I was prompted to write this post about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) after a recent conversation with a church leader.

The conversation went something like this.

“We used to rank very highly on the first page of google searches in our city, but since we changed our name (from the city name to a non-geographic name) we’ve dropped way down into the following pages on Google.”

“Why is that Steve?”

I really felt for this guy. I mean complete and utter sympathy. One moment his church was easily found. The next minute it was lost deep in the search engine jungle and could only be found if you hacked through the deep undergrowth of search pages.

Another reason my I completely felt his pain was that he was being what leaders do of churches of that size are, effectively what I call a ‘Swiss Army Knife Leader’. A leader who because of the small size and budget of the church, has to have many functions and cover many roles, some of which like this one is so completely away from why he probably started in his vocation in the first place.

When he started Bible college I bet he wasn’t expecting to have to think about SEO!

Now if you’ve been subscribing to this blog for a while you probably know that I love social media and the potential it creates for churches to reach more people in the local community. (Read more here about what I think is the greatest tactical opportunity for churches right now on social media.)

But social is only part of the online story. It is a great way for your church to be seen by people as people engage with your leaders or official social presence.

But did you know that the majority of people will find your church website by using key search terms in a search engine?

When someone moves into your neighbourhood or city and they are looking for a new church to check out they will usually google churches.  At key times of the year when people are actually thinking about visiting a church they will be using terms like Easter or Christmas church services.

One of the most common terms is actually provided by Google and it’s called ‘churches near me’.

There are quite a few simple things you can do to help your church get noticed and move higher up in the search rankings. Here are a few ideas:

1.     Submit your church URL into Google. Read more here. There are also a few more SEO tips in the post too.

2.     Google Plus. Yes, Google plus is still alive and kicking. While it may not be an active social channel for you (or I) if you populate a Google Plus business page with photos, all the relevant service information that page will always rank higher than churches that don’t have one.

3.     Page speed load. I love what this blog has to say how the speed of your page loading will impact how high you may appear on Google search.

4.     Make sure your church Google maps details are up to date. Read more here

5.     Take 360 photos of your church and upload them into google maps. Love this idea Kenny! Read more here.

6.     Blog on your church website and mention the location and service times.

7.     Leverage Meta tags and title tags (read more here). Okay this is the geekyist tip of the lot, but it is still good.

8.     Have your full address on your church website landing page. Let the google search robots find your address on your page and add it to their results. Every little bit helps.

If you put some effort into taking on board these tactics then your church will definitely go up the Google search rankings.

Your turn

Have you mastered the art of Search Engine Optimisation for your church? I’d love to hear from you on how you got noticed. Do you have any questions about SEO for your church? Comment below.