Google is everywhere – True. Everyone uses Google – Not true. But even so, the statistics are pretty staggering. By the middle of 2014 67.5% of web searches and 87.1% of mobile searches in the US were via Google. In total Google served 11.9billion search results per month during that period. While not ‘everyone’ uses Google there is no denying that it’s the biggest kid on the block and if your business isn’t featured well in the Google ecosystem you’re missing out.
The very first step in featuring your business in Google is by having a Google Account. While some people are a little sceptical about “getting into bed with Google”, there are at least 10 fantastic reasons you should consider having your own Google Account for your business. I’ve listed them below.
1. Your Google+ Page
Your Google+ Business Page is at the heart of your Google account. Your Google+ Business Page showcases your address, opening times and contact details (a bit like a detailed directory), it allows you to share images and posts valuable to your customers (similar to Facebook Business Pages) and gives you the ability to connect with others via personal “follows” or via communities.
While you may wonder ‘why would I do this if I’m already on Facebook’ it’s important to know that any information you put on your Google+ Page is searchable elsewhere in the Google ecosystem. For example:
- Your opening times display when people find you in Google Maps.
- Your logo and name appear next to your links in Google searches.
- The information that you post to your page is also indexed and searchable in Google search.
At the end of the day your Google+ Page is a fantastic way to submit your information to Google to it can be served across the rest of the internet.
2. Your Google Local Listing
You’ve seen it before. You searched for a profession and a location (such as “accountant Seymour”) and Google gave you not only the top 10 websites it could find, but also a directory listing of businesses and a map with a range of businesses shown. Each of these businesses (when you hover or click) have a wealth of information available such as address and contact details, reviews and and recommendations, pricing, opening times, etc. As a consumer I can make decisions about who to contact without even leaving the search page.
If your business doesn’t have a a local listing you’re not even there for people to choose between.
In this section I’m also including the fact that your business is featured on Google Maps, with an icon and a name if people zoom far enough in. Not only can people find your business if they are looking at nearby location in Maps but it also gives consumers the ability to get directions right to your front door!
Gmail is amazing and I could write several articles about features that will make your business life more productive, but I need you to understand that in this case I’m talking about Gmail as a email client, not necessarily an address.
For example, I access all my email@example.com emails via the Gmail client. So that’s [me]@[mybusiness.com] not [me]@gmail.com. Make sense. In fact your Gmail client can support up to 5 different email addresses at the same time. If you want some help setting this up let me know, or see the Google Help item here.
Things I love about having my emails in Gmail include:
- Instant sync and share across all my devices. For example if I send an email on my computer, it shows as sent on my phone and iPad at the same time. If I read an email on my phone, it shows as read on my computer. And if I file an email on one device, it’s in the same spot on the others. I only have to deal with each email ONCE, which is a huge time saver.
- You get the power of Google Search (you know, the biggest and strongest search engine in the world) right within your email client (on your computer, on your phone, and anywhere you have Gmail). Once you take advantage of this you’ll never loose an email again.
- If you are using Chrome (instead of Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, etc), there are LOTS of additional tools you can add to Gmail. Things like Boomerang (which brings emails back to your inbox when you’re ready to deal with them) and Rapportive (which connects your Contacts to your LinkedIn account to give you up to date info on anyone you’re emailing) are some really common extensions to add. Want more? Try this DiyGenius post.
I would also seriously suggest if you’re new to the Google ecosystem you also sign up for a free gmail account, such as [mybusiness]@gmail.com. This means you can keep your own business emails separate from the “administrative Google” emails, and potentially even share the login credentials with some of your work colleagues. That way other staff can check your GoogleAnalytics without having access to your emails (as they’re a separate account).
4. Google Calendar
I would be lost without my online calendars (yep plural), but I’m not much of a paper diary kind of guy.
I’ve set up multiple Google calendars for different elements of my work and personal life, colour coded all of them and shared specific ones with relevant people (such as work calendars with work colleagues). Again, like Gmail I can access the same calendar on my computer, laptop, tablet and mobile phone and see exactly the same information. More importantly, anyone that I’ve shared these calendars with (partner, family, work colleagues, etc) all see at an up to date calendar of mine as well. So the next time my partner wants to book us in for something on a Thursday night she knows what I’m up to before she even picks up the phone. At the end of the day, this saves both me and others valuable time. And that’s important.
Incidentally, I most often view my calendar with the Sunrise app on my computer and devices. Not only is it a nicer interface that the standard Google Calendar, but it automatically syncs with some of my social media channels, task manager and a few other platforms that I use daily.
5. Google Analytics
If you have a business website you need to be keeping abreast of your website usage, if only every few months. Google Analytics is free, relatively simple to use and will tell you everything you need to know about your website. Common questions like how many people visited my website last month, what pages did they look at and where did they come from are quick and easy to answer. But for the curious amongst you there is the option to drill down to super specific information.
Google Analytics, when used correctly, is vital if you’re trying to measure any of your marketing and branding. It can tell you whether the advert in the Yellow Pages or the local magazine brought you more visitors, if your Facebook page is helping drive business, or exactly where in your website people are falling away. Use this information to tailor your efforts and maximise your time and spend.
6. Google Drive
You’ve heard about storing your files in the cloud, and your Google account will instantly give you 15GB of free storage (your Gmail will take up some of this).
Having documents in the cloud means that you can open up your work computer, home laptop or log in with your tablet at the local coffee shop and see all your files in one place. You can start working on a file in one place and finish in another. Or when a customer calls you asking for a specific part number you’ll be able to access your list on the fly. Having all your documents at your fingertips has to save you some time.
But cloud storage doesn’t stop there. Some other interesting uses of cloud storage include:
- Central document storage for all your colleagues. That way you can all save your files to a central place and be able to access them from there. No more hunting in your inbox for that document that was emailed to you three weeks ago.
- Sharing a single folder with one or more clients. Maybe you could write a How To document for one of your products and store it in Google Drive. Then just share the link with your customers and they can download it whenever they like. Alternatively, it could be a video, a price list, a list of contacts or in fact anything digital.
- Share an empty folder and ask customers to upload photos of them using your product. They could email you the photos, but they you’d have to collate them all in one spot. This idea cuts that second step out and saves you a bunch of time.
Now there are lots of other cloud storage options out there, such as Dropbox (which I also love) but if Google is going to give you 15GB then you may as well use it.
I wrote a whole article on Getting Your Files Into The Cloud that you may want to check out too.
Youtube came in as number seven purely because the preceding six are possibly easier to integrate into your current business model. Youtube isn’t hard, but it is another platform to use. That said, it’s also the second largest search engine in the world and with the continuing rise of mobile devices and fast internet video is a platform that needs to be seriously considered.
Youtube is free and fast. I agree that Youtube is a good place to find videos of cats doing odd things, or watching your favourite music video clip, but it’s also a really powerful place to find out “how to” do something. Humans are great visual learners and business’ can tap in to this to show customers how to solve their problems and build a relationship with you at the same time. Armed with just your smart phone, a quiet room and some good natural lighting you can start making Youtube videos quickly and easily.
“But wait! I don’t want to make videos”. That’s fine, you don’t have to. There’s several other ways that you can consider using a Youtube Channel.
Curating good content is a great place to start. If you’re a Yoga Instructor you could very easily create a playlist of all the best stretches (filmed by other people) and make it available on your Youtube channel. If you’re a Grocery Store, you could do the same for healthy recipes. Either way this is about curating a great list of videos (and continually adding to it) so that customers don’t have to go searching for the videos independently.
Being active in the comments of other people’s videos is a great way of using Youtube as a social media channel. By providing great content and good advice on other people’s videos your business name will start to pop up “all over the place”. Every time a prospective client sees your business name and clicks on it they will go back to your main channel or even your Google+ page and can find out more about you and the products/services that you offer.
If you’d like to see my channel, which is ever evolving, you can check it out here.
8. Google Docs.
The title here is a little misleading, as I’m actually referring to several different programs in the Google Home and Office suite which include: Docs, Slides, Drawings, Sheets, and a few others. These are Google’s versions of a word processor (Word for PC, or Pages for Mac), a slide presenter (Powerpoint/Keynote), a spreadsheet program (Excel/Numbers), etc.
There are three things that I really like about these programs.
- They’re available online. It doesn’t matter which computer I’m on, how old it is, or where I am I always have access to these crucial pieces of business software.
- They are collaborative. Not only can multiple people (depending on who it’s shared with) all contribute to the document they can do so at the same time. While true collaborative document editing may not be really important, I know I’ve used systems before where I had to phone another person and ask them to let me know when they were finished so I could edit another part of the document which is a waste of time.
- Google will keep a full revision history. This is the ultimate UNDO button, constantly auto-saving for you and allowing you to see what the document looked like yesterday, last week or even last year. No more deleting a paragraph only to realise that you wanted to keep it.
Part of this suite are Google Forms, which are an easy way to create an online form and link it directly to a Google Spreadsheet. While this may sound technical it’s actually really easy. Just the other day I created an RSVP form for a work function and shared the link with all the invites. When clicked this link takes people to a simple web page and asks for their name, contact number, number of guests attending and any dietary requirements. It’s easy for someone to fill out. When they click the submit button that information is instantly saved into a Google Sheet that I’ve created. Prior to Google Forms I would have asked everyone to reply via email and then manually copied the information over, wasting valuable time and leaving myself open to making mistakes along the way.
9. Google Hangouts
We’ve spoken about the rise of Youtube, but real-time video is also on the rise. You may have used Facetime (if you have an iDevice) or Skype to make video calls to people in the past. There are two kinds of Hangouts: Hangout/Video Calls which are private chats on desktop or mobile for up to 10 people simultaneously; and Hangouts On Air (HOAs) which are secure live broadcasts with up to 10 participants, broadcast live in HD and viewed on Google+ or Youtube from any connected device (paid or free, public or private).
- Maybe your customers live too far away to come into your shop as often as you like… get them on video instead.
- Maybe you have a weekly special that you want to share with your customers… do a live press release on video.
- Maybe you’ve got a group of customers who would all benefit from hearing the same information… get together so they can all see you talk about it at the same time.
- Maybe you want to interview one of your suppliers who lives in Melbourne… do a Hangout and save the video to your website for viewing late.
Whatever the reason, the ability for your customers to see you rather than just call you is of huge benefit in lots of settings.
If you have a Youtube Channel, your Hangouts will be automatically saved their for customers to view at a later date as well, which ticks another box at the same time.
If you’re after some inspiration, check this great article on Social Media Examiner on How To Use Google Hangouts For Your Business.
10. Google Webmaster Tools
“Get data, tools and diagnostics for a healthy, Google-friendly site” is the tagline for Webmaster Tools.
In summary, Webmaster tools allows you to manage the way that Google looks at your site. You can make sure that Google can see all of your content, submit new or remove old web pages, maintain your website, monitor for spam and malware, and otherwise see how Google Search – and thus the world – sees your site.
Even if you don’t think you know how to use Webmaster Tools, you should be aware of it and become familiar with the basics.
Ok, so how do I get my business on Google? Where do I start?
If you don’t already have a Gmail account (such as firstname.lastname@example.org) then I suggest you start with Google’s Account SignUp page.
The process after that is fairly straight forward – visit www.google.com.au/business/ and follow the links. This will take you through the process of setting up your Google+ Business Page and Google Local Listing.
After that accessing your other channels is relatively easy.
[infobox title=’Need help setting up your Google accounts?’]If you’d like assistance setting up your Google accounts, or want to talk through the strategy of how to leverage them for your business give me a call.
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Now it’s over to you. Is your business on Google? Are more customers finding you because of it? What have you found easy or difficult? Let us know in the comments below.