All Things Google for Churches

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Jason Hamrock and Bart Blair take a deep dive into the variety of Google tools available for churches that will help them grow and reach more people

Podcast Transcription


Bart Blair: Well hey, I am Bart Blair and I am with my friend, my colleague, Jason Hamrock, and we want to talk today about Google. Probably something that you have heard of. You’ve heard of Google. Jason, you heard of Google?

Jason Hamrock: I have in the past, a little bit.

Bart Blair: Yeah. It’s this tiny little company that might be turning into its own country, its own nation, it might be taking over our country. Yeah, it’s taking over planet earth. We were talking just a minute ago about the fact that you and I both been on staff in churches. You were a communications director. I was a creative arts director and a senior pastor and a church planter. And when you and I were serving in churches, there was barely Google. Was there Google at all, when you were on staff at a church?

Jason Hamrock: Yeah, there was but, you know, it was I mean, certainly they’ve come a long way since I left. So I left at basically 2011, and in those nine years Google has just come light years, and it’s been fun to see that and it’s been fun to see their development of all their tools that churches are utilizing these days. But back in those days, we didn’t have that much access to it.

Bart Blair: Now, I left the staff of the church that I was serving on in 2017, so only three years ago, and Google has changed a ton just in the past three years. I can only imagine what it would be like serving on staff at a church today with all of the Google tools, and all of the options that churches and church leaders have at their disposal, that you and I didn’t have. But I don’t know if you’re finding this, but as I talk to churches, and pastors, and church leaders, and communications directors, I’m finding that most of them are not really taking advantage of everything that Google has to offer. Is that what you find?

Jason Hamrock: Because they don’t understand it.

Bart Blair: Ok, so.

Jason Hamrock: They don’t even know what the tool is and how it can help their church grow or serve their church.

Bart Blair: Right. I’m with you one hundred percent, and that’s why I’ve got you on this Zoom call today because I’m going to get you to explain to me and if I can understand it then most of these pastors and church leaders will be able to understand it. I’m going to ask you some questions about Google. How churches can be using it, how churches should be using it and you can just maybe highlight some of the things that you’re seeing as best practices, and let’s leverage Google to reach more people for Jesus. That’s the ultimate goal, right?

Jason Hamrock: That’s the ultimate goal, you bet. I’m excited about it and I’ll have you answer some of those questions, because Bart himself is a pretty well, he’s an expert when it comes to Google and he understands a lot of these things that I understand too, so, instead of one talking head, we’re going to go back and forth a little bit. How’s that?

Bart Blair: OK. We’ll see how that goes. I do know a few things. I’m still learning though, I mean, it’s a constant learning process. OK. Let’s start by talking about what people refer to as the G Suite or the Google Suite. So, how would you describe the G Suite?

Jason Hamrock: Oh, there’s so many tools inside, especially when it comes to, each church is a nonprofit and so you have access to all of these tools in Google. And so the G Suite is available for you to take advantage of and there’s a lot of specific tools inside of that.

Bart Blair: Oh so what what are some of those things that G Suite is comprised of?

Jason Hamrock: Well, I would say, you know, we talk about, obviously mail.

Bart Blair: Gmail.

Jason Hamrock: E-mail. Probably the most common, most important thing that you can use is Gmail. Talk about calendars. A lot of churches use the Google calendars to help keep their events and everything going on. I use it for my calendar. Talk about Google Maps. We’re going to talk a little bit about that. Obviously, Chrome. The G Suite is a very powerful, popular tool for you to utilize as you do ministry.

Bart Blair: OK. So, one of the things about G Suite that you didn’t mention is Google Drive. Like, that to me is like probably one of the most important tools and sharing files, and uploading things, and storing files online. Especially if you’re doing things like videos or graphic design, it makes it easy to to share those types of files with other people on your on your team. Now, is there a cost for a church to actually have the G Suite and the Google Suite?

Jason Hamrock: Yeah, I think it’s about $6 per user per month.

Bart Blair: OK.

Jason Hamrock: That’s for a basic…I think it goes up to $12 or $25, there’s different levels. Very affordable.

Bart Blair: It’s less than $75 a year per person.

Jason Hamrock: Yeah. So you absolutely want to take advantage of the Suite.

Bart Blair: Now, but that price that you just quoted, that’s actually the non-profit price. Right? That’s not the publicly published price, I think. You have to be a nonprofit to get that right?  So, there are actually different.. there are some other perks that nonprofits have when they’re engaged with Google for Nonprofits, right? Why don’t you share a little bit about what churches might benefit in that arena.

Jason Hamrock: Well, probably the biggest, most powerful one is the Google Ad Grant program. And the Google Ad Grant program, this is going to blow you away, if you’ve never heard of this, but, you get $10,000 every month in paid Google search advertising. So, by getting the Google Ad Grant, as a 501c3 non-profit organization, you just increased your advertising budget by $120,000 this year. And most churches go, how is that possible? Well, Google is quite big. I always tell people that I talk with, churches I talk with, that I think it was 2018, Google had 90 billion dollars in ad sales. Meaning, if you ever search something in Google online, using your phone, you’ll see an ad at the top. If somebody clicks on that ad, well, you know, the company that is advertising there, they’re paying Google a little bit of money to be in that spot. So obviously, some really popular ones are car dealerships, or  divorce attorneys, I mean, or any kind of attorney. Those are high priced, cost-per-clicks are huge. It could be $75 to $100 per click. Well, that all costs money and Google makes a ton of money with that. But they offer nonprofits this opportunity to advertise so when people are looking for a church, or they’re looking for what I call a “felt need”, like, how to fix my marriage, or how to overcome an addiction, or how to have forgiveness… there’s just so many felt need searches. You can actually advertise, and put an ad at the top of the page and you didn’t pay for that, Google did. So, the Ad Grant program is one of those, just, amazing tools that churches can take advantage of.

Bart Blair: One of the things that I really like about the Google Ad Grant is, a lot of churches are using Facebook campaigns. Like we see that pretty regularly. A lot of churches will advertise on Facebook. We call that interruptive advertising where people are going about their regular Facebook business and we interrupt their scrolling program with our ads and Facebook ads are our super powerful. There’s there’s a lot of value in advertising on Facebook but what I love about the Google Ad Grant and the Google search platform is that when someone searches a particular topic, whether that’s a felt need or a faith-based question and a church’s ad pops to the top of that listing, and that visitor goes to their website, that’s a “warm lead”. That’s actually somebody who was actively looking for a solution to a problem or actively looking for a church, looking for a specific answer to a faith question. So, you know, Facebook to some degree is probably more akin to the old days when we used to mail flyers out to everybody’s mailbox and you hope that it lands in the mailbox of somebody who’s looking for what you offer. Now we can target in Facebook ads, more specifically with demographics and that sort of thing, but the advantage to these ad word grant, the ad word campaigns through the Google grant is that these are actually warm leads. These are people who are actively looking for what you, as a church, have to offer.

Jason Hamrock: Absolutely. They’re searching. I mean if they’re searching, you want to be at the top of the list and what we get really excited about is driving traffic to a church website that has answers. You offer hope. You offer answers. You offer Jesus. Most other searches don’t do that. They’re driving them to secular-based websites and so that’s what I love about the Google Ad grant is that churches can take advantage of this thing. It’s free of charge. There’s no fees. You’re not paying Google for those clicks and those advertisements.

Bart Blair: Yeah, it is a great tool. We could actually talk about that all day. Let’s move on to some other things related to Google. Now, that is for Google for non-profits, so you have to qualify. You have to become a part of the Google nonprofits so there’s a process to walk through in that. There’s another thing that Google does that most people probably know what it is, but they don’t know what the name is, and it’s called “Google My Business”. Most people see it, often, when they do searches, but they don’t know, actually, what it’s called, Google My Business. Now, can churches actually use Google My Business, because churches aren’t really, technically, business?

Jason Hamrock: Well, actually, they are. So Google, in Google’s eyes, you, as a church, if you have a physical location, that’s a storefront. You have a storefront, according to Google. You’re a business. They don’t see you as a church, they see you as a business with a storefront. And as a storefront, Google has likely already given you a Google My Business profile. Every business gets one unless the business is inside of a home. Google has crawled the planet, pretty much, and they have listed your business. So go ahead, try to Google your name. Likely, you’re going to see on the right hand side, on a desktop, you’re going to see your Google My Business profile and it’s important that you understand how that thing works, how to gain access to it to become an admin of it, so that you can go in there and respond to reviews, or add photos, or manage those photos, and a bunch of other things that you can learn from it. But yeah, Google My Business… most churches don’t realize the power in what’s really happening with people searching online for a church, finding you, and that really is the first interaction they have with your church is your Google My Business profile.

Bart Blair: Yeah, that is true. There are different things you can do on your Google My Business profile. You can update photos, so you can have photos on there, just like you would on your website or on your Facebook account so people can see what your church community is like. You can post events, like calendar of events. You can do posts, like social media posts, just like you do on Facebook. You can have hours, you can have contact information. It really is a powerful… really is a powerful tool and very, very important for local search traffic. People who are specifically looking for a church in your geographic area.

Jason Hamrock: You know, you mentioned, when we were starting out. So when I was on staff at my church, really, the best way to grow your church is your own people. We’re not going to try and dismiss that. That’s the best way to grow. But, I would say that the second was, really, when websites came about, the Internet came about, people would, churches would launch a website. So now you have this website. So, people could go check out your website and see what you’re like, and all this kind of thing. You understand that. Well, these days, before they even get to your website, they’re Googling your name and they’re landing on your Google My Business profile. So, when I talk to a church about this, I say, hey, let’s go look at your photos. If you are creating a printed brochure to hand out to people that were thinking about going to your church and you found them, would you give them a brochure with those photos, or would you have your best photos on this printed piece? And when I say that, they’re like, oh, that makes total sense. So I really need to go in there and manage my photos to have the best photos so we have our best foot forward when people are thinking about visiting our church. I’m like, exactly. Treat it as though it’s your printed brochure that you’d be handing out to people as they are thinking about coming to your church.

Bart Blair: Yeah. It’s really important that you actually take ownership of your Google My Business page because in addition to being able to post your own photos, one of the things that Google does is a favor for churches is Google will actually populate your Google My Business page with other photos that it finds across the internet that are geotagged with the GPS location of your building and I have, on many occasions, looked at a Google My Business account with a church leader and saw photos. They didn’t even know where the photos came from but its because someone posted them on Instagram or shared them online somewhere and some of the times they’re kind of embarrassing photos. They’re not at all, what a church would want to see. They’re totally irrelevant. Right?

Jason Hamrock: Empty classrooms. That doesn’t inspire me to want to come to your church.

Bart Blair: Dare I tell the story about my friends who I will leave completely unnamed. I think I shared this photo with you a few months ago where they have an international ministry that they’re very involved with and there were some photos of a barbecue that this group from this international ministry had, and they started by slaughtering a cow. And so, there were photos on their Google My Business page of the cow hanging upside down. And, these were the photos that were representing this urban church. Not appropriate. Not what we would want. But, unless you’re checking out your own Google My Business page and you own it, you have no idea what’s there. So… all you church leaders, you’ve got to know.

Jason Hamrock: And so, there’s a thing that says….”own this business”? If you haven’t clicked on that to claim it, you need to do that. Church, do that right now. Go claim that thing and get control of it then you can do some things with it.

Bart Blair: Yeah. OK, I’m going to change tack here a little bit and talk a little bit about some nerdier stuff, okay? So, not everybody may find this as interesting as others. I love it. But, a couple of the tools that Google provides for us, that actually allows us to track the behavior of visitors to our website and the performance of our website are the Google Search Console and Google Analytics. Now, I wouldn’t profess to be a pro or expert in either of these. I spend time in them, all the time, and I’m trying to learn and get better. But how would you, to the average church leader, or church communications director out there, how would you explain Search Console, Analytics, and how can they actually use those tools to make a bigger impact in their church?

Jason Hamrock: Great question. So both of them are free – offered by Google. You want to be using Google’s tools. Just real quickly. I blow people’s minds sometimes when I say that: Google owns 92% of the market share. Meaning.. out of ten people who do an online search, nine of those people are using Google, only one person is using Yahoo, or Bing, or Duck Duck Go. So, we’re talking Google’s world. We have to follow what Google is saying, do this or do that. We’ve got to, kind of, follow their rules. Well, adding Google Analytics to your website, helps your website. It helps Google crawl your website and so that’s just super smart. Plus, the Google Search Console, super smart. So, just do that for that sake alone. However, those tools are so powerful, as Bart was saying, like you can log into your analytics and see how many visitors were on your website. Were those new visitors or returning visitors? How many pages did they visit? Where did they go? How long did they stay on? Was it a mobile phone that they used, desktop, tablet? You learn so much about your website. You can create conversion funnels so that I know that, hey, all the people who went to our homepage, what did they do next? What was most important to them, second, third, fourth, fifth and on?  Because, then you can look at those pages and go, hmm, so a lot of people went to our homepage, then they clicked on “About Us” but then they bounced. They left the site. Why is that? Analytics really is the data. It’s the data of your website. And, without having that or looking at it, it’s like you’re flying an airplane with no destination and it’s blind. You don’t even know where you’re going or how you’re getting there. So you’ve got to use Google Analytics. We love teaching and sharing how to use analytics. I’ll also say with Google Search Console, it’s another thing for… when people are searching and finding your website: what keywords are they using? Google Search Console. Probably the most important thing Google will say to do for your website is to add backlinks. A backlink is basically how another website links to your website. For example, let’s say you’re a church in Dallas and Bart’s located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. You guys have the Dallas Morning Star, is that right? Is that the newspaper?

Bart Blair: Dallas Morning News.

Jason Hamrock: Dallas Morning News. Let’s just say, you go to First Baptist Church in Dallas and you put a press release out to Dallas Morning News and they wrote an article about your event that was coming up. And they put it on their website with a link to your website, to the Dallas First Baptist Church website. That would be an amazing link, a backlink from their website to your website, not the other way around. Google doesn’t know that you can add links to other websites all day long, but if you get a really high-ranking domain authority website, like a news source to link to your website, that is so important. How do you know? Google Search Console. You can see all the different backlinks you have to your website. And I won’t go into the details, but it’s incredibly important to know what those referring sites are to your website, those links to your website. I’m just literally hitting the tip of the iceberg about what Google Search Console and Google Analytics can do, but I’ve got to tell you, you need to learn about this. Google it, just Google it and watch YouTube videos on how important it is to have Analytics and have Google Search Console implemented into your church…. no matter what kind of website you have: WordPress, Wix, some other third-party that you’re using, it doesn’t matter, you want to install Analytics and Google Search Console.

Bart Blair: OK. Thanks for that. That was pretty good. Now, I want to talk about something else. A minute ago, we were talking about Facebook ads versus search ads. Again, most people, I don’t think are aware that, Google actually has a visual ad platform that’s very similar to a Facebook type of ad, an “interruptive ad”. We call it Google Display or Google Ads. Why don’t you talk a little bit about what Google Ads are, not search ads, but actually display ads?

Jason Hamrock: Yeah, well you used the term that I always use, we use it around here at Missional Marketing, its called interruptive advertising. And so, in my opinion, there’s four powerful interactive advertising platforms. Facebook, which is so easy to use and everybody uses it. It’s super user-friendly, so people do Facebook ads. Instagram, which you would totally use Instagram because that’s owned by Facebook and so you could easily advertise on Instagram. The third one is YouTube, which we can talk about. And the fourth one is Google Display Network. So, the Google Display Network is literally a network of millions of websites that say, yes, Google, please… we’re OK with you advertising or putting an ad on our website. You can display an ad on our website. And should somebody click on that ad, Google will pay that website a little bit of money because the advertiser, the church, paid Google to be in that space. So, a perfect example is like, ESPN. You go to ESPN to learn about sports. You’ll see ads from Nissan or Target or a church. That’s the display network. Google is displaying an ad there and then if somebody clicks on that ad, Google pays ESPN a little bit of money because Nissan is paying money to be in that space. I love this platform. It’s more cost effective than Facebook. It’s still geotargeted. You can still use it for specific categories of people you’re trying to reach. You can use video or static images and the analytics on that thing is really, really good. You get to see how many users and how many clicks and click- through rates and then you get to see demographics of the people that clicked on that thing. So I really, really like display advertising mainly because, not everybody is on Facebook, right? I mean, a lot of people are, but not everybody. And so, if you use Facebook and Instagram, and you use display, you kind of have a lot of people covered when it comes to advertising your event, and it’s pretty cost effective.

Bart Blair: Yeah. You hit on something that I think is very important for people to know and to realize, and that is, the audience in Google Display is actually a different audience than the Facebook audience. When we run campaigns for churches and we look at the data, after the fact, the things that are most noticeable to me in that data, is that we tend to get a younger audience in Google Display than we do on Facebook and we tend to get a slightly more male audience than we do in Facebook. Now, there’s a lot that we could debate about how to market and who we’re really targeting but there are 2 things that I believe to be very true. One is that, if you get the husband, you get the household and so making sure that we’re actually doing this digital outreach and advertising on platforms where we’re going to be able to reach men I think is very important. But I think, most church leaders, most pastors, know that this is a generalization, but that the wife, the mom, is most often the one who, kind of, decides where the family is going to go to church. She’s often the one making that decision. So, we would never pit one platform against the other. I think we’re more both/and kind of people. It’s actually a good idea to run campaigns in both platforms because you’re really going to reach a broader cross-section of the community and of the people that you’re trying to reach. So, that’s just something that I wanted to, kind of, piggyback onto what you’re talking there about the audiences.

Jason Hamrock: Yeah, and most churches, unfortunately, are growing older, not younger. And so, you want to be intentional about growing younger, you have to offer stuff for younger people and make it really attractive and then you got to get in front of them. And, yes, it’s still true that younger, like millennials, they have Facebook accounts, but they’ve got so many other accounts, they barely hit that Facebook account versus old people like us, that’s probably all we have. So, the Display Network is, you just hit it, I mean, we’ve ran hundreds and hundreds of campaigns for churches  and overall, you’re spot on. It reaches a younger audience, more male dominated and so, you got things that you want to advertise, it could be an event, a sermon series, a conference, that kind of stuff, Display Network… All day long.

Bart Blair: Now, there’s another platform that can also be used for ads, but it’s also used for other stuff and it’s a Google tool, and a lot of people don’t even realize it’s a Google tool, and it’s called YouTube. You’ve heard of YouTube, right? You’ve heard of YouTube? YouTube, the second largest search engine on the internet. Second to Google, and of course, it’s owned by Google. Now, we’re recording this in the summer of 2020 and I would venture to say that today, churches are a lot more “in tune” with what they can do with YouTube today, than they probably were 3 or 4 months ago, right?

Jason Hamrock: Why is that?

Bart Blair: You know, churches have had to figure out how to do video in different ways. One of the things that’s very exciting to me is that churches, in addition to learning how to actually stream their services through YouTube or to post their videos on YouTube, some churches are actually beginning to realize that they can advertise on YouTube and I think that advertising on YouTube is actually the next thing that churches really need to consider putting into their digital outreach arsenal. Can you share a little bit about some of your experience and what you see in YouTube advertising?

Jason Hamrock: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Well, first and foremost, if you don’t have a YouTube channel, get yourself a YouTube channel. It’s free. Set it up and populate it. Add every… go back in time and add all your sermons on there and take advantage of the tagging that you can do inside of YouTube. Why would you not do this? Like.. you just mentioned it. It’s the second largest search engine. I kind of.. I shake my head sometimes when churches, go, oh, “we don’t use YouTube. We use Vimeo”. OK, no that’s…you have to use YouTube. You don’t have to use YouTube on your website. You can use YouTube or Vimeo, that’s fine, but you definitely want to make sure you’re putting all of your sermons and videos on YouTube. OK. So that’s just the first thing: YouTube channel. Now, as Bart was saying, advertising in YouTube is incredibly powerful because there are so many more things you can do inside of YouTube. For example, you can have ads that run before…Somebody is searching something. They click, they want to watch a video, maybe it’s a silly video or whatnot. You still have the ability to run a pre-roll, like a 5 second, or 15 second, or 30 second ad or you can do something in the middle of the video, something at the end of the video. Like, there’s all these options in terms of what you can do inside of YouTube with advertising, but it’s still the same thing, you can geotarget it, you can focus on specific things inside of YouTube. Obviously, you want to have a video. Like it would be kind of, probably silly to put a static image on YouTube. YouTube is video. And so, I’m always telling pastors or church staff, just record something on a phone. It’s as easy as that. Going, “hey, I want to invite you to this or that”. Right? And you just create a 15-20 second video, stick it on YouTube. Cost effective. You can measure it. You can watch to see: did people watch it and did they click to get to your website? How cool is that? You put something that’s out there, that they’re going, wow and so instead of watching the video they were wanting to watch, they clicked on your ad. That’s a good warm lead, in my opinion, they’re interested. They’re curious about what you had to say. So, I mean, there’s a lot more to it, but…

Bart Blair: Yeah, let me jump in there because you held up your cell phone and it made me think of something. You know, we’ve run a lot of different YouTube campaigns for a number of different churches and some of them have gone out of their way to produce really high-polished, professional looking videos. But we had a church recently in the Dallas Fort Worth area that we ran a YouTube campaign for, and they literally shot it in the church parking lot with a cell phone and they made it look like it was a cell phone video and it was an amazing ad. It performed so well. They had hundreds of new visitors to their website from that YouTube ad in just a couple of weeks. And they didn’t do anything crazy or elaborate. Didn’t have to have a big budget. Just had to have a cell phone. My advice, though, is always this, people will excuse bad video as long as the audio is good. That’s my, you know, it’s easier to get away with bad video than it is bad audio. So, if you’re looking to make an investment in any kind of equipment to record videos for YouTube ads, make sure that the audio is good. You can get you can get away with sub-par video, but people need to be able to hear. And that’s a, I find that that’s a source of frustration for people. Same thing with sermons, right? I mean, we see pastors posting sermons online all the time now, and there’s a lot of money that’s been spent on video equipment in the last 3 or 4 months. You can’t get anything. I’m waiting for a part for my camera, for my DSLR to my computer, and it’s backordered for months. Thanks to churches all over the country. But, if you’ve got to sacrifice on anything, sacrifice on the video, over sacrificing on the audio.

Jason Hamrock: That’s right.

Bart Blair: I was going to add one more thing about demographics. The demographics on YouTube. I was actually just reviewing a YouTube campaign today, and once again, the primary audience in that YouTube campaign was 25 to 45 year old men. YouTube is DIY university. Right? So what what, I mean, women use it. Our friend Chuck watches Supergirl reruns, I think that’s what he says that he watches on YouTube, at least that’s what he accuses everybody else of watching but I think that’s because that’s what he’s watching. But, you know, guys use YouTube to DIY, to watch sports highlights, whatever. And so, again, reaching an audience that’s more diverse, combining Facebook with YouTube, and you can use the same videos on both platforms. Shoot a video for ads, run a Facebook ad with video, run a YouTube ad with video. Really, really powerful options there.

Bart Blair: We’ve got a couple more things we want to talk about before we wrap up. One of them is one of my favorites, and I don’t know how much you have to add to this particular part of the conversation, but it’s Google Trends. And the reason I love this is, that, as a former pastor who was preaching 45 times a year, planning sermon series, I never had a tool like this.  But what Google Trends is, is a platform in which you can actually do keyword research to see what people around the world, or in your state, or in your community are searching on Google, and you can see the popularity is of those searches and the reason I think this is such a powerful tool for churches, is, as they’re planning sermon series, they’re planning new ministries to launch, they’re planning outreach events and activities, they can actually plan by responding to what the people in their community are actually searching for online. And one of the prime things that we saw in March, if you went into Google Trends today and you put in the term “prayer request”. There was a day, like three weeks into March, when COVID was like, hitting and people were panicking and the search term, “prayer request”, went from like zero interest to a 100% interest, in a matter of a day because people were losing their jobs, people were fearful people, you know, people didn’t know where to turn. They turned to Google. And that’s the most amazing thing to me, right? I sat with a pastor one time, and we were planning some content that he was looking at putting on his website, and we searched the phrase, “How can I be saved?”  And this pastor got emotional as he saw the interest level on that phrase, he’s like people are going to Google to get the answer to that question. They’re not coming to the local church first. And that’s why the local church has to show up in Google, period.

Jason Hamrock: Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, just to kind of piggyback on what you just said, I mean, you know, when COVID broke, it was about forgiveness. People are afraid that they’re going to die, and so they’re like, I need to get right with God. If they don’t even…they may not even know who He is, right? They’ve heard of God. They’ve heard of Jesus, but they’ve never been to church. Another one these days is anxiety, and it makes sense. It’s like, okay, people are dealing with COVID, they’re dealing with all the tensions politically in our nation and all the stuff that’s going on. Anxiety is up into the right. Google Trends is such a powerful tool. I wish I had this one when. …when I was on staff at my church, I used to sit on the teaching… Like we would get we would get together and we would talk about, hey, what do we want to preach on in the next calendar year? Well, the reason I was on that team was just because as a communications director, you know, I was in charge of packaging that up and promoting it, and that kind of stuff and building assets, and all that kind of stuff around it. If, I would have been able to bring this kind of a tool to that kind of conversation, it would have absolutely changed what we wanted to talk about, as a church. Because, now you can truly, because think about it, if people outside the church are searching this, you think maybe people inside the church are still dealing with the same issues? They are. And those people inside your church, if they’re searching for prayer, they know where to go, they’re going to their church. Outside, they don’t really know what to do. But anxiety, marriage issues, addictions, all that stuff happens inside the church and outside the church. And so, look at the Google Trends to figure out how you can, you know, talk about, or blog about things. Like, you don’t have to have a sermon series about it but you can certainly add content to your website about what’s happening in Google.

Jason Hamrock: We also do this with Google AdWords, you can look at search volumes on specific keywords to help you shape up, you know, what kind of a felt need should we help you, church, create? What kind of like…maybe we need to focus on, you know, how to parent a teenager because there’s search volume in your area around that every month and that way you can be growing organically, or use the Ad Grant program to actually advertise when somebody is looking to how to be a better parent to their teenage daughter. So that kind of stuff is…Google Trends is an amazing tool.

Bart Blair: Yeah, it really is, I love it and I love sitting down with pastors and just kind of searching on different things and seeing their eyes light up when they realize, hey, I can actually find out what people in my community are interested in.

Bart Blair: Hey, we’re going to talk about one last thing, and we really don’t have a whole lot to add about this because it’s actually a new product by Google. And both of us admitted that we’re not really well versed in what’s called Google Sites. And these are like, it’s a homemade website, really. Now, again, it’s a fairly new product or tool in the Google arsenal and the little bit that I’ve looked into it, here’s what I would say, it is a useful tool for, and that is, for a church plant that has not yet launched or isn’t in launch phase. So, I’m a former church planter, and so I have a big heart for church plants and one of my biggest frustrations sometimes, is when I see church planters, prior to their launch, invest a lot of money in a website for a church that doesn’t yet exist and by the time they launch, the website isn’t really what they needed. And they just… they need to have a website, they need to have a web presence. They need to have a place where they can, if they’re raising financial support or taking gifts, or they want to have events and things updated, or registrations or just biographical information about their upcoming church plant in the community that they’re trying to reach, for people that they might be inviting to pray along with them, or to support them financially and I think that the Google Sites tool would be an excellent tool for them because you can purchase your domain. So, if you’re going to launch a church, and your church is called Missional Church. You can buy the domain: and you can use the Google Site and park this temporary website there, and it’s really easy to update, really easy to to navigate. It’s going to be Google-friendly, which of course is super important. Google is not going to build a tool, in its own arsenal, that isn’t Google friendly and it gives you a place that you can communicate, begin communicating with people prior to your launch. Now, as a church planter, there will be a time that you will need to actually invest in a full-blown, like real-on website. But, most of the time, church plants can take 2 or 3 years from their incarnation stage, in terms of this is our idea, to actually becoming a reality and a Google site could be a very cost-effective and simple way to get a website up online.

Jason Hamrock: Yeah, and I’d also say it’s good for churches that want more of a drag and drop, kind of like a, collaborative spot for maybe their their staff, or maybe for small groups, you know, curriculum kind of things. You don’t want that on your main website. You don’t want to, kind of, have to create a login for it. You could just spin up a Google Site. Super easy drag and drop kind of thing. It’s not meant to be like this super flashy, awesome, UX kind-of-a-thing. It’s more just, here’s a really simple website with content on there. Make it easier for people. So like you said, Google-friendly. If it’s by Google it’s good. I mean, it’s Google. So I would recommend, yeah, if you’re a church plant, use something like this. Or, if you’re an established church, you could use it for other, you know, not your main website, but other sites that you need to collaborate with people.

Bart Blair: Yeah. That’s really good insight there. Okay, that’s all we’re going to talk about today, Jason. This is fun for me, I really enjoyed this.

Jason Hamrock: I love this stuff.

Bart Blair: Now for the person.. for the one who might have actually gotten through the whole thing here, everything that we’ve actually talked about in this conversation is actually from a blog post on the Missional Marketing website. And I’m going to include a link to that blog post in the notes here, on this video. Everything that we talked about today is something that we can actually provide coaching, and guidance, and help for churches with, whether that’s the Google Ad Grant, Google AdWords, paid advertising, Google display. You name it. We’d love to be able to help and anything else that you want to add to that, Jason, before we sign off?

Jason Hamrock: Yeah. Well, first of all, go to our blog because you have a ton of content on there but we also have a lot of free resources for churches. We talked about Google My Business, which is a thing called local SEO. You can run a free audit on how your business, your storefront, your church, how it fares in Google when it comes to your local SEO report. Incredibly important for you to have that knowledge. You don’t have to be an expert in it, but we’re going to generate this report for you. We can even have a call with you and teach you about it, so that you’re equipped. So, you can make a good decision on what to do next. So check out all those free resources on our website.

Bart Blair: Yeah. Really good point. Jason, thanks for hanging out with me today.

Jason Hamrock: My pleasure. Thanks, Bart. Appreciate you.

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