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Continuing this month’s theme Church Website Builder Tips and Tools…
Just about every church website builder claims to be “SEO friendly” but there is no standard definition for what qualifies as “SEO friendly.”
Your search rankings have a huge impact on your church’s ability to connect with people searching online for a church. You can’t afford to just take someone’s “SEO friendly” claim at face value and then find out later – after you’ve built your website – that you can’t fully optimize your site and your search rankings will suffer as a result. So, here’s what to look for…
10 SEO Features to Look for in an SEO-Friendly Church Website Builder
1) Set Page URLs. Some website builders set the URL (address) of your web pages to something obscure like yourdomain.com/page13.htm Having keywords in the URL of your pages like yourdomain.com/clearwater-youth-ministry/ will help your web pages rank better for those keywords.
2) Mobile Friendly. More than half of all website visitors use a phone or tablet. When a person searches Google from a phone or tablet, Google shows “mobile search results,” which are different from the search results it shows computer users. One of the factors that affects mobile search results is whether a site is mobile-friendly or not. So, make sure your church website builder creates mobile-friendly sites.
3) Edit Title Tags. The title tag of a web page is not visible to visitors but is read by search engines and used on the search engine results pages (SERPs). Some web builders let you to set one title tag for the website and then use that one title tag for every page of the site (not good). Others don’t give you any control over title tags at all, automatically setting them to “[site name] – [page title]” (also not good). Make sure your church website builder allows you to set each individual page’s title tag.
4) Edit Description Tags. The description tag is another page element that is hidden from visitors but used by search engines and shown on the SERPs. Like the title tag, you want to be able to customize the description tag for each individual page.
5) Set Image Alt Attributes. When adding an image to a page, there is special attribute called an “Alt” attribute which is used to describe the image for people who are visually impaired. Because search engines don’t understand images they use alt attributes to tell what the images are about and factor them into search rankings. Some web builders don’t allow you to set the alt tags for your images. Make sure yours does.
6) Proper use of H1 & H2 tags. The HTML H1 tag is supposed to be used for the title of each web page. H2 tags are used for sub-titles. Search engines consider the words contained in the H1 tag the most important words on the page, and those contained in H2 tags the second most important. Each web page should have just one H1 tag and 1-3 H2 tags. I’ve seen some web builders create pages that have no H1 or H2 tags on them, while others have too many.
7) Sitemap. A sitemap is a list of pages in a website. Search engines use sitemaps to make sure they don’t overlook any pages in a website. Your church website builder should automatically generate a sitemap for your website.
8) Verifications. It’s a good idea to connect your website with the Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. If you do this, Google and Bing will notify you if they have any problems reading your website. To do this Google and Bing both have you verify your site by either inserting a hidden tag in the header of the website or uploading a special file into your web hosting account. Make sure your website builder will allow you do to verify your site in one of these two ways.
9) Blog. Technically, a blog is not usually thought of among SEO-friendly factors because you don’t need a blog to do the on-page optimization of a website. However, blogging is one of the best ways to improve a website’s search rankings, so it’s good feature to look for in your church website builder.
10) Social Share Buttons. Like a blog, social share buttons aren’t on most people list of SEO-friendly factors, but social shares do factor into some search engines’ ranking algorithms. Plus the more people who share your pages and blog posts, the more likely it is that people will link to your site/posts on their site/posts, and links are a big factor in search rankings.
The bottom line is…
Your church website builder should help your church get better search rankings not hinder it.
Because we at OurChurch.Com do SEO for churches, when we developed our WP-EZ Website Builder we made sure to include all 10 of these SEO capabilities, so it would be the best church website builder possible.
Comment and Discuss… How important do you think these SEO features are in a church website builder? Will you check for these SEO features before building your next church website? Why or why not?