There are currently 27.9 million small businesses in the U.S., and yes, if you’re a church, you’re counted in that mix. 70% of local spiritual seekers use the Internet to find information about local churches–and they all use search engines. That means, local SEO one of the bigger factors in your church’s exposure to the local community.
So here are five things you can do to optimize your website and attract local seekers.
1. Claim your listing profile
It’s as simple as logging into Yelp, YellowPages, Google Places, Bing Local and Yahoo Local and claiming (or creating from scratch) your business listing. Yes, you’re a church. You’re also in the business of connecting the lost with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Do it today. Follow instructions through the verification steps, which might include phone calls or some sort of address verification.
2. Ask for reviews
Most listings sites encourage listing owners to tell their communities to review your organization. So practice it constantly. Do it on an everyday basis. The more reviews you have (whether good or bad, but hopefully more good than bad) will make your organization more visible to future seekers.
Tip: On your business cards, exit door posters, receipts, thank you pages, invoices, or email newsletters, make a note and say “Hey we’d appreciate it so much if you gave us a review on YellowPages / Google / Bing / Yahoo [whatever].”
3. Upload pictures
All local listings have picture featured for your organization’s profile. Take advantage of this. To ensure they see great pictures, upload your own. You don’t have to hire a professional to take photos, but make sure the photos you upload are solid and represent your church properly.
4. Have a full mailing address in text
Your email address is important and it should be in plain text. Some organizations seen on listing sites have placed their email address in an image–which doesn’t work so well with church-seekers wanting to easily reach out. It’s a small barrier, sure.
Tip: If you have the option, just leave your email address off your listing but make sure your website’s address is offered. If a shy seeker needs to email you, they can at least email you through the contact form on your website.
5. Concentrate on local location keywords
Say you operate a local Baptist church. Instead of just promoting your organization as a “Baptist church”–try local keywords instead, e.g.:
Baptist church Denver
Denver Baptist church services
As you’ve already noticed, these keywords won’t serve your purposes if you’re wanting to connect with someone looking for a church in New York. But Denver citizens are looking for good, Bible-believing Baptist church? So try inserting your geographical location along with your keywords.
Go forth and conquer
So there you have it: five local SEO tips to further you along on your journey to cast a wider net. Follow these tips and you will grow in community visibility and reach more people.
Don’t forget: if you ever have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.
Client: Joshua Memorial Foundation Product: Nonprofit that teaches water safety awareness and supports other nonprofits in the same. Campaign: Web development, web design, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states the number one cause of accidental death for children 1 to 4 years of age is drowning. The Joshua Memorial site provides information about water safety and drowning prevention. The foundation’s main objective is to prevent drowning accidents through early childhood education and the promotion of infant and toddler water safety training courses.
What do you do when you’re a nonprofit just starting out and have a great new website but not enough online traffic? We can tell you what the Joshua Memorial Foundation, a Nebraska-based nonprofit specializing in water safety courses, water safety literature and drowning prevention awareness did. They asked for help with their search engine optimization.
Their site was fairly optimized when their SEO campaign began. Since we had designed and developed their Joomla-based web site, we knew it had been built to be “search engine friendly” and wouldn’t run into the roadblocks of a poorly developed web site. Still, their web site had the following issues:
Low link popularity and search engine saturation (pages indexed in the search engines)
Not enough conversion points
Low or no rankings for keywords that searchers might use to find their site
Over several months of optimizing their web site, we now see dramatic results. We targeted their web pages to go after local search terms like “water safety courses nebraska” and “water safety nebraska”. We also completed a link building campaign, which improved the site’s link popularity (or “votes”) for the site which results in more traffic and higher rankings. Use of social media, blog posts and article marketing has also been part of our strategy.
The search engines are now referring half of the overall traffic to the site. Take a look at the numbers:
Unique Visitors +33%
Number of Visits +182%
Repeat Visitors +56%
Total Page Views +100%
Keyword:water safety courses nebraska Google Ranking (before SEO): Not in Top 50 Page in Google (after SEO): 1 Google Ranking (after SEO): position 5 & 6 (out of 289,000 results)
Keyword: water safety nebraska Google Ranking (before SEO): Not in Top 50 Page in Google (after SEO): 1 Google Ranking (after SEO): position 3 & 4 (out of 281,000 results)
Keyword: water safety book Google Ranking (before SEO): Not in Top 50 Page in Google (after SEO): 1 Google Ranking (after SEO): position 6 (out of 9,880,000 million broad results!)
Keyword:child water safety nebraska Google Ranking (before SEO): Not in Top 50 Page in Google (after SEO): 1 Google Ranking (after SEO): position 4 (out of 137,000 results)
Interested in seeing how we can help drive more qualified traffic to your website?
The web is a crowded place. There are billions of websites, with more coming online every day. Even in smaller niches such as church websites, it can be difficult to stand out. But, some sites do a better job than others of attracting visitors and accomplishing their mission. All of the best websites for churches and faith-based groups have at least four things in common. If you can take these common traits and bring them to your church website you can create a powerful tool to serve not just your community, but also the entire world.
1. Frequently updated content
Church websites that are attracting a lot of visitors and successfully serving congregations are always putting out new content. Web content comes in many different forms. It can be anything from blog posts to videos. The key is to be regularly releasing new information that is inspiring and educational.
Content does several things for a website. One, it gives search engines more ways to index the site. Because web searches on sites like Google are the most common way for new people to find out about your site, it is important to continuously be putting out new content for the search engines to present to people looking for answers.
The second thing that frequently updating content on your church website does is that it increases the engagement with your congregation. Your members know where they can go to get inspired or to find out the latest happenings in the community.
When designing your church website make sure to choose a platform that makes it easy to update your content.
2. Designed for mobile devices
Smartphones are taking over the world. Increasingly people are not going to your site from a desktop computer. Instead, they are visiting it from their tablet or smartphone. If your site is not designed to look nice and work well on mobile devices, you are going to have a harder time attracting visitors and engaging your community.
Website platforms like WordPress make it easy to create church websites that are fully functional on desktops and mobile devices. You don’t want a poorly designed website to limit people’s access to your message. The best church websites are easy to use, no matter what device you are using.
3. Gathers people
The appearance and tone of your website matter to your visitors. Great church websites are welcoming. Everything from the color scheme to the words on the screen are designed to gather people in. Just as many churches have an enthusiastic and friendly greeter by the doors before services and during activities, your homepage is greeting and welcoming people to your online community.
Part of gathering is having a website that loads quickly, is easy to navigate, and makes visitors feel positive and loved.
4. Hub for digital evangelism
The best church websites are not only an online gathering place for the faithful, but are also hubs for digital evangelism. Information technology has made it possible to spread the word faster and farther than ever before in human history.
A great site allows people to learn more about the faith. It answers common questions and helps shepherd people along the path towards discipleship. Being a hub for digital evangelism means being integrated with social media. It means having shareable content that inspires and teaches.
Part of creating a hub is thinking about the types of questions those searching for spiritual light are asking. It also means creating a place online that people are comfortable sharing with friends and family members who are struggling or curious.
The moral of our story
The best church websites are a careful blend of both technical techniques and shareable spiritual truths. If you want your church site to be both a gathering place for your congregation and a light on the hill to lead people to the safety of the gospel, you need a website that both looks great and makes people feel great when they land on it.
Mobile technology has become a major part of running a church or nonprofit. In fact, two-thirds of organization operators now use a smartphone or tablet or use mobile-oriented technology, according to a Constant Contact survey. Survey respondents reported using mobile technology for everything from social media and email marketing to running mobile point-of-sale transactions and managing operations such as accounting. You can actually run your entire operation from the cloud using your smartphone, whether you’re a for-profit company or a church or other nonprofit. Here are some steps to get your business set up and running on the cloud from your mobile device.
Setting up your business
Before you set up your website, there are a few basic steps you should take. One is obtaining a mailbox you can use for your business address when filling out forms. You will also need to register your business with your state and get your federal employer identification number (EIN), which you can do by going to your state department of revenue’s website and to the IRS website. If you’re a church, be sure to select your type of entity as “church or church-controlled organization” or “other nonprofit entity” on your form SS-4 when applying for your EIN, the IRS advises. One other basic set-up step is getting a business bank account, which you can apply for online from financial providers.
Getting a domain
After getting your business set up, the next step is getting a domain. Choosing a good domain name can improve your marketing and SEO performance. You should select a domain name that is easy to type, short and uses keywords relevant to your target audience.
Getting your website online
To get your domain online, you will need to get a hosting service provider. For a nonprofit website, look for a hosting option suitable for your purposes, such as a package with a virtual private network or regular backups.
Getting a business email address
Most hosting packages provide some space you can use to set up email accounts, which you can use to create a business email address using your site’s domain. Another option is to set up a business email with a service provider such as Zoho and customize your email address to use your domain. Using your own domain looks more professional than using a domain that displays a generic email service such as Gmail.
Designing your website
With your hosting service in place, you can start building the design of your site. One way to do this is by using a website builder that lets you build your own site without much technical knowledge, such as Wix and Weebly. Another option is to hire a designer to build a customized site for you. Levaire positions its Carpenter’s Path sites to be more robust than the Wix and Weebly’s of the world and considerably less costly (we call it the “mission rate”) than hiring a custom designer.
Security is an essential part of running a website. One of the most important steps for securing your site is to regularly create backup copies of your site that can be used to recover your files if you lose access to it due to a technical problem, natural disaster or cyber attack. An enterprise quality cloud-based backup service can let you schedule secure online backups so that you will always be able to recover your site in the event of emergency.
Promoting your website online
With your website online and secure, you’re ready to start promoting your site. One of the most efficient ways to promote your site from your smartphone is using social media to share content that engages your audience. Pro Church Tools recommends that you prioritize Facebook, Instagram and Twitter when starting your social media outreach. Share stories and comment on newsworthy events to generate audience interest, and follow up by responding to comments in order to engage your audience.
Link building has always been one of the most important element in the success (or failure) of a website. When it comes to SEO (search engine optimization), it may be the biggest element of all.
Links are like ratings that point to a page in your website, signaling the search engines that your website might be highly sought after and deserve a higher placement in the search results.
With that in mind, here five tips to help you with your link building efforts:
1. Quality over quantity
As much as SEO experts want to build a lot of links for their clients’ webpages, having a high amount of back links doesn’t necessarily mean long-term success in SEO.
In the old days, quantity was king, but not anymore. Quality is now the most important factor when building links for your website.
Remember: Backlinks from shady websites or articles that are not relevant to your site will do more harm than good. Your site’s overall health and search placement will suffer.
2. Hire help
Link building (and SEO in general) can be a very arduous task. This is the reason why there’s a whole industry built around it. There are lots of SEO experts, consultants and professionals out there these days. SEO will take up a lot of your time, so it can be more efficient to leave this task to the professionals. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need help in this department. We specialize in SEO.
3. Simplify your content
Make your articles simple, so that many people can easily understand and spread your message. It is a fact that the more complicated the content is, the less it is shared.
4. Submit to web directories
Submit your website’s links to as many web directories as you can. While this was once one of the best ways you could optimize your offsite link profile, web directory listings seem to have been reduced in importance in recent years. They still hold value, however.
Web directories will not know about your site unless you submit to them directly. This takes a lot of time, but it is a very important part of SEO. To save yourself time and work, hire an SEO expert to help you with this task, so you can just concentrate on your church mission. Contact us if you need help.
5. Develop high-quality content
Google’s “Panda” update pushed pages Google considered to have been poorly written and/or have spammy content way (WAY) down its rankings. As an aftermath, websites need to focus on creating high-quality content that’s useful, informative and shareable to stay in Google’s good graces.
Low-quality content will land you in Google’s cross-hairs, but high-quality content will help you attract precious inbound links and targeted traffic. However, producing a regular stream of constant, high-value content can be difficult. Get help in this area and hire content-writing experts.
Go forth and conquer
So there you have it, five tips to help you with your link building and SEO efforts. Implement these tips and you will be on your way to achieving greater online visibility in your community.
According to comScore, the leading source of analytical data about the internet, Google has cornered sixty-seven percent of the online searches done in the United States, as well as the majority of searches done internationally. Furthermore, several e-commerce studies have shown that search engine traffic coverts better than any other source of online traffic. People searching for something specific in a search engine already know what they want, and if they find it at the site they click on, they are more likely to buy it. For online businesses, this means that ranking well in Google is an essential part of any online marketing strategy.
Businesses building a new website, as well as businesses trying to create a better presence online, often don’t understand all the steps that are necessary to rank well in Google. The owners of these businesses may read about various search engine optimization strategies but whey they try to apply them, they may miss crucial steps to make them succeed. To rectify this situation, you will find a step by step tutorial below on how to rank a website in Google.
Step 1: Get a Good Domain Name with Good Web Hosting
Yes, “free” sites are available from Weebly.com and from Google’s Blogger.com. However, to rank well in Google, you will need to register a domain name and find good web hosting for your website. Don’t worry, this is quite inexpensive. Check with Levaire.com for reliable web hosting. (Oh WAIT!! That’s US!!) Be sure to register your domain name with a reliable service. Often, it’s easier to get your domain name through your hosting company where everything can be managed by one entity you trust.
Don’t worry if your target keywords are not in the domain name as Google no longer gives this much weight. However, you should try to get a domain name with a primary common extension like .com. You can also use .org if your business is a non-profit or .edu if you plan to run an education site. However, Google no longer gives a ranking advantage to sites with domain extensions like .biz or .info. You should also keep your domain name as short as possible so that people looking for information in a search engine will be able to view the entire domain name as well as the directory structure of your URL. Google will truncate a URL if it is too long.
Step 2: Create At Least a Dozen Pages Initially
When you put up a new website, make sure you create a minimum of a dozen pages right away, more if you can. We’ve heard one-page websites almost never rank well in Google. (Yes, that’s what we’ve heard. Ehem.) Also, with a dozen pages, you will have eleven internal links pointing to your home page right away. Google counts internal links pointing to a page, similar to how they count external links pointing to a page. The more links pointing to a page, internal and external, the higher Google will rank that page. Some people call links to a website “link juice,” with more links pointing to a website equaling more link juice.
Step 3: Add To Your Content Slowly and Steadily
Many business owners put up a website and then just let it stay stagnant. They do not add additional pages for months or even years. However, you should keep in mind that Google strongly favors sites that add a steady stream of new pages. In fact, if you add a slow constant stream of new webpages, this is better than adding a large number of new webpages all at once. Once a site is indexed by Google, it sends out its Googlebot spider frequently to see if new pages have been added. If the spider detects that new webpages are consistently added over time, Google will reward the site by ranking it higher in the search results for relevant keywords and key phrases.
Step 4: Be Sure to Change Your Webpages Regularly
A good gardener regularly tends to their garden. They pull weeds. They prune plants. They till the soil. In other words, they maintain their garden so it will grow more beautiful and prosper. Google favors sites that are tended to on a regular basis just like a good gardener tends to his or her garden. Google determines how regularly a website is maintained by checking to see how often pages are modified. This doesn’t mean big chances necessarily. Make sure the changes you make add something of value and make sense. Some websites have a special message that they change with the season and/or holiday. Also, you don’t have to make big changes. You can just make small little tweaks on some of your pages to see a huge improvement in your Google search engine rankings.
Step 5: Design Your Website as a Magnet for Natural Links
While link juice is great for improving your Google ranking, not every link provides the same amount of link juice. Google’s engineers constantly modify their algorithm to distinguish between the highest quality links, quality links, and poor quality links. If you can achieve a natural pattern of quality links, plus get a few high quality links, you can seriously improve your Google rankings. This assumes, of course, you don’t have links in bad neighborhoods, i.e. you don’t have links on websites Google has identified as suboptimal pages, pages with spam and/or thin content.
To achieve a natural pattern of quality links, you need to remember that achieving quality links in a natural way takes time. Therefore, if you pay for instant or automated link building techniques, you should not expect to get your money’s worth. In fact, as a matter of point, if Google’s spider discovers multiple new links that point back to your website that don’t follow a natural pattern, this may result in your website being demoted in Google’s search engine rankings. It may also result in your site being banned from Google. Alternately, if you provide useful resources on your website, users of these resources will build natural links to your website that will show up as a natural pattern in Google’s eyes. Surfers who discover good resources often post the URLs to these resources in online forums, on their personal blogs, on their social medial pages, and on their websites. A link to your resource(s) could even end up in a print magazine that then gets hyperlinked and archived on the print magazine’s website.
Website resources that draw natural links can be in a variety of forms. These include original articles that provide useful hard to find information, tutorials and FAQs, fun and quirky content that makes people laugh, original photographs, hand-drawn illustrations, honest and informative reviews, useful YouTube videos such as product demonstrations of cooking demonstrations, “how to” tips, a fishing report, a surf report, a real estate forecast, or anything else you can think of that would be useful and/or fun and that people will want to recommend to others. Ask yourself, “If I discovered this resource, would I want to tell others about it?” If in your heart of heart you know the answer is yes, then your resource will likely attract natural links but you’ll have to be patient for this to happen.
While it may be difficult to be patient and wait for your Google website rankings to improve naturally, methods that focus on the long-term cultivation of a website will ultimately rank a website better in Google than almost any quick method you come across. Although some fast methods do deliver high Google rankings right away, this is almost always short-lived as Google usually views these methods as a form of spamming. Thus, the next time Google updates their algorithm, they will usually deflate any ranking advantages obtained by fast methods that are not earned by building a quality website. Sticking to the five steps outlined above will put your website in good standing over the long-term which is ultimately the best thing for your business.