5 Ways to Boost your Google ranking

Posted at March 23, 2011

A lot has changed in Web technology over the past decade, but there is still one question I hear about as often as I did in 2001:

How do I generate traffic to my site?

Or more specifically, how can my site show up higher in the search results on Google, Yahoo and Bing when someone searches for “church in [my town]“?

It’s a great question and guess what? Lots of other churches in your town are asking the same thing. Even though you may not consider yourself a “competitor”, you do need to think strategically about how you position your online ministry for maximum impact.

The full scope of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is much wider than any one blog post.  But here are my top suggestions that you really must consider, if you want to generate traffic through search.

1. Effective Page titles

I wrote about this earlier.  Page titles are the most important SEO element on your site, because they give the search crawlers a clear idea of what each page is about.  Be sure that your titles are unique, descriptive, and relevant to the type of person who might be looking for the content you offer.  Remember that SiteOrganic allows you to “split” your page titles, so that you can have a visible title that is different than the one written in HTML code.  Use this to your advantage.

2. Different META tags on every page.

META tags (keywords and description, primarily) were en vogue several years ago.  Search engines no longer rely on them to build their base index, but they do look at the description as a way to categorize the page.  The page description also normally shows up on the Google search engine results page (SERP) just below your link.  So, we recommend taking the time to create a unique description for your pages.  At least the top 10 pages or so.

In SiteOrganic, be sure to go to your Admin settings for Search Engines and be sure that your site is set to use unique META tags for each page.

3. Inbound links from other sources.

Google loves it when you’re popular! Aside from things you add and change on your own Website, the best way to boost traffic is to get others to link to you.  In fact, it even matters who is linking to you.  Google doesn’t much care that your uncle’s blog has a link to your site (unless your uncle is Seth Godin or Michael Hyatt).  But Google loves it when a highly-ranked site links to yours.  In Google’s way of thinking, that other guy is popular and relevant, so you must be too.  A coat-tails effect, if you will.

Common sources of inbound link love:

- Twitter
- Facebook? Eh, sort of, but not always a reliable way to boost your PageRank.
- Other blogs
- Denominational directories
- Comments on other sites, such as church discussion boards
- Articles in publications such as Releavnt, ChurchExecutive, or Churchleaders.com

4. Create a site map

A site map isn’t too exciting, but it literally gives Google’s crawler a road map on how to get around your site.  Google will thank you with some extra brownie points in the great search engine bake-off. 

Site maps aren’t hard to create; in fact, Google Webmaster Tools even has a handy way to make one for you.  Even better, SiteOrganic can do the work of creating and maintaining your site map XML for you silently, in the background as you work on your site.  Talk to our Care Team about setting this up for you.

5. Check your robots.txt file

When Bing, Google or Yahoo hit your site, they first check to see if you have given them any rules about where they can’t go.  (For example, a newspaper site may want to keep some of its premium content off of the search engines, so that people don’t find it without logging in first.)  These instructions are contained in a little file called “robots.txt”.  Every site should have one, even if it’s just to tell the search engines that nothing on your site is off-limits.  It’s the SEO equivalent of saying “hey guys, come on in!”

Every SiteOrganic site has an “allow-all” robots.txt file, by default.  We can change this for you, though, if you have some sensitive stuff that shouldn’t show up on Google.  Just let us know.



 

Have you found any other great tips on getting your site ranked higher on search engines?

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