Have you heard the acronym SEO? It's short for Search Engine Optimization. What it means in a nutshell is that a website is primed to be easily found through a search engine. If you've ever used Google, Bing, or Yahoo search engines to find things online, you know that you don't always get what you're looking for.
Sites that are SEO-optimized generally appear closer to the top in search engine results. Where your website appears among those searches is your ranking, and unless you're already at the top it's worth improving your position.
If a parishioner wants to know a church's street address or phone number, the parish website is the first spot they'll likely check. But when the web visitor doesn't know your website address they'll likely do a search. Will a snowbird find your parish website if they're searching for the closest church?
Good SEO makes your site easier to find. Here are five simple tips to improve your parish's SEO and drive you toward the top of search engine results.
5. Keywords and Keyword Phrases
These are simply a collection of keywords that help search engines identify the main topics of your site. These words are invisible to visitors, rather they appear in the META tags of a page -- and if you're a Websites from Our Sunday Visitor user you can find and adjust your keywords through the control panel. Google has recently reduced the importance of keywords in META tags, but some search engines still use these to help identify content.
Use keywords that are descriptive and as unique to your parish as possible. What sets your parish apart from others that share the same name?
St. Paul Church Philadelphia, Philadelphia church, catholic church Philadelphia
Catholic, St. Paul, Catholic church, St. Paul mass schedule
Keywords and keyword phrases should be bite-sized -- don't exceed 5-7 words per keyword phrase. It's best to pick 5-10 keywords and phrases. You can certainly do more, but beyond the first 15 it's unlikely you'll improve your odds.
4. Header / Headlines
Most pages have a headline that displays main idea of that page in big, bold letters toward the top of the page. E.g. "St. Paul Catholic Church Huntington" as a header will be found faster by search engines, which means your site will be found faster when looked for. This is your <h1> tag, which is markup code for Header 1 tag. This tag should be present on every page and should prominently display the main idea. Search engines look for these headlines when they index.
3. Alt Tags
Have you ever hovered over an image to see the small text appear that describes the image? These are alt tags and they're important because search engines look for these tags to help describe content. They can impact your ranking.
The more people that link to your website the better your ranking. Search engines consider these backlinks as a form of reputation. The more people that link to your site, the more likely it is that your site is the primary location for the original search terms. Invite other websites to link to yours!
In the modern age of websites, content is king! Keeping the content of your website relevant is the number one way to improve your SEO. Don't be afraid to update content, load new images and tell new stories.
The marriage of all these rules will ensure your parish website is easy to find through search engines!