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More clicks = better rankings in Google?

I was talking to @jasonbhuffman on Twitter about search engine optimization on his church site, and he told me this:

I was informed that on Google, more clicks on a particular site would cause it to be listed higher in certain searches.

Google won’t confirm or deny whether or not clicks can help, so know one knows for sure, but most experts agree with the following:

  • Clicks from Google search result pages possibly help. If you come up fourth for a particular phrase, yet more people click your result than the third listing, it seems there’s a chance you could move up.
  • Clicks from other pages (like Twitter) to your site are unlikely to help. While Google can often see clicks from other sites via the Google toolbar or Google Analytics installed on your site, it doesn’t appear to have an effect on your rankings at this point.

Of course, clicks from sites like Twitter are still certainly excellent, since they’re visitors!  Even if it doesn’t have a secondary benefit, you’re still getting someone on your site, which is the entire goal.

So what can be done?

Jason’s site is First UMC Palestine, so I thought I’d offer a few other on-site SEO tips that might help.  There are really two things that we need to focus on:

  1. Make sure that Google is aware that the church is located in Palestine, TX, so they can rank well when people refine their search to that area (like “churches in palestine tx”).
  2. Make sure pages focus on their primary content, so Google will know when to show those pages.  As a result, we want to rank well when people search for specific things in the area, like “palestine preschool” or “vbs in palestine”.

So, here’s a few things that should help:

  • First, clean up the page titles.  The title on the home page is incredibly long, and titles on the internal pages are missing some nice keywords.
  • Add more internal links. For example, the list of worship services on the left side of the home page should link to details about those searches.  Use the main text on each page to link to other relevant pages, but do it naturally.  If you mention the preschool, link to that page, but don’t try to force extra links in there.
  • Build separate pages for each staff member, with the full list of them on the main “staff” page.
  • Avoid saying “click here”, which I noticed in a few places.  Link the relevant text every time.
  • Keep posting great blog entries.  Each of those have the potential to pull in some visitors from Google, especially if we can get the page titles cleaned up so that each one has more of a “palestine” pull to it.
  • Remove the link to the “Arras Theme” in the footerThey allow you to remove it, but I agree that you should give them a small donation in exchange for it ($10?). Here’s why that will help.
  • Get more links pointed to your site.  Our link at the top of this article will help, but now you need a bunch more as well.  Get church members to add a link from their personal blogs, see if any Palestine-centric sites (Chamber of Commerce, etc) will link to you.  Any inbound link will help.

Over time, those should help you rank better.  You don’t appear to have Google Analytics installed, so I hope you have some way of accurately tracking your traffic to see how things change and improve.

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Mickey Mellen

Co-Founder and Technical Director

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