How To Start With Search Engine Optimization

  • By Justin Nava
  • 05 Sep, 2017

For Your Church Website

learning cursive was hard but church website seo doesn't have to be
Remember when you first learned to write cursive? How you had to trace the lines on the HUGE margin paper? I always thought, “why does the Q look like a 2?”

I remember fighting to learn cursive in the 3rd grade. I did think it was cool to learn how to write like my dad. But I had just spent 2 years learning how to write things with the “normal” alphabet...and now I had to relearn it all over again? No thank you.

But despite my 9 year old rebellion, I learned how to connect the letters and write like a big boy. Was it worth it? I don’t think so...the only times I write in cursive now is the once a month check for my rent.

But what I have for you today is WAY more valuable than cursive.
church website seo is like learning cursive

Search Engine Optimization: The Cursive of Web Design

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is not an attractive topic. It’s boring, like learning cursive. But when you take the time to learn SEO you start to accomplish your website goals in a whole new way. It’s way more valuable than cursive (in my opinion).

So what is SEO?
church website seo
Basically, SEO is making changes to your website to increase your visibility in Google. This process can take many forms:
Yes, that’s a lot! But just like when you were little and had to practice cursive one letter at a time, one word at a time, you can learn SEO just as well. All you need is some time, patience, and a good teacher.

Here are 3 ways to get started with your own church website’s SEO. These items are basic tactics to become easier to find and stand out from others in Google.

Implementing these are just a start...like when you just learned to write the letters A, B, and C in cursive. You can’t write an essay with just the letters A, B, and C...but it is a great start and a foundation for things to come.

These 3 SEO tactics will give you a big bang for your buck. They’ll help Google learn more about your website, who you’re trying to reach, and in return your website will look better and get more clicks when people search for a church in your town.

So you can follow along in your own website platform, here are the articles that layout how to edit your SEO settings per platform:

Church Marketing School Websites
Squarespace
Wix
Weebly
Wordpress Plugin : Yoast SEO

Let’s get to it!

Page Titles

The Page Title, or Title Tag, is exactly what it sounds like. It’s what your page is called. If it were a book, the Page Title is the cover.

So what do most church websites use for their page titles?

  • Home
  • AWANA
  • Contact Us
  • Sermons

Sounds pretty vanilla right? So why do we want to change the page titles?

Page titles are what display in the Google search results. For example if I search “church in Dallas TX” I get this:
church website seo titles
Judging the title alone, which church would you rather go to? More importantly, which do you think a church visitor would go to?

Gateway church, right? They utilize their Page Title to speak into the potential visitor and tell them about the church...even before they get the click.

Here’s a Title tag checklist I like to follow from Search Engine Watch:
church website seo title checklist from search engine watch
So, here are some ideas for some church website pages to get you started:

  • Messages of Hope | Sermons | Vertical Community Church 
  • Edinburg Children’s Fall Activities | Vertical Community Church
  • You Are Not Alone | Military Spouse Support | Vertical Community Church 

These titles give a more descriptive name for each page and will also rank for more keywords (see below) when people search for more than just “church stuff.”

Meta Descriptions

So now the “Googler” knows who you are from a descriptive title. Let’s turn to the meta description.

Meta description is a fancy term for the 157 characters that appear underneath your title in Google.
church website seo meta description example
It’s best to use words that compel in your meta description. Words like:

  • Discover
  • Find out
  • Learn
You also want to use keywords that you think people will be searching for (we're getting to that next). Whenever your meta description has words that match what someone searched they show up bolded.

I live in Edinburg, TX. People in my town are searching, “church in Edinburg, TX.” So I want to make sure I have at least “church” and “Edinburg” in my meta description.

When you go into pages beyond the homepage, think about how people will be searching for that info. Another example is the popular AWANA kids program. People might search, “fall kids program” or “after school activity.” So you want to include those words in your meta description.

You also want to avoid duplicating meta descriptions. Google may penalize your ranking because of this.

Write unique descriptions for each page. If you have 2 pages that you can’t come up with different descriptions, chances are you may not need 2 separate pages. Combine them into one.

Here are some examples of great meta descriptions using what’s covered here:
church website seo meta description example homepage
church website seo meta description example childrens ministry
church website seo meta description example spouse support

Keywords

Think of keywords as the words people use to find things. If I’m looking for a restaurant in San Francisco, I would search “San Francisco Restaurants.”

Or if I was searching for a way to calm my 4 year old with ADHD, I might search, “Calm 4 year old ADHD”

These are all keywords. It’s just the stuff people type into Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.

Here’s another definition of keywords from Moz :
moz keywords definition
Basically, you want to choose a few keywords that people are searching in your area and insert those keywords into your website.

You don’t STUFF them wherever you can, but work them into your text, preferably into the H1 titles of pages and in the first 100 words.

So how do you know what keywords to use?

This is where a little bit of research has to come into play. Go to the Google Keyword Planner , sign up for a free account, and click on the first option, “Search for new keywords.”

What we’re doing here is just taking one generic search, and use it to see what other searches people are making. Most church-lookers are typing in, “churches in CITY, STATE”

So start with that. Type in “Churches in” followed by your city and state.

I started with, “Churches in Dallas Tx” and these are some of the results:
church website seo keyword research results
So from here, I can see that a lot of people who are searching for churches are also using the terms “best, area, Christian,” and even, “bible study.” So I would definitely try to include these terms in your website copy.

Conclusion

These 3 simple steps will get you started on your SEO journey to the front-page of Google.

It’s about as fun as learning cursive, but trust me, this is way more valuable in this day and age.

It takes time to plan out what unique titles and meta descriptions you’ll want to use for your web pages. It will be worth it to get better attention in search results which will lead to more clicks, and hopefully, more visitors.

So get to it! Start with just your homepage. Fix the title, meta description, and find out what keywords people are searching using the tips above.

Then go to the next steps/plan a visit page, then the ministries, and so on. Even just pursuing one page a week, you’ll have your whole website done in just a few months.

What page titles and meta descriptions are you planning to use? What other SEO questions do you have? Leave a comment below!
church website seo quick start guide

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Remember when you first learned to write cursive? How you had to trace the lines on the HUGE margin paper? I always thought, “why does the Q look like a 2?”

I remember fighting to learn cursive in the 3rd grade. I did think it was cool to learn how to write like my dad. But I had just spent 2 years learning how to write things with the “normal” alphabet...and now I had to relearn it all over again? No thank you.

But despite my 9 year old rebellion, I learned how to connect the letters and write like a big boy. Was it worth it? I don’t think so...the only times I write in cursive now is the once a month check for my rent.

But what I have for you today is WAY more valuable than cursive.
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