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Search Engine Optimization

There are really only two ways someone will find your church or organization on the Internet: on purpose or by searching. They’ll find it on purpose if they already have the Web address of your website, which accounts for about 13% of Internet visitors to your site. The other 87% will find it (or not) by conducting an organic search using a search engine like Google. Therefore, you want to be sure your site adheres to search engine optimization best practices so it will appear in the search engine results pages (SERPs) among the top sites.

First, let’s explain a few terms commonly used in the SEO world:

  • Keywords— words used by search engines to determine the topic of a given webpage. These are also the words for which users search./li>

  • Meta tags— descriptors of a webpage that let the search engine know the purpose and content of that specific webpage.

  • Backlinks— links that originate on one website and link to another website.

  • Indexing— the process of submitting your website to search engines.

  • Spiders— programs that scour the Web continually for various reasons, including indexing webpages for search engines or sending spam email to your inbox. Spiders can also be known as “crawlers” or “bots.”

The next step in search engine optimization is to submit your website to Google for indexing. Google is by far the most widely used search engine and it performs more than 50% of all searches on the Internet. Visit http://www.google.com/addurl to submit your website for listing. Then, check to see if Google has indexed all your webpages by visiting Google.com and entering the following in the search box: site:http://www.yourwebsiteaddress.org (“yourwebsiteaddress.org” refers to the actual Web address for your website). This will generate a list of all the webpages Google has indexed for your website. If pages are missing, you can submit a site map. Follow the instructions for submitting a site map in the Google Webmasters section.

With more than 195 million websites and over 45 billion webpages on the Internet, there are few things you can do to increase your chances of being found when someone searches for the things your church or organization offers. The first place to start is with the title meta tag you use to name the webpage. The title tag should be descriptive of the content on the page. Spiders start reading pages from the top, and the title tag is one of the first things a spider encounters when crawling your webpages. Next, the spiders will look for a description meta tag containing up to 150 characters. Each page of your website should have a description tag that describes the content on the page in a coherent way using keywords and phrases. This should not simply be a list of keywords; that goes in another tag. It should read like a sentence but include some keywords and phrases that describe the page’s content.

While not as effective as they once were, keyword meta tags are still a good idea to include. These are located within the head section of your page’s code (HTML) and contain a list of keywords found within the page. In addition, you will want to use H1 headings near the top of your page content since spiders like these when crawling pages to return search results. Finally, consider getting your church’s website address listed on higher ranking websites like local community online directories. If you update your church’s Find-A-Church profile and list your website address there, this will also increase your ranking with search engines since UMC.org is a high-ranking website.


Learn more about SEO:

Video Tutorials from Google:

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