific needs, a vital area of its SEO efforts will rely on a strategic use of keywords. In the discussion of SEO, the subject of keywords stands tall among most of the other issues. When people perform internet searches, they type some form of keyword sequence into the search box. It could be one word or a short series of words.

Think about the people who are the primary focus of your church’s internet mission and what words they might use in an internet search to find your church – I mean people who don’t know the name of the church but are in search of the specific ministries that your church has to offer.

With that thought in mind, you can quickly realize the importance of keyword research for your church’s website. Such research can help your church learn more about the people it wants to reach via the internet and how to better reach them. Armed with that knowledge, your church website can then focus on providing more of the content that its internet audience desires. To them, that’s providing value.

Where Do You Go From Here?

The first two SEO tips have more to do with how your church’s website interacts with its visitors, and the third tip has more to do with how your church’s website interacts with internet search engines for the benefit of your intended audience. There are multiple tactics and perspectives on SEO, and as you research the subject you’ll often encounter them in the form of opinions on how SEO should be done. If your church takes the time to do its homework and develop a plan, implementing SEO can yield an enormous amount of success to your church’s internet mission.

Here’s a couple of sources to help you start digging deeper with your SEO research while keeping up with current church technology trends:

http://churchm.ag/web/seo-search/
http://churchtechtoday.com/

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