search marketing

3 Ways to Improve Church Search Engine Results

Written by Paul Steinbrueck

If you missed the first two articles in this series, check out:

  1. What is Church SEO?
  2. Why Church SEO Matters

In this article we’re going to take a look at the Google search engine results pages (aka SERPs), explain the things displayed there and how each is positioned.

Let’s start by taking a look at a screenshot of what I saw when I searched Google for “Church in Tampa” (without the quotes).

1) Paid Ads

The first items displayed at the top of the search results are two paid ads. (Note the green [Ad] displayed to the left of the web address.) Christ Fellowship Church Tampa and Restoration Church are using Google’s paid advertising platform, AdWords.

Using AdWords, churches pay Google each time someone clicks on their ad. How much they pay and which ad is shown first is determined by a bidding system. Sometimes Google shows as many as 4 ads at the top of the search results. If nobody in your area is bidding on church keywords in your city, there may be no ads.

AdWords is a good way to get to the top of the search results if you’re willing to pay per click.

2) Local 3 Pack

Immediately below the ads is a map, followed by 3 listings, and a link to “More Places.” Collectively, these items are referred to as the “local 3 pack.”

The information here comes from Google My Business (formerly known as Google Places). For a church to get into the local 3 pack, it must create and verify a Google My Business listing. Although, sometimes Google creates a church’s Google My Business listing using other data sources (which are not always accurate), and then the church has to claim the listing before it can update it.

Clicking on the map or the “More Places” link will take you to Google Maps where more local listings are shown.

We’ll explain the specific things you can do to improve your local search rankings in a future article in this series.

3) Organic Search Results

Below the Local 3 Pack, are shown the organic search results (sometimes also called general search results). Google currently shows 10 organic search listings per page. (We’re only showing 5 here for the sake of brevity.)

Notice that not all the organic search listings are for churches. The first one is a Yelp page showing their church listings. There’s also a listing for a website called The Local Churches. Sometimes Facebook pages come up in the search results.

We’ll explain the specific things you can do to improve your organic search rankings in a future article in this series.

Why Does This Matter?

First, each of these 3 areas (Ads, Local 3 Pack, Organic Listings) provides an opportunity to get onto the first page of the search results. Yes, it’s possible for a church to be in all 3 places.

Second, each of these 3 areas has a different search ranking algorithm. Therefore, the church SEO tactics for ads, local, and organic listings are all different.

Google is the highway to your church. -Paul Steinbrueck

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Stay tuned… in our next article we’ll explain the things that can cause search engines to penalize your website or not list it at all!

And if you’d prefer to have our team of church SEO experts improve your search rankings so you can reach more people in your community, click the link and request a free consultation.

Discussion: What comments and questions do you have about the three main parts of the search engine results pages?

About the author

Paul Steinbrueck

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck.

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