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How SEO Has Changed—Again—for Church Websites in 2018

Posted by Samantha Decker

December 5, 2017 6:30 AM

    

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No matter what you have a website for, one thing is certain:

SEO doesn't discriminate.

Just because you have a church website doesn't mean there are different SEO rules that do or don't apply. The same SEO strategies that businesses use for visitors to find their website must be used by church websites as well. And in order for your church website to be found, you're going to want to implement things that can cause your church website to pop up on the first page of Google.

You may think you have already achieved this goal—after all, your church website has a pretty high search engine ranking. But here's the kicker: SEO changes, and what once used to work like a charm, might no longer work like it used to, and that will affect your church’s SEO value!

Just like it's important to update your church website on a regular occasion, Google has to make some updates as well. The primary reason for doing so is to make it easier for the person using their search engine to find what they're looking for. But besides that, they adjust their algorithm to improve their website, make it more user-friendly, and increase user experience (UX).

For the sake of your church website, it's extremely important to stay in the loop when it comes to these algorithm changes. This is why we're letting you know how SEO has changed - yet again.

If you want your church website to perform well in the coming New Year, you'll definitely want to implement some of the latest SEO trends. And as luck would have it, we just happen to have four of them right here to help get you started.

 

1. Reconfiguring Keywords So That They Are Compatible with Voice Searches

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Hopefully you already know that when it comes to keywords, stuffing them into your content is the exact opposite of helpful. What you might not know, however, is that while keywords are still important, they are starting to be used a bit differently.

Oh and by the way, you have Siri and Alexa to thank for that.

No, these aren't the names of high-ranking Google employees, they are the names of two of the most popular voice-activated intelligent personal assistants.

Because of their increased usage, people are no longer typing certain keywords into the empty search engine box. Instead, they are using their phones, tablets, and other devices to ask for assistance when searching for information. For example, if a new person in the community is trying to find a church service to attend, they might say into their phones something like, "what time is Sunday service at the nearest Baptist church?"

In order to find the information, search engines can no longer rely on a few main keywords, instead they must now use broader content that is based on a certain topic.

In order to be effective when it comes to voice searches, here are some tips:

  • Focus more on keyword topics, sub-topics and related ideas
  • Answer what, where, when, and how questions in your content
  • Add an FAQ page to your website

If Siri is assisting with a search, incorporating these tips will definitely help lead people to your church website.

 

2. Providing a Mobile-Friendly Search Experience Is More Important Than Ever

If you don't think it's important your church website is mobile-friendly, it's crucial that you think again. If you don't believe us, just consider the following mobile marketing statistics:

  • When it comes to using the internet, 80% of internet users have a Smartphone
  • When it comes to mobile research, 48% of consumers start with a search engine
  • When it comes to mobile search traffic, a whopping 96% of it is driven by Google

In the year 2018, Google is going to be placing more importance than ever on giving users a positive UX when doing searches. They know that a lot of these searches are going to be done on mobile devices, which is why they are going to give mobile-friendly websites a higher page ranking. At one time, being mobile-friendly was almost an afterthought and was considered a bonus if a website worked well on a mobile device. Now, however, it's necessary to have a mobile-friendly website - that is if you want people to find your church website when using their mobile device.

 

3. Backlinks Are Still Necessary But They Need to Be High Quality

If you are at all familiar with SEO, you should know that backlinks are simply an incoming link to a webpage. Backlinks have always been a major metric when it comes to ranking websites, and while they still carry a lot of SEO weight, you now need to be more careful with them.

It used to be true that a large number of low-quality links could help to increase a website's search engine ranking. As Google caught on, however, they demoted websites that had irrelevant or unnatural backlinks. In the upcoming year, Google's new algorithm will focus more on the quality of links.

Here are some properties of high quality backlinks:

  • They come from web pages that are relevant to the topic discussed on your webpage
  • They come from trustworthy websites
  • They are found inside the webpage content rather than the header or footer
  • They flow naturally with the content

While getting high quality backlinks for a church website might be more of a challenge, it is certainly still worth it. In order to get links to your website, you should submit your website to online church directories. If anyone in your congregation has a trustworthy website, ask them to include a link on their site for you. You can also ask partnering ministries and organizations to link to your church website.

 

4. No Matter What, Content Remains King

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When it comes to websites, including church websites, one thing that has always remained true when it comes to SEO is that content is king. This certainly won't be changing in 2018, or any time soon, for that matter. It is good and informative content, after all, that draws users to a website in the first place.

Content that is both authoritative and trustworthy is especially valuable when it comes to good SEO practices. Besides that, engaging content can increase the time spent on websites, which is also something that Google takes into consideration when it comes to increasing SEO performance.

Here are some other reasons content will always remain king:

  • Content helps people gain knowledge
  • Useful and engaging content can help to build relationships
  • Quality content can foster brand loyalty
  • Meaningful and thought-provoking content encourages engagement

While these points are geared toward business websites, they can still be applied to your church website. For instance, if your church website contains meaningful content, it can encourage engagement by having visitors leave a comment on a blog post written by the pastor, or by sharing the post over social media. (By the way having a blog is a great way to provide content that can help to increase knowledge, build relationships with church members, and foster brand loyalty.)

Church websites should also have specific types of content, such as location, service times, what to expect, leader profiles, ministries, and upcoming events. Some of the most important information, such as the location, phone number, and service times should be included on every page.

 

Summing It Up

Phew! That is a lot of information about how SEO has changed and what it means for church websites in 2018. To help you retain the most pertinent bits of information for optimizing your SEO practices, here is a brief recap:

  • Voice searches are going to become more and more popular, so make sure you're focusing on keyword topics and related ideas, and not just keywords only
  • Be sure your church website is mobile-friendly
  • Always keep UX in mind
  • Find creative ways to get high-quality backlinks to your website
  • Don't let the focus on SEO affect the quality of your content
  • Include content on your website that you know users will be searching for

 

Next Steps

We hope this information helps you define your church website goals as you prepare for 2018! If you need help with your church website, we have plenty of SEO resources. If you’re looking for more ways to get your church website a well-oiled machine, download the Church Communicator’s Survival Guide! Click below to learn more and get your copy.

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Topics: Best Practices

    
 

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