Maximizing income is top-of-mind for every small business owner, but if you’re paying for software or apps to help run your business, you could be throwing money away. Google offers several products that can help you do more, market better, and attract more customers—all for free.
Here are 10 free Google products every business owner should take advantage of.
You can spend a lot of money on analytics tools to see how well your business website is performing. But why, when Google Analytics is absolutely free and feature-rich?
Google Analytics makes it easy to see what your customers are doing on your website, collect data on your audience, and slice-and-dice that information in multiple ways to create simple dashboards and reports. It can help you find the users who are most likely to convert, those with the most potential customer lifetime value, and more.
You can even access Google’s proprietary audience data to segment audiences by demographics or what products they’re interested in, and then plan AdWords campaigns for each segment.
If you own a business that relies on local customers—like a retail store, dry cleaner, or restaurant—and you don’t use Google My Business, you’re missing out.
Like an online Yellow Pages (only free), Google My Business lets you add information about your business, such as address, phone number, hours of operation, and directions, so potential customers who are searching online for what you sell will find it. You can add photos of your business, link to your website, and even respond to reviews. Plus, it’s easy to change your info on the fly, such as adding special holiday hours.
3. Google Docs
When you need to collaborate with others on projects or content, Google Docs makes it easy.
Use the editing and styling tools to easily format text and add graphics or images. You can choose from hundreds of fonts as well as pre-designed templates for a wide variety of business documents. Download the free app, and you can work on your Docs anywhere, even offline. You can chat with others in the app, comment in real-time, share Docs, and notify others of changes. It’s easy to convert Docs to Word documents and vice versa.
My favorite feature: Docs automatically saves changes as you type. And you can go back into each Doc’s revision history to access past versions. Plus, since just about everyone has a Google account, there’s a minimal learning curve.
Want to make extra money? AdSense lets you place online ads on your website and get paid for views and clicks. Choose what types of ads you want and where on your site they should run.
Then advertisers bid for your space, and ads from the highest bidders show up. You control what runs, so ads are always appropriate and relevant to your audience. Google handles billing and pays you automatically.
I’ve relied on this free tool for years, and I’m always surprised how many small business owners still don’t know about it.
Google Alerts sets up free alerts when news and other content you’re interested in appears online, so you can track trends, your competitors, industry news, what people are saying about you and your business, and more. Just type the keywords you want to track, then choose options like how often to get alerts (daily, weekly, or in real-time), what sources to monitor (news, blogs, videos, etc.), and the countries or regions you want alerts from.
If tracking trends matters to your business, use Google Trends to see what searches are trending on Google at any given moment.
You can filter your results by categories or regions. This is an essential tool to discover of-the-moment keywords that will attract attention in social media posts or other online content.
Google Tag Manager makes it easy to update your website’s tags for remarketing, website analytics, or conversion tracking. It checks for errors, so you always know your tags are working. Invaluable for ecommerce websites, content sites, or other businesses that change their website tags often.
8. Google Keep
Ever get a fantastic idea while you’re in the middle of doing something else only to forget it later? Use Google Keep and you’ll always remember. This free tool lets you capture everything from to-do lists to images, links, and brainstorms. You can also set time- or location-based reminders (like a reminder to pick up milk when you get close to the grocery store on your drive home).
If you haven’t visited this social media site in a while (or ever), it’s got a new look and focus based on Communities and Collections. Communities are user groups focused around a specific interest or organization; all users can post content in the Community (kind of like a LinkedIn Group). Collections are created and controlled by one person or organization (kind of like a Pinterest Board).
The topic-oriented—rather than individual-oriented—focus makes Google+ a good place to make contacts and influence people.
Want to set up a business blog (or make blogging your business)? The free Blogger tool is all you need.
Choose from hundreds of templates or design your own layout. Get a free domain name or buy a custom one. Use Blogger’s free, built-in analytics to learn more about your audience and see which posts get the most engagement. You can start earning money right away using Google AdSense to populate your blog with relevant ads targeted to your audience.