Why Is Local SEO for Churches Vital?

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If your goal is to gain new members on a consistent basis, it’s important to consider local SEO for churches. Why? Because it increases your visibility and helps bring in organic traffic to your website so the people in your community can find you.

Here’s the thing… It’s the rare person these days who will attend a church service or event without first going to the church’s website to check it out.

But if they can’t find your church online when they type in a search term like “Methodist churches near me,” then you’re going to have a lot of missed opportunities.

Even if there aren’t many churches in your town, your website still won’t be found on search engines if you don’t do the SEO work. 

Think of local SEO for churches like a directory. If you aren’t listed, no one will know you exist. You need to get your church to show up on the first page of Google (or other search engine) so that people will find you when they are looking for a church in their community.

What Is SEO? (A Quick Refresher)

Put simply, search engine optimization (SEO) is when you make improvements to your website so that it ranks well on Google and other search engines for certain keywords, thereby increasing the quantity and quality of traffic you receive. 

There are many aspects of SEO that work together to improve rankings. Some of them are done on your website, and some are done outside of your website. But all of them should only be applied after you’ve developed a solid SEO strategy

Regular SEO vs. Local SEO

Regular SEO is the way global and national companies and organizations optimize their websites because they offer products and/or services that can be attained from virtually anywhere. 

Most churches, however, should first focus on local SEO, especially if they want to physically bring in new members from the community. 

Local SEO is when you optimize your website to be found not only for certain keywords but also for local keywords, such as “Philadelphia Baptist church.” Ultimately, the focus of local SEO is to rank higher in your geographical area. 

“Near me” searches are a critical part of local SEO since many people type in things like, “church near me,” “local church,” or “church in [city]” when they are looking for a church on Google—or any other search engine for that matter. 

How Important Is Local SEO for Churches?

There are a lot of companies and organizations that don’t need to focus much on local SEO. But to be clear, churches are not one of them. 

Let’s look at the reasons why local SEO for churches is so important…

It Impacts Church Growth

In these modern times, local SEO has a big impact on church growth, as it allows you to increase visibility among community members and visitors. 

Even if in-person services have been postponed or limited due to COVID, it’s well worth setting up local SEO so that individuals in your area can quickly locate your church. That way, once you open back up at full capacity, you’re more likely to be showing up at the top of Google.

It Lives On

When you do a postcard mailing, that marketing effort stops when you stop mailing the postcards. But when you improve your local SEO rankings, those results can be found for years to come. 

Local SEO for churches generally doesn’t happen overnight. It takes some work for your website to move up in the rankings, but once it does, you can pull back on your efforts (not completely, but to a large degree) and your ranking can remain. 

It’s How Your Church Can Show Up in Mapping Apps

Nowadays, most people use mapping apps to help them find places. So, if you aren’t focusing on local SEO, your church isn’t going to come up accurately.

That’s why you should fill out your local profiles with Google Maps, Apple Maps, Yelp, and any others that are relevant to your church. 

This is also what makes your church show up in Google’s Local Pack (the first few options that show up when you do a search in Google Maps).

SEO Checklist 

Now, let’s look at a brief checklist of things that church leaders should make sure they’re doing when it comes to local SEO for churches.

Set Up Google My Business

One of the most important starting points when it comes to local SEO for churches is to ensure you have completed your profile on Google My Business. It’s a free platform that Google pulls from when a local search is made.

While you should make sure your Google My Business profile is as complete as possible, at the bare minimum, you’ll want to complete the following fields:

Increase Your Reviews

Another important factor in local SEO for churches is the number of reviews you have across the different review sites. Strive to constantly get reviews on Google My Business, Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook, Manta, and more.

Why?

Because according to a Global Online Consumer Report by KPMG, 55% of people search online for reviews before making a purchase decision. It’s no different when they are looking for a new church. That’s a huge number of people you could be missing out on if your church isn’t showing up.

However, getting reviews doesn’t just improve your search ranking. These reviews show up when someone performs a search, which allows people to learn about all the reasons they should attend your church before they even get to your website.

Interact on Social Media

When you’re active on social media, it not only increases your visibility but also tells search engines that your church is important. 

Make sure you are being consistent with your posts. Don’t make 5 posts this week and none the following week. The more you show up and engage with your followers, the more they will enjoy seeing your posts. 

Be sure to ask your congregation to interact with you on social media by liking and sharing your posts and adding reviews. Many church members are looking for simple things they can do to help their church succeed, and this is certainly one of them.

Optimize Your Website

Make sure each page on your website is optimized for a certain local keyword or a couple keywords. 

For example, your home page will most likely be optimized for “churches in Los Angeles” or whatever city your church is located in. You probably also want to optimize it for the type of church, such as “Catholic church in Los Angeles.”

Then, you might have a livestream page that is optimized for “Livestream sermons near me” or a ministry page that is optimized for “church ministry near me” and “best church ministry in Philadelphia, PA.”

Add Your Church to Local Business Directories

While Google My Business is the most important directory to be listed in when it comes to local SEO for churches, you’ll also want to claim your listing on Bing Places, Yellow Pages, Best of the Web, Chamber of Commerce, Superpages, Nextdoor, Yahoo, and many others. 

When you are doing this, make sure that you enter in your church name and contact details the exact same way so that Google easily recognizes them as the same. Don’t spell out road on one listing and abbreviate it on another, for instance.

The Takeaway

By applying local SEO for churches, you can have a massive effect on the growth of your congregation and your overall success in this modern world. And by putting in some work now, you can see results for years to come. 

Claiming and managing your directory listings, requesting reviews, performing keyword optimization, and the like can be tedious work, but you don’t have to do it alone. 

Contact us today so we can take some of it off your plate! It just might be the best thing you do for your church success.

 


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About Caitie

Caitie's background as an editorial assistant, blog writer, and proofreader has served her well in her current position within our content department. She applies the skills she has acquired through training and hands-on experience daily, ensuring the quality of the content provided to clients.

In her role, Caitie is responsible for conducting research and producing various types of educational content and sales copy. She is committed to ensuring each piece is optimized for search and speaks to the client's target audience.

Caitie is passionate about learning and seeks every opportunity to further expand on her knowledge of marketing best practices. In addition to undergoing StoryBrand agency training, she has met the necessary requirements to become a DigitalMarketer Certified Content Marketing Specialist and Direct-Response Copywriting Specialist, as well as Yoast SEO Copywriting and Keyword Research certified.

During her free time, she enjoys reading, listening to podcasts, and spending time with loved ones.