Church Presence Online - Google My Business
In todays age, if a church doesn’t have an online presence it’s almost as if they don’t exist. People are relying more on information they find online to make decisions about what they try out. Just think about the last time you wanted to try out a new café or restaurant in your area, how did you find out about it? My guess is that you Googled it, looked at the reviews, and then checked out their website - that’s if you were convinced by the reviews to look further. If we’re not online, how are people to find out about our churches? We’ll look at websites in other posts, but for now here’s a small step to making your church more discoverable online.
One of the easiest (and cheapest) way of being discovered online is conveniently offered by the biggest search engine in the world - Google. Google My Business (click here for the link) is how businesses get their listings to show up in Google searches, and thankfully the main criteria for what constitutes a business is having a physical location that ‘customers’ can go to - ie churches can get free listings.
How it works:
You’ll need to sign up through the website (link above).
They’ll confirm you’re an actual ‘business’ by sending a postcard to the physical address with a code in it.
This is where it can get a bit tricky if you hire a space. You could try to get a postcard sent, but if the building you hire already has a listing on Google, you might not be able to create a listing.
Once the postcard arrives you log back into the Google My Business portal and activate your account, filling in the details if you didn’t do so initially.
Be sure to fill out as many of the details as you can, e.g. your office’s opening hours (or just your Sunday service time), website, phone details, and any images you can supply.
Enter in any metadata or references you think might help people find your church, making sure to try different combinations of the same phrases to get the most out of this offering. Some you could use: Church; denomination; denomination church; religious group; Sunday School; Children’s Program; Holiday Program.
You can also run a Google Adwords campaign if you're really wanting to increase your reach, but this costs money - and is something we might go through in a future post.
Once setup, when someone Googles for churches in your area, this will improve the chances of your church showing up, which will hopefully encourage them to come along!
1. Screen shot from Google My Business homepage. Google and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc.