So I wrote an article a couple days ago about improving your church’s search engine ranking. The strategies there worked for us for 6 years, keeping my church on the top page of search queries for our local area. I know the track record because I check it once a month. Well, in a case of ironically poor timing for my article, at present the church is not ranking high at all, in fact it is several pages deep now. That was since the first of this month! So what happened? Well, I am in the process of sorting that out. Read past the break to see what steps I am taking to troubleshoot our recent ranking drop.
1. Take a deep breath.
I am focusing on Google mostly, because that is where the majority of our incoming search traffic originates. Google is notorious for constantly tweaking their search methods, and dropping support for certain technologies. So, I have to take a deep breath and realize that it’s not the end of the world, and I can most likely fix it.
2. Analyze your listing.
The first step is to really see what Google is doing with the web site. I decided to directly search for the church by name. Even here, the church is ranking low, but there are some back links showing up from social sites. What that tells me is that Google has for some reason, lost interest in the site itself. The keywords I am hunting are producing, just poorly. Of course, there has to be a logical reason for this automated system to be putting less priority on the site.
3. Check your META “description” tag.
Google relies on the META “description” to understand what YOU, as the site owner, think your site is about. I was using a description string that included the name of the church, and our geographic location – the terms I used to search. I decided to check if I had a misspelling. Well, what I found was a BLANK tag! Turns out, something was broken with my theme. Luckily, there are plenty of plugins for my CMS (WordPress) that let you insert a working meta tag. Now it is working as I want it. But, we’re not done.
4. Check your Google Analytics connection.
I am going to assume that you’re already an avid user of Google Analytics (GA). If not, well become one. Guess what? I found that was broken too. Somehow GA and my site had stopped talking to one another. I disconnected the existing link between the two and recreated it -then verified it was connected and picking up stats again. But, we’re still not finished.
5. Check your Google Webmaster Tools settings.
Again, I am going to assume you’ve been using Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) with your site. Again, if not, get to it! GWT has a ton of tools that help your site communicate with Google better. I especially paid attention to the site map. I recreated one within my CMS, then relinked it to GWT and manually requested a re-crawl.
Unfortunately, nothing you’ve done above will get immediate results with Google. You just have to give it some time and let things propagate through their system. In other words, now you just have to wait and see.