(Updated on 3/31/2011)
Are the pages of your website optimized for the search engines? If not, you are missing out on visitors to your website and to your church, missing out on people who are looking for God. On-page optimization is the essence of search engine optimization and the key to targeting the keywords that can make your website a success.
What is On-Page Optimization?
On-page optimization refers to all the optimization done on the actual pages of your website. This includes both visible elements, like optimizing text, and behind-the-scenes work, like optimizing META tags. Search Engine Optimization has essentially three main parts, keyword research, on-page optimization, and track/reporting. (You could also technically include link building). These elements of SEO could also be described as research, implementation, and tracking the results. On-page optimization is the implementation stage of search engine optimization. With on-page optimization, you target specific keywords and help the search engines to rank you well for these keywords. (If you’re not sure what keywords to target, read our article series on Keyword Research)
Can The Search Engines Even Read Your Site?
If you have a Flash® website, you may have an “Alternative Content” feature which creates an html page of the content of your website. Some site’s don’t have this option and even when they do, it’s often more difficult to fully optimize. I recommend not using a full Flash® site. You can use Flash® on a site, just set it up so the site itself is an html site and just have some Flash® elements. Keep in mind that any Flash® elements will not be able to read by the search engines.
If you have much of your content in images, they it would be a good idea to change that so the content is in regular html. These days you can use CSS to stylize the text so you don’t have to use graphics for text.
SEO Is Hugely Important for Churches!
SEO is important for any site, but for churches it’s even more important for churches. Look at the image to the right. Those are the search results for “church near Colorado City, AZ”. Three out of the top four results (including the top two results) are Mormon or Jehovah’s Witnesses churches. Generally speaking, about 65% of all searches click through the top two search results. So, when someone is looking for a church who doesn’t know one church from the next, how important do you think it is for your church to be number 1? It could literally be the difference between a person becoming a Mormon or a Christian.
With the stakes being so high, let’s take a look at what you need to do to optimize your church’s website for the search engines.