Is it a Challenge for New Visitors to Find Your Church?
Our church is not located in a high traffic area. In fact, it is actually somewhat hidden on the far end of town tucked in off the main road. It is definitely not the most easily found church in town, but people have no problem finding our church.
The reason for this is that we have put simple steps in place to make sure we are easily found online. I am not talking about overly technical search engine strategies. These steps are easy to understand and simple to put in place whether you are using staff or volunteers or you have help from someone like FindingYourChurch.com
So what are those steps? Of course the list of things you can do is much longer than this, but here is what we have put in place at Journey Church to help us more easily get found online by potential new visitors.
8 Steps to Increased Online Findability for Journey Church
1. Claim and Optimize the Church Google Business Page
The most helpful first step I believe you can do to improve your Church online visibility is to claim and optimize your Church Google Business page.
The main reason for this is because these pages show up ABOVE local Church search results in Google and are connected to Google Maps. If your information is incorrect or incomplete there it will make a difference. Your Church can even look completely CLOSED if you have not updated this in awhile.
Google is constantly changing the format of this. So you may have updated and claimed this in the past, but it could look incomplete or different now because of recent changes.
Even if you think you have this under control, you still may want to update it and at least take a look to see what you can do to improve it.
If you have never done anything with your Church Google Business page you definitely need to claim yours and make sure all of your information is correct to make your Church easier to find.
2. Claim and Optimize Bing Local and as many of the Top 50 Local Business Directories as possible as completely as possible.
After you get your Google Business page under control, Bing and other local business directories should be next on your list. The reason for this is that Google treats your Church like a business so you need to do the same things local businesses do to increase local online visibility.
Other than Google and Bing you most likely will not get very many direct New Church Visitors from other local business directories like Manta, Merchant Circle, Kudzu or CitySquares. But direct traffic and visitors is not the purpose of claiming and optimizing these local business directories.
The purpose behind correcting and optimizing these directories is to cooperate with how Google chooses to rank and put trust in local businesses.
When as many of these listings as possible are AS IDENTICAL AS POSSIBLE it raises Google’s trust that your Church is OPEN. The reason for this is that when these are corrected Google knows it was not an accident and that real people are managing the business or church online. This gives Google confidence to raise both your Google Business page AND your Church Website in local search.
The key to this is having your Church Name, Address and Phone Number as exact as possible across as many of these listings as possible and exact on your Church Website.
3. Claim and Optimize Church Directory Listings
In addition to local business directories there are also a few local Church directories that you can claim and optimize that will help prove to Google that you are open. The main three I have found are ChurchFinder, FaithStreet and ChurchAngel.
An added benefit to claiming and optimizing these is that there may be real people searching these sites for a local Church. ChurchFinder has especially been very good at having a page very high in local search nearly everywhere. Most likely if you search for churches in your city you will find a ChurchFinder page on the front page of the results.
4. Get Positive Reviews on our Church Google Business page
In addition to the consistency of your Church Name, Address and Phone Number across local directories, Google Business page reviews are also used by Google when deciding to promote your Google page and Church Website.
The more Positive Reviews you have on the page the better. You want to at least get five 5 Star Positive Reviews on your Google page as it gives you a 5 Star Rating.
5. Post Content to your Church Google+ Page that is connected to your Google Business page.
Awhile back I had to get on Google Support to ask a question about why a Google page was not appearing in search results. They said one of the main things you can do to help your Google page increase in search rankings is to post content to your Church Google+ page.
Whether real people in your congregation view that page or not, it triggers Google to come back and crawl your Google page again which can help it increase when you make changes to it.
Choose some evergreen church content like blog posts and videos to share on the page. It will help you increase in visibility.
6. Converted the Website to a Mobile Responsive design.
One thing you have to have now if you want to move ahead in local search rankings is a mobile responsive website design. Google has made it clear that they are not going to promote websites that do not look great and function well on mobile devices.
There are online tests you can do, but just look at your site on a couple of different mobile phones and tablets. Does it resize correctly for each screen size? If not, it is time for an update not just for Google but for the good of the people who find and use your website.
7. Created our own Local Business Directory leading back to our Church Website
One idea that may not be for everyone is to create a local business directory on your website. The pages on this site are designed to help the church have a page in local search results for when people search for schools, restaurants, hotels, gyms and whatever else you can think of in your city.
This takes a lot of work to setup, but when you have it in place it can help your Church become found online by people who are NOT searching for Churches. This is not your typical outreach strategy, but you can literally have your Church in front of non-churched searchers 24 hours a day with this on your site.
Here is what we created at Journey Church. We put it under our “Ministries” tab in navigation.
Journey Church Local Business Directory
8. Created a Church Blog to communicate inside and outside the Church.
Finally, most Churches already have a blog feature enabled and in use on their website. But you can also use this to create specific posts on your site to get found for specific terms in your local community instead of just blogging randomly about church related topics.
You could feature a local sports team and have a targeted post for each team in your city. You could talk about your relationship with the city you are in and how you are helping local charities. You can link to content from your local TV stations and newspapers as individual posts.
When you focus each individual post on a local search term in your community those posts have the possibility of getting found by people in your city who are NOT looking for churches.
These steps are what we have done to get found at Journey Church. What are your best ideas for local online outreach?
FindingYourChurch.com can help your Church GET FOUND.
Do you want your Church to get found, but do not have to time, staff or volunteers to get it done? FindingYourChurch can help.
I am currently offering to help you claim and optimize your church Google Business page for ONLY $25. Not only will you receive my help with your Google page, but you will also receive one month FREE of the full version of The Finder Resource.
This service is listed on my website at $75, but at least for a limited time I want to offer it to you here for only $25.
My main reasoning for offering this at such a low price is because…
#1 – I want to help churches. It is that simple. I know that fixing this ONE ISSUE is critical to helping churches get found online by new visitors.
#2 – I want you to also try out the full version of The Finder Resource Membership for FREE. Inside the members area I walk you step by step through a process that your staff or even volunteers can do to drastically increase the online visibility of your church.
This membership is $25 per month, but you will receive one month access completely FREE when you allow me to help your church Google Business page for that same price. You will not be charged after that free month unless you choose to join the membership.
So the question is this. Would you like me to help your church Google page?
The first step is easy.
Simply click on the PayPal link and pay the small $25 to get started. I will send you an email requesting the information I need to claim and optimize your church Google Business page and you will also begin your one month FREE Finder Resource Membership Access immediately.
Click the “Pay with PayPal” button below to pay the $25 and begin your 30 day free trial of The Finder Resource Membership.