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Church Search Engine Optimization

Church search engine optimization involves making your web site visible in search engines. I would highly recommend you looking into my Higher Search Engine Optimization Explained page for general information first, and then reading this.

This page will highlight the most important elements, things that many church sites miss in their web page content, and thus make it hard for people to find the church.

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1. Site Architecture

The two biggest things I’ve seen in many church sites is the problem of frames and graphics only sites. First, if you have a framed site and your site doesn’t use the <NOFRAMES> tag, you need to. Try visiting Submit It to figure out how to change it. I would highly recommend you to recode your entire site so that it doesn’t use frames – that can increase your search engine ranking by a lot!

If you hve a lot of graphics on your site, try to find a spot in the page to add in a paragraph of text explaining your church, including the keywords below. Also, add "alt" tag text to your graphics, explained in Higher Search Engine Optimization Explained.

2. Understanding your audience

For church sites, you have two audiences
1. people who go to your church
i. who will use your church name to find your church “Bread of Life Church”
2. people who don’t go to your church but want to find it
i. don’t know about your church, so will use geographical, denominational or demographical information, such as “los angeles chinese church” when looking for a new church to go to.
ii. know about your church, so will use your church name

Now that you know what kind of searches potential people will use, its time to take a look at what specific keywords people may use.

3. Site Keywords

When you understand who your site audience is, it will be easier to pick keyword phrases to use in your title, meta-tags, and content. Keyword phrases for churches fall under mostly four categories

1. Church name – Bread of Life Church, Pinewood Community Church, etc.
2. Church demographics (language and ethnicity)– Chinese, Japanese, Mandarin, Spanish
3. Church denomination – Charismatic, Fundamentalist, Evangelical, Christian
4. Church geography – San Francisco, Bay Area, CA, Torrance, Colorado, Honululu

Furthermore, understand that you can have different sets and subsets of keywords. For example, for geography, you may choose to specify your city, and the larger metropolitan area. If your church is in the Los Angeles area (Westwood, Santa Monica, even Torrance), you may want to include "Los Angeles" as well as your particular city in your keyword choices.

You need to identify what are words that people would use for your church. My home church, for instance, would have
1. Home of Christ
2. Chinese, Mandarin
3. Evangelical, Christian
4. Fremont, CA, Bay Area

As keyword phrases because these words describe our church ministry, including name, languages, denomination, and geography. Once you have selected your phrases, you can put them into the site content.

And if your church name doesn’t have “church” in it, put it in somewhere!

4. Site Titles

Your title is highly important. Most church sites have at least their church name. My suggestion for my church’s title would be:

Home of Christ– An evangelical Christian Chinese church in Fremont, CA – Bay Area

This title encompasses all the important elements of a church and will greatly effect your search engine ranking.

5. Site Content

You can be more flexible with the words you put into your site body. In your site body, remember to put near the top 250 words of your page, the keywords from the four areas:
1. Church name – Home of Christ Church
2. Church demographics – Mandarin, Chinese
3. Church denomination – evangelical, bible, spirit-filled, Christian
4. Church geography – Fremont, Union City, Newark, Bay Area, CA (Union City and Newark are near Fremont… you may want to also put close by city names)

Somewhere in your front page, you will need all your keyword phrases. The closer the words are to the top, the better.

Furthermore, you should continue your search engine optimization work into other pages of your site. If your church has a particular strength or service offering, you should optimize a page for it, whether it be a listing of other churches, your pastor's sermons, or resources such as my Free Christian Books page.

6. Site linkage

Get your site linked from member home pages and also one or two important directories. When getting your site linked, use your church name and one or two church characteristics, such as

Home of Christ – Chinese Church in Fremont, CA

To find the right sites to link from, you can search the keywords that you think someone would use to find your site, based on geography, like “Fremont Christian Churches” or “Chinese Christian Churches” and then from the sites you find, either ask to be linked from those sites, or find out the resources that link to that site and have them link to you.

In short, you should try to be linked from

1. General Directories (dmoz.org, etc).
2. Christian Church Directories
3. Personal Home Pages (check out www.djchuang.com it has an amazing amount of resource listings.)
4. Other Churches and Ministries.

And that’s all folks – if you are a Christian organization and you need to reach a local audience, your targeted keywords may encompass

1. Ministry Name
2. Ministry Area
3. Ministry related words
4. Ministry geography

And you can follow the same guidelines posed above. It may take a little more research to find ministry related words.


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