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All Hail, the Almighty Google

17 November 2014
Using Google Apps in your Business

Google. Most people picture the company only in terms of their most popular product, Google Search. Well, there’s that and maybe the picture of wearing flip-flops while scooting around the office on a unicycle. But the point is, there’s a lot more to Google’s suite of products than you may think. Almost all of their products are free and all are simple to use. And did I mention, they’re excellent?

To ensure that you’re maximising your business connectivity and getting noticed on-line, you need to use the core Google products as often as you can. Why? Think about it, if you owned Google you would want everybody to be using Google, right? So let’s assume that you go ahead and start using Google products whenever you are given the opportunity… don’t you think that Google might reward you in some way? Maybe give people who use their products a higher ranking on the Google search results pages, for example? Just a thought. Either way, whether there’s a preference or not, I strongly recommend that you at least try them out.

Your first step is to create a Google account. When you’ve done that, you’ll be able to access all of their other products. I’ll list the main ones now and give a brief description of each.

Google plus (Google+)

Google+ is Google’s answer to Facebook. While it’s not getting the traction that Facebook has currently (Danet, Liddell, Dobney, Allen, & MacKenzie, 2013), it’s still an excellent product to use as your social networking platform. With Google+ you can post your status updates, invite friends, up-vote posts, join groups, add videos, add photographs and set up video calls. You can search by person, by topic and by keyword to see what people are talking about, and join in the conversations. Basically it has all of the features that you would expect from a social networking site. From the perspective of your business, things start to get more interesting when you create your Googlepage.

Google page / Google My Business (formerly known as Google Places) / Google Maps

In the early days of your business, your customers probably lived in the same country as you, maybe even in the same city. Having a Google page for your business is essential. The single task of setting a page can drive a business from virtual obscurity to the top of the Google search results in no time, so it’s worth putting in a few hours to set it up properly.

Your Google page (transitioning to Google My Business) is the business version of your Google+ profile/account. Once your Google page is created, you can then add all the information about your new business into Google’s new ‘Google my business’ tool. Here you can associate your Google page to your business’ website, your phone number, business description and all of the other things that you would like people to know about you and your business. Once you’ve entered all the details, and added whatever images you think are appropriate, the next thing is to get your business listed on Google maps.

You’ll find that in order to do this you need to get your business ‘verified’ by Google. This is a simple matter of entering your business name, your phone number and your business postal address plus the other usual business information. Once you’ve completed this, Google will send you a postcard containing a six digit code that you need to re-enter back into your Google+ dashboard.

Now that your business is verified, it will start showing up in even more Google search results. The great thing about being verified on Google is that a lot more metadata will be included as ‘rich snippets’ in the search results page.

Google Chrome

Google Chrome is more than just a web browser. The first thing you should do to start using Chrome’s features is to create a Google Chrome account. This is very useful because it means if you’re using somebody else’s PC, you can log in to Google Chrome and the web browser will detect all of your settings and passwords, making it look and feel exactly the same as sitting at home in front of the PC you’re used to. Once you’ve created your account and logged in, the rest of Chrome’s features are unlocked. The first thing to note is that Chrome has thousands of apps and extensions which act like mini applications within the Chrome browser. Take a browse through them, they can all be downloaded via Chrome, for free.

Google Drive

When you’ve created your Google account, you also get access to Google drive. In theory, you can move your entire business onto the cloud using this feature. It enables you to use Google versions of the most common Microsoft applications, and a lot more besides.

Google Forums

For any questions that you might have about any of the Google products, there will be a corresponding Google Forum. This is a great place to get in-depth information specific to the Google platform. The community are very friendly and always eager to help. Make sure that you share what you know on the Google forums and help people who don’t know as much as you do.

Google Ads

Obviously you’ll want to use digital marketing to promote your business. Google ads is an extremely effective platform for informing the world that your business has arrived. Spend 2 to 3 hours creating your Google ads. Ensure to review all the settings to ensure that you get the best value for money. I’ve found that by default, Google ads are geared towards the novice advertiser, and that’s understandable, but again, it’s worth spending those hours checking out how it works before you place your ad to get biggest bang for your buck.

For example the ‘display network’ advertising settings default to choosing all display networks. In my opinion this is not a good thing because lots of the third party sites may not be applicable to your ad. Because of nuances like this, you need to get in around the details of how Google ads operates and subsequently use the settings that are most advantageous to you and your business.

The alternative is to just spend 10 minutes and push out a regular ad like everybody else does, but that should not be your ethos. I believe that you need position yourself over and above everybody else in everything that you do in relation to your business.

Google Analytics

Create a Google analytics account. This is one of the most powerful features that Google provides to you (free) as a business owner. Google analytics enables you to see in great detail how your site is being interacted with. The analytics are so in-depth for this product that there have been books written about it.

YouTube

Because Google now own YouTube, you should ensure that you make use of it in terms of uploading as many videos as you can about topics relevant to your business. Just make sure that they are worthy of your business’ quality standards, in line with the general ethos of maintaining your professionalism at all times. Generally speaking, the types of videos you’ll be uploading should be content that you think your customers would find beneficial.

Remember that YouTube is one of the most popular search engines on the web. Take your opportunities to make sure that your videos contain keywords and links back to your site. Now that your Google account is created from the steps earlier, you’ll be able to log in to YouTube using your Google account.

It’s best to use YouTube as your Google page as opposed to your Google profile, so that any comments you make within YouTube will link back to your Google Page. From within YouTube then, you can create a YouTube channel for your business, and refer to that in your site also.

The general idea here as you can see, is to make sure that you integrate all of the Google products with your website and with each other, thus increasing the probability that people will find your business on-line.

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