Google used to be a search engine. Most eBusiness managers still see it as that, a place where you try to get as high as possible on the natural search results through SEO while spending as much as you can on its auction-style PPC listings.
Beyond the core search engine, Google has evolved a complex eBusiness ecosystem of free, enterprise-grade services and tools for the Digital community. While you would expect your team and your suppliers to be familiar with these tools and to use them for your business’ benefit, you would be wrong to assume you don’t need to be familiar with them yourself and actively use them in your day to day. Here are the top 10 I use every week. I recommend you do too.
Google Analytics is my analytics package of choice. For board-level KPI reporting there is no contest, and enterprise-grade capabilities like scheduled custom dashboard distribution, event tracking, ecommerce reporting and alerts make it very difficult to justify investing 7-figure sums in competitive offerings.
Google Website Optimizer (GWO)
Website optimisation is a never-ending process. You can always squeeze a few more conversions, clicks, subscriptions and sales from each page of your site. While setting up the technical aspects of GWO is probably as appealing to you as jumping off a bridge, GWO can enable a continuous improvement programme for your site that will keep on giving. The reporting interface is clean and easy to read, taking the guesswork out of complex issues such as statistical significance.
Millions and millions of new pieces of content are added every day to the Internet. Any one of those could be something you must hear about: from someone praising or criticising your company to announcements about your sector, your competitors or new regulations. Traditionally, companies have paid PR firms thousands of pounds to sift through some of it and prepare a digest. High cost, limited sources, processing time and clumsy format means these tend to languish unread in an archive somewhere in the PR desk and not inform day to day management decisions. Google alerts can change all that: start by chossing a handful of keywords and setting up daily digest emails for each, then move on to real-time reporting via RSS in Google Reader.
Making sure you don’t spend your day reading instead of working while remaining on top of the information you need to run your business is a difficult balance to strike. Its ability to manage external and internal sources means Google reader makes it easy to identify and filter the information you need to read, to share those pieces that need to be shared right from Reader itself and to block the noise from taking any of your time. Reader integrates greatly with a whole host of mobile apps that enable you to consume your information on down time on the move, making you more efficient while always maintaining your reading list in sync so you can pick up on the PC where you left off on the mobile.
Make sure to create separate folders for your business and personal interests, integrate with Google Alerts for up-to-the-minute updates on your business and make sure to use the sharing functionality to distribute relevant information across your organisation effortlessly.
There are plenty of payment gateways you can choose to manage your payments. Google checkout is not (yet) the most popular of them all, but there are a few characteristics of it that makes it a no-brainer additional payment method for your site:
- Google account integration: for people logged in to a Google account, Checkout is the quickest and most convenient payment method available
- Google analytics integration: a Google Checkout merchant can use Google Analytics to track buyers who complete an order using Google Checkout
- Increased visibility on Google results: by displaying the Google Checkout badge on PPC advertisements, Google provides a larger amount of real estate to Checkout merchants. Studies have shown this, combined with the graphical representation of the Checkout logo, increases PPC clicks and can increase sales
These are my favourite 5 Google tools. Which are yours? Let me know in the comments!