How to Rank Your Church on Google with SEO

March 18, 2024 Hannah Hansen


Have you ever wondered how Google knows what websites to suggest when you look something up? It’s called SEO—search engine optimization—and it helps users find a website by improving its visibility on search engines. It’s also a valuable tactic for churches and their websites!

Creating an SEO strategy for your church website can help attract new members, inform visitors, and reach your local community. The best part? It works while you sleep!

Let’s dive into the basics of church website SEO and how your church can easily implement a few key strategies to help you appear in Google’s search results.

What Is SEO?

SEO is an acronym for search engine optimization. SEO is what allows your website to appear in search results on Google.

For example, if someone googled “pizza in St. Louis,” you would expect some of the top results to be Imo’s, Dewey’s, and Cugino’s. Or, if you looked up “how to build a church website,” you’d expect to see a few articles on that topic.

Why Should Your Church Care about SEO?

Your website is often the first connection visitors have with your church. Before they ever step foot on your campus, they’ll look at your website to learn what you believe, what time your services are, and where you’re located.

An effective church website SEO strategy helps your church appear in search results for certain terms people are looking up and, therefore, find your church! To start, you might want to appear for search terms such as these:

  • Church in [insert city name]
  • [Insert denomination] church in [insert city name]
  • Church near me

Church Website SEO Benefits

There are many benefits to optimizing your church website’s SEO. Most notably, as we’ve mentioned,  it makes your website easy to find on Google and other search engines. This allows you to minister to people actively seeking a church in your area.

Church website SEO also allows you to reach people searching for solutions or asking questions your church can help with. For example, if your church hosts recovery groups, you could create a specific page on your website that is optimized for the search term “recovery groups in [insert city name].” Or, perhaps you want to answer a bigger question like “Is God real?” You could write a blog post for that search term so it appears when someone looks up that question.

Using local SEO (which we’ll touch on later), you can also highlight events your church is hosting, which could help reach those who aren’t associated with any church. Your event will show up when someone googles “events near me this weekend,” which can reach a new demographic!

How to Implement SEO for Church Websites

Technical SEO

Overall, technical SEO plays the biggest role in your website strategy. Technical SEO includes the following components:

  • Page infrastructure (how your navigation/sitemap is built)
  • H1s (headings)
  • Page titles (what text appears in the search result as the main header)
  • Meta descriptions (the short description of your pages)
  • Alt tags on images (text that describes your images)

In short, the keywords you want to rank for should be listed in all these areas. That allows Google to see that your website is relevant to a search.

For example, if I wanted to rank for “Lutheran church in San Diego,” I would include that exact phrase (as well as a few variations) in all the areas listed above. Make sure the terms fit naturally; Google can tell if you are just stuffing keywords to try to rank!

Google Indexing

Google indexing is the process the search engine goes through to analyze webpages and store them in its database. You need to make sure your pages are indexed by Google. This means that you are allowing these pages to be found by Google so they can appear in search results. You can usually find this feature in the settings of your individual pages. In general, you want all your major pages to be indexed by Google. The bottom line here is that you want people to find your website, and in order for Google to offer your website as a search result, your website needs to be in Googles index. 

There might be certain pages you don’t want Google to index, such as your Terms and Conditions page or Privacy Policy page. However, any page that is crucial to the structure of your site should be indexed.

Content-Focused SEO

The easier-to-scale SEO option is to create individual pieces of content. As stated previously, search engines like Google are built to decide if something is helpful and correctly feed that webpage to relevant queries. In this portion of the strategy, you would be creating blog posts or landing pages that directly answer questions people are searching for answers to.

First, you should do keyword research to determine what you should try to rank for. You can do this through a site like WordStream. How do you want people to find you? And how are they most likely to find you? Keyword research can help reveal what people are searching for when looking for churches. Next, you’ll want to implement those keywords into the page title, headings, and body of your page. Lastly, and most importantly, make sure the content is actually helpful and answers the questions that were asked in the keyword research. Believe it or not, Google can tell if your content is actually helpful!

Local SEO

Local SEO allows your website to appear when someone searches for “church near me.” If your site is optimized correctly, it should appear within those local search results. Of course, a basic part of this is including your city name and address throughout your website.

However, your Google Business Profile is arguably the most important part of local SEO. Creating a robust profile there allows Google to see where your business is, if people have reviewed it, and what events you have coming up. (Pro tip: you can ask members to leave a review to shore up your Google Business Profile.)

How Do You Know If Your SEO Strategy Is Working?

If you’re investing all this time and energy into creating an SEO strategy for your church’s website, you’ll obviously want to know if it’s providing any real results.

The first step is to monitor your Google Analytics. This dashboard gives you insight into what search terms your website is appearing for, where it ranks on the page (1 is at the top; 10 is at the bottom), and how many people have visited your site. Use this information to continually update your pages and optimize your site. (Church360° Unite has a Google Analytics integration!)

Lastly, keep in mind that SEO, even if done “perfectly,” takes time to implement. You have to give Google time to crawl your website and wait for people to interact with your site in search results. You might not see many results for six months! But don’t get discouraged. If after six months you’re not seeing any results, go back to your keyword research to see if you should try to rank for a different term, or optimize your pages for your current terms.

Help your church become easy to find by using Church360° Unite to build your website.

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