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Does Your Church Know Its Place?

Transition Season

The months from May through August are traditionally when most residential moves and relocations happen. Families buy their first home, they upsize because they outgrew their last space, or there was a transfer or new job opportunity in your city or town.

After they get unpacked and the kids get settled into their new schools then the family embarks on the task of making their new community their new home. For many who have considered church-life a valuable part of their lives – the search begins to find the “perfect” new church!

Search Status

Today, that search predominantly begins online and Google is the king of that domain.  Certainly, a computer is a default hub to gather the information but increasingly mobile devices allow searchers the comfort of researching in the armchair rather than the desk chair. Whether a mobile phone or a tablet computer, most of these new comfort devices will rely on apps that most often will somehow sync or embed with Google search tools and apps.

As a church leader, I have certainly noticed with my own church that the greatest number of newly re-located families in our community come church shopping in August through October.  They have done the search, compiled the research, selected 3-6 churches to “check out,” and then go out to find and pray for God to lead them to a new community within which they can serve and be served.

Contact Points

The main point of contact and information is always going to be your church website. So hopefuly as they search they will find:

  • Your site nicely located in the first 2-3 pages of search results for churches in your community
  • A website that captures their attention by making a great first impression
  • All the basic details of your Sunday programs on the homepage
  • Your address, contact info, and a handy link to a Google map that will guide them easily from their door to yours

The Missing Pin

As I work closer with churches to help them navigate these details it is increasingly becoming obvious to me that many are completely unaware of a powerful free tool provided by Google that they can use to more effectively connect and engage with people looking for their ministry community.  Google offers a service called Google Places.

Google Places essentially serves as Google’s local business directory.  As a result, there is a good possibility that your church may already appear in their lsitings. The thing that most churches miss out on however is the opportunity to “claim” or verify their listing.

Verifying your listing essentially takes you through Google’s step-by-step process to help them confirm the information they already have about your church and validate that you are indeed the rightful “owner” of your church information. So, someone (a leader or administrator) who is regularly at the church needs to be a part of this process with you (if you are not already that person) or at least aware of what you are doing.

Google wants to be certain that you have the right to change and add information about your church. The main details they want  to validate in this process are the physical location and corresponding phone number.  The way they do that at the end of their walkthrough with you is that they send a verification code via mail to your physical address – a postcard that you will receive in 2-4 weeks with a code printed on it that you then use to log back in and verify your listing wit it.

Make Your Church Shine!

There is a host of additional information that you can add to you Google Places listing like your website address, your logo, pictures, video and program information.  The more effort you put into this, the better your listing will appear when compared with other churches in your community.

Another added benefit is that the more Google knows about your church the better your search results will be. They will naturally favor those organizations they have verified over those they have not.  Claiming your church’s Google Places listing will help your SEO (Search Engine Optimization). It is only one factor in that process but it is an important one.

So, please, claim your church’s listing on Google Places today – it is free, it is fun, and it matters! Go to Google Places and get started.

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  1. Nancy (Reply) on September 27th, 2011

    So, do you have any thoughts on whether you should create a separate google account for updating google places, or is using your existing personal account okay?

  2. David Tonen (Reply) on September 27th, 2011

    Hi Nancy! I typically recommend that churches have a separate Google Account to manage their Google Places account but also to hold all their Google Analytics information (presuming they use Google Analytics). The simple reason is that should the person managing the account leave the church for some reason (transfer etc) then someone else can be passed the access to the information on behalf of the church and see all the historical data as well. The future indicates that Google Plus will be another tool that churches will want to use once they open it to “organizations”. Hope that helps! Thanks for your question..its a good oen!


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