There's more to Google than searching the web
Say the word Google to anyone and they'll probably give you the same response. "Well, it's a search engine, right?" Certainly, Google is the world's biggest tool for searching the internet and it has even become common parlance for browsing the web: "I'll Google it", as most of us have said at some point.
However, there's more to Google than its function as a search tool for websites, pictures, videos and shopping – use Google well and it will reward you.
There is Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Drive, Google Blog (Blogger), Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, Google Voice, Google Translate, Google Calendar, Google Analytics, Google AdWords and Google+.
So, what are all these functions which are available as part of the world's leading online brand? And how can you, as a company, benefit from them?
A free email service offered by the company and launched to the public in 2007. Now the biggest web-based email provider. There are both advantages and disadvantages when using GMail for your business. Contrary to popular belief, you can set up GMail with your company name, for example, email@example.com, however, many people find GMail far less easy to use than traditional Outlook.
Video is fast becoming one of the most popular ways of promoting a business of any size. YouTube is Google's video sharing site which it bought for $1.65 billion in 2006. It now operates as part of the Google brand, allowing users to upload and share videos as well as leave comments and rate content. Never has it been so easy for small businesses to showcase what they do in video format.
3) Google Maps
Google offers a service to businesses which allows them to appear on Google Maps, helping customers find where you are. Contact information, ratings and reviews of your company are also listed as part of the service. Being on Google Maps is vital in 2015 and will help bring customers to you – there's no reason to miss out.
4) Google Drive
This is Google's contribution to the cloud, giving users the chance to store and share files on the internet. It includes Google's own package of office software, Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, which allows companies and individuals to collaborate on the production of content. This means you can share files with specific suppliers – or indeed store all of your company information on there if you choose.
5) Google Blog
Blogger, as it is now known, is Google's blog publishing service. A free tool, it provides a platform for sharing text, photos and videos with the world. Want to showcase your knowledge? Then publishing on Blogger is a Google friendly route to take.
6) Google Docs, Sheets and Slides
Closely integrated with Google Drive, this is Google's office software package. The difference with more traditional software is Google's solution is web-based and free as part of Google Drive. It allows users to create and share documents, spreadsheets and presentations quickly and smoothly online. Files are also compatible with Microsoft Office. The advantage of the software is its availability – for free – at any time, anywhere in the world.
7) Google Voice
More relevant for those in the United States, Google Voice is the company's voicemail service. It allows users to receive calls and messages across multiple phones from one inbound number which is provided free of charge by Google.
8) Google Translate
Now supporting 90 languages, Google Translate offers a functional service to more than 200 million people a day. The function can even pronounce text and decipher what language text is in – although users should be wary, using this service instead of a human specialist translate for your marketing materials destined for different languages or cultures, may not end well!
9) Google Calendar
Even available as a mobile application, Google Calendar stores information in the cloud and is therefore a reliable interface for a company and its appointments. Compatible and versatile, Google Calendar is integrated with GMail and iGoogle.
10) Google Analytics
Google's analytics service is the most popular on the internet, giving data on site visits, bounce rates, page views and unique visitor numbers among other statistics in relation to your website. It really is an excellent tool and one of several free resources that you can use to measure your digital marketing.
11) Google AdWords
The main source of income for Google, AdWords enables advertisers – companies like you – to market their goods and services in its search engine. This "pay per click" advertising system displays your advert as a sponsored link when a searcher enters a phrase which matches what you offer. With a well-placed advert, your company can be at the fingertips of the world – although make sure you never put your company name as an AdWord, people searching for you already will naturally click on the first link - and that’s money out of your budget!
The whole Google package contains elements which can be vital for small businesses and their marketing campaigns. Remember, 90 per cent of people who use the web use Google to browse for products and services. That's more than two billion people across the globe. Some Google tools are dispensable while some are almost compulsory. For example, having your company listed on Google Maps is vital, while using the Google Calendar is not.
So, you need to ask yourself the question: am I getting the most out of Google and all tools it offers?