Small businesses don’t have the huge budgets for developing bespoke tools that larger companies do, but thankfully, we now live in an age where there are thousands of free software services at our disposal. Here’s a few of Google’s services that you may or may not be using – some you may not have known about. We hope they can help you out!
The great thing about Google Calendar is it’s interconnectivity. Not only can you link it with your computer, phone or tablet, but it can be embedded in your website, and more usefully, linked with hundreds of plugins that allow you to make scheduling meetings, appointments and calls a cinch through a purpose built interface. You can share your calendar with whomever you please and manage the type of access that each person has. You can also set up powerful automations with Zapier to create or update calendar entries from forms on your website. This article explains how to use Google Cal’s appointment scheduling feature.
If you have a local business, then setting up a profile on Google My Business is pretty much essential. This will get your business more exposure when people search for a service like yours in a particular location. GPS services mean that Google searches can return results based on a user’s location, and your address, hours of business and contact details are more easily found. It’s also a good way to build reviews and provide updates on your business’s offers and news. Since map results now appear more prominently than organic search results on Google results pages, it’s worth getting on board with this service.
Many people use Gmail every day for their personal email account, and it’s a fantastic service with loads of storage and great features. The ads aren’t intrusive and it’s easy to use Gmail as a hub for all your various email accounts. We recommend the use of Gmail for self-employed people, but when you have more employees or team members, you need the ability to use multiple email addresses – enter Gmail GSuite for business. This gets rid of the ads, doubles your storage and allows unlimited company email addresses (firstname.lastname@example.org). Each user can also have multiple email address aliases. There are tons of features to make email work exactly as you need it with Gmail. Whilst a regular Gmail account is free, you can use Gsuite for as little as $5 per user per month. See more information here.
Analytics can seem pretty daunting due to the sheer quantity of reports and data available, but it’s an essential tool for your website because it allows you to understand your website visitors better, as well as seeing how your site is used. Google Analytics can show you the path people take through your website, the pages they enter, and exit and what percentage of visitors are ‘bouncing’. You can learn about where you visitors are located, which methods they used to find your website, whether social, search, direct or referred, and set up goals to help you track key events that users take on your site such as filling in a form or making a purchase. If you want to optimise your site for the best possible results, Google Analytics is an invaluable tool.
A little known tool, Google Forms can help you easily create forms that can be embedded on any website. You can create surveys and questionnaires, or simple contact forms. You can even install extensions to transform the data entered into another format, such as a Google Doc or Sheet.
Google Alerts is an amazing tool that can notify you about any topic that is published on the web. This allows you to stay up to date with industry news and keep on top of new trends in your business sector. You can also track mentions of your own business or a competitor’s!
Google Trends is a tool that allows you to track the popularity of certain keyword phrases over time. It will also suggest alternative phrases that could help you with SEO and advertising.
This one kinda does what it says. Use this powerful tool to help you explore keyword ideas for advertising or SEO. You can see the popularity of keywords and the level of competition each has, informing your budget and giving you an idea of estimated traffic. Data can be filtered by demographics such as age, gender and interest as well as technical data like browser and device.
If you run a website, it’s a good idea to link it up with Webmaster Tools. It will help you keep an eye on the health of your website, flagging up any errors relating to broken links, or problems related to how your site is indexed by Google, also offering recommendations for optimisation.
If you’re a Safari browser user, you may be aware of the Responsive Design Mode that allows you to see how a website looks on a variety of Apple devices or screen sizes. Google Resizer fulfills a similar role for websites in a more general sense. You can see how a website looks at various widths and breakpoints. This is a great tool for developers, but equally good for website owners to test how their site looks on different devices easily.
Web users are now more likely to browse the Internet on a mobile device than a desktop, and therefore loading times are more important than ever, especially as Google ranks fast loading websites higher. If your site takes more than 4 or 5 seconds to load, you could be losing visitors, so it pays to ensure it loads fast. Google’s Pagespeed enables you to test your website’s speed easily and even gives you an idea of what could be slowing things down so you can take action.
The Digital Garage is a great resource that offers free tutorials in video and text format to help you learn everything from search advertising and social media to selling online and running a website. A Google certification is given for completing the whole course. It’s a great free resource that can really help if you’re struggling with marketing your business online.
A great free resource for conferencing, interviews, instant messaging, and webinars, Google Hangouts is an easily accessible option that everyone can use, which has led to it’s popularity for business use.
There are tons more Google tools you can explore, and plenty more software services besides. If there’s a gap in your business processes that could be automated or simplified, the chances are there is a tool to help you, so get Googling!