No church wants to think of itself as a “business.” In fact, we often demean mega-churches for being nothing more than businesses operating to make money (not a bad gig, if you can get it, right? I speak in jest.). However, there are professional tools available for business that work equally well for churches. In our last newsletter, we spoke about Google Webmaster Tools, and this time, let’s talk about Google My Business, or Google Places.
“Google My Business” is a set of tools for businesses to improve their local search value. For a “brick-and-mortar” establishment, meaning an organization with a physical location that people will need to find, having the location known by Google is a must. It’s very easy to find out if your church has a Google Places listing: simply search your church’s name and the city you’re in. If Google returns a result like this, then you’re already listed:
The section on the right side of the page, beside the listed search results, is the Google Place information. If you set yours up in Google, you can control the information that appears here (besides the reviews). Let’s walk through the steps of claiming and editing your Google My Business settings.
1. Sign Up with Google
First of all, you should have a “business” account registered with Google for your church. If you don’t already have a consistent church email, consider registering a new Gmail account to keep everything in one spot. Oftentimes, churches switch email addresses whenever internet providers change, which then makes older information obsolete and difficult to update. So, getting a Gmail account and using that for all church-related business can be a great way to stay consistent.
As a plus, using a Gmail account will allow you to use Google’s Calendar, which is an extremely helpful tool for churches. Google Calendar can be integrated into your church’s website, allowing you to keep your members and visitors up to date simply by adding information in one place instead of duplicating your work.
2. Find Your “Business”
Most of the time, your church’s physical location will already be listed in Google’s database thanks to platte maps and other sources that Google uses to compile its database. But, if you’re not already listed, then you can easily create a listing and add your information. The only “catch” is that to verify your ownership of the location, you will have to be able to receive mail at the street address. Google will mail you a postcard with a verification code that you will need to input in order to prove that you are indeed the owner. Once that’s done, your job is almost done.
3. Update Your Information
Once your ownership has been verified, make sure that the information is up to date. Address, phone number, photo, “businesS” hours (service times and/or office hours) and a website are all valuable assets to have publicly available. Then, when people search for your church, they can have at their disposal anything they could want to know, even without going to your website.
So, make sure to go to Google My Business and set up your church’s “business” information. Local Search Optimization is very important for physical locations, and having a Google Business listing is one of the simplest things you can do to improve your local search visibility.