In Church Communication, Podcast

How To Reach New Visitors, Current Attenders and Search Engines with Church Website Optimization

One of the most challenging aspects of a church website is that you have to figure out how to reach different audiences with the same site.

Of course, you could create one church website completely designed to reach new visitors, and one to be more functional for your current church attenders. But that would be annoying to maintain.

What you have to ask yourself is who are you trying to reach with your website, and what is the best way to use this one tool to reach those different audiences.

There are three main groups that you want to reach with your church website.

  • New Visitors
  • Current Attenders
  • Search Engines such as Google and Bing

The next thing we need to realize is the purpose the church website has for reaching and interacting with each of these three groups.

  • New Visitors – To introduce people to your church and motivate them to become attenders.
  • Current Attenders – To make it easy to interact with the life of your church.
  • Search Engines – To cause number 1 to happen. Getting found in search engines does not help number 2 for the most part. The reason you want to get found in Search Engines is to get New Visitors.

The question and the challenge is obviously this…

How do you structure your church website optimization to introduce New Visitors to your church as well as facilitate current Church Attenders needs and get found in the Search Engines so you can then get MORE New Visitors?

How do you accomplish all three purposes on one church website without sacrificing the things that each purpose needs to be successful?

How To Create A Nearly Free Church Website

LINK >> Create a {nearly} FREE Church Website

Before you begin, make a list of Search Terms for your Church

One of the steps you can do at the very beginning of the process is to create a master list of search terms that you want to become found online for by potential new visitors. This is basically a list of all significant search terms you think people would use when trying to find a church in your area.

After developing this list you can then rework the content on your existing site or create pages for an entirely new site. You can to make sure you have just one page or post for each of those search terms.

You can get extremely detailed when developing this list if you want by looking at Google keyword search tools and analytics, which may be helpful if you live in a large metropolitan area.

However, if you live in an average sized city I would take a more common sense approach with church search terms. Use your brain.

When creating this list, keep in mind the types of people who are searching for a church in your area. Most likely the unchurched are not searching for a church online, so you will want your main church website pages to focus primarily on church related search terms.

But you do NOT have to limit that only to “churches in your city” or variations of that term. You also want to be found for other things people may search for related to churches such as youth and kids ministry in your city. People looking for a church may search for these as well.

When setting up your pages to get found in search engines, you want to make sure that each page or post is ONLY focused on one search term or variation of a search term, and that you only have ONE page or post dedicated to that search term or variation.

Google wants to know what page on your website is most important for that specific term. When you create multiple pages going for the basic term of “churches in your city” for example, it confuses the search engines.

It would be better for you to have just ONE well-optimized page for each term or variation of the term than multiple. A variation example would be “churches in plano texas” versus “plano texas churches”. You could have a page for each of those, but you would not want two pages focused on the same exact phrase.

Your list would be more extensive than this, but for example if your church is in Plano, Texas your list may include…

  • churches in plano texas
  • plano texas churches
  • kids ministry in plano texas
  • plano Texas kids ministry
  • youth ministry in plano texas
  • plano texas youth ministry
  • non-denominational church plano texas
  • plano texas assembly of god churches

This is where a church blog can become very useful. You probably do not want to create one page focused on “kids ministry in plano texas” and one focused on “plano texas kids ministry”. You can make your main Kids Ministry page focused on “kids ministry in plano texas” and then a blog post about a kids ministry big event you had focused on the “plano texas kids ministry” search term variation.

Once you have your list of phrases and search term variations it will be much easier to begin working through the church website optimization process to help you become found more easily for these terms online.

Here are 7 things you can do that will help your Church Website Optimization.

Of course, there are many more strategies and ideas that we will not cover here that you could also do, but if you do these things you will get on the right path.

#1 – Setup your Front Page to become found for “churches in your city”.

I like using the plural search term of churches for the front page because it still does have the singular church term in it. Plus #2 helps with the singular church term.

The challenge with the front page of most churches is that they are many times mostly graphics. You want to have a section on the front page that is just text so that you can talk about “churches in your city” for the search engines to find.

On every page you want to add the ONE specific search term you are going for to the page or post Title, Description, H1 html tag, paragraph text and Alt tag for an image on the page at the least. If you are a WordPress user the Yoast plugin can help you know when your page is optimized for a specific search term.

#2 – Setup the Footer of your website to become found for “your city churches”.

Next you can add text to your website footer focused the reverse of your main search term. So you could add something like “Searching for Plano, Texas Churches? Make this your church home.” {or however you want to word it} to the footer of every page of your site.

This at least makes it known to the search engines that the entire website is about churches in your city. I believe that can help strengthen your church website optimization.

You can switch #1 and #2 if you want, or even go for singular terms instead of plural if you find in your keyword research that the singular terms get more traffic. But if you are not sure, I would go with the plural terms as they have the singular term in it already.

#3 – Create an I’m New Section completely dedicated to new people visiting the site, and make it a prominent link at the top or close to the top of your front page and in your main site navigation.

This can be one page or an entire section of pages on your site. Most churches already have this setup, but you definitely want to make it visible at the top or toward the top of your front page.

Some churches make their entire Front Page focused on new visitors, but that can lead to frustration when regularly explaining how to access sections of your website to your regular attenders which is explained in the next step.

Also, when you simply link to an I’m New Section and leave the rest of the space to create easy access points for your current attenders the new visitors get more of a sense of your church.

#4 – Setup your Front Page with easy access to the most USED and MENTIONED sections of your website that need regular access by your current attenders.

It can be challenging to figure out what to put on the Front Page of your church website that will be helpful to both new visitors and current attenders.

What can be more annoying and challenging a a regular basis is to have to explain how to access pages in your website by finding them in the navigation.

There are potentially many pages on your website that you do not need to have on your Front Page. They are just there for people to use and find as needed, or they are easily found once they get into a specific Section of your website.

But there are pages that you have to communicate every Sunday in your announcements such as the Kids & Youth pages, or you may have an ongoing special project that you refer to regularly. These should be linked on the Front Page so that all you have to do is say go to your main website address and find it.

It is extremely frustrating for people who attend to hear that they can go to the website and do or learn something, but then have to hunt through the navigation to find it.

Make those things you mention from the pulpit or in conversation on a regular basis easy to find by linking them on the front page.

#5 – Create two pages for each of the Interior Pages that both need to be regularly communicated to church members and that you want to be found in local search terms in your City.

One is the real page such as to help in search engines, and the other is a page that makes it easy to remember such as that just links to the real page.

This accomplished two purposes. By having the main page for your kids ministry focused on and optimized for example “kids ministry in Plano Texas”, you are helping the search engines rank you for that term.

By creating a dummy page on your website that is just and the redirects to your real page at you are making it easy to remember and communicate for volunteers and staff.

You want every page on your church website optimized for a search term, but also easy to communicate in conversation and SHORT too write out for written material. This two page approach is one way to help you accomplish that.

#6 – Fill in the church related search term gaps.

After creating, reworking and optimizing the main pages of your website you will have narrowed down your list of search terms. Most likely though, you will still have other terms on the list that you want to become found for in your area.

Fill in the gaps by creating pages or blog posts focused on these terms. Make sure they have content that is helpful to the person you intend to find and use the pages or posts.

If you cannot think of an actual page that you could create that would make sense, you can create a blog post focused on that specific variation of that term. This could be a recap of an event at your church, you could highlight a ministry or even a post with a video testimony story.

#7 – Create a local Community Guide page or entire section with information that can be found by potential new visitors searching for help to get settled in your area.

This strategy involves creating a page or section on your website that is designed to get found by people who are moving new into the area. In addition to potentially getting found by those people, you also have a chance at getting found by other local people searching for the same things.

You would create a local community guide landing page as well as pages within the guide specifically focused on information for people moving to the area, restaurants, banks, schools and anything else that you would like your church to become found online for locally.

#8 – Claim and Optimize your Local Business Directory Listings.

The first 7 steps are completed on your church website. This step is something that you accomplish off your website that helps Google know you are worth promoting in search.

Claiming and Optimizing Local Business Directory listings such as your Google Business, Bing Places, Yahoo Local, Merchant Circle, Manta, online Yellow Pages and many other listings lets Google and other search engines know your church is OPEN and being managed by a real person or company.

Google is looking for a consistency of your Church Name, Address and Phone Number as well as how complete and optimized the profiles of the listings are for your church. When there is profile completion and optimization it gives Google confidence that your church is real, open and being managed by real people.

You can get a full report of how your church is doing in these directories and much more by ordering your Church Online Website Assessment & Visibility Report explained below.

Want help with your Church Website Optimization?

Do you want help reworking your website to become better found in local search terms using the 8 step process above?

Order your Church Online Assessment & Visibility Report that will give you a detailed assessment of how well your church website and online presence is currently optimized, and you will receive recommendations for how to fix problems if yours is not optimized.

LINK >> Church Online Visibility Website Assessment Report

Church Website Optimization for New Visitors, Current Attenders and Search Engines

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