As a new business, you want to take advantage of anything that can make you more visible online. To this end, Google offers many free and paid services for business owners to leverage. From making your website more usable and tracking site traffic, to improving your website’s local search engine optimization (SEO) quality and online advertising campaigns, Google has tools to help. Here are 10 of the best:
1. Google Ads
Pay-per-click (PPC) is the most popular form of online advertising, and Google Ads — formerly Google Adwords — is the internet’s largest PPC ad network. Here’s how it works: A user bids on keywords that their target customers are using to search for the types of offerings the business sells. Ads that are tagged with those keywords appear on Google’s search results pages when a person uses those keywords to search. The PPC client is only charged for the advertising service when someone clicks his ad — performance-based costs at its best.
The Google Ads program lets users create simple four-line text ads related to the keywords they select. You set a daily budget for your PPC advertising campaign and then monitor your progress using the Ads analytic tools. You can get started with Ads by spending as little as $1 per day. This is a great way to advertise online and drive traffic to your website.
2. Google Marketing Platform
Google Marketing Platform is a suite for cross-channel marketing that bundles Google’s tools for advertising and analytics. Included in the platform’s lineup are Optimize, which enables you to run tests on your business website so you can improve user experience, and Data Studio, which turns metrics into engaging reports so you can really visualize the information. As it provides you with deep insights into website and ad data, Google Marketing Platform will give you a better understanding of what your audience is looking for.
3. Google My Business
Google My Business generates the listing that pops up for a business when consumers search for related terms through Google Search and Maps. By default, Google includes what it knows about a local business, including customer reviews from across the Web. But you can beef up your listing — and attract more customers — by submitting your own information to Google Places.
Claiming your listing is free. In addition to basic business information, you can post updates about upcoming events, describe specials and more — anything that might attract potential customers who may be searching for certain kinds of nearby businesses.
4. Google AdSense
The most popular way to make a little money from the visitors you’ve already attracted to your site is by putting ads on your own website using Google AdSense. AdSense ties into AdWords by placing content-related ads on your site. You choose the size of the ads and where they’re displayed. When a visitor clicks on an ad, Google splits the ad revenue with you. Thus, Google AdSense can help you generate some extra revenue through your website.
5. Google Trends
On the most basic level, Google Trends shows you what people around the world are currently searching for — the information is even updated in real time. But it can also be a valuable tool for SEO keyword research and content creation. If you visit the Google Trends page and type in terms that are relevant to your business, you’ll see the search volume over time and which geographic regions have shown the most interest in those terms. You can also see the most popular topics and queries related to the terms you’re interested in. Use this data to determine which topics are popular, then create content for your website or Google Ads accordingly.
6. Google Analytics
To find out how much traffic your website attracts, where your visitors are coming from and what people do after they get to your site, use Google Analytics. This free tool can answer those questions and more. By adding some code in your site’s underlying HTML, Google Analytics will track every visitor to your site and generate helpful reports and statistics. Business owners can use the data to fine-tune their website. It’s ideally suited to a cost-conscious small business trying to improve its online performance.
To boost your online presence, consider a company blog. Have one or more employees post regularly about company events, new products and industry news, and your site can quickly develop a following of potential customers. Google’s Blogger program is one of the largest blog-hosting services. It’s easy to use. And it’s free. Use it to create and host your blog.
Many small businesses are using video marketing to attract customers, and they’re using YouTube, Google’s video sharing community, to do it. You can produce your own videos for a relatively low cost and then post them on YouTube for free — while gaining exposure to some of YouTube’s millions of users. Because it costs nothing to upload a video to YouTube, this platform is an affordable way to promote your business online.
9. Google Keyword Planner
Keyword research is a critical part of any SEM campaign. Before you can start creating Google Ads, you’ll have to figure out which terms will bring people to your content. Google Keyword Planner makes that process easier. This tool will help you find the right keywords for your campaigns by showing you the number of times specific terms have been searched and giving you keyword bid estimates. After you’ve found the keywords that work for your business, you can create an advertising plan and save it for future use.
10. Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a free service that gives you information about your website’s traffic and performance, so you can optimize your content. Within the data provided, you’ll discover which search terms visitors are using to find your site, which devices your site is being viewed on and which pages are most popular. Search console will also alert you to any issues on your site, showing you which URLs are affected, so you can make the necessary changes.
Our list could go on and on, as Google offers several more tools and services such as Gmail, Docs and Calendar. Try exploring these services and tools, and watch your online visibility improve.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2014. It has been updated and rewritten for accuracy and relevance.