Bring More People to Your Church Website or Blog In Five Easy Steps Using Google Search
Back in the day, people used the Yellow Pages to find churches and local businesses.
Since all the Yellow Pages listings were done alphabetically, people would purposely name their companies with something that started with an "A" like "American" or "AAA", so they'd appear first and get found faster. Easy.
Now, of course, people don't flip through the Yellow Pages. They Google it. And getting found on Google - and its super secret search algorithm - takes more than just your "A" name. It requires your "A" game.
Here is how to get your church website or blog found on Google in five easy steps (and I mean easy - one is just writing down a few words) and why it matters.
1. Go to Google Adwords Keyword Tool
2. Enter your website address in the proper field, fill out the security code and submit.
Google will present you with a list of keywords people have used to find your site (Note: these are the same keywords you'll get from Google Analytics if you already have it on your site.)
3. Filter these results to find the most popular terms people use to find you. Click "local monthly searches" on the far right side of the keywords table. The most popular search terms will not appear at the top of the table, beginning with the most popular.
Notice what terms people use to find you.
For my church, the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Woburn, Massachusetts, the vast majority of terms are some combination of "church, churches, in, woburn, ma." That's how they find us - by looking for churches, and sometimes specifically lutheran churches, in Woburn.
4. Write down a short list of the most popular terms people use to find you.
On Your Website or Blog
Incorporate these terms into the title of your site. (The title is the name of your site. Its what appears across the top of your browser window, no matter what page of the site you are on.)
5. If you maintain the site yourself, go in and add these keywords to the title of your site in a way that makes some sense. If you have a webmaster, ask them to do it.
For example, the title of the site was just "Lutheran Church of the Redeemer." Now that I know how people find us, I changed it to "Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Woburn MA."
Note that I didn't write "Massachusetts." Although I think this would look better on the site, people only search using "ma". No one wants to take the time to write out Massachusetts. I should have the word "churches" in there somehow. I just haven't figured out the best way to do it.
How This Worked on My Blog: Like a Charm
The title of my blog had just been "Pastor Keith Anderson" but after following this process I changed the title to "Pastor Keith Anderson: A Lutheran Pastor Blogging About Social Media, Spirituality, and Church." It's a ridiculously long title, but it includes the keywords people use to find me "church, churches, social media" - and some of the things I want to be found and known for "lutheran, pastor, blogging, spirituality" - things that define my niche.
Previously when I searched for "lutheran social media" in Google, my blog appeared several pages back. As of this blog post, it was the third overall result - and the first blog. That is an enormous difference! Search for "lutheran pastor social media" and my blog accounts for the top half of the first page of results.
Why It Matters
The importance of this really hit home for me a few months ago - actually, long before I was coached in this process.
The communications director of the Rocky Mountain Synod, Kent Mueller, contacted me through my blog and invited me to speak about social media at the RMS Theological Conference in January 2012. I had never met Kent before and I would have he assumed he found me through a common church colleague.
But no. He found me solely through Google search.
And I was incredibly lucky that he did.
I want the next person looking for someone that is focused on social media and the church to find me much more quickly, easily, and often - just like I want people looking for churches in Woburn to find Redeemer.
I'm guessing you want the same for your congregation too.
Feedback please! Have you done this on your site? How has it worked for you? If you decide to follow this process, please let me know how it turns out!