7 FREE SEO Tools For Churches | Ep. #105

Pro Church Daily is the show where - in ten minutes or less - you’ll get your daily dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus, while navigating the biggest communication shift we’ve seen in the last 500 years.

May 9th, 2018

One of the top priorities of your website is ranking well in search so that you can be discovered by new visitors. Brady shares 7 tools for search engine optimization.

What’s In This Session?

Show Notes & Resources Mentioned

The Full Transcript

Alex Mills: Well, hey there and welcome to ProChurch Daily. This is the show where in 10 minutes or less, you’ll get your daily dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus, while we try and navigate the biggest communications shift that we’ve seen in the last 500 years. I’m your host Alex Mills, and I’m joined as always by the boss man. It’s Brady Shearer and today we’re talking about seven free SCO tools for churches.

Brady Shearer: One of the core responsibilities of your church’s website is to rank high in search engines. SCO, it stands for search engine optimization, things that you can do to make sure that your website is optimized for search engines, so that when someone is searching for hope and community and purpose through a church family in your area, your church can be found. Otherwise, they’re not going to be able to discover your church. First impressions are being made online nowadays. Your church’s website should rank as high as possible in search engines.

How can we do that? Well here are seven free tools that you can leverage and use to make that happen. The first is Google my business. This is the free business listing on Google, if you search for any restaurant or any local organization in your area. What happens is, yeah, you see the search engine listings on the left column but there’s a right hand column that is the Google My Business profile. There you’ll see pictures. You’ll have contact information, phone number, email, reviews show up there. You can post updates nowadays, so if you’ve got a huge Christmas service or Easter service, you can post an update to your Google My Profile business listing.

Alex Mills: Oh that’s cool.

Brady Shearer: There’s like a social update component to it right within Google.

Alex Mills: Wow.

Brady Shearer: There’s so much that you can do with this. It si 100% free. Google’s going to have to email, sorry basically mail something to you, to your address to prove that your local listing actually exists. Then that’s good to go, and it’s in Google now forever.

Alex Mills: Yeah, and this one’s going to help you all across the web, in so many different ways. This is really going to help index your site, and like you said, just make your church more discoverable to the people who are looking for hope, purpose, community, all that good stuff. You know that your church is where people are going to find it, so this is a great first step.

Brady Shearer: Free SCO tool number two is Google page speed insights. Here you can check the speed and usability of your website on multiple different devices. This tool is going to give you page stats as well as optimization suggestions. These suggestions are important because they are coming from Google.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: The person that is actually grading your website.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: So if your boss came to you and said, “Hey, if you came on time to work, I’d enjoy that,” you’d probably care more about that than if your grandma said it. Grandma, you’re nice but you just, my boss is the one that I’m going to listen to what he or she has to say. Same principle here.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Free SCO tool number three, Maz Local Listing score. What’s cool about this is that this a free tool from Maz which is a leading provider on paid SCO tools, but they’ve got some great free stuff as well. What this tool is going to do is it’s going to score how your church performs on more than 15 local search platforms. It gives you kind of these four categories. It gives you complete, incomplete, inconsistent and duplicate. It’s going to tell you, okay, 67% of what we suggest you do, you’ve done, but there’s this other 33%, some of it is maybe duplicates, some of it is inconsistent. Maybe it’s probably mostly just incomplete and we want you to fill in these exact missing pieces so that your profile on local search can be 100% filled out.

Alex Mills: It sounds great because when you try and tackle SCO and try and improve your church’s availability online, you can do all this stuff and then like not know if any of it’s taken. It’s like, okay, I did all this stuff, but like why am I not on the first page? When is this going to happen? You don’t really have a scale to know how you’re doing and how your site’s actually performing, so this is a great tool to use to show you, yeah, you’ve done these things, and maybe it will take a little bit of time, but this is a great checklist to see where you’re at, what you’ve done and also where you can improve.

Brady Shearer: SCO, like you said, it’s this never ending just Labyrinth of confusion and what’s great about a tool like this is it gives you this checklist, so when you finish it all off, there’s a certain degree of certainty that gives you that, ah, I did it, okay. Now I can just sit back and wait, rather than being like, I know I’m sitting back and waiting. That’s important for search, but what if I missed like one of the most important things? Now you can rest easy. 

Free tool number four, keywordtool.io. That is a URL that you can visit. This is a keyword research tool for Google but also for YouTube and Bing and Amazon and Ebay. Amazon and Ebay, probably not that important for us as churches, but for YouTube and Google, and yeah, maybe even Bing, this is super helpful for seeing what are people searching for, and then you can create specific pages or specific websites that are going to rank for those search terms. We use this at ProChurch tools, helps us figure out what do churches want answered and then we go out and create content for it. You can do the same thing.

Alex Mills: Awesome.

Brady Shearer: Free tool number five, Google Analytics. This is a script that you just simply add to your website and it’s going to give you pretty much every possible metric and analytic that you could ever want and hope for, pertaining to your specific website. You can see where are people coming from when they do land on our site? Where are they coming from? You can see keyword insights. You can see bounce rate, which is a term that is measuring how soon people exit a page, once they land on it. You want a low bounce rate. That would show that your page is making people happy. If you have a really high bounce rate, that is a good indicator that this page has something wrong with it and you should try and fix it, and Google is going to use that metric in their giant search algorithm, no really way to know how much it’s weighted, but it does matter. Google Analytics will show you that. It’s also going to show you how long people are spending on page.

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: We do know this is also part of the Google algorithm. How long are people spending on your page? If someone lands on Alex’s website and they stay for three minutes, versus they land on my website and they stay for 30 seconds, Google’s going to see Alex’s site more favorably, so you can look at page time on each individual page and see which ones are doing well, which ones are doing not so well. Compare them. Maybe see the differences and re-weight everything to optimize and maximize those types of metrics.

Alex Mills: I love the insights that you can get from Google Analytics when it concerns what people are searching to arrive at your sight.

Brady Shearer: Huge.

Alex Mills: It kind of gives you insight into what kind of questions people are asking and what they’re looking for and how your community, how your church is an answer to those things. It helps, yeah, I just … It’s kind of hard to quantify how that helps you but it’s just, it reassures me and gives me insight into what our community is like and what they’re looking for.

Brady Shearer: Absolutely.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Free SCO tool number six, Google Webmaster Tools. What does the biggest website in the world think of my website? This is another tool that’s going to answer that question? It’s going to give you the bugs, alerts, indexing issues, errors. This is again, Google giving you a performance review as your boss essentially, and saying here are the things that we see is lacking in your website’s performance. If you fix these, we’re more likely to index your website more in search.

Now, this is similar to that tool that we gave earlier. That was, when it came to a specific page. This is kind of your website overall on a global level. The before is like page insights, and this is kind of like the overall index look at your site.

Alex Mills: Okay, now correct me if I’m wrong. Is it Google Webmaster Tools where you can force Google to index your site? Like after you’ve made SCO changes, after you’ve added some more keywords, you can go into Google Webmaster and force a re-index so that they … I’m not exactly sure how it works but it’s like it does a scan of your site and updates those changes you’ve made in the grand algorithm faster than it would have happened naturally?

Brady Shearer: Yeah. That can potentially take place because the way the search works is that there are all these robots that are constantly crawling all the websites of the world, and they’ll revisit your site every so often. We don’t know how frequently, but if you’ve recently made some changes that you want to see take place, you can go there and just kind of give Google that nudge. Hey, you should come and crawl our site again. There’s no really way to force them to, but it kind of gives them that indicator. You can also submit a sitemap there.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: Which is again just giving Google all they need to make sure they can make the right decision. It’s kind of like your boss, let’s say they have to make a decision between you and another employee. You want to make sure that they are making an informed decision. You give them all the information they need, because maybe it would be a lot more upsetting if they make a wrong decision because they just didn’t have all the information, rather than they made the right decision and you just didn’t rise to the occasion.

Alex Mills: Awesome.

Brady Shearer: Finally, free SCO tool number seven, the Yost SCO Plugin for WordPress. Every single one of our WordPress sites, which we use for blogging primarily, has this plugin installed. It is great for figuring out the perfect SCO page title and meta-description for your pages and posts in WordPress, as well as the social images. They are different dimensions for Twitter and Facebook. Also, readability. It has this score that says based on the vocabulary and the scanability of your page, how readable it is. Also, keyword density and internal linking from page to page, all these advanced kind of SCO practices that are perfect for content and blogs, you can do with the Yost SCO plugin. Has a paid version, but it also comes for free as well.

Alex Mills: Awesome. 

Brady Shearer: That will do it for our free SCO tools, seven of them. Maximize your website for search indexing. That will also do it for this episode of ProChurch Daily. We’ll see you next time.