Church SEO in 2024

Church SEO allows people to find you.  Your website is only the beginning.  A website without SEO is your beautiful church sign at the end of a dead-end, where there is no through traffic. No one sees it, and no one will be affected by your website.  This time in our history is the most competitive for people’s attention ever.  

People WILL NOT go the extra mile to find you,
you have to be easy to find 

Today, there is too much competition to be passive in the crucible of ideas.

Without Church SEO, your website is as useful as an old sign at the end of a dead-end street.

Don’t be that website!  Get Church SEO!

Start: SEO is the Child of Search.

Imagine your church website as a bustling marketplace of faith. People come with different needs: they seek answers, want to join a service, and are looking for volunteer opportunities. “Do, Know, Go” is like a helpful map that helps you understand what each visitor is looking for and guides you in serving them best.

Do = Transactional Know = Informational Go = Navigational

DO: Consider these folks the “let’s get things done” crowd. They come with a clear task in mind, like signing up for a Bible study or donating online. Your job is to make that process smooth and easy. Think clear buttons, simple forms, and step-by-step instructions. Understanding their “DO” intent makes their experience effortless, attracting more visitors who want to take action.

KNOW: Picture these folks as curious wanderers seeking guidance and understanding. They might ask questions like “What does the Bible say about forgiveness?” or “How can I find peace of mind?” Your content becomes their guide, offering sermons, blog posts, or FAQs to answer their queries. By catering to their “KNOW” intent, you provide valuable information, build trust, and attract those seeking knowledge and faith.

GO: Imagine these folks as the “location-aware” seekers. They might search for “churches near me” or “family-friendly worship services.” Your website must be clear and visible, appear high in search results, and showcase your address and service times. Understanding their “GO” intent, you help them find your doors easily, welcoming those actively seeking your church.

Types of Search

Church SEO Do-Know-Go

Why Do, Know, Go?

  • Higher rankings: Cater to what people are searching for, and search engines reward you with better visibility.
  • Happier visitors: Smooth sailing for visitors means they stay longer and come back.
  • Targeted content: Attract the right audience by offering exactly what they need.

Tip 1: Start with the Basics [The Foundation]

You first must have access to your webpage and Google Search Console. Click here to start with Google Search Console. It will ask for your sitemap (a file on your website that lists all your page). Most websites will be www.example.com/sitemap.xml, Yoast, or Rank Math generated their own.

Google Search Console:

  • Think of it as a secret control panel for your website. It tells you how many people visit, what keywords they use to find you, and even if there are any broken windows (technical issues) needing repair. You can use this information to improve your website and make it even more welcoming.
  • It’s like having a friendly greeter at the door who keeps track of everyone coming in, what they’re looking for, and if they stumbled over anything. You can then use this information to improve the entrance, add more signs, or adjust the lighting to make your sanctuary even more inviting.

Sitemaps:

  • Think of these as detailed maps of your website, showing every room, corridor, and hidden nook. These maps are vital for Google’s “search bots” who crawl the internet, ensuring they see every beautiful corner of your sanctuary.
  • Imagine a maze-like cathedral with hidden courtyards and secret chapels. A good sitemap is like a detailed map guiding the bots through every passage, ensuring they don’t miss any hidden treasures your church offers.

Why are these important?

  • Higher visibility: By using Search Console and sitemaps, you’re basically sending out invitations to Google, saying, “Look here! Our beautiful sanctuary is open and ready to welcome anyone seeking it.” This increases your chances of appearing higher in search results, like a brightly lit sign on a busy street.
  • Better understanding: Search Console tells you what people are searching for to find you. This helps you tailor your content and message to their needs, making sure they find exactly what they’re looking for when they step through your virtual doors.
  • Fewer broken windows: Search Console also alerts you to any technical issues like broken links or missing pages. It’s like having a maintenance crew constantly checking for cracks in the walls and ensuring everything is in tip-top shape for your visitors.

Remember, Google Search Console and sitemaps are like invaluable tools for making your church website shine in the online world. By using them effectively, you can attract more visitors, provide a better experience, and ensure your message of faith reaches every soul seeking it. Let’s open the doors wide and welcome everyone with the power of these helpful tools!

Search Explained

Tip 2: Play by the Rules [No Shortcuts]


Imagine your church website as a vibrant festival with amazing music, delicious food, and welcoming smiles. People would naturally flock to it, right? But imagine someone trying to cheat by putting up fake posters claiming you have dancing elephants and free pizza (when you clearly don’t). That’d backfire, causing confusion and disappointment.

SEO works similarly. Search engines set certain “rules” to ensure everyone has a fair chance and users find relevant, trustworthy information. Playing by these rules, like using relevant keywords, writing high-quality content, and building authentic links, is like baking a delicious cake—people will naturally be drawn to its honesty and goodness.

However, some try to “cheat” the system with tactics like:

  • Keyword stuffing: Overloading your website with irrelevant keywords like “pizza, elephants, music, church,” hoping to trick search engines. 
  • Buying links: Paying websites to link to your site, even if they have nothing to do with your church. It’s like bribing people to invite you to their parties, but they secretly dislike you!

These “cheats” might work temporarily, but eventually, search engines catch on and penalize your website.

Create Great Content

Tip 3: How it Works, Robot.txt, Crawlers [Artificial Intelligence]

How do Search engines ‘read’ your website? These programs are called Googlebot / Bingbot. It is important because they need access to see all your hard work.

Think of Googlebot like a super-smart explorer that scours the internet, jumping from one website to another, and collecting information to build Google’s search index. It’s like a librarian organizing books on shelves so that when you ask a question (search), Google can quickly show you the most relevant information.

This crawling process is vital because it helps Google understand what each website is about and how good it is. That way, when you search for something, Google can show you the most helpful and reliable results from its index. So, if your website is easily accessible and understandable to Google’s explorer (Googlebot), it’s more likely to show up in search results when people look for what you offer.

Google Bot, Myth and truth

Tip 4: Local Church SEO or Local SEO (getting found by your neighbors)

What is Local SEO? It is getting found by your neighbors, not people too far away to attend.  

Local SEO is like putting a big spotlight on your business for folks nearby. It helps your shop or services pop up first when people nearby search for what you offer online. It’s all about being easily found by locals looking for what you do in their neighborhood.

Sure thing! Local SEO is about fine-tuning your online presence so that when people in your area search for products or services you offer, your business appears prominently in their search results. It involves optimizing your website, creating local listings, getting reviews, and ensuring accurate information across online platforms like Google Maps. Essentially, it helps your business shine bright in the digital world for customers right in your neighborhood.

Local Church SEO

Tip 5: The Big Secret [Content is King]

Church SEO is the same as Business SEO to School SEO, the key is don’t blend in. Research who you want to reach. Make the website distinct.  

Great content is like a magnet for search engines. When you create awesome stuff—like helpful articles, engaging videos, or informative guides—it’s like throwing a huge party that everyone wants to attend.

Search engines, like Google, love to recommend parties (websites) where everyone has a fantastic time (engages with the content). So, when you create top-notch content that answers people’s questions or entertains them, search engines notice. They’ll want to invite more people (show your website in search results) to your awesome party (your website) because they know it’s a great place to be.

If you have a very specific idea, separate it on a Landing page; See our Dedicated Landing Page Step by Step, with examples.

Content is still King.

Tip 6: Keywords and Research [What works for you]

Why are Keywords important? They speak your audience’s language: Think of words like “finding inner peace” or “family-friendly church.” Research reveals what terms people type into search engines to find places like yours. By using these keywords, you’re basically putting up signs saying, “Hey, we offer what you’re looking for!”

They boost your online visibility: Imagine your website buried deep in the city’s back alleys. Great keyword research helps search engines understand your content, pushing it up in their results lists like a bright neon sign. The better your research, the closer you get to the bustling main street, where more people can see your message.

They attract the right crowd: Not everyone in the city needs a church, right? By choosing specific keywords, you’re filtering your audience like a friendly bouncer. You want folks seeking spirituality, not lost tourists looking for pizza. The right keywords guide people who truly resonate with your church’s values.

Focused Content

Tip 7: Links [Show Google who you are]

Imagine your church website as a beautiful cathedral full of amazing stained glass stories. Imagine this cathedral exists not just on its own but within a grand city filled with museums, cafes, and other fascinating places. Internal and external links act like bridges and doorways within this city, guiding visitors around and helping them discover even more treasures.

Internal links: Think of these as stained glass windows within the cathedral, connecting different stories and guiding visitors deeper into your own content. Linking a sermon on hope to a page about volunteering opportunities shows visitors how these things connect. By weaving these links around your website, you help people find all the beautiful aspects of your church’s message.

External links are like doorways leading out of the cathedral to explore related parts of the city. Linking to a relevant charity’s website shows you support their work and broadens your visitors’ understanding of your values. But remember, you wouldn’t link to a pizza shop, right? Keep these links relevant and valuable, adding another layer of richness to your online presence.

Why are these links important?

  • They improve user experience. Imagine getting lost in the cathedral because there are no signs! Links guide visitors effortlessly, keeping them engaged and helping them discover more of what your church offers.
  • They boost your SEO: Search engines appreciate well-connected websites like people enjoy discovering interesting places through connected streets. The more relevant links you have, the better your website ranks in search results, making it easier for people to find your cathedral in the online city.
  • They build relationships: Linking to other relevant websites shows you’re part of a bigger community, fostering trust and collaboration. It’s like saying, “We’re all part of something important here.”

A Real Linking Strategy

Tip 8: Images Speak Louder, But Only With Alt Text


Imagine your church website as a beautiful stained-glass window depicting stories of faith and hope. It’s stunning, but unless there’s a little plaque telling the story behind each image, people might just admire the colors and move on. That’s where alt text and image descriptions come in, acting like those informative plaques, helping Google and visitors truly understand what your images are all about.

Why are they so important?

  • Search engines can’t see: Think of Google’s “crawler” like a curious visitor who can’t understand pictures. With good alt text and descriptions, you’re handing them a helpful guide, whispering the stories behind each image. This helps Google index your website correctly, ensuring your beautiful stained glass windows show up in the right search results.
  • Accessibility matters: Not everyone can see the physical images on your website. People using screen readers or with low vision rely on these descriptions to understand what they’re missing. By providing clear alt text and descriptions, you’re opening your digital doors to everyone, making your church website inclusive and welcoming.
  • SEO boost: Just like those informative plaques tell a captivating story, well-written alt text and descriptions can entice visitors to stay longer and explore more. Google also appreciates relevant keyword usage in these descriptions, giving your website a little lift in search rankings.

So, how do you write good ones?

  • Be concise and descriptive: Think of these like mini headlines for your images. Avoid generic terms like “picture” or “church.” Instead, be specific: “Children singing joyfully in the choir loft” or “Sunlight streaming through stained glass window depicting the Holy Spirit.”
  • Use relevant keywords: If your image shows children’s choir practice, include “children’s ministry” or “youth group.” This helps Google connect your images to relevant searches.
  • Keep it natural: Write like you’re talking to a friend, not reciting a textbook. Avoid keyword stuffing or being overly promotional.

Remember, alt text and image descriptions are like friendly whispers that bridge the gap between your beautiful visuals and the outside world. By using them wisely, you ensure your church website is not just seen but truly understood and appreciated by everyone, boosting your SEO and opening your doors to a wider audience seeking faith and inspiration.

Let your images shine bright with the power of descriptive text, and watch your online sanctuary become a beacon of understanding and inclusivity!

A Real Linking Strategy

Here are some great Resources for this

Tip 9: Resources [Don’t go it alone]

Here are just some of the tools to help you dig a little deeper.

Dig Deep, SEO is not a Secret Science

Tip 10: Have A Digital Strategy [Have a Plan]

The MOST IMPORTANT Piece of a Successful Church Marketing Strategy is a Successful product. You don’t start with marketing if your product is not awesome. You do have a product and currency. While you are not selling a product for cash, your marketing service(s) are worth their time. Are your services(s) worth the time? 

Before you advertise, you need TWO things.

  1. Ensure your Sunday Service or your Church services (ministries) are Awesome.
  2. Determine who you are trying to reach and what they are searching for.

How Churches Plan Digitally

Tip 11: Landing Pages [A Key part of any Strategy]

A Landing Page is a webpage on your site that covers a single narrow subject, with a specific goal and an audience in mind. For example, if you run a specific ministry like Grief Share, you create a page that only talks about this ministry, shows photos of this ministry, and has an online form to sign up or ask a question.

You can create a Grief Share event or post on Facebook and Instagram, and when they click that post, it goes right to the Grief Share landing page. A specific audience will find you and the specific need filled by you that will answer their questions.  Landing Pages help define who you are by highlighting what makes you unique.   See more help here

What is a Landing Page

Tip 12: Be Mobile-Friendly [Meet the People where they are at]

Imagine your church website as a beautiful sanctuary filled with warm light and welcoming smiles. Now, picture most people trying to glimpse it through a tiny keyhole! That’s what happens if your website isn’t mobile-friendly – it’s beautiful but inaccessible to most of your audience.

Let’s face it: most people use their phones to access the internet. Google Search even tells you what percentage of your visitors use mobile devices through Google Search Console – an essential tool for any website owner. If you see a high number (and trust me, you will!), it’s not a suggestion, it’s a flashing neon sign saying “Make your website mobile-friendly or risk missing out on a huge audience!”

Here’s why it’s crucial:

  • Convenience is king: People use instant information and seamless experiences on their phones. A clunky website that requires squinting and zooming is a major turn-off, driving them away to churches with user-friendly mobile presences.
  • SEO loves mobile: Google prioritizes mobile-friendly websites in search results. If your website isn’t optimized for phones, it’s buried deep in the digital wilderness, invisible to those seeking solace and guidance.
  • First impressions matter: Most people discover your church online first. A mobile-friendly website with clear information and easy navigation leaves a positive, accessible impression, while a frustrating mobile experience can be the last one they ever have.

It more than fits, it works great

How many were using mobile? Look here.

seo for the church

Tip 13a: HONESTLY: Our Mistake. I hope you can learn from them

Imagine your church website as a beautiful sanctuary filled with warm light and welcoming smiles. Now, picture most people trying to glimpse it through a tiny keyhole! That’s what happens if your website isn’t mobile-friendly – it’s beautiful but inaccessible to the majority of your audience.

Let’s face it: most people use their phones to access the internet. Google Search even tells you what percentage of your visitors use mobile devices through Google Search Console – an essential tool for any website owner. If you see a high number (and trust me, you will!), it’s not a suggestion; it’s a flashing neon sign saying, “Make your website mobile-friendly or risk missing out on a huge audience!”

Here’s why it’s crucial:

💁More Help and Tips to make your church Website Mobile Friendly 🥧Top 10 Mistake we Made- A little Church SEO Humble Pie

It more than fits, it works great