Your church’s website is the new front door. Most people who are searching for a church will do so online first. You can consistently connect with these people online and lead them to visit your local church by optimizing your website for search engines. Here are seven keys to optimizing your church’s website: Claim your local listings – The first thing you need to do is claim your church’s local listing. Here are the top three you want to start with: Google Bing Yahoo! This will provide your church website with two benefits. First, claiming your listing will let these search engines know how to display your information in search results. This will help people searching for local churches in your area to know about your church, such as your address, hours, and contact information. Second, these listings will provide your church with a local citation (information about your church), which is an important component to ranking in local church search results. Claim your church on local directories – The next step you want to take is to claim your church on local directories. The two you want to primarily focus on are Yelp and Citysearch. As with your local listings, this will help you to share the most up to date information about your church, provide a local citation, and help boost your ranking in search engines. Encourage reviews – Local reviews are key to increasing your ranking in local search results. This includes reviews on Google, Yelp, and elsewhere. But focus on getting reviews on Google at first. From asking people to leave a review, to placing a sign on your kiosk or window for people to see when leaving, there are several ways you can encourage your congregation and visitors to leave a review. Know the keywords people are using – Place yourself in the shoes of someone searching for a church in your town. In a search engine, what words will they use? What questions will they ask? What phrases come to mind? This first step is important. Take 30–60 minutes to think through these answers. Poll several mmembers of your congregation to get their opinion. Ask people on social media for their thoughts. Now, if you have analytics set up on your website, then look to see how people are getting to your website: What keywords are organically leading people to your website? Are other websites referring people to yours? Are social media channels leading people to visit your website? Next, to get additional ideas, you can use Google AdWords Keyword Planner to search for ideas. There are other tools you can use to conduct keyword research. But this free tool will help you to get started. With your list of keywords and keyword phrases in hand, identify the words and phrases you want to focus on. This will help you to direct your efforts and keep track of your progress. Let me emphasize this: Make sure you’re focusing on local searches to help boost your church’s website in local search rankings. A common keyword phrase many people use is “church + city/region” or “denomination + city/region.” Optimize your website with your keywords – The next step you need to take is to optimize your website with the keywords you selected above. From your homepage to the individual pages of your website, it’s important to optimize every single page. Here are several important onsite search engine optimization (SEO) to update: Title Tags Meta Description Page URL Content Alt-Text in Images Internal Linking For the content on your individual pages, look for natural ways to use H1 tags. Again, for a point of emphasis, it will be important to include your city/region as often and naturally as possible. If you use WordPress for your church’s content management system (CMS), then consider using these two plugins to help you optimize your individual pages: Yoast SEO All in One SEO Pack Embed a Google Map on your Contact Page – Embedding a Google Map with a marker of your local church is one among many helpful tactics. The best place to include this is on your Contact Page. To do this, all you need to do is search for your church in Google Maps, click SHARE, copy the code from Embed map, and paste it into your Contact Page. Include your local church name, address, and phone number – Include your local church name, address, and phone number on every page of your website. For this tactic, it’s important to use the same information and format as you do on local listings and local directories. One of the best locations to include this information is in the footer of your church’s website. This way it will appear at the bottom of every page. Your church’s website can be a great evangelistic tool. It’s a way you can digitally connect with people to lead them to meet you in person by visiting your worship service or to learn more about your church. Source: Dean Sweetman For more creative ways to reach people in your community, contact one of our Shelby Ministry Consultants today!