What comes up when you search your parish name on Google? Do you see your parish website at the top of the page? Is there a clean and complete business profile on the right-hand side? Are there parish events listed, and (most importantly), are the dates and times correct? Do you see any false or misidentified information on the front page?
If this is the first time you’re taking a long, hard look at what Google has collected on your parish, then most likely your Google results page is a jumble of information from all sorts of avenues. While it may seem impossible to get things organized and your parish to come up more quickly in search results, it’s doable if you follow just a few simple steps.
Claim Your Google Business Page
Although it’s technically called a “business” page, this is simply the official Google listing for your organization. The first thing you’ll want to do is take charge of claiming your parish. This will give you control to add correct information to your listing such as your website, hours of business, contact information, and photos. Simply follow the instructions from Google:
- Go to business.google.com/add.
- Enter the name and address of your business, then select it from the search results.
- Click Continue. You may see a message indicating that someone else verified the profile.
- In this case, click Request Access and fill out the form.
- Click Submit.
- The current profile owner will receive an email asking them to get in touch with you, and you’ll receive a confirmation email.
- If the profile isn’t claimed, you can claim and verify the profile yourself.
Fill in The Blanks
Once you have ownership of the business page, you’ll want to start getting the information as organized and accurate as possible. Add the times that the parish office is open as well as when the parish is open for Mass (unfortunately, you can’t differentiate which is which). Make sure you enter the correct address, phone number, and email for those who need to get in touch. Now that you have that out of the way, you can start getting creative.
If you have social media accounts, add those so people can follow you on different platforms. If you have photos, go ahead and add them as well. Do you have any events coming up? If there’s a pancake breakfast on the horizon or an event open to the public, feel free to add it to your Google business listing.
Think Outside the Box
While it might seem weird to have a review on your church, each 5-star review helps bring your website to a higher ranking on Google. Request assistance from a few parishioners to leave some positive reviews. Things they can comment on could be the homily, music and liturgy, children’s ministry, adult/young adult/teen ministries, disability access, even parking! Reviews can be about anything they feel your church does well.
By making these simple yet effective changes, your parish will get better search engine optimization (SEO) results. This improves how listings show up organically when people search using that very well-known phrase, “Find a Catholic Church Near Me.”