We use Google to navigate, shop, review, search, and much more. It has become an integral piece of our everyday lives. Life without Google sounds prehistoric. But how can we use Google to help spread the Good News of Jesus Christ? Start by leaving a review for your church online.
Today, seekers look for input from others before trying new things. Have you ever been in a new neighborhood and googled: “Restaurant near me?” Likely, dozens of eateries popped up on Google Maps–showing you reviews, photos, menus, current foot traffic, and more. Have you chosen a place to eat based on reviews?
When the unchurched search Google to find a church, they tend to use keywords that Google recognizes as a location. Someone viewing a local search result will be exposed to a lot of information about your church before they even reach the church’s website. Take the time to share your story with those looking at your church as a potential new spiritual home.
Google My Business is how you manage the information people see when searching your location. Church staff can claim (or verify) the church’s Google My Business account. Once verified, the church can manage its information and interact with the people discovering the church in their local search results.
Make sure your service times and office hours are listed – essentially, any time that your church is available for in-person traffic. You can use the “special hours” field to specify any changes in the church’s schedule due to holidays, special services, etc.
Set your church’s business description. This should be a short, descriptive paragraph about the identity of the church. Begin to tell the story of who you are as a church community. Upload a handful of high-quality photos to help establish your church identity. Ideally, you should have one or more exterior photos of your church location to help people identify it when looking for it in person.
Respond to the reviews. While generating positive reviews is extremely important, responding to existing reviews (both positive and negative) is a crucial practice. Responding to reviews shows Google and potential new visitors that your church is engaged with the community and receptive to feedback. And encourage others to take the time to leave a review and share the Good News of Christ.
Seekers want to hear about your experience. A good review could be, “What is Christ doing in your life, and what role has your church played in this?” Be positive, be brief, and be personal when reviewing your church. Seekers are looking to see how you have encountered God through your Church–so tell them.
Your church’s Google My Business is a critical part of your church’s online presence. Make it easy on new visitors by keeping your service times current, your office hours posted, and by showing active pictures of your community. And leaving a review is a simple way to help the unchurched find your church; it presents an opportunity for members to practice sharing their experiences at church, and it shows your community as an active participant in the neighborhood.
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