search marketing

3 Ways to Improve Church Search Engine Results

Written by Paul Steinbrueck

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Did you know there are multiple ways to get onto the first page of the Google search results pages (SERPs)?

That’s because there are 3 different types of listings shown on each page.

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).

church SEO - church search results

1) Paid Ads

The first items displayed at the top of the search results are paid ads. (Note the bold “Ad” displayed to the left of the web address.) Mission Hill Church is using Google’s paid advertising platform, Google Ads. For this search there is just one ad.

church SEO - search results, paid ads

Using Google Ads, 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.

Google Ads is a good way to get to the top of the search results if you’re willing to pay for each person who clicks.

2) Local 3 Pack

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

church SEO - local search results

The information here comes from Google Business Profiles (formerly known as Google My Business). For a church to get into the local 3 pack, it must create and verify a Google Business Profile. Although, sometimes Google creates a church’s Google Business Profile 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 usually shows 10 organic search listings per page. (We’re only showing 2 here for the sake of brevity.)

church SEO - general search results

Notice that not all the organic search listings are for churches. The second one is a Yelp page showing their church listings. 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.

Comment and Discuss:

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

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    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.


    • I have a Christian doctrine website: The End Times Church. This includes numerous articles on a wide range of Christian topics. I also have a very large email list, and I send out articles to various lists. Each article promotes the website and my books. But I am still not getting the response I
      would like to have.

      • Hi Jim, sorry to hear you’re not getting the response you would like. There are a lot of end times ministries and books out there and it can be difficult for a website and author to be found through all that. Most of what we’ve written in this “What is Church SEO?” series applies to your website. I hope you’ll give it a read.

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