As well as searches for information about news and current events, web users also use Google to find businesses. The truth is, 75 percent of web users use search engines to find local business information and 50 percent of mobile search users visit a local business they have searched the same day.
You’re probably aware of how it can benefit you if you can get your company website ranking on the first page of Google for these search results. However, you may not be aware that Google also offers a whole suite of handy tools to help you get there. They can even assist in the day to day running of your business.
Most small businesses already know about Gmail, Google Docs and Google Drive for communication, content creation and collaboration. Many of them also know about using Google Analytics for better SEO. However, Google also offers several lesser-known tools that are useful for businesses who want to improve their SEO and social media marketing, as well as their project management and much more. If you'd like some free business tools you can start using today, read on to learn lots more about them.
1. Google Mobile Friendly Test
As mobile internet usage has now overtaken desktop, it’s vital that your business website is easy to read and use on a mobile device. Mobile friendliness is also now one of the factors that Google uses in deciding where to rank your site. Google may push a site that is difficult to use on a small screen further down the results pages.
Google provides a handy, easy-to-use tool that will scan your site and test how well it works on mobile. You’ll get a preview of how your site looks on a smartphone and if there are issues, you’ll get a handy checklist of things to fix.
2. Google Forms
If you need to knock up a quick survey to get feedback from customers or want to send out invites and collect RSVPs for an event, Google Forms is the easiest way to do it. Google Forms is part of Google Drive and provides a simple way of creating an online form to collect responses.
There’s a gallery of templates to choose from, or you can start from a blank slate and add your own images and video. You can also download a spreadsheet of responses and set up email notifications for new responses.
3. Google Search Console
Google Analytics is a useful tool to analyse the traffic to your site, but Google Search Console provides even more useful data, such as the exact keywords people use to find your site, and where external links to your site originate from.
Google will also alert you if they take any manual actions against your site that may affect its performance in Google results. You can review these actions and take steps to fix the issues before submitting your site for reconsideration.
4. Google Trends
Google Trends gives you a peek into what Google users search for worldwide. You can narrow this down by country or category and see how the topic is trending over time.
This can be useful for discovering trending topics in your industry, which can provide blog post ideas or product ideas. You can also measure the popularity of your brand and company against your competitors.
5. Google PageSpeed Insights
Today’s web users will abandon a web page within a few seconds if they’re forced to wait for it to load. If you speed up your business website, it can help to reduce your bounce rate, increase conversions, and increase the length of time visitors spend on your site.
Speed is also a ranking factor used by Google. It’s important that your site is fast for SEO purposes. PageSpeed Insights will give you a score for speed on both mobile and desktop. It will also offer a list of optimisations you can make to your site to speed everything up.
6. Google Alerts
Google Alerts allows you to save a particular web search and receive automatic email notifications whenever Google finds new content relating to your search. There are a number of ways you can use this to help your business including:
- Alerts: Set up an alert for your business name to read reviews and see what people are saying about you and your products online.
- News: Monitor topics in your industry for news you can write about in your company blog
- Competition: Keep tabs on your competitors
- Growth: Discover new business opportunities in your area.
7. Google My Business
Google My Business is a must for any business with a physical location. It provides you with a free business listing in Google, so you’ll come up in the list of businesses in local searches and on Google Maps. Your business listing includes your:
- Business address
- Contact telephone number
- Business hours
- Client or customer reviews
As well as improving the visibility of your business, user reviews provide important social proof of your trustworthiness. Building trust with consumers can increase sales significantly. Nearly 60 percent of Australians say they read reviews online before making a purchase. You can encourage more reviews by linking directly to the review form on your business listing.
My Business also automatically generates a free website with the data from your Google listing that you can customise with your own design, images, and text.
8. Google Shopping Insights
Shopping Insights is similar to Google trends. Instead of tracking popular search terms, it provides information about product popularity and trends.
This data can be valuable if you run a retail business. Some examples of trends spotted with the tool in the last couple of years include:
- Sportswear overtakes other types of apparel in terms of popularity
- The rise of fidget spinners
- Regional preferences for different brands and product types
- Most popular Father’s Day gifts
Information is displayed visually with charts, graphs, and maps, making it easier to understand the raw data and see the trends as they occur.
9. Google Keep
Google Keep is a type of digital notebook that allows you to jot down ideas, notes and lists, and save web pages for later reading. This simple and effective tool is great for project planning right from the initial brainstorming stage through to project completion because it keeps everything together in one place.
You can sync your notes through all your devices so they’re instantly available wherever you are. Other users can share and edit notes, making it a useful tool for work teams.
10. YouTube Live
Formerly Google Hangouts, YouTube Live, which Google now owns, provides free software for live streaming video without the need to buy additional tools or equipment. The video comes with a chat box for live feedback from viewers. Google automatically records, so you can send the link to people who may have missed it. As a business, you can use YouTube live to:
- Broadcast webinars
- Host video conferences with clients and business partners
- Connect with colleagues working remotely
- Showcase products
- Hold a virtual Q & A session
- Engage with customers and grow your brand.
YouTube Live isn’t as powerful as some of the other commercial webinar and conferencing software. However, it suits many business marketing purposes perfectly. Easy to use, it's a good platform to get started on, even if you do decide to upgrade later.
Google is more than just a search engine – it’s also a suite of incredibly powerful and useful tools they update and release regularly. Google’s tools are mostly free, easy to use, widely documented, and can help you and your colleagues be more productive at work. You can use it to improve your business website, increase the visibility of your brand, and connect with your clients and customers, too.
It’s well worth taking the time to explore a few of these tools to see how they may benefit your business. You may well find they become an integral part of your working day.