Have you ever used Google to look for a nearby restaurant or business? If you have, you probably noticed a map and a list of different names with useful information such as opening hours, address, and a call or book button. These results come from Google My Business listing data.
Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool designed to help business owners establish and manage their Google online presence. While churches aren’t businesses, the first interaction that many prospective visitors and donors have with your ministry happens with a Google search result.
Listing your church gives you an identity and presence on the most popular search engine, as well as Google Maps and Google’s Local Finder.
So if you haven’t claimed your listing yet, our step-by-step guide will help you get started!
Claim Your Listing
First thing’s first: Ensure that your church doesn’t already have a Google My Business listing. It’s possible that your church has already been listed by Google, in means that all you need to do is claim it.
Start by conducting a simple Google search: Enter the name of your ministry and see what comes up. If your church is listed, check whether the “Own This Business?” link appears. If it doesn’t, this may mean that someone else already claimed it and you will need to request ownership.
If you can see the link, the listing isn’t claimed and you can continue. If you don’t see the church listing at all, you’ll have to create and add it yourself.
A claimed and optimized GMB listing will look something like this.
Complete the Required Information
To add or claim a listing, click on the Own This Business?” link or simply open Google My Business and click on “Start Now”.
Enter Your Name and Address
Once you’ve launched Google My Business, you need to fill in the name and address of your ministry. Avoid using abbreviations or shortened information, paying extra attention to the church address, as this determines your Google Maps location.
It’s also vital to list the correct address for potential members so they can visit on Sundays, whether they’re people who have just moved to the area, people who are seeking to reconnect, or those who have never been to church before but want to learn more.
Choose a Category
The next step requires you to select a category that best describes your ministry. Is your church Presbyterian, Baptist, or Episcopalian? Do you provide Christian family counseling services? Be as specific as possible.
Enter Your Contact Details
Though this last section is optional, it’s important to fill in your website and phone number, as this will allow people to connect to you. This information will show up along with results, so really think about which number you want to list.
And that’s it! After this step, click on “Finish” and you will be directed to the verification page.
Verify Your Listing
Depending on the type of business, Google offers multiple ways to verify a listing. For most, a verification code can be sent through the mail to the address you filled in earlier. Certain businesses can verify their listing by email or phone.
You may also verify your GMB listing later, however, you will not be able to make changes to your listing or answer questions until you do so.
Complete Your Listing
It’s important to remember that your Google My Business listing should include valuable information that will help potential members or donors learn more about your church. Don’t let people guess or assume: Make sure that you complete your listing by adding as much additional information as possible.
Add a profile picture, description, contact information, and operating hours. The percentage indicator (see photo below) will help you make sure that all steps are completed.
Get the Most out of Your Listing
Don’t just claim your listing and forget about it! There are many other features that can help to optimize your church listing, such as GMB Posts, photos, videos, questions & answers, reviews, and messaging.
Google My Business Posts, for instance, offer endless possibilities for your ministry to stand out and grab the searcher’s attention. You can add links, images, call-to-actions (CTAs), and event posts. Try adding a description and link to your latest church blog post, or set up an event post with the date and time of a community event.
Remember: Posts mostly show up in mobile searches, so ensure that your church website is mobile friendly and up-to-date!
GMB Posts are a powerful way to communicate with potential member and donors. Each post lasts for 7 days, so make sure to update and post regularly.
Another great feature that can connect and engage directly with prospective members is Questions & Answers (Q&A). Searchers can ask questions about your ministry and you have the opportunity to respond to them. While anyone can ask a question, anyone can also answer it, so make sure to keep an eye out.