If you’ve ever found yourself in an unfamiliar place wanting to find the best pizza in town or the best hot wings or the best family-friendly dining, Yelp requires no introduction. You can’t google “best breakfast tacos in Richmond” and not be smacked with multiple results from the online community whose sole purpose is “to help (142 million) people find great local businesses.” Their mobile or tablet app has probably even become the go-to source for recommendations for many of you.
But let’s say you’re not looking for Breakfast Tacos. Let’s say you’re looking for a place to worship and to connect with a community of people seeking to follow Jesus together. What will you find? Believe it or not, Yelp has an entire category for religious organizations, and your church may be missing an important opportunity for those looking for a church home.
The following are five tips on how you can maximize your church’s Yelp experience for the people who find you there.
1. Make Sure Your Church is Listed
No one will find you if you’re not there. Go to Yelp and search for your church in your area. Do you show up? If not, use their link to “Add a Business.”
2. Make Sure Your Business Profile is Accurate
Yelp may have an entry for your church, but the address or url might be outdated. Maybe it’s still the address you were using when you were meeting in that school gym. Be sure your information is up to date. Make updating yelp a part of your marketing plan in the future.
3. Make Your Profile Attractive
In fairness, when I’m on the road, I’m attracted to holes in the wall. The cruder and less-polished the photos, the better. But, that’s probably not what people want to see when looking at your photos on Yelp. Use those photos to show potential visitors what they can expect. Don’t just feature shots of the building and facility – include pictures of people interacting between services, show off your kids’ program (with permission!), and show some of your local outreach.
4. Provide as Much Information as You Can
Take the guess work out of the equation. Yelp allows you to include “open” times, expected attire, whether or not you’re kid-friendly, etc. Use those fields to paint a picture of what people can expect. Address those fears and jitters for potential visitors.
5. Solicit Reviews from Your Church Members (and Community)
People love Yelp because they get to listen in to others’ experiences. Invite your people to talk about what your church and its ministries have meant to them. Have relationships with folks in the community who may not attend? Get their feedback as well. Show that your church is not just for the people who show upon Sunday mornings.
Does your church use Yelp? If so, tell us about your experiences, good and bad.