SEO for Church Websites

by Eric Peters July 8th, 2011 

Church SEO - Church Pews

Before any website can be useful, it must findable. A church website is no different in that respect.

Most people use search engines to find everything. even if they know the domain name. They enter the domain name into Google instead of typing the domain in the address bar. This is why search engine optimization is important to all websites, including church websites.

This post will go through some basic church website search engine optimization.

Types of Visitors

There are two types of visitors that will visit a church website.

  1. Members of the church, or people invited by members of the church. They search for the name of the church.
  2. People who are looking for a new church in the area. Their search terms will look like city state church. They may also search for the denomination city state.

Since there are two types of visitors a church is interested in optimizing for, the SEO strategy is quite easy.

SEO Keywords

The keywords to optimize for are city, state, name of church, and the denomination. If the church does not have the word church in it, put it in the title. Just like normal SEO you will want to put these words in the following places:

  • Page Title
  • h1, h2 … etc
  • image alts
  • bold words

Local Search

To make sure you are findable when someone does a local search for churches, submit your site to the following:

Most of these sites will automatically crawl your webpage. However it is a good idea to submit them yourself, so that the information they have is accurate.

Links

To start to get links to your site, submit your website to online church directories. There are many of them. They can be found by just searching for "church directory" in Google. This can take some time, but it is worth the effort to have accurate information about your church online in many places.

Depending on your denomination, there are probably specific directories for your denomination too. Some have a national, state, and local chapter. So make sure that your church website is listed on all those sites.

Another way to get links is to leverage your members. Many of your members probably have websites, ask them to put a link up on their website. Make sure that you do not push people to do it. Just ask, and say if people do not want to, no big deal.

Content

Just like with any website, content is king.

Make sure you have a list with descriptions of all your missions inside the church. This helps the search engines, and helps people who are evaluating the church get an accurate feel of what the church stands for.

A blog written by your pastor can be helpful, but I sometimes suggest against it. The problem is that the internet is littered with abandoned blogs; pastor blogs are no different. It is better to have no blog, than one that is never updated. If the pastor will actually faithfully update the blog, it is a great idea.

Have your service times and location on the homepage of your site. It is incredibly frustrating to try and visit a church when you can't find the location or the times…

Conclusion

Since the types of visitors to your church website are more predictable, church website SEO is easier than regular SEO.

If you have any more thoughts on church SEO, please use the comments.

Eric Peters

Eric helps churches and ministries use technology to reach people for the Gospel. Follow him at his blog.

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2 Responses to “SEO for Church Websites”

  1. Tim Wesson says:

    Eric,

    Any stats/surveys on what new visitors are looking for when they search on a church? For example, are they looking for worship times? Location?

    If so, why do so many churches put 'Office Hours', 'Church History' or 'Committee Reports' above the fold? As a visitor, this would turn me off as it suggests the church is too self-absorbed to welcome outsiders.

    Best, Tim

    • Eric Peters says:

      Hey Tim,

      Good Questions.

      I have not been able to find an stats on the subject. Most of these things come from anecdotal evidence of when I have been looking for a church, and what others have said as well when they are looking. Worship times and location are important because any piece of marketing needs a call to action, the call to action is to visit the church.

      'Office Hours', 'Church History', and 'Committee Reports' are not bad to have on a website. However, if those things are easy to find, and I can not find out how to visit the church, I will pull my hair out.