Google is an awesome tool for online businesses. And they didn't even pay me to say that.
But why? Because Google, in addition to being the most widely used search engine globally, also has the most useful free tools for budding social media mavens and web entrepreneurs. That's you, by the way, even if you sell wicker furniture offline in Vermont.
FREE Google Tools:
• Google Analytics is a sweet tool that gives you loads of data about the visitors to your website: how they got to your site, what they did there, where they exited. You can even watch people visiting your site live, whenever you want, via their "Real Time" tool. All you do is open an Analytics account (free) and copy some code in there and paste it into the header of your site. That part seems tricky.... so I will do it for you. And explain what I did. This isn't rocket science.... you'll get it, even if I do it.
• Google Translate translates for you. Ser du hvor lett det er å bruke? Copy that passage in Norwegian, click on my link to Google Translate, paste it in, translate to English. Or just click on it, you can link to a translated passage as well.
• Google Plus (or Google+ or just G+) is one of the main reasons you should establish a Google account, if you don't have one yet. Some people describe G+ as "Google's Facebook" but this is both an oversimplification, and a misunderstanding. G+ is more than just a social space, it is an over-arching group of interactive and interacting tools and services. Let me explain: my Blogger blog about toys is inherently connected to my Gmail account for the toy store. All images I post to my toy blog are in fact images held in an album on G+. All comments left under those blog posts are Google Plus comments, which appear both in my own G+ account under the posts, AND in the G+ account of the commenter! Google Plus also has a business page feature (like the same on Facebook) but there great thing about listing your business in Google Plus is that the info you place there WILL come up in Google search results. I shouldn't tell you this, but if you are on a shoestring budget, you don't even need a website. All you need is a fully-fleshed-out Google Plus business page. Phone number, location, hours of operation, a description of the business, images of the storefront and various other key pieces of info will all be presented in Google search results, drawn off of the info you type into your Google Plus business page.
• Gmail is the best email service. It's free, and opening a Gmail account in fact means you have opened a Google account. This simple fact alone makes it the most useful email platform out there. Did I mention it's free?
• YouTube is an incredibly useful tool for sharing content with the world. I can show you how a few carefully designed videos (with carefully planned descriptions / keywords) can increase your rankings in search results.
• Blogger is my go-to blogging platform to set up for clients. While Wordpress and Tumblr and several others do offer alternatives, Blogger is set up to mesh with Google+ and Google search results to give you the best possible results for your blogging efforts.
• Google Trends is a really useful tool that allows you to compare and contrast the Google searches for various keywords or keyword phrases. It also gives you suggestions and related keywords and phrasee so you can start figuring out who is searching for what, and how much. Note that Google Trends does NOT give you actual numbers for how many times each keyword phrase is searched each month. It ONLY compares keyword phrases to each other on a scale from 1 to 100. 100 is always the highest point for any comparison you do. Still quite useful though.
Google Tools that Cost Money:
• Google AdWords is the pay-per-click (PPC) ad service provided by Google. You might be thinking "I don't wanna pay a ton for ads!" You don't have to. I've set up Google AdWords campaigns for many businesses on a budget, and you'd be surprised what you can get for a few bucks a day. Careful keyword research is key here.
Other Google Tools:
There are many, many other tools and services under the Google umbrella that are immensely useful to the business owner. I can work through all of them with you and teach you best practices for each.