While there are a handful of “mega churches,” the types that have international reach and huge followings, most churches, including catholic parishes, aren’t after that type of audience. For most, a solid local following and regular neighborhood attendance is all they need to thrive.
But, as more and more potential attendees transition their lives online, many catholic parishes are missing opportunities to connect. And, sometimes, these missed opportunities can mean the difference between a successful church and one that’s struggling.
In order for catholic parishes to not miss out, they need to do one thing in particular on their websites: integrate local keywords.
Power of SEO
Because so many people are now trained to search for everything, from pizza restaurants to Sunday worship times, online, it’s critical that your parish is found whenever (and wherever) they are looking. For the most part, Google still reigns for online searches, which means optimizing your website for great results can be a huge boost for attendance.
The best way to get this type of SEO (search engine optimization) is fairly simple, but many catholic parishes, especially the ones in your local area, aren’t taking advantage.
The key is using local keywords, the words and phrases that the majority of people in your community use when they’re looking for answers to their questions or information. For example, as a catholic parish you might try targeting local keywords on your website like, “Best Catholic Parish in (your city or town)” or “Catholic services in (your city or town)” or “Catholic events in (your city or town)”.
According to recent research, nearly 20% of all people using local search terms online are ready to take action. Not implementing a local SEO strategy means that another church is taking attendees that could have been more interested in your community if your parish’s website had only been viewed first.
Below are some great tips for using local keywords on your website to boost your parish’s online visibility.
Tip #1: List Your Business with Google
It makes sense that Google would be partial to businesses that use their listing tools, which is why getting your business on Google My Business is a great first step to improving your local SEO strategy. Because one of the main searches for catholic parishes has to do with your location and service information, having a listing on Google makes it easy for people in your area to see where you’re located and when worship and mass takes place.
Simply adding your NAP (name, address and phone number), along with attendance times, can boost your attendance immediately.
Once you have this listing set up, it’s crucial to keep it up to date so that people are never given inaccurate information. Nothing says you’re not interested in getting new members and attendees more than outdated information online.
Tip #2: Do Your Research
To know which local keywords you should be targeting, you need to do your research – and plenty of it. Yes, you can guess to some extent, but the more creative and accurate you can get with your keywords, the more visible your website will be.
You can use several different research tools to analyze the search volume of certain words and phrases, which is helpful for pointing you in the right direction.
It’s also valuable to think outside the box, asking yourself what potential attendees or members are searching for online. Is there a way you can show up in local searches again and again so that you grow your presence in your community? What type of content can you create and publish that uses these keywords and phrases while providing value to your audience?
The better your keywords, the better your website, the better your ranking, and the better your attendance.
Tip #3: Optimize Everywhere You Can
Adding local keywords, while it sounds simple enough, can actually be quite involved, especially when you’re wanting to cover all of your bases. While some of the places to add this local SEO content is fairly intuitive and easy to find, other places stay hidden unless you know to look for them.
Optimizing your URL, title tags, headers, meta descriptions, and as much web content as possible is often done ineffectively – or not at all. Learning how to do this type of website optimization yourself, or hiring a professional team to do it for you, is one of the best ways you can take advantage of technology.
Tip #4: Build Local Links
One of the ways Google ranks websites is through their “link profiles.” This means that you need to think about ways that you can build quality local links to help establish your website as an authority. To do this, you first need to be aware that there are plenty of services that promise to do this for you “really fast” and deliver “tons” of links.
Beware, not only is this bad business but it often flags Google and hurts your listing. The best link building practices are those that are natural and authentic. Being involved in your community, reaching out to see how you can help other businesses or take part in events has proven effective again and again. Even online, helping someone else out always pays you back ten-fold.
According to Cody Jensen, the CEO of Searchbloom, you can think about link building as “driving traffic to your website and strengthening your reputation and visibility with your target readership.”
Jensen recommends other ways you can generate powerful local links, mentioning participating in local contests, building offline relationships (with people and businesses that have online presences), and getting involved in online discussions, even those that are sometimes considered controversial.
Let’s Get Started
While nothing will give you overnight success (and you should beware of anyone promising this type of service), these local SEO tips are a great way to start creating a fruitful online presence, one that, with time, will position your parish and its community at the forefront of your local area.
And, if you’re looking for help creating a website that is designed for getting great local SEO results, look no further than Freshy Sites.
Our team of expert designers and builders understand the ins and outs of Google and other search engines – and we can help you create a website built for local success.
Get in touch with us today!