Local search is a powerful way for religious organizations to reach new prospects and potential visitors. When a customer uses the internet to research church services, they’re not just looking for any church—they’re looking for a church in their neighborhood or city. And you want to make sure your church is at the top of those local search results.
Fortunately, you can boost your local search ranking with these top tips from FaithConnections.net digital marketing experts.
Finding success with digital marketing isn’t hard, but it does take a little time and know-how to truly engage your community to visit your church.
Make sure prospects can find your church listing! This is what every small church needs to know about local search rankings — and what you can do about it.
10 Great Ways to Boost Your Local Search Ranking
- Fill out your Google My Business and Bing Places for Business page. One of the simplest yet most effective ways to boost your local search ranking is to register with both Google and Bing and complete their local listings. To get the most out of the listing, fill out all the fields, including your address, phone number and service hours. (You get bonus points for adding photos of your location and staff to personalize your profile even further.)
- Build consistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone). When search engines crawl the web for search results, it looks for mentions of your business’ name, address and phone number (NAP). Even slight variations, like an abbreviated street address, can confuse these searches, so it’s important to make sure that your NAP is consistent in every citation, on or off your website.
- Claim online listings. Online listings are an important part of local search engine optimization. Creating links that lead back your website, in conjunction with consistent NAP citations, raises your churches’ online visibility and signals to search engine that your website is relevant and trustworthy.
- Get off-site backlinks. Online listings aren’t the only way to get links. Encourage other websites, including local media and bloggers, to link to your website by getting out into the community. Sponsoring and attending events can help cultivate offline connections that lead to online exposure.
- Localize landing pages. Don’t just list your churches’ name in the title and content of your homepage; include the city you operate in as well. The more specific you are with the city or even neighborhood (The Heights rather than just Houston, for example) the better your chances of ranking high on search results pages.
- Use long-tail keywords. Use keywords to target niche markets. This strategy not only helps prospects find your specific church, it also helps you rank higher because your website is using less-competitive search terms. For example, use long-tail keywords like “Baptist church Austin TX,” instead of just “church Austin.”
- Build a mobile-friendly website. Thanks to the ever-increasing number of searches on mobile devices, Both Bing and Google changed their algorithm to privilege mobile-friendly websites in their results. If you want to boost your local search ranking, your website needs to look good on smartphones and tablets as well as desktop computers. Start by running your website through both Google’s and Bing’s mobile friendly test.
- Respond to reviews. When visitors leave reviews on your local listings or any other website, it helps boost your search ranking. You can encourage visitors to go online and leave reviews, and if they do, it’s important to respond gracefully to both positive and negative comments. This will help improve your reputation with searchers as well.
- Post local content. Providing extra value to prospects with a church blog, FAQ page and other local content also makes your website more attractive to search engines. If you’re aiming to rank in local search results, remember to give your content a local spin by writing about topics relevant to your area.
- Keep the user experience in mind. When it comes to implementing good local SEO, the most important thing is to think like a potential visitor. The major search engines wants to deliver the best experience for each searcher, and so should you—that’s why it’s important to have an easy-to-use, informative website.