I offered some free advice to a Christian client and I provided the info here. This guide should prove very helpful for your the search engine optimization for your faith based organization.
Fundamentals of SEO:
What is the Google algorithm?
Google evaluates your site based on grouped keywords (proximity and emphasis)
and number of incoming links. Those links preferably are from:
• trusted sites (high page rank or just show up high in Google search results)
• link anchor text with relevant keyword (ie Google values “Christian social justice” over “download here” and “Christian SEO” over “click here”)
• Though experience you will understand both link diversity and link quality are very important. Generally if you focus on high quality links, low quality links will naturally happen (ie low quality blogs then link to the quality sites that originally linked to your content)
Fundamentals of SEO and Link building Tips
1) Relevant Content Rocks. Release more relevant content. Google loves new content.
2) Create a Good Neighborhood. When you release content, link both to your website and to other trusted sites.
3) Linking Out is Marketing. One easy example of linking out is linking to bible verses on your website at Biblegateway or linking to specific Christian books (either their website or Amazon’s specific URL)
4) The Joys of Powerpoint. Posting Powerpoint presentation content on Slideshare and link to the presentation on your blog. This will help you rank for the keywords in the Title of the slideshare.
5) Ethical SEO Takes Community and Collaboration. Collaborate with similar organizations (Faith in Public Life, Cross Left, the Beatitudes Society. For more check out “Christian Progressives” or “Christian Moderates” on Google). This could include guest posts and interviews. This could be you linking to their content and telling them when you release new content.
6) A Little Debate Never Hurt Anyone. Also, engaging even opposing sites in dialouge and friendly debating (and linking appropriately) can be helpful for your link building and overall ethical SEO. Thats some of the beauty that a blog enables.
7) Picture Perfect SEO. Use proper SEO for your pictures “darfur-genocide.jpg” Use dashes. (this doesn’t make sense to me.)
8} Focus Your Ethical SEO Strategy. Focus on search ranking factors and Google’s algorithm. Knowing the Google algorithm can help you tap into how Google works.
9) Everybody Loves Google. Google also provides a free guide for SEO. This guide won’t tell you how to link build, but it will tell you the key issues that Google is looking for when its bots search a given website. For instance bolding and italics emphasizes particular keywords to the Google bots.
10) My Brain Hurts. Its good to think about Google juice like ice cube trays or sap running through a tree. (I have to explain this one)
11) Keywords Require Focus. Focus on individual content you want to get promoted or keywords you want to rank for. You don’t want to rank every site your your page, maybe just your dozen or so issues pages and your most important resources.
12) Ethical SEO Requires Patience. Realize SEO is a long term strategy. However getting a couple quality (PR 4 or PR 5 links) can amp up your search rankings for an individual post.
13) Aggregate, Aggregate, Aggregate. Aggregate your best content and make it easy to link to. I need to do this better. Some people do this on their about page, because it generally ranks in the top 10 to 15 most read pages on a website. (also having a Badge that signifies your best content on your main navigation can help. My favorite for this is Josh Brown or now Anne Jackson on the right side of her blog. She doesn’t explicitly have a “best of”, but the nice and helpful use of visually interesting and clear badges probably means those posts get the most traffic.
14) Google SEO Domination is Not the Goal. When you do SEO keep in mind that your intent probably shouldn’t be to dominate the search results (unless its anti-church or non-christian based search), but rather you probably want your intent to raise up your website and related websites.
15) Google Hates Spam. Avoid spammy tactics. You don’t need 10 or 100 copies of one document or page. Google doesn’t appreciate super-spamming tactics.
16) Need more Ethical SEO Tips? Check out these ethical seo keyword tips and techniques.
17) Glossary of Key SEO Terms. Learn what link building and link baiting are.
18} The Future of SEO and Search. Learn what Universal search and personalized search (aka the Google search wiki are) and what they mean for ethical search engine marketing.
19) Think Outside the Box. Pick another platform.
• Do things off the blog like guest posts on (influential either via traffic, RSS readers, or Technorati ranking) Christian blogs with similar content.
• You can create a Work guide for and link back to the content on your website. Not only does this allow you to build links, but it allows you to do so in a way that you get specific anchor text for your link.
• Notice your Ning community should allow you to create relevant links both in the blogs and forums.
20) “And In the Real World.” Real world events and conferences can help create links back to your website. For instance if you talk at a university (Google loves links from .edu websites) or go to a nonprofit event with other Christian organizations there may be a way to get a link or two.
21) Testimonials for SEO. Some SEOs suggest offering to give a review or testimonial for your vendors that has a link back. (Note: in most cases this won’t be the most relevant of links, but it should have some value in Google’s eyes)
22) Unique Content is Golden. Remember unique content is more likely to get links. Visuals can help create a feel of uniqueness and actually add to the total amount of content that Google searches with its bots.
23) Long Tail Principles. Remember the long tail, but the end is not where you want to be. You want to be on the fat belly for maximum return. This just means you won’t rank for “christian” but you can rank for “christian social justice” or the individual issues you are discussing.
24) Social Media and Conversation. Finally, remember the conversational aspect of social media and blogs. If you use that to link to similar people and get a dialouge going you will likely create links in an ethical and responsible way.
25) Be Different. Stand Out. Pictures and metaphors help tell a better story. (I officially stink at this SEO strategy)
26) Experiment with SEO. The only way to get better is to experiment with SEO. Experiments help you try outside of the box thinking and strategy and is one of the key things that makes SEO interesting.
Search Engine Optimization Tools for Christian Websites
• Using SEO Book Keyword tool or Google keyword tool to determine how much traffic an individual term gets can be helpful.
• If you want user data about your site (or someone elses site) Quantcast is free and fantastic.
• Website grader is a basic way to tell how your site is doing in terms of SEO.
I don’t think that you necessarily have to get too technical to have a good campaign. Create useful content. Link to other useful content that your audience will like. Focus on evergreen content over more time sensitive content.
Have any question about ethical seo or Christian SEO?