Smart tips to optimize a church website for SEO and usability

No matter a church's size or location, a website is essential today, providing necessary information while conveying the organization's unique characteristics. What's more, out of millions of websites, you need it to be easily found online through search engines, so it must be SEO-friendly, too.

A tall order? It doesn't have to be as difficult as it seems. Follow these tips to make your website easy to find, simple to navigate and highly engaging.

  1. Design for current and prospective members: Always remember that your website serves multiple audiences. You want it to be a resource for current members, but also easy to navigate for visitors. Not everyone comes to your site will know terms or acronyms specific to your church, so you may have to tailor the language appropriately. You might even consider a page designed specifically for new people with basic information that is educational and welcoming.
  2. Prioritize keywords for SEO: Search engine optimization, often referred to as SEO, is an important part of how Google and other search engines find your church's website. An interesting and informative website will inherently have important keywords in the copy, but knowing your target terms ahead of time an using them strategically in the copy - such as in headlines and links - can boost your ranking so you come up higher in search results. To learn more, check out this free Beginner's Guide to SEO from Moz, a leading authority on the subject.
  3. Images are important: You can try to describe how vibrant and full your church services are, but if you can display a colorful picture of Sunday's packed pews, that image is worth a thousand words. Make your website visually appealing to really give visitors an idea of what your church is all about. Remember to add file names and alt tags with keywords on all images to help search engines know what they are as well.
  4. Make it mobile-friendly: Your church's website must look good on a personal computer (PC) as well as mobile devices (tablets and cellphones). Keep in mind that 77% of Americans now own a smartphone, according to the New Media Institute, so many will be viewing it on a smaller screen. Test your website out and make sure it looks great on all types of devices where it will be accessed.
  5. Blog regularly: A great way to tackle topical as well as timeless subjects is to make a blog part of your website. Consider having various people contribute to a blog, posting at least once weekly. A blog is a great place to engage readers more deeply and show authority in the area. Plus, it's another ideal location to integrate those golden SEO keywords. (Insider hint: Cross promote you blog on your social media pages!)
  6. Google My Business: If you don't already have one, create a Google My Business account to add accurate information about the church (including hours, location, directions) and connect it directly to your website. This will help drive traffic as well as help you interact with people online.