Local SEO for Churches

Optimize Your Online Outreach!

You have most likely heard of Search Engine Optimization (or SEO). But there are two types of SEO to consider.

On-page SEO has everything to do with how you build your website.

Optimizing your website so that you get found in search engines is very smart and a good investment of time and resources. More about on-page SEO can be [[found here.]]

 

But there is another type of SEO: Local.

This has to do with how Google sees your physical location. You have likely heard about Google Business Profiles. Your church has one. Regardless if you have a brick-and-mortar location, or you meet in a school or another rented facility, you can and should have a Google Business Profile. This is how Google knows you exist. Taking care of your Google Business Profile is critical and we will go through the steps below on how to do this.

Consider this

Case Study

Brandon Johnson had a vision from God to plant a church in Gulf Shores, Texas. He was sent by Ark Church in Conroe, Texas. So Brandon planted the church and they began meeting in the local YMCA. Everything was going great, but he wanted to reach more people. The problem was that his church was not showing up when he would search for churches in his area. 

 

Case Study (continued...)

When Brandon reached out to us, we met, and after running some reports, we shared with him that he was really not being found in Google at all. It opened his eyes to what he had to do. 

“When I first met with Jason and the team, I had no idea about how Google really worked. All I knew was I wanted more people to find out that we were meeting for church and we were desperate to invite people,” said Brandon. 

Case Study (continued...)

“I learned that I needed to pay attention to our Google Business Profile and the Church Communications Group team taught me what to do. I hired them to do the other part of Local SEO that I could not do. That was to add new directory listings to my profile.

Case Study (continued...)

After a couple of months, Brandon shared with us that the results showed. “Once we got this Local SEO project up and running, we began to see new faces every week. We’re not a very big church, so when you see several new families every week walk through the doors, you know something is working.We ask people how they found us. Almost all the new families said the same thing ‘We found you on Google and liked what we saw,’ and I couldn’t be happier. This is one of the best investments we have made.”

How to Improve Your Local SEO

There are two sides to this important project. Side one is the side you own. It’s actually working on your Google Business Profile. You need to add new photos, add new video clips of sermons, ask for new reviews from your congregation, then reply to every review, and lastly, add new events. When you do this, you’re telling Google your profile matters. Google is watching. But so are other people. 

Do this quick exercise: Go Google your church name right now. Click on the photos and look through them. Now ask yourself this question: If I were to print a really nice brochure about our church to hand out to new people, would we use the photos found in our Google Business Profile?  

More times than not, the answer is “No!” So do something about those photos! Add new pictures that showcase your church. Add videos so visitors can see your pastor preaching. Perhaps record a new video welcoming people on Google and inviting them to watch online or attend in person. 

The other side of this project is fixing and adding directory listings. This is extremely important. When you add your church name, address, and phone to a new directory, it informs and reinforces to Google that you are open and in the right spot. When you have more and more listings that are accurate, you will grow to get into the Google Local Pack. 

You might not even know what your citations look like. We’re here to help! 

Click here to download your free report on your Local SEO listings. We will even explain to you what this all means and walk you through your report. 

Want to go deeper in understanding how this works?

The Local Google Pack

The local pack is a set of three results marked on a map, which typically appears above all other search results.

The local pack contains only those results that are geographically near the searcher, and which Google is extremely confident actually exist at the location they claim.

 

When an unchurched person searches for a new church, they almost certainly are going to be using keywords that will return a local pack – for example, “churches near me,” “local church,” or “churches in {location}.” Thus, the first three churches the searcher is likely to see will be those that are chosen for the local pack. Being one of those churches for searches in your community is of great importance, and we can help with that!

How It Works

There are three crucial steps to optimizing your church’s online presence locally. It is important to understand that Google’s top priority when it comes to local search results is ensuring the NAP information (Name / Address / Phone Number) for each location is correct. Google gains confidence when this information is both consistent and as specific as possible across Google My Business, the landing page(s) of your church, and other authoritative online directories.

 

Step 1

Google My Business

Our first step is making sure your Google My Business (GMB) account has:

  • Optimized and correct NAP information
  • The most specific category available
    Verified status—We can guide you through this process if it is not already verified.
  • Unique entries and corresponding landing pages for each church campus (if applicable)

Step 2

Landing Pages

Next, we make sure the landing pages on your church website are optimized in the following ways:

  • If your church has multiple campuses, we verify that there is a unique landing page for each campus with NAP information specific to that location.
  • We ensure the NAP information across your site is consistent with the optimized information listed in your GMB account in Step 1.
  • The NAP information across your site is implemented as schema.org structured data to make it easy for Google to understand.
  • We include localization keywords in key areas of your landing page(s) if appropriate.

Step 3

Online Citations

The final step has to do with managing online citations for your church:

  • First, we perform an audit to locate existing citations in authoritative directories.
  • We then ensure all existing citations are consistent with the NAP information used in steps 1 and 2. This level of consistency is crucial to be considered trustworthy by Google.
  • Finally, we identify the highest value citations your church is currently missing, then pursue those on behalf of your church.

With the three steps above complete, your church should have a consistent and trustworthy local presence in Google’s eyes. These are the types of search results Google wants to display in the local pack. 

THE POWER OF DISCOVERY SEARCHES

First and foremost, Local SEO optimization is intended to increase the exposure of your church website in what Google has coined “discovery searches.”

Google My Business tracks when your listing appears in two main types of searches: direct and discovery.

When a person searches for a new church, they almost certainly are going to use keywords that will return a local pack, for example, “churches near me,” “local church,” or “churches in {location}.” Thus, the first three churches the searcher is likely to see will be those chosen for the local pack. Being one of those churches for searches in your community is of great importance, and we can help with that!

The power of strong Local SEO, however, lies in increasing how often your church is found in discovery-type searches. Discovery searches are those where the user has searched for a keyword that matches what your church is, does, or offers. It could be as simple as “church near me,” or more specific, like “nondenominational church in Chicago.” In these discovery-type cases, people are looking for a church, but are not looking specifically for your church. But with strong Local SEO, these searchers will find you!

DISCOVERY SEARCH GROWTH

By growing the number of discovery-type searches that feature your church, you inevitably build your website traffic with people who are geographically relevant to your church. Strong Local SEO practices can often result in remarkable growth in discovery search impressions. Consider the graph below showing discovery search impressions for one of our Local Church SEO Boost clients over the first 16 months of their subscription (which started in June of 2018) and a few months prior.

 

While discovery search growth depends on various factors, including population density and degree of competition nearby, we’ve yet to encounter a situation in which a church was not able to realize significant gains from strong Local SEO practices. To find out more, we recommend checking out our blog post, Why Local SEO Isn’t Really Optional for your Church. 

This page is about Local SEO for churches. If you’re looking for information regarding the SEO optimization of your church website content for ranking within organic search results, please look into our On-Page SEO Services. If you’d like more information regarding the difference between the two, please read our blog titled Local SEO Versus On-Page SEO for Churches [Clearing Up the Confusion].

 

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