LOCAL SEO FOR CHURCHES
Google promotes local search now more than ever before. It’s important to be found by those searching for a church in the local community. Using our local search solution, you can be sure that your church will be visible when someone goes looking.
Being found in local search results is very important. One key audience for any church is made up of those people who are looking for a church in local proximity. These people typically fit into one of these four categories — not always, but usually:
Three Steps To Local Search Success
There are three crucial steps when it comes to optimizing your church’s local online presence. Ensuring that your name, address and phone number (NAP) information is correct for each of your locations is very important, and Google requires that this information is complete, consistent, and specific in the places their search engine is likely to find it — that is, Google My Business (GMB), the pages on your church website (preferably in a footer on every page), and other online sources that have built authority over time and make these citations available, i.e. review sites, place and ministry aggregators, and specific church and denominational directories.
Why Local Search Is Important
Local search optimization is important because it’s one way Google builds trust in your website. When your local information is consistent, Google knows that it can present your church in what it considers discovery searches.
Google defines a discovery search as the action a user takes to search for a category, product, or service that you offer, and your listing appeared. Take that out of general business context and it’s exactly the same for any church. Local search optimization allows your church to be discovered.
You may not have heard of the Google 3-Pack, also referred to as Map 3-Pack and Local Pack, but it’s almost certain you’ve seen and maybe used it.
The local pack is a set of three results, on a map. On a mobile device this appears above all other search results. It shows only results that are near the searcher in geographical proximity.
When someone in this audience we’ve discussed searches for a church, they almost always use criteria that returns the 3-Pack, like “churches near me” or “churches in [applicable city].”
Therefore, the first three churches seen will be those that Google deems best shown in the Local Pack. Being one of those churches displayed is of great importance!
These are very simple examples of how users may search for your church locally. Understanding a user’s intent is fundamental when optimizing your online content for SEO and local search.
Discovery Search Expained
Over the years, Google has placed more and more emphasis on discovery search. It distinguishes discovery searches from direct searches. A direct search is when someone already knows you or at least knows how to find you by name. They either enter the name of your church in the search bar or type the URL to your website in directly. This obviously makes direct searches very limiting for those who don’t know your church exists.
The Power of Local SEO With Discovery Searches
The importance and power of local SEO lies in your church being found in discovery searches. These searches could be any number of variations of things like churches near me, churches in [city name], baptist churches in dallas, churches near the airport… you get the idea. The power is in proximity, and when your church shows up at or near the top of those results, that is powerful!
The way we optimize your local SEO is by growing the number of discovery searches your church shows up in. This is accomplished over time and through optimizing the three steps mentioned at the top of this page along with carefully making sure your content is relevant to the audience you want to reach.
Local SEO can be impacted by several factors including the age of your web domain and its authority, the location and density of churches in your immediate area, and the number of people searching for churches there. But rarely would we not be able to significantly increase the visibility of your church online through optimizing your online presence using local SEO.
Local Search Optimization Is A Church Necessity
If there is a single online tactic you should implement, it’s local SEO. Whether you choose to implement local search optimization yourself or hire an expert to get it done, delaying will only cost you.
Local discovery searches impact church growth because the user’s intent is two-fold — 1) to find a church, and 2) to find a church that meets the proximity criteria, meaning near me or in the area.
By optimizing your local SEO, your church will show up in local searches like “church near me”, “church in [city]” or “local church.”
Not only will your church show up in search results when optimized for local SEO but it will also show up accurately on a map displayed in search results along with the coveted Local Pack, which greatly increases the chance that a curious or intentional user will click through to your church website.
Why DIY Local SEO May Not Provide The Results You Expect
Without careful planning and automation, managing local directory citations can be labor-intensive and provide lots of room for error. Even small errors in data can be detrimental to your effort and subsequently lack of trust and authority from Google.
Our Local SEO and Online Reputation Management (Review Management) solution is an all-in-one subscription that provides you worry-free management of this effort and will increase your visibility and authority in local search.