Imagine if your church building didn’t have a sign. No one driving by would even know it existed. The building might be extraordinary, but without a sign, it may as well be invisible. Church Search Engine Results are your online church sign.
Unfortunately, unless you happen to have a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) expert on staff, your church may be invisible on the internet. As many as 80% of new people go to a church website before visiting, and a high percentage of people looking for a church start with a Google search. If your church isn’t in the top five positions of a localized Google search and in the first few Google map positions, then you are invisible to most people looking for a local church online.
“But if I search for my church name I’m at the top. Isn’t that good?” Although some DIY site builders and some who sell SEO services will tout results of the church name as significant, how are you going to reach those people who don’t even know about your church, much less the name? Are you invisible to them?
Can People Find Our Church Online?
Here’s how to check. First, open an incognito browser window (instructions for that below). If you don’t do that, Google will take into consideration your previous search results and sites you have visited, and will often give you different results. Even in an incognito browser, if you do the search from inside or very near your church property the results might be different than a search from a few miles away. Here are the steps:
- In most browsers (Chrome, Safari, etc. ), when you click File or the menu bars on the far right you will see an option to select New Incognito Window.
- Once you are in an incognito tab or window go to google.com.
- Search for Your Town Name Churches. If your town name is very common you may have to include the state to localize results.
- What do you see? Are you on the Google map? Is your website or Facebook page listed in the search results on the first page? If not, don’t be discouraged. This can be fixed!
Does The Search Engine Results Order Really Matter?
Why are the first page and top few results so important? Because more than 70% of searches result in a first page results click. On the first page, the first 5 spots get almost 70% of the clicks and the other results all share a whopping 3% of the clicks. Pages two and three get even less. These aren’t exact numbers and the actual results will vary a little bit, but not by much. If you aren’t in the top five of page one results then your church is invisible to 97% or more of people in your area who search for a local church online.
So how do you fix this? How do you make your church visible to online searchers? There’s no fast, overnight solution. Google uses many factors to decide what results to show it’s users. Here are some principles to consider:
- Is your website informative and up to date? If you haven’t posted anything in a month or two, Google may not consider your site active and relevant.
- Is your site mobile friendly? Does it load fast? This is huge. Look at your site on several different kinds of phones and tablets. Does it look okay? How long does it take to load and change pages? Can you navigate easily? Google prefers mobile friendly, fast loading sites.
- Have you claimed your Google place and is it current with active reviews? This is quite literally how to “get on the map”. Here’s a link from Google to find and claim your listing: Claim Your Google Place
Where Do We Get Help?
That’s a really good question. Many of the DIY website builders say they offer SEO, and to some degree they do. But unless you really know what you are doing, you still aren’t going to get results. You can also hire a big company to help, but it can be very expensive and most small to medium churches don’t need all that. One big mistake is to assume that because the kid or volunteer who does your web stuff knows how to build a site, all is well. If you didn’t get good results from the above search, and your site is more than a few months old – something is wrong.
DiscipleGo was created to help churches leverage technology to fulfill the Great Commission. We don’t have any one size fits all packages to sell. What we will do is research your market and see what we can do to help within your budget. You might need a new website, you might not. You may just need some simple advice and training. Our objective is to see results for the Kingdom, not to sell services or products.
We don’t want your church to be invisible. Eternity is at stake. How can we help? It starts with a conversation. What is your vision? How can we help you reach your community? Let’s talk.