WHEN AM I EVER GOING TO USE SEO?
Unless you fell in love with math at an early age, you probably grumbled each time a new concept bogged your brain. However, as you started to “adult,” you realized there were actually practical applications to those pesky times tables and algebraic equations.
Like math, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) seems boring. I mean, all you care about is reaching people, right?
But the value in building an SEO-friendly site is this: When you increase your site’s traffic, more people have the opportunity to hear your message. And when more people in your target audience hear your message, there’s a greater chance they will connect with you.
When more people connect with you, you have an opportunity to impact their lives for the sake of the Kingdom.
WHAT IS SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, strategically creating your website’s content so search engines know when to include you in search results.
The reason is simple: Search engines match the words people type into the search box with the right website. The goal of the SEO game is to rank above similar content so that your audience will seek you first.
One of the most important aspects of SEO strategy is choosing the correct keywords. Keywords are the words and phrases that relate to a search query.
If that’s the case, it seems like you should just fill your website with as many keywords as possible, right? That’s called “keyword stuffing,” and not only is it awful to read, but Google’s also gotten pretty smart. It’s algorithm can spot that overused tactic a million miles away. If you want to know what we think about it ….
STUFFING IS FOR TURKEY, NOT KEYWORDS
I know; I’ve probably got you thinking about Thanksgiving now. Let’s run with it.
No proper turkey dinner would be complete without the stuffing. However, it’s not the highlight of the meal. Its purpose is to compliment the rest of the lovingly prepared meal.
Keywords should be an essential part of your entire content strategy. They complement the overall communication plan and have two roles to serve:
1. They Help Your Audience
When someone goes to Google, they’re looking for an answer to a question. If they’re struggling with addiction, they may search, “How to overcome addiction.” If you have a webpage with the title “How to Overcome Addiction,” Google will know to include you in the search results.
Or what if they need some help getting through grief? Maybe they’ll search, “grief scriptures.” To respond to that need, you could write a blog post called, “5 Scriptures for Walking through Grief.”
This is ultimately about empathy. You put yourself in other people’s shoes, imagine what they might search for, and then choose keywords to help them find you. Then, your target audience will have an easier time getting the help they’re seeking.
2. They Help Google
When someone enters their question into Google, helpful little spiders (think Charlotte’s Web, if you’ve got a case of arachnophobia) start crawling through Google’s database. They’re searching for the most relevant, useful content that applies to your audience’s specific question.
If you’ve written content that speaks to your audience’s problem using the proper keywords, those crawlers will see you as an authority. They’ll index and rank your page more highly.
However, you don’t gain instant credibility. There’s so much information on any particular subject that you have to reach specific parameters to gain rank. (More on that in a bit.)
Let’s break down the best ways to use keywords:
- Use “longtails”: Think key phrases instead of one or two words, like “how to overcome addiction to (whatever),” or “where to get help with grief.”
- Think about your organization’s location: If you’re trying to reach an audience in a specific geographic area, let your keywords reflect that (“Christian grief counseling in the greater St. Louis area”)
- Use them in different sections of your page: Apply specific keywords to your heading and body content (H1, H2, H3, Paragraphs)
TOP TIP: When it comes to keywords, valuable content is crucial, not just for SEO, but for reaching the people God has called you to.
IT’S A POPULARITY CONTEST, AND IT ISN’T
The whole point of Search Engine Optimization is to help get the correct right people to your website. Because there is an overwhelming amount of information for Google to index on any particular subject, it uses algorithms. These formulas determine whose website gets ranked at the top of search results.
Google’s algorithm ranks your website for any given keywords based on your Domain Authority (DA), which is partially based on:
- How many people have viewed your website
- How people have stayed on any given page
- The length of your domain’s existence
- The number of backlinks to your domain (backlinks are links from other websites that reference and drive traffic to your site.)
- Estimated traffic from social platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook
ArtSpeak Top Tip: Creating a unique keyword term on social media can essentially “game the system” and earn you higher SEO rank (ex. Mountaintop Community Church’s #FORBHM campaign).
Here’s how it works. You create a unique hashtag. Then, you begin conversations with your audience about that campaign. If they talk about it on social media or link back to your site, you gain rank on Google. Because this phrase is unique, there is little competition for your content, bringing it to the top of your audience’s search results.
The Answer Box on Google has become another pinnacle of achievement for those whose goal is to gain higher rankings. It’s also known as a Featured Snippet because of the way Google features specific content from your website that most closely matches the user’s question.
It’s Google’s way of saying, This is the most reputable source of information for this specific question.
TOP TIP: PageRank is about serving your audience well and providing content relevant to their needs. If you do this, you’ll make the relational connections that matter, which will increase your PageRank.
Because ultimately, this is about people, not gaming the system.
HOW TO USE ANALYTICS FOR MINISTRY
An effective communication strategy is one that includes a plan for measuring the success of your efforts. But first, you need to know what you want your audience to do when they get to your site.
Analytics are insights into your audience’s behaviors, questions, and concerns. Your content can influence the actions of your audience.
Is your goal to begin conversations through an email campaign? Or is your goal to drive website traffic to your church’s physical location? Knowing the answers to these types of questions will help you determine what to do with analytic information.
Looking to gain insight into your SEO data? We recommend the following resources:
In addition to the tools Google offers, we recommend these sites for keyword research:
TOP TIP: Analytics ebb and flow. Don’t get so caught up in the numbers that you lose sight of your true goal, reaching people with a life changing message.
God is far bigger than data and can put people in your path, according to His plan.
MINISTRY SEO: OUR TOP THREE TIPS
Here are three bite-sized tips that can be highly effective for increasing your reach.
- Do the keyword research
- Optimize for mobile users
- Optimize each page for users and Google
Remember that SEO is only one part of your communication efforts. Its importance to your strategy depends on your goals and your audience.
But don’t make it an afterthought. It has value in gaining you more opportunities to share your message with your target audience.
Looking for more insight into your website’s performance? Wanting to ensure you’re reaching everyone in your target audience? ArtSpeak exists to help you reach people. Our team empowers organizations all over the world, so that they can take their message to those who need to hear it.RELATED – If you’re a church creative managing messaging, visual identity, strategy, or all three at the same time—we get it, the fear of burnout is real! That’s why we created the ArtSpeak Creative Community. Restore your health and rediscover your creative purpose. Learn more here.
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