A large part of Church SEO is local search optimization. The first step is providing search engines with information about your geographic location. Here are some tips to get you started:
1) Add Church Address & Phone Number To Footer
Adding your contact information to a footer that appears on every page lets search engines index your website for local search. Also, where natural, include the city’s name a few times in-text and in title tags.
2) Add Your Church To Local Directories
Look up ministry specific directories or umbrella organizations that might be interested in listing your ministry. As a church, it is especially important that you are listed in all local church or religious directories.
3) Find and Target Local Exact Match Keyword Phrases
If your city is large enough, many users will type in what they are looking for plus the name of the city where they are trying to find it. Use keyword tools to find and target complete keyword phrases with your city’s name in them. For example “Boston Churches” or “Charlotte Lutheran Ministry.” Don’t forget to try searching for city abbreviations as well. Google Insights has a filter function where you can narrow search by city and state, though many results do not have enough search volume to return results.
4) Add Church to Search Engine’s Local Listings
Getting on Google Places, Yahoo!, Bing and Yelp’s local directories should be at the top of your list. Also, because of the rise of blended search (SERPs including a mix of video, images and news) make sure to add photos to your local profile. Ask your congregation to leave you a review on one of the above listings. Your church will rank higher if it has more positive rankings.
5) Add Church to Local Business Listings on LinkedIn
It’s free. LinkedIn is considered one of the most important professional businesses databases on the internet. Add your site by clicking here. Make sure to complete your profile, adding as much information as possible.
6) Set Your Geographic Location in Google Webmaster Tools
Some people try to use meta geo tags, or meta data that specifies a city, state and geographic location of a website. But Google says it places very little weight on those tags. Instead, Google recommends setting your location through Google Webmaster Tools! Go to Webmaster Tools Homepage. Site Configuration. Setting. Geographic target. Select your location option. There are lots of different ways to tell the search engines about your geographic location.
Each of the steps above is just a small percent of the total equation for local optimization. So make sure to put your church on every local listing you can and keep on-page local optimization in mind.
Once you’ve completed these steps, you can start using more creative ways to optimize your site for your target city or region. For example, try submitting press releases to PR Web. You should always tag the city where the news is happening in any press release. This affords you a great (and natural) opportunity for local optimization.
This blog post was written by Eric Fransen. Eric has been involved with the Internet Marketing industry since the late 1990’s and is the owner and a “Trusted Advisor” for Klik Marketing, an online marketing firm based in Charlotte, NC.