According to a 2016 study, Google receives over 63,000 searches per second on any given day. With this in mind, along with the amount of churches available for people to choose from, it’s important to find ways to get your parish listing on the forefront of Google. One way to do that is by claiming your church through Google My Business. Not only does customizing and optimizing your listing allow you to better match your Google listing to your website, it also helps increase your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) results.
Google My Business is a free and relatively easy-to-use tool for businesses, organizations, and religious entities to manage their online presence across Google, including searching and maps/directions. By verifying and editing your information, you can help visitors easily find your church using correct contact information, operating hours, images, and even reviews.
The process to claim your Google listing is relatively painless, but does require a few crucial steps:
- Sign up for a Google email account. This is the first thing you need in order to claim your listing.
- Claim your listing. Once you have an email, you can either Google your parish or search for it here. You’ll then want to click the button, “Own this Business?”
- Prove it’s yours. The next step is verification, which Google allows you to do through one of two methods. You’ll be able to claim your listing either with an automated phone call from Google to the business number that appears on the listing, or through a postcard mailed to the address listed, which typically takes 1-2 weeks to receive. Either option provides you with a code number that you will then need to enter in Google. That’s it!
Now that you have your listing on Google all set up, it’s time for you to make sure all information is accurate, and that you include everything you can to make it informative. That means going in the backend and verifying your address, phone number, email, and website. You can also add office hours*, an “About Us” section (include your mission or vision statement), social media accounts, and current images of life at the parish.
Business listings that have been claimed and updated on Google My Business — along with strong reviews and ratings if you have them — are the ones most likely to rank at the top of local searches. This means that when someone Googles “Nearest Catholic Church,” your parish has a better chance of being at the top of the search results.
*Because Google My Business is technically designed for businesses, many parishes get stuck when deciding how they should list the times that they are open. For the most part, you’ll want to add days that the church is open for Mass, as well as office hours. Unfortunately, Google won’t allow you to differentiate what time is office hours and what time is Mass.