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Key Factors for Success: Search

Church Web Site Page Ranking

The search companies have done a great job in making the Internet usable as an information tool. You need to ensure that people can find your church or ministry by understanding how search engines rank sites and taking steps to maximize your ranking.

Forget what you are told by SEO (Search Engine Optimization) companies who tell you they can get your page rankings through their special contacts or secret algorithms or proprietary 'back-doors'. Not only do they not work but they can cause you to be de-listed from search engines if you are caught 'SPAMing'. Google and others have built sophisticated algorithms to only analyze content that is available and useful to users. They exclude meta tags, hidden text and content that is not visible and presented in an acceptable written style.

Search engines do all they can to maximize the usefulness of the results to the user. They do this predominately by looking at 4 key factors:

  1. Are the search terms on the website page? If so are they scattered throughout the context on the page therefore indicating that the subject matter on the page is predominately focused on those keywords.
  2. What is the content of the pages on the site linked to this page? If they are also rich in the keywords it shows that the site has additional content that the user might be interested in.
  3. Are other sites that are also rich in relevant content and popular linked to (and less importantly from) this site? That shows that the site is relevant to other important information sites.
  4. Are key words in the page title and paragraph headers on the site? That indicates that the site authors consider the pages are predominately focused on that subject.

Once the content is prepared, the site needs to be submitted to the search engines. Most hosting companies offer some form of site submission but it is still important to manually submit your site to the two main category-based search engines: www.Yahoo.com and www.DMOZ.com.

For specific instructions on how to submit your ChurchSquare site login to your site, edit it and click on settings at the top and then on the search engine link.

SUMMARY:

Consider these in your Internet Marketing:

  • Carefully prepare site content and site links
  • Submit your site to search engines
  • List on local and denomination directories even if there is a modest cost (certainly not more than $100 per year)
  • Adding the web address to all marketing and public documents
  • Integrate the web site into your other marketing campaigns by loading similar graphics on the the site, providing more information and sign-up and the ability to contact someone for more information.

Don'ts - the following are unlikely to be cost effective:

  • Hire a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) firm
  • Purchase on-line banner advertising
  • Paid submission or inclusion services (although they can probably get you listed faster if you are a brand new site)
  • Expensive directory listings (certainly not more than $150 per year)
  • Send out e-mail to third party lists
  • Pay-per-click for a local church.

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