Top 10 Google Tools for Small Business
As an emerging business, you want to take advantage of anything that can make you more visible online. To this end, Google offers many free and paid services for business owners to leverage. From making your website more usable and tracking site traffic to improving your website’s local SEO quality and online advertising campaigns, Google offers tools to help. Here are 10 of the best:
1. Google AdWords
Pay-per-click (PPC) is the most popular form of online advertising, and Google AdWords is the Internet’s largest PPC ad network. Here’s how it works: A user bids on keywords that target customers are using to search for the types of offerings that the business sells, and then ads that are tagged with those keywords appear on Google’s search results pages when a person uses those keywords to search. The PPC client is only charged for the advertising service when someone clicks his ad. Performance-based costs at its best.
The Google AdWords program lets users create simple four-line text ads related to the keywords they select. You set a daily budget for your PPC advertising campaign and then monitor your progress using the AdWords analytic tools. You can get started with AdWords by spending as little as $1 per day. This is a great way to advertise online and drive traffic to your website.
2. Google Offers
If you operate a local business, you can promote products and services via Google Offers, a Groupon-like service that lets users offer special daily deals to targeted customers and thus drive new business. Google Offers is available in select cities and plans to expand soon.
3. Google Places for Business
Google Places for Business generates the listing that pops up for a business when consumers search for related terms through Google Maps. By default, Google includes what it knows about a local business, including customer reviews from across the Web. But you can beef up your listing — and attract more customers — by submitting your own information to Google Places.
Creating a Places page on Google Maps is free. In addition to basic business information, you can post updates about coming events, describe specials and more — anything that might attract potential customers who may be searching for certain kinds of nearby businesses.
4. Google AdSense
The most popular way to make a little money from the visitors you’ve already attracted to your site is by putting ads on your own website using Google AdSense. AdSense ties into AdWords by placing content-related ads on your site. You choose the size of the ads and where they’re displayed. When a visitor clicks on an ad, Google splits the ad revenue with you. Thus, Google AdSense can help you generate some extra revenue through your website.
5. Google Site Search
A special Google search box can help make your site more useful and easier to navigate. Visitors can use this box to search just your website or the entire Web in general. Users can leverage the Google Site Search program for free.
6. Google Analytics
To find out how much traffic your website attracts, where your visitors are coming from and what people do after they get to your site, use Google Analytics. This free tool can answer those questions and more. By adding some code in your site’s underlying HTML Google Analytics will track every visitor to your site and generate helpful reports and statistics. Business owners can use the data to fine-tune their website. It’s ideally suited to a cost-conscious small business trying to improve its online performance.
To boost your online presence, consider a company blog. Task one or more employees to post regularly about company events, new products and industry news, and your site can quickly develop a following of potential customers. Google’s Blogger program is one of the largest blog-hosting services. Plus it’s easy to use and free. Use it to create and host your blog.
Many small businesses are using video marketing to attract customers, and they’re using YouTube, Google’s video sharing community, to do it. You can produce your own videos for relatively low cost and then post them on YouTube for free — and gain exposure to some of YouTube’s millions of users. Because it costs nothing to upload a video to YouTube, this platform is an affordable way to promote your business online.
The Google+ social network is Google’s attempt to compete with Facebook and Twitter. At the end of 2013, Google+ had more than 500 million users. You can tap into this by creating your own Google+ brand page, encouraging customers to add your page to their Circles (Google’s version of Facebook friends and Twitter followers) and then feeding followers a steady stream of interesting and useful posts. Use Google+ in addition to Facebook to round out your company’s social media program and further build community and customer loyalty. All it costs is a little time because marketing on Google+ is free.
10. A Google +1 Button
By adding a Google +1 button to your website, you can help your happy customers take advantage the easiest way ever to recommend your business. The Google +1 button is much like Facebook’s “Like” button, but it has the advantage of being able to improve your ranking in Google searches. In other words, the more people that “+1″ your site, the higher your site will rank among their online friends. Adding a +1 button is as easy as inserting a few lines of code in your site’s underlying HTML. Like many other Google promotional tools, this one’s also free.
Our list could go on and on, as Google offers several more tools and services such as Gmail, Docs and Calendar. Feel free to add your favorites!